'You are not alone' - Jacinda Ardern's message to New Zealand ahead of coronavirus lockdown

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has emphasised a powerful message to New Zealanders ahead of the coronavirus lockdown: you are not alone.

From 11.59pm tonight, New Zealand will enter alert level 4, bringing in a raft of strict restrictions.

People are ordered to stay inside and non-essential services are being shut down, coming as the number of cases rises to 205 today.

Ms Ardern is reminding people that the shutdown doesn't mean total community isolation.

"Firstly, you are not alone. You will hear us, and see us, daily as we guide New Zealand through this period," she told Parliament today.

"It won’t always be perfect. But the principle of what we are trying to do is the right one."

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The global pandemic has brought the economy to its knees and despite support packages from the Government, a number of businesses have laid employees off.

Ms Ardern says those people, much like everyone else, have a job to do.

"You may not be at work, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a job. Your job is to save lives, and you can do that by staying home, and breaking the chain."

Today another 50 coronavirus cases were announced by the Ministry of Health.

Ms Ardern says she expects that number to keep rising, despite the lockdown.

"Success won’t be instant. The benefit of what we do today, won’t be felt for many days to come," she says.

"Expect our numbers to keep rising, because they will. But over time, we will see change if we all stick to the rules."

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All returning Kiwis to be screened for coronavirus as border rules tighten

The vast majority of cases have been New Zealanders arriving from overseas, after travelling to a coronavirus-infected area. There are four confirmed community tranmission cases. 

Arrivals are ordered to undergo a 14-day self-isolation period and quarantine in case they have the disease.