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Coronavirus: New Zealand locks down over single case

August 17, 2021

New Zealand's prime minister has announced a lockdown after the country recorded its first locally transmitted COVID case in six months. All the latest on coronavirus here.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a lockdown after the country recorded one case of the virusImage: Fiona Goodall/REUTERS

New Zealand went into a three-day national lockdown on Tuesday after the country recorded a new case, potentially of the delta variant, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.  

"We have seen what can happen elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it. We only get one chance," Ardern said in a national address, arguing that her government could not take chances with the "game changer" delta strain.

New Zealand had not recorded any locally transmitted cases of the virus in six months when a 58-year-old Auckland man tested positive for COVID. Ardern said they were assuming the patient had contracted the highly contagious variant but genome sequencing had not been completed.

The country will be put on lockdown for at least three days, while Auckland and Coromandel, a coastal town where the patient also spent time, will be locked down for seven days. With businesses, schools and offices closed, only services deemed essential will be up and running.

Islands and pandemic strategies

"We have made the decision on the basis that it is better to start high and go down levels rather than to go low, not contain the virus and see it move quickly," Ardern said. 

Isolated New Zealand has been notoriously effective in limiting COVID case numbers, taking a particularly aggressive approach to containment.

Here is a roundup of other coronavirus news from around the world:


United States health authorities are expected to announce their decision on recommending COVID-19 vaccine boosters for all Americans this week according to sources known to the Associated Press.

The added measure will come regardless of age, eight months after their second shot is administered, and could be put in place to tackle the delta variant.
Federal health officials had been considering whether the shots would be needed as early as this fall.


The World Health Organization has expressed concern over the spread of the coronavirus as Afghanistan grapples with the aftermath of the Taliban taking control.

An organization spokesperson said the Taliban advance has slowed vaccinations.

“As the situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate rapidly, WHO is extremely concerned over the unfolding safety and humanitarian needs in the country, including risk of disease outbreaks and rise in COVID-19 transmission," Tarik Jasarevic said in a UN briefing.

While WHO teams have been placed on hold because of the security situation in Kabul, Jasarevic said the Organization was committed to staying in the country.

Hong Kong is set to tighten entry restrictions for 16 countries, including the United States, amid a recent resurgence of COVID cases in these countries. 

Travelers from these countries, which were initially classified as "medium-risk," will have to quarantine for a period of 21 days upon arrival in Hong Kong, up from the seven days of quarantine required for fully vaccinated individuals who tested positive for antibodies before leaving for the city.

New names on the list include Malaysia, Thailand, France and the Netherlands, among others, as the Hong Kong government sought to "uphold the local barrier against the importation of COVID-19."

India recorded its lowest number of cases since March 16 as the number of new cases fell to 25,166 on Tuesday, according to data released by the Health Ministry. The fall in infections comes a day after India administered over 8.8 million vaccine doses in 24 hours, close to the country's all-time record.

COVID-19 vaccination inequity

Japan has extended its state of emergency in Tokyo and several other regions until September 12 as cases continue to rise nationwide. The current state of emergency was scheduled to expire on August 31. 

Coronavirus-related curbs have been widened to seven more prefectures.


Germany has added Turkey to its list of "high risk" areas effective Tuesday, following concerns over a recent rise in cases in the country. Turkey is a common travel destination both for German holidaymakers and for Germany's large Turkish diaspora. 

According to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases, Germany recorded 3,912 new cases and 28 deaths on Tuesday. The seven-day incidence rose slightly, to 37.4 cases per 100,000 people per week.

On Tuesday Spain received its first sum of money from the EU Recovery Fund.

The country has received 9-billion euros from the 800-billion euro fund that was put in place to help EU countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Its also meant to help establish greener economies.

Spain will receive 69.5-billion euros in total over the next few years. Payouts will depend on the implementation of investment projects  and reforms that have been proposed to the European Commission.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said:"I am convinced that Spain's ambitious plan will provide a crucial push for the European Green Deal to become a reality, it will further digitalise the economy and it will make Spain more resilient than ever.”

kb,see/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)