New Zealand: Coronavirus cases increase by almost 50% in one day as the blockade approaches World news

Just over 24 hours before New Zealand entered full blockade, 40 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, bringing the country’s total to 155.

Four of the cases were confirmed as contracts through community transmission and six people were in hospital, but none in intensive care, said the director-general of health, dr. Ashley Bloomfield.

The increase in cases came when New Zealand prepared to enter a one-month blockade and panic purchases occurred across the country. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, New Zealanders have purchased enough food to feed 10 million people, Countdown said, despite being a nation of less than 5 million.

The police have been called to end the fighting in supermarkets, despite the fact that the prime minister has repeatedly called for “kindness” and calm. Long lines have formed outside the gun and hunting stores, with some New Zealanders – even in urban areas – appearing to accumulate weapons and ammunition.


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Queues outside gun stores like kiwis panic, buy firearms before blockade https://t.co/e06QsQxm1J pic.twitter.com/5D0EAUq3c2


March 23, 2020

The national airline Air New Zealand has made more domestic flights and larger planes to bring people home, especially college students who do not want to go into solitary confinement for months in dormitories.

The foreign affairs department said it may now be too late for tens of thousands of overseas kiwis to return home, as flights have stopped all over the world and should now prepare to “take refuge on the spot”.

Mercy flights to kiwis stuck overseas are under discussion, but have not been confirmed, said the prime minister, and that option was a logistical nightmare with hubs like Singapore now closed to those in transit too.

Jacinda Ardern said she knew that what she was asking the population was “huge”, but it was essential to save lives and prevent the health system from being overwhelmed, as in Italy and Spain.

He said national self-isolation measures mean exactly that; stay home and go out only for essential supplies. Physical contact with anyone who is not in their family should end, Ardern said, although couples who share childcare in different homes may see each other, and people who live alone may form friendships with another individual in the close to avoid loneliness, as long as it was an exclusive “bubble” and “stay true to them and they remain true to you”.

“If the community broadcast takes off in New Zealand, the number of cases will double every five days. If this happens uncontrolled, our healthcare system will be flooded and tens of thousands of New Zealanders will die, “said Ardern.

“There is no easy way to say it – but it is the reality we have seen overseas – and the possibility that we must now face here. Together we must prevent this from happening, and we can.”

As New Zealanders prepared for self-isolation, there was widespread confusion as to what qualified as an “essential service” that could have remained open. The warehouse, a discount store, announced it would remain open, although the prime minister later said it would not be allowed.

Doubts were raised that butchers and bakers could have remained open in addition to supermarket chains and whether liquor stores would have been classified as essential.

During a turbulent press conference, Covid-19’s tastkforce was unable to answer many questions related to what mattered as an essential service, but said it would have more information by Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced a six-month vacation period for paying interest to mortgage holders, which has been welcomed.

But no similar arrangements have been made for renters, worrying many who have lost their jobs or their hours have been reduced.

“A six-month mortgage vacation for people whose incomes have been affected by COVID-19 will mean that people will not lose their homes because of the economic disruption caused by this virus,” said Robertson.

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