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In a statement on Tuesday, a rep for the country’s Ministry of Health said a Devonport man—described as 58 years old and unvaccinated—had tested positive for COVID-19 after first becoming symptomatic this past weekend. For now, health officials are “assuming this is the delta variant,” though genome sequencing is expected shortly to confirm this.
“We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a public address. “We only get one chance. That’s why cabinet has met this afternoon and made the decision that New Zealand will move to alert Level IV from 11:59pm tonight. Level IV will be for an initial period of three days, except for Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula who we anticipate will be in this alert level for seven days due to them being more closely linked to our current case.”
The Ministry of Health’s Level IV plan, in short, means only “essential contact” continues for the time period, i.e. people will be staying at home to help curb the spread.
Since the pandemic started, New Zealand has reported only 26 COVID-19 deaths and just under 3,000 cases among a total population of nearly 5 million. Speaking to the nation on Tuesda, Ardern asked this “team of 5 million” to unite once again behind the common goal of keeping the pandemic at bay.
“We know that this strategy works. … We know that life will get easier,” Ardern said.