New Zealand’s (NZ) coronavirus alert system has been at level three and will be raised to level four in 48 hours, said the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a televised address to the nation. For the next four weeks, NZ will be in lockdown, where all schools will be closed and non-essential services shut down but essential services will still continue.
Ms Ardern said, “We were facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus… but we did have a small window to get ahead of it.”
“Now is the time to put our plans into action. The situation here is moving at pace and so must we. Prepare as a nation to go into self-isolation,” she added.
Ms Ardern remarked that these moves will save the lives of tens of thousands of New Zealanders.
All schools will be closed from midnight Wednesday (25 March).
As reported by Rnz, as of 23 March, 36 new cases were announced, bringing the total to 102 cases of COVID-19 infection in NZ out of a population of 4,811,386. The country’s Ministry of Health reiterates the two cases which could be community transmission were in Wairarapa and Auckland.
Ms Ardern also announced a four tier alert system for the country over the weekend. As of noon Saturday (21 March), the country was at level two.
The levels are explained below:
Level one alert system
COVID-19 is here, but contained. This was a phase of preparation, which included introducing border measures, contact tracing and cancelling mass gatherings. These had been activated.
Level two alert system
The COVID-19 is contained but the risks were growing as cases grew. At this stage people would need to reduce contact with others, so-called social distancing. There would be increased border measures and events would be cancelled. People would also be required to work differently, and from home as much as possible. All non-essential travel would need to be cancelled.
Level three alert system
Where the disease is increasingly difficult to contain. Public venues and non-essential businesses would need to close. Affected educational facilities would be closed, and alternative ways of working are required. In addition, some non-essential businesses should close and non-emergency services and procedures in hospitals deferred and healthcare staff reprioritized.
The four alert system
When there is sustained transmission. Everyone would need to be isolated from each other. Everyone would be asked to stay at home, but essential services (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities would continue. The rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities and travel restriction would be applied. Furthermore, healthcare services would be reprioritized majorly.
“In 48 hours, the alert level would be raised to level 4 and these measures will remain in place for a minimum of four weeks”, announced Ms Ardern.