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New Zealand enters lockdown by closing borders

Wellington, March 19 (IANS) New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced that the country's borders will be closed to any visitors except citizens and residents due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement comes as the total number of COVID-19 cases the country climbed to 28, reports Xinhua news agency.

The measures will come into effect from 11.59 p.m. on Thursday

There was no evidence of community transmission in New Zealand, and all confirmed cases in the country were related to overseas travel, Ardern said, adding the border closure was due to the significant global outbreak.

“We need to continue to make further decisions and further restrictions,” she added.

New Zealand citizens and permanent residents will be able to return, and that includes their children and partners, according to the prime minister.

The eight new cases confirmed on Wednesday were all related to overseas travel which was an important point as it shows there is no evidence of community transmission in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health said.

Public health staff were investigating the travel history of the cases so as to identify all close contacts and isolate them, it added.

Of the eight, one patient is in a hospital, while the others were self-isolating at home.

“While it's important to be alert to the increasing numbers of cases, we are expecting more, given the rapidly evolving situation overseas. We will continue to identify, test and isolate to ensure we can stamp COVID-19 out and slow it down,” said Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.

–IANS

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