Chris Hipkins has issued a stark warning to New Zealanders, saying they should plan for further lockdowns if Delta variant is found here.
On Wednesday the Minister for the COVID-19 response said the pandemic is far from over, with cases overseas continuing to rise.
"The main variant is the Delta variant - it's more transmissible, causing more hospitalisations and more deaths and making younger people sick."
He says if the Delta variant were to come to New Zealand, the Government would react as it has in the past - swiftly, and with heavy restrictions.
"In the event we discovered Delta we would move to alert level 4...we maintain the best economic response is a strong public health response, and a short sharp lockdown is likely to be more successful [than a longer, less restricted one]."
Hipkins warned any future lockdowns would be announced with very little notice and urged New Zealanders to have a plan.
"My message to all New Zealanders is this is not over we are still going to be dealing with this for some time to come."
New Zealand recorded no new cases of COVID-19 in the community on Wednesday and two cases in managed isolation.
To date almost 850,000 people have been fully vaccinated.