New Zealanders begin life under lockdown

New Zealand's city streets were largely deserted Wednesday morning, as the country returns to life under lockdown.

After months of living virus-free, New Zealand confirmed its first case of the highly contagious Delta variant in Auckland on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday there were now at least 10 confirmed cases, including a fully vaccinated nurse from Auckland Hospital.

She added that they are all linked to an original infection from just across the water.

"The second thing it tells us is that it is linked, the current genome sequencing of cases in the New South Wales outbreak. Our case has originated in Australia."

Most of the country will be under level 4 lockdown, the highest alert level, for at least three days, while Auckland will stay under lockdown for a week.

Panic buying erupted after it was announced on Tuesday, while schools and businesses scrambled to move online.

New Zealand's last reported community case of COVID-19 was in February.

Its citizens have been living without restrictions although its borders remain largely sealed.

Ardern has been praised for New Zealand's strict virus containment measures, but her popularity took a hit with a delayed vaccine rollout.

Only a fifth of the country's 5 million people have been fully vaccinated so far.

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