New Zealand has gone into full lockdown after a single person tested positive for Covid.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in an emergency TV address on Tuesday that Aukland — where the case was detected — will be shut down for a week, while the entire rest of the country will be locked down for three days.
She said the toughest "Level 4" precautions were necessary, which includes shuttering all schools, offices and buildings, with only essential services allowed to continue operating, BBC reported.
The shutdown begins at 11:59 PM Tuesday night, local time. Supermarkets in Aukland reported a rush of shoppers, as residents predicted the snap decision.
The patient is a 58-year-old man, believed to have been infectious since last Thursday. He traveled to other parts of the country; authorities have identified at least 23 potential sites of transition. Coromandel, a coastal town he visited on the North Island, is also being fully shut down for seven days.
Although it hasn't yet been confirmed, authorities are working on the assumption it is the Delta variant. All cases detected at the border in recent weeks had been Delta; the patient also had an obvious link to the border.
"I want to assure New Zealand that we have planned for this eventuality. Going hard and early has worked for us before," Ardern said.
"We are one of the last countries in the world to have the Delta variant in our community," she added. "We're in the position to learn from experience overseas, and what actions work, and what actions don't work."
"Delta has been called a gamechanger – and it is. It means we need to again go hard and early to stop the spread. We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it. We only get one chance."
It is the first case detected in New Zealand in six months. Ardern's hard and fast approach to tackling Covid has been praised worldwide; before the upcoming lockdown, life had largely returned to normal in the island nation, aside from its international borders remaining largely closed.
The country however has been relatively slow to vaccinate, with only 20 percent of the population completing their shots so far.
New Zealand's hardline approach has contained its total Covid-19 cases to less than 3,000 — and only 26 deaths — in a population of 5million.