Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that schools around New Zealand will be shut from tomorrow to try and stop the spread of Covid-19.
It comes as the Covid-19 alert level was raised to three today, with it set to be raised to level 4 - the highest level - on Wednesday.
The school term break will be brought forward and for the remainder of the term students will be taught remotely, Ms Ardern said today.
"Schools will be closed from tomorrow, except to the children of essential workers such as our doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and police – this will give them time to plan.
"This will be temporary, and schools will close entirely from midnight Wednesday.
"We are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus... but we do have a small window to get ahead of it".
"Now is the time to put our plans into action."
"The situation here is moving at pace and so must we."
She said we must consider there is now transmission in our community.
"We have a window of opportunity. We can stop the spread by staying at home and reducing contact. Now is the time to act."
Ms Ardern outlined these measures are likely to last for at least four weeks.
Level four alert system:
- People instructed to stay at home
- Educational facilities closed
- Businesses closed except for essential services (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities
- Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities
- Travel severely limited
- Major reprioritisation of healthcare services
It comes after the Ministry of Health confirmed 36 new confirmed cases today, bringing the total number to 102. Two of the cases are still being investigated as suspected community transmission.
Over the weekend, the Prime Minister announced a four tier alert system, and as of midday Saturday New Zealand sat at level two.
Level one is where the virus is contained.
Level two is Covid-19 contained but the risks are growing as more cases arise. Unnecessary travel should be contained and more travel restrictions are put in place.
Level three is Covid-19 is a heightened risk that the disease is not contained.
Level four is in place at sustained levels of transmission. Contact between people is eliminated altogether, the public urged to stay at home. Essential services will remain in place.