New Zealand announces coronavirus lockdown
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announced the country will go into lockdown on Wednesday after the first coronavirus cases of community transmission were suspected.
The country reported 36 new cases on Monday, bringing the total to 102. The majority were linked to overseas travel, but two cases are thought to be local transmission, reports Efe news.
Ardern in a press conference said the country had moved into Level 3 on Monday, shifting the population into self-isolation in preparation for the highest Level 4 lockdown on Wednesday, which is expected to last for four weeks.
Level four means schools will close from Tuesday, with only essential services, such as supermarkets, doctors, pharmacies, service stations, in place.
"These decisions will place the most significant restriction on New Zealanders' movements in modern history," Ardern said.
All non-essential businesses are ordered closed within 48 hours, all indoor and outdoor events banned, and schools to be closed from Tuesday.
Essential services such as supermarkets and healthcare centres will remain remain open, while people were allowed outside in unpopulated open spaces on their own or with people they are in isolation with.
"If community transmission takes off in New Zealand, the number of cases will double every five days. If that happens, unchecked, our health system will be inundated, and tens of thousands of New Zealanders will die," Ardern said.
"It is the reality we have seen overseas – and the possibility we must now face here. Together we must stop that happening and we can," she added.
Schools will be closed from Tuesday, except to the children of essential workers such as our doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and police - this will give them time to plan.
This will be temporary, and schools will close entirely from midnight on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said.
Air travel and public transport will only be applicable to people undertaking essential services, for medical reasons, and the transport of freight, including ferry services between the North and South Island, after 48 hours, she said. IANS