Coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern calls on people who arrived in NZ before the weekend to voluntarily self-isolate

The Prime Minister is asking those who arrived in New Zealand before the new border restrictions came into force to self-isolate anyway for the good of the community. 

"Anyone who has returned from overseas travel in the last two weeks should be self-isolating," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the Beehive in Wellington. 

She said people may not know or believe themselves to be susceptible to the COVID-19 coronavirus, but that the best thing to do to prevent a community outbreak is to self-isolate. 

The Prime Minister's message came just after the Ministry of Health confirmed eight new cases of the coronavirus in New Zealand, bringing the country's total number of cases to 20 - in Auckland, Waikato, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown. 

"We are doing everything we can to focus on a situation where we deal with a series of smaller waves of transmission rather than the tsunami that many countries are facing," Ardern told reporters. 

"But nevertheless, we need New Zealanders to prepare."

She said to think about COVID-19 in the same way you would for civil defence emergencies - preparing a plan with family about what to do in situations where you may need to work from home or how you will handle having to self-isolate. 

"This is not a time for panic. It is a time for preparation. I ask everyone that they think about that for them and their family," Ardern said. "Also, think about your extended family - how you'll provide support for others in your life. "

She said it's important to talk to your neighbours about a plan, should any of them be required to self-isolate, and work through options for how you may need to access other resources such as food if you're self-isolating.

The Prime Minister said within the next 24 hours the Government will release new guidance on mass gatherings, after already banning gatherings of more than 500 people on Monday. 

On Tuesday, the Government unveiled a massive $12.1 billion COVID-19 economic stimulus package which includes wage subsidies, tax relief and financial sick leave support if you do need to self-isolate. 

The current rules are that anyone who arrives in New Zealand must self-isolate for 14 days. It applies to every country except for 17 Pacific Island regions. 

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