A spike in COVID cases has prompted a lockdown extension.
Two weeks ago, New Zealand began to outline its plans to reopen its borders to foreign travelers, thanks to their concentrated efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic within their borders. However, the following week, a single case of delta variant COVID-19 was reported within the country, prompting a fresh lockdown. This lockdown was originally supposed to have lifted by now, but as cases tick upward, the New Zealand government has made the decision to remain on alert until the end of August at the minimum.
Since that single case detected on August 17, New Zealand has reported an additional 35 new cases of delta variant COVID-19. While this seems minimal compared to the rest of the world, this is, in fact, the highest rate of cases New Zealand has experienced since April of last year. With only 20% of the country’s populace fully vaccinated so far, even a slight spike in cases may be a cause for concern.
“We do need more information. We need more certainty. We don’t want to take any risks with delta,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a press conference on Monday, referring to the delta variant. “If the world has taught us anything, it is to be cautious with this variant of COVID-19.”
For the duration of the lockdown, New Zealanders are required to remain in their homes, with leaving only excused for buying food and medicine or exercising. The New Zealand parliament will also be temporarily suspended for the next week.