New Zealand extends coronavirus state of emergency


New Zealand on Tuesday extended the nationwide state of emergency for a further seven days as efforts against the coronavirus pandemic continue.

“On the advice of the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management and after consultation with the Prime Minister, I consider the State of National Emergency should remain in place to support the COVID-19 response,” said Peeni Henare, Minister of Civil Defence.

“As we enter the fourth week under a State of National Emergency I would like to thank all New Zealanders for their commitment to helping us break the chain of transmission of the virus,” Henare said in a statement.

The emergency, which was first declared on March 25, provides authorities access to powers that would not normally be available. These include closing or restricting access to roads or public places, provide rescue, first aid, food, shelter etc., and conserve essential supplies, among others.

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The extension to the emergency, however, does not have any effect on the Alert Level 4 lockdown already in place in the island nation, according to the government.

This means everyone must stay home, except for those providing essential services. Only supermarkets, dairies, health and medical facilities including pharmacies, and food banks are open.

This is the second time in New Zealand’s history that a national emergency has been declared. Last time it was imposed in Christchurch on February 23, 2011, in response to an earthquake.

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So far, the country has reported 1,366 cases of COVID-19 pandemic with nine fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University’s latest tally.

Worldwide infections are nearing two million, with death toll touching almost 120,000.

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