New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern announces alert system for COVID-19

Jacinda Ardern has announced New Zealand will be implementing an alert system for COVID-19. The alert system will have four levels, New Zealand has now moved to level 2. "We will use this alert system every time we update our cases, so you’ll know if the status in your area has gone up, or down, or stayed the same. And what you’ll need to do," Ardern says. The System: Alert level 1: "In this phase we prepare - the basics like border measures, contact tracing and cancelling mass gatherings are all activated. You'll see that this is where we have been when COVID first arrived in New Zealand. Alert level 2: "Where the disease is contained, but the risks are growing because we have more cases. This is when we move to reduce our contact with one another, we increase our border measures and we cancel events. This is also the level where we ask people to work differently if they can, and cancel unnecessary travel." Alert level 3: "Alert level three is where the disease is increasingly difficult to contain. This is where we restrict our contact by stepping things up again. We close public venues and ask non-essential businesses to close." Alert level 4: "This is where we have sustained transmission. This is where we eliminate contact with each other altogether. We keep essential services going, but we ask everyone to stay at home until COVID-19 is back under control." "We have to focus on one simple goal – to slow down Covid 19," Ardern says. "Slowing it down, means not having one big tidal wave of cases, but instead, smaller waves - groups of cases that we can manage properly as they arise. That means we reduce the impact on health, on jobs and on our economy. "Some countries have successfully managed to do this –but it does mean we have to be ready to step up our action when we need to." The alert system will apply to the whole country for now, but as the pandemic continues levels may only apply to certain New Zealand towns or cities. Related News Ashley Bloomfield gives the latest update. 13 more COVID-19 cases in NZ, community transmission possible Gisborne's forestry and logging industry has been particularly hard hit. Government willing to extend wage subsidies if demand outstrips $5 billion Business: Workplaces have been told to implement their shift changes/work from home plans. People who can't work from home need to use additional cleaning and distancing measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. Throughout all alert levels, essential businesses will remain open. "It's important to note that with every level, supermarkets and essential services - like access to pharmaceuticals - will continue. Shop normally. If we do that, our supermarkets will have time to restock their shelves." Ardern is urging for calm and encouraging people to shop normally and avoid panic buying. Travel: All non-essential travel should be limited: "This will help us track and contain any spread of COVID-19". "Every unnecessary movement gives COVID-19 a chance to travel". Staying home: Schools will only close if there is a case of COVID-19 at the school during level 2. They will remain open until if New Zealand hits level 4. "Sending children home at this stage though, doesn’t necessarily reduce transmission in the community, but I can assure you we are constantly monitoring these settings to keep children safe. As a mum, I can assure you that is my key consideration." But the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are asked to stay home as much as they can due to their increased risk. The Prime Minister was speaking at 12pm when she updated the nation on the Government's next steps for fighting COVID-19 coronavirus. Director-General of the Ministry of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield spoke at 11am where he announced New Zealand has 13 new confirmed cases from 1500 tests completed in the last 24 hours. This brings the total number of cases in New Zealand to 52. Two of these new cases are yet to be related to travel and could be the first cases to have had community transmission but Bloomfield says they are prepared. Contact tracing is underway for the new cases. He says of New Zealand's confirmed cases, three have needed hospital-level attention but they are all in stable conditions. Bloomfield will provide more information on these new cases during a press conference from Parliament at 12:30pm. Newshub is covering all of the updates in a special live programme on Three and newshub.co.nz between 11am and 1pm. There are currently more than 272,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Of these cases, 87,403 have recovered and 11,299 have died.