As New Zealand prepared to go into complete lockdown on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took to Facebook, to “check in with everyone” and answer any questions she could from the public.
New Zealand’s lockdown, put in place to halt the spread of COVID019, will see New Zealanders largely confined to their homes for the next four weeks as they face restrictions far more severe than Australia.
In her Facebook live broadcast, Ardern told those watching she thought she “would jump online quickly and just check in with everyone, really, as we all prepare to hunker down for a few weeks.”
“Excuse the casual attire, it can be a messy business putting toddlers to bed, so I’m not in my work clothes. Forgive me for that,” she told viewers before answering questions.
At the time the video went live, Ardern said there were 189 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, with the tally of ‘probable’ cases, a term used by the World Health Organisation, sitting at 205.
She answered many questions from those on Facebook, including things like “can we go for walks with our family?” and “can we take trips to a dog park in our car?”
Ardern also said it was important to “act as if you already have COVID-19.”
“Think about it that way and then you’ll work as hard as you can to limit your contact with others as much as possible.”
Ardern also explained that New Zealanders would not see the positive benefits of their lockdown for at least 10 days and to try not to be disheartened when seeing a sharp incline in COVID-19 cases.
“Our numbers are going to go up and the modelling I’ve seen suggests they will go up quite considerably,” she said. “We will see quite a steep rise, in fact, I’m expecting we may see several thousand cases over a period of time – until we will hope to see the effects of what we are doing.”
Ardern finished the live stream by encouraging New Zealanders to check in on their neighbors, especially the elderly, by giving them a call.
“You are going to be seeing a lot of me over the next four weeks,” she said.
“I probably will drive you a bit mad by being so present.”