New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday told the public to behave as if they had the coronavirus and cut all physical contact outside their household when the nation enters a one-month lockdown at midnight.
Ardern declared a national state of emergency as the number of cases of COVID-19 surged by a record 50 cases to take the national tally to 205.
The government has imposed self-isolation for everyone, with all non-essential services, schools and offices to be shut for a month.
“From midnight tonight, we bunker down for four weeks to try and stop the virus in its tracks, to break the chain,” Ardern told the New Zealand parliament. “Make no mistake this will get worse before it gets better. We will have a lag and cases will increase for the next week or so. Then we’ll begin to know how successful we have been.”
At a news conference later in the day, Ardern said modeling suggested that New Zealand could have several thousand cases of COVID-19 before the numbers start coming down.
“If you have any questions about what you can or can’t do, apply a simple principle: Act like you have COVID-19,” Ardern said. “Every move you then make is a risk to someone else. That is how we must all collectively think. That’s why the joy of physically visiting other family, children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors is on hold. Because we’re all now putting each other first. And that is what we as a nation do so well.”
Major cities such as Auckland and Wellington wore a deserted look yesterday as businesses shut down, cafes closed and all offices locked their doors.
Billions of dollars in support for small businesses, workers and families has been announced and the government has promised more in the coming days.
Yesterday, it announced a six-month freeze on residential rent increases and increased protection from having tenancies terminated.
Parents can go for a walk with their children, people can take a run near their house or drive to get groceries, but everyone must keep a 2m distance, and people might be stopped and questioned by police, Ardern said.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
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