Coronavirus: Queen Elizabeth sends personal message to New Zealand

A day after her impassioned video message to the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth has addressed New Zealand's challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a message to Kiwis, the Queen says she recognises people in New Zealand, as with those in other Commonwealth countries, are experiencing "unprecedented changes to their lives" due to the global spread of SARS-CoV-2.

That virus, which causes the COVID-19 illness, has infected more than 1.3 million people worldwide and killed at least 70,000. It's forced New Zealand to introduce the strictest lockdown restrictions the country has ever seen, while disrupting global trade routes and essentially decimating international tourism. 

With people instructed to stay indoors, limit non-essential movement, and not visit those outside of their 'bubble', the Queen also acknowledged the concerns Kiwis have for their family and friends, as well as the financial uncertainty created by the restrictions.

"You are in my thoughts and prayers," she wrote.

"I send my enduring thanks to those who continue to put the service of others above themselves, whether by staying at home, providing essential services, or by caring for the most vulnerable.

"It is through this sense of community, dedication and faith, that I am confident New Zealanders will rise to the challenge and overcome.

"Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui."

The Queen's message to New Zealand comes only a day after she spoke to Britons in a rare, televised address. In it, she said the United Kingdom too would overcome the great challenge the pandemic posed and that people would one day meet each other in the streets again.

The Queen, 93, rarely addresses the nation aside from her annual message on Christmas Day. In the past, Her Majesty has only recorded rallying speeches in times of crisis or celebration.

The last was the Queen's Diamond Jubilee message in June 2012, which marked the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne. In April 2002, the Queen addressed the death of the Queen Mother, one day before her mother's funeral. In September 1997, the Queen spoke in a live broadcast regarding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and in February 1991, the Queen made a statement at the time of the first Gulf War.

New Zealand, which is now in its 13th day of lockdown, has recorded more than 1100 cases of the virus and one death.