Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces "alert system", addresses next steps in COVID-19 response

coronavirus 21/03/2020

From Hannah Kronast of Newshub:

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.

Ardern is asking workplaces to implement their shift changes/work from home plans. 

People who can't work from home need to bring in additional cleaning and distancing measures.

Those with underlying medical conditions are asked to stay home.

"Today we are asking people over 70 years of age, or people who have compromised immunity or respiratory conditions to stay at home as much as they can."

Access to supermarkets and phamacies will remain open.

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 14 new confirmed cases from 1500 tests completed in the last 24 hours.

This brings the total number of cases in New Zealand to 53. 

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 259,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide. Of these cases, 87,377 have recovered and 11,289 have died.

This is breaking news - follow Newshub for more to come.