Coronavirus lockdown: Ministry of Health considering quarantining anyone entering NZ

The Ministry of Health is considering placing anyone entering New Zealand in quarantine.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says other options - including placing those in quarantine if they are failing to comply with self-isolation rules - are also being considered.

Six weeks ago, Air New Zealand sent a rescue plane to the Chinese city of Wuhan - where the coronavirus COVID-19 broke out. Those evacuated were then quarantined at the Whangaparaoa Military Camp.

"We've got the experience of Whangaparaoa as a good starting point," Dr Bloomfield told reporters on Monday. "We know how to set it up quickly [and] how to look after people."

Dr Bloomfield's comments came before Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern placed New Zealand into lockdown. The country has reached alert level 3 - with plans to move to 4 in 48 hours.

"One of the things we are able to do here of course is check on people who are cases or close contacts, so they get daily check-ins and have to report in on their health," Dr Bloomfield said.

"We're also looking at options for quarantine and whether that would be for people coming into the country and or others in the country where we aren't confident about their compliance with self-isolation expectations."

Ardern, meanwhile, has warned of a harrowing death rate if strict COVID-19 measures are not enforced.

All non-essential services must close and people outside essential services are being urged to stay at home.

"These decisions will place the most significant restrictions on New Zealanders' movements in modern history," she told reporters. "This is not a decision taken lightly."

Schools across the country will close from midnight on Wednesday.