Coronavirus: Winston Peters says COVID-19 threat equal to World War II

Winston Peters is urging New Zealanders to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic - which he has called "a silent killer".

The Deputy Prime Minister posted a video to Facebook Tuesday morning warning Kiwis to put themselves on a "war footing".

"In times past threats to our way of lives have been visible," he said.

"We could respond collectively to the terrible effects of the Great Depression, we could fight Hilter's fascism on the beaches and on the hills. We could see the damage they would do.

"This time however we confront a silent killer."

Peters urged Kiwis to respond accordingly.

"Stay at home. Keep a two-metre physical distance when people pay us a visit," he said.

"[Stay safe] by regularly washing and drying our hands and keeping our services clean. And again, stay at home."

He also said Kiwis must reach out to each other to find comfort amid trying times.

"Talk to your families, friends, and government agencies about how they can help you with what you need.

"Reach out to them. One thing we know about New Zealander's is that we do care… we don't turn our backs on those in need."

His sombre message to the nation follows Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Monday announcement that the country would enter near-total lockdown on Wednesday.

All non-essential business and schools will close and transport will close to everyone who is not an essential service.

People must work from home and reduce all contact with others.

"We need to remain in level 4 as a nation but then we may be at a period where some regions can be lifted out," Ardern told media on Monday afternoon. "But compliance is key."

New Zealand currently has 102 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and that number is expected to rise over the coming weeks.

"Things will get worse before they get better," Ardern said on Monday.