NZ prepares for unprecedented virus lockdown – 36 new Covid-19 cases

NZ supermarket shoppers
New Zealand supermarkets are begging people to shop normally and stop panic buying ahead of the national lockdown on Wednesday night. Image: RNZ News

New Zealanders are preparing to go into an unprecedented lockdown period at midnight on Wednesday to stem the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced this afternoon that the Covid-19 alert level would rise to level four on Wednesday night.

It was confirmed the country now has 102 cases  – with 36 new cases today – and the Ministry of Health said the virus was spreading in the community.

Hundreds of thousands of people are now preparing to work from home, and supermarkets are also begging people to shop normally and stop panic buying ahead of the national lockdown.

READ MORE: Al Jazeera coronavirus live updates – Italy death toll now 5476 after 651 rise

In Fiji, the third case was reported – the one-year-old nephew of the first patient – by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, reports FBC News.

In Guam, medical authorities reported a further 12 cases taking the total to 26 with a 27th who died at the weekend – the first Covid-19 death in the Oceania region, reports the Pacific Daily News.

‘This will save thousands of lives’
In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned the lockdown could be extended for longer if the spread of the virus was not brought under control.

“This will literally save lives, thousands of lives,” she said.

The four-level NZ Covid-19 alert matrix.

Ardern said all of NZ must prepare to go in self-isolation now to “break the chain” of community transmission.

Schools will be closed from tomorrow.

Workers are setting up home offices and parents are gathering home-schooling resources, to get ready for battening down.

About 10 percent of the working population was estimated to be working from home today when news hit that tomorrow it would be almost everyone.

National secretary Glenn Barlcay of the Public Service Association, which has 76,000 members across five sectors, said he was concerned for those who may lose their jobs.

Full details of the NZ government actions are available on the official government website at

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs)
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