Coronavirus: Timeline of New Zealand's response to COVID-19

With New Zealanders stuck inside during lockdown and listening intently to the daily updates with little contact with the outside world, it sometimes feels like the pandemic has been going on for a long time.

But the pandemic has only significantly taken off in the last two months with Newshub first reporting the virus on January 6.

Since then the world has significantly changed and impacted the lives of billions of people around the world. Here's New Zealand's response to COVID-19 so far.

January 6: Newshub covers the "mystery virus" for the first time 

The new virus was first reported on December 31, 2019 to the World Health Organisation with doctors calling it an "unknown viral pneumonia". It was believed to have originated in a wet food market in Wuhan and had infected 59 people by January 6. There were initial fears the virus could be a new outbreak of SARS, Bird flu or Middle East respiratory syndrome.

January 15: The virus spreads outside of China 

On January 15 the virus was found in Thailand and was the first case spread through international travel. At the time COVID-19 was believed to not be "highly transmissible" and only infected people who had visited the market. By January 24, there were reported cases in Malaysia, Canada and France and the virus was confirmed to be transmissible.

January 27: Ardern reports on Kiwis in Wuhan

Back when COVID-19 wasn't the only thing on everyone's minds, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the date for New Zealand's 2020 election before updating the country on coronavirus. She said there were 53 Kiwis stuck in Wuhan but the Government had no plans to evacuate them.

January 29: 2000 cases

On January 29 there were over 2000 cases of coronavirus worldwide and Ardern announced New Zealand would now be working with Australia to bring citizens stuck in Wuhan home.

February 28: New Zealand has its first confirmed case of coronavirus

On February 28, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced the country's first case of COVID-19. The first case was an individual in their 60s who was being treated in Auckland Hospital and was in a stable condition. They had recently returned to New Zealand from Iran via Bali, Indonesia.

March 4-7: New Zealand has four more confirmed cases of COVID-19

  • March 4: one new case
  • March 5: one new case
  • March 7: two new cases

There was then a five-day period where there were no new cases announced.

March 14: New Zealand begins to announce new cases of coronavirus daily

March 21: Announcement of New Zealand's alert levels

On March 21 Jacinda Ardern revealed New Zealand's alert level system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in a rare nationwide address. She announced the country was also moving to alert level 2.

March 23: Jacinda Ardern announces New Zealand's move to alert level 3, then to level 4

After the number of confirmed cases shot to 102, Ardern announced the country was moving to alert level 3, and then in 48 hours to level 4. The news made New Zealanders realise the extent of the pandemic with many rushing to supermarkets or to book hurried flights to get home.

March 25: New Zealand announces State of Emergency

On March 25 the Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare declared a state of national emergency under the Civil Defence Emergency Act 2002. 

March 26: Lockdown begins

New Zealand began its preliminary month-long lockdown on March 26. Everyone that was able was advised to work from home and Kiwis started only leaving their homes for essential travel. At the time there were 205 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19.

March 29: New Zealand's first COVID-19-related death

A West Coast woman in her 70s was the first casualty of the virus in New Zealand. She had known underlying health conditions and was initially believed to have had influenza before her COVID-19 tests came back positive. 

April 2 and 5: New Zealand hits peak of cases

The highest number of daily cases New Zealand saw was 89, which happened on both April 2 and April 5

April 3: One million cases of COVID-19 recorded worldwide

When the global total reached one million, the United States was contributing more than one-fifth to these cases, with 235,000 sick individuals. This was followed by Italy and Spain, who were both reporting more than 110,000 cases. China, the virus' country of origin, had 81,000.

April 6-12: New daily cases decrease

Between April 6 and April 12 the number of new daily cases announced each day began to decrease. 

  • April 6: 67
  • April 7: 54
  • April 8: 50
  • April 9: 29
  • April 10: 44
  • April 11: 29
  • April 12: 18

April 15: Two million cases of COVID-19 worldwide

In the space of 12 days, the global number of cases doubled and brought the total to two million.

The United States still topped the world with its figures - at the time it had 622,412 cases and more than 27,000 deaths.

April 20: Ardern announces lockdown will end on Monday April 27

After deliberation with Cabinet, Ardern announced alongside Dr Bloomfield that the country would move to alert level 3 at 11:59pm on April 27. It means Kiwis will have endured level 4 for almost five weeks.

Level 3 is currently set to last for two weeks and it will be reviewed again with the decision to move into alert level 2 on May 11.

There have been a total of 1440 cases in New Zealand. Of these, 12 people have died and 974 patients have recovered. That means there are 454 active cases.