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We’re going into lockdown . . .

Editorial

As the midnight deadline approaches for a four-week nationwide lockdown to prevent the Covid-19 virus spreading through our communities, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this morning urged people to stay at home now and act as if they are already in a lockdown.

Anyone who remains at all unsure about how serious the national lockdown messages are should take a look at the world news — it is grim and getting worse.

Many nations are in lockdown and some are also in a serious pandemic situation, with all indications that many more will soon join them in this crippling Covid-19 battle — where even the world's best health services can quickly become overwhelmed. The worst-hit nations are dealing with multiplying coronavirus spread and hospitals are struggling to care for fast-rising numbers of seriously ill people.

The number of Covid-19 cases reported globally has passed 400,000 and many more are not being counted; there have now been 18,600 deaths around the world, with the daily toll having climbed steeply throughout March — there were 73 deaths globally on March 1; 271 on March 10; 686 on March 15; 1356 on March 20 and 1873 on March 23.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the United States could overtake Europe as the next epicentre of this pandemic. It has now reported 46,400 confirmed cases and 591 have died; a WHO spokeswoman said they expected those numbers to surge.

A meme doing the rounds of social media covers daily comments from US President Donald Trump as the coronavirus situation emerged. In light of his multiple failures and the nonsense he has spouted, he will surely be a one-term president — no matter how well he might rise to the challenges before him now.

The Olympics were officially postponed for 12 months overnight, finally.

Yesterday New Zealand reported another 40 Covid-19 cases, taking our tally of confirmed and probable cases to 155. Two of the cases announced yesterday were suspected community transmission, taking that key tally to four; three in Auckland, one in the Wairarapa. All the rest are linked to people arriving in New Zealand from countries with coronavirus outbreaks.

We're entering a very new normal now and here at The Herald we'll be keeping you up to date with the local situation, as well as national and international developments.

Kia kaha te Tairawhiti, and let's all do our bit to stay safe.