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New Zealand is now officially in self-isolation for at least four weeks as Covid-19 infection rates continue to escalate and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged Kiwis to stick to the plan to break the chain.
It comes as the number of cases of coronavirus nears 450,000 around the world – including 205 cases in New Zealand so far. The global death toll is set to reach 20,000 today; another 111,000 people have recovered.
Another 738 people have died from the coronavirus in Spain, pushing its total death toll above China’s, to 3434. It is now second only to Italy, where more than 6800 people have died.
Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, a huge exhibition centre in London is being converted into a makeshift hospital as Britain prepares for potentially thousands more cases.
Back in New Zealand, Ardern said the benefit of the lockdown would not be felt for many days to come and numbers would keep rising.
“Success won’t be instant,” Ardern said.
“But don’t be discouraged. Over time, we will see change if we all stick to the plan. You may not be at work, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a job. Your job is to save lives, and you can do that by staying home and breaking the chain.”
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A state of national emergency was declared yesterday and is among many powers government agencies have to compel people to contribute to the effort.
The Ministry of Health yesterday confirmed 50 new cases and probable cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total to 205.
Six people were in hospital – three in Wellington, one on Rotorua, and two in Waikato – but none was in intensive care.
Twenty-two people who had previously tested positive are said to have recovered.
Ardern said modelling suggesting the number of cases in New Zealand could reach the thousands before dropping.
The alert level could be eased once the number of cases declined although the prevalence of community transmissions was also a factor..
Kiwis still returning home from overseas are considered a high risk.
Ardern announced new measures to ensure those returning home either go into self-isolation or be forced into quarantine.
Eight people who flew in to Auckland Airport on Tuesday had tested positive for Covid-19.
The Government has booked hotels near airports to complement Defence Force facilities at Whangaparāoa to require quarantine of arrivals who are symptomatic, who did not have a credible plan to self-isolate or did not have the means to safely return to their home to self-isolate.
All arrivals who are symptomatic are tested.
Up to 10,000 were expected to have arrived by the end of the month although about 30 per cent of people had not shown up as transit became harder.