The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden has confirmed that the first community case of COVID-19 in six months is the Delta variant and has been linked through genome sequencing to Australia. Recall that, the Prime Minister initiated a snap lockdown to stamp out the virus after the first infected case was discovered.
The latest outbreak began with a 58-year-old man in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, on Tuesday.
The genome testing showed a link to New South Wales, the eastern Australian state that has been struggling for weeks to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.
New Zealand announced two new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to seven(7). One of the cases involves a nurse at Auckland Hospital, which had been placed on “internal lockdown” while all staff and patients are tested.
The nation of five million has recorded only 26 deaths from the disease and has made efforts to avoid the worst of the pandemic with strict border control and a strategy of elimination.
Ardern said she was confident the strategy would succeed against the highly transmissible Delta strain.
“Yes, Delta poses a greater threat, but the same tools that have worked before will do so again if we follow the rules,” she said.
Ardern imposed a nationwide three-day lockdown after the first case emerged.
Auckland and nearby Coromandel, where the man had travelled to before he was diagnosed with the disease, will be under restrictions for at least a week as health authorities work to find the source of the infection.
Wastewater testing in the city had detected no sign of the virus, giving cause for optimism.
According to the Prime Minister, “that tells us that, if we have something, it doesn’t appear to be a longstanding outbreak because we haven’t had anything in our wastewater testing,” she said.
New Zealand’s vaccination programme has been slower than many other developed nations despite a recent acceleration as about 32 percent of people have had at least one dose of the vaccine while 18 percent are fully vaccinated.