An Auckland microbiologist is urging Kiwis to "stay in your bubble" as the country prepares to enter lockdown for at least four weeks from tomorrow.
It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday announced the country would enter coronavirus alert level three, with level four to follow tomorrow at midnight.
The level four alert means all non-essential businesses will close, and Kiwis will go into self-isolation.
The country so far has 155 positive and probable cases of Covid-19, after 40 more people tested positive for the respiratory illness today.
Four of these cases are being treated as community transmission, with three of those in Auckland and one in Wairarapa.
Dr Siouxsie Wiles said the country should be expecting to see the number of cases to rise over the next few weeks due to the two- to 10-day incubation period for coronavirus.
“We are sort of working to a one to two-week time scale, so what we’re seeing now is what happened in the country one to two weeks ago, and how we behave from today is going to reflect on what we see one to two weeks from now,” Dr Wiles said.
She said the lockdown is to ensure that New Zealanders stay in our “bubbles” or “little household units”, to prevent the spread of the virus any further if they contract the illness.
“If it’s not in our unit, then we stay safe, and that’s why we have to stay away from other people, so no golfing, no going for those regular walks with your friends even if you can stay two metres apart – stay in your bubble.”
Dr Wiles told Seven Sharp, however, that Kiwis shouldn't wear face masks or gloves if they're not used to them.
"I’ve seen people with beards wearing them. They don’t fit properly if you wear a beard, and when you’re not used to wearing a mask, you tend to fiddle more with your face, so if you had the virus on your fingers, then you’re much more likely to introduce it to your nose and your mouth," she said.
She added that most people did not know how to properly remove gloves, leading to the contamination of surfaces and improper hand washing.
"You think they’re already clean or safe because you’ve been wearing gloves, whereas actually washing your hands is so much more safer than wearing gloves.
"Staying away from people so that you’re not in a cough zone - that’s the two-metre distance – that’s what’s important and washing your hands is so much better at keeping us safe."
Dr Wiles said anyone considering flouting the lockdown rules will be “making it harder for the rest of us” by extending the time the country spends in lockdown.
“The four weeks is if we all behave as we’re supposed to and we can catch everything,” she said.
“When people stop doing this, then we’re going to expect more weeks to be added on to the end."
Dr Wiles added that people should not "expect life to be normal" over the lockdown period.
"You can stay in your bubble, you can do things with your household, with your family, and the more we do that, the quicker we get through this.”
She also urged Kiwis not to panic-buy as essential businesses will remain open during the lockdown.
“Don’t panic, don’t go and panic-buy. Again, if you end up in closer contact with people from another bubble, that’s how this virus transmits.”