New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has earned the praise of thousands after broadcasting a video live to Facebook from her bed, talking residents through details of the coronavirus lockdown.
Ms Ardern addressed the nation in her casual attire on Wednesday evening to answer questions ahead of the commencement of the nationwide lockdown on Thursday.
Residents are confined to their homes for four weeks in a dramatic move against the coronavirus spread, with people allowed outside only to complete absolutely essential tasks.
The prime minister encouraged the public to get comfortable living inside their “bubble”, given people in the same household would be restricted from coming in close contact with anyone else for a month.
She clarified that when it came to outdoor activities, a household – no matter how many members – could go on a walk together at the same time, so long as they kept their distance from others.
Ms Ardern advised against travelling far from the home, and reminded people to be wary of touching surfaces, as coronavirus could survive for up to 72 hours.
Confirmed cases for New Zealand on Wednesday evening were 189, and there were 16 people counted in a total of “probable” cases, with the nation yet to record any COVID-19-related deaths.
While conceding people would need to travel by car to visit public areas like the doctor, supermarket or fitness track, Ms Adern asked that people still limit their risk as much as possible.
She also reminded viewers the benefit of the strict one-month lockdown would not show itself in figures for at least 10 days.
“Don’t be disheartened, our numbers are going to go up, and the modelling I’ve seen suggests they will go up quite considerably. We may see several thousand cases over a period of time,” she said.
“Until, we hope, we’ll see the effects of our self isolation have a positive impact. So don’t be disheartened when you see that.”
She also assured people whose visas were due to expire at some point during the lockdown that all penalties would be waived.
In support of people and business who have suffered financially as a result of COVID-19, Ms Ardern explained the generous employer subsidy available through the government.
Up to $585 per week would be available for full-time workers and $350 per week for part-time workers.
More than 40,000 people left comments on the video, most expressing their support for her approach to handling the crisis, including Australians who asked that she take Australia under her wing.
“Please come and look after Australia! We need Jacinda as a leader here. It’s so wonderful to see such a proactive leader. Well done,” one person wrote.
“I just want to send you love Jacinda, you are truly the first leader of the country that I can totally relate to. You are amazing and I as a Māori/Kiwi am very proud to have you as our prime minister,” another wrote.
Continued calls for Australian lockdown
The Australian federal government is tinkering with restrictions in place to slow the spread of coronavirus following the death of two more people overnight, bringing the death toll to 11.
While there are further restrictions on businesses, community facilities and public spaces that came into effect at midnight, calls for a complete nationwide lockdown have continued to strengthen.
Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie called on Scott Morrison to enforce a full lockdown to begin midnight Friday.
“For goodness sake prime minister, we don't want any more 35 minutes of your dribble, please make a decision that a leader would make,” she told Nine.
“Play it safe mate and put us into lockdown unless it is for essential services, please.”
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