Despite the relatively low numbers of cases - particularly in comparison to Australia - Ardern today moved to implement tough and concisely defined measures in a bid to curtail the spread.
"If community transmission takes off in New Zealand the number of cases will double every five days", she said. She added that without these measures tens of thousands of New Zealanders could die. This will be temporary, and schools will close entirely from midnight Wednesday, the prime minister said.
The new measures come as the NHS announced 46 more people have died from Covid-19 in England in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of United Kingdom deaths to 335.
But she said the latest data showed Covid-19 was now being transmitted between New Zealanders, rather than just being brought in by overseas arrivals, meaning radical action was needed.
Parliament will also be recalled for an emergency session on Wednesday, in which Ms Ardern will table an epidemic notice to enforce the lockdown. As of noon Saturday (21 March), the country was at level two.
"There is a lag time with Covid-19 so the time from which someone picks it up to the time they get symptoms and get tested".
To limit the exposure of staff and visitors to COVID-19, park ranger offices are now closed to the public. These had been activated. No indoor or outdoor events can proceed.
The airline is putting larger jets on some domestic routes in an attempt to get as many people home as soon as possible.
Now the national carrier is pleading for customers who hold tickets but don't intend to travel anymore to cancel their flights so their seat can go to someone who is trying to get home.
Where the disease is increasingly hard to contain.
All non-essential businesses, such as bars, gyms, and cinemas, will be required to close.
Workplaces should have everyone working from home. Other businesses have 48 hours to shut down.
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