Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand can beat the coronavirus pandemic, but it requires everyone to do their part.
"We have a window and we've used it," Ms Ardern told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning after she yesterday raised the nation's Covid-19 coronavirus alert level to level three before alert level four comes into effect from 11.59pm on Wednesday.
Level four is put in place with a risk of sustained level of virus transmission. Contact between people is largely eliminated, the public urged to stay at home. Essential services, including supermarkets, health care, service stations and media, will remain in place.
When asked by Breakfast host John Campbell whether New Zealand can beat the coronavirus pandemic, Ms Ardern said "yes we can".
"We've watched and learned so we managed to get ahead, but now I'm asking you, I'm asking all New Zealanders, this plan will only work if you help us.
"You may feel resilient and well but it's not just about you, it's about everyone around you.
"If we all do this together then we can do this if we do it together."
Ms Ardern said she was "ready to go" this morning, and that she was working out the logistics of the four-week lockdown period as well looking to "beef up" border controls.
"Quite simply, if we continued to see community transmission without any intervention the infection rate then the number of individuals, who we can tell from overseas, would require hospital care, then acute hospital care - tens of thousands of New Zealanders would die.
"There are some countries where their window, it was too late. We have a window of opportunity so that's why I don't want New Zealanders to feel afraid.
"This is an illness that the vast majority of people who, if they did experience it, would be fine, they'd have moderate to mild symptoms. It's just there are too many vulnerable people who would need hospital care and if you can't provide it that's when you see those devastating impacts like we've seen overseas."
Ms Ardern said the lockdown period was set for four weeks because it will take weeks for results to show given the lag between infection and people feeling ill.