New Zealand authorities announced the current Covid outbreak can be directly traced to the Delta variant which has crippled NSW - and that up to 120 more positive Covid-19 cases are expected.
On Wednesday morning, NZ director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the key to reducing further possible spreading is to 'find them (cases) as quick as possible'.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a nationwide lockdown after the country confirmed one coronavirus case -- the first locally transmitted Covid-19 case in the community since February. https://t.co/p4MQZfggGW— CNN (@CNN) August 18, 2021
Genome sequencing showed the outbreak is the Delta strain of the virus, and that it came from NSW, where a staggering 633 new cases and three deaths were recorded on Wednesday.
The development comes after frenzied shoppers in New Zealand were spotted fighting over toilet paper in supermarkets after the country went into lockdown on Tuesday.
New Zealand recorded four new cases of Covid-19 overnight, bringing the total to five infections after an unknown local case threw the nation into lockdown.
Following the announcement of the lockdown, chaotic scenes followed in numerous supermarket, with panic buying again an issue.
'I was doing my weekly shop when it (lockdown) was announced. Five minutes later people were sprinting - genuinely sprinting - to the toilet paper section,' a resident of Rolleston, just south of Christchurch, told the NZ Herald.
'Moronic. Loo paper is made locally, so it won't run out.'
Items such as bread and milk also flew off the shelves in manic scenes.
Disbelieving shoppers also posted videos and images on social media of empty supermarket shelves.
A single Delta strain infection in Auckland was confirmed on Tuesday, which then resulted in the detection of more community cases.
All the cases have stemmed from Auckland, are linked to patient zero and all four have the Delta strain, health officials confirmed early on Wednesday.
One new case was a tradesman, 58, from Devonport, who is a colleague of patient zero, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.
Another case is an infected nurse - who was fully vaccinated - who worked at Auckland Hospital in recent days, he added.
This resulted in an email being urgently sent to hospital staff expressing concerns about a potential outbreak.
The discovery of New Zealand's very first instance of a Delta infection, and the first local Covid-19 case in six months, has also seen the reintroduction of level four restrictions.
Auckland is now locked down for the next week, with the rest of the country in lockdown for at least three days.
'Going hard and early has worked for us before,' Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said 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 the level four restrictions, all workplaces not deemed essential must close and schools will pause face to face learning.
Businesses will be required to 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.'
New Zealand's Ardern locks down nation over single COVID-19 case https://t.co/Ah9WMIChU1— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) August 17, 2021
The lockdown has also resulted in New Zealand's Covid-19 vaccine rollout being suspended.
The PM confirmed vaccine centres should re-open by Friday.
Two dozen exposure sites have been identified, and health authorities say patient zero visited several homes in his duties as a tradesman.
He also went to a handful of Auckland pubs while unknowingly infectious.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.