New Zealand’s worst fears have been realised with a spike of new Covid-19 cases on the first day of the country’s snap lockdown.
New Zealand has recorded four new local cases of Covid-19 overnight, on day one of a snap nationwide lockdown hoped to squash a Delta outbreak.
The worst fears of health authorities have been released, with one Delta strain infection in the city of Auckland announced on Tuesday leading to additional community cases being detected.
Today’s new cases are all in Auckland and linked to patient zero. Among them is a fully vaccinated nurse at Auckland Hospital.
All four have the Delta strain, health officials have confirmed.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said one new case was a co-worker of patient zero, who is a 58-year-old tradesman living in Devonport in the city, and three close contacts of the co-worker.
The infected nurse has worked at Auckland Hospital in recent days, Mr Hipkins said.
An email sent to hospital staff on Wednesday expressed concerns about a “hospital outbreak” and announced “a number of precautions” to prevent further infections.
The discovery of New Zealand’s very first instance of a Delta infection, and the first local Covid-19 case in six months, sparked the reintroduction of tough level four restrictions.
Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula are now locked down for seven days, while the rest of the country is in lockdown for at least three days.
“Going hard and early has worked for us before,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“While we know that Delta is a more dangerous enemy to combat, the same actions that overcome the virus last year can be applied to beat it again.”
Under level four restrictions, all but essential workplaces must close, schools will suspend in-person learning and businesses will shut their doors unless they provide a critical service or care.
“My very simple message (is) please stay at home,” the Prime Minister said on Wednesday. ”Stick to your bubble, stay home.”
The lockdown has plunged New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout into temporary chaos, with the rollout suspended while authorities shift their focus to the outbreak.
Ms Ardern said vaccine centres should reopen within 48 hours.
Two dozen exposure sites have been identified and authorities say patient zero visited several homes in his duties as a tradesman. He also went to a handful of Auckland bars while infectious.
Testing sites across Auckland have been inundated, with anyone showing even mild symptoms urged to come forward.
The growing list of exposure sites includes pubs, cafes, a service station and a real estate office.
Originally published as New Zealand records four new Covid-19 cases on its first day of a nationwide snap lockdown