WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday (Mar 23) the country will move into its highest alert level, with all non-essential services, schools and offices to be shut over the next 48 hours.

The move means bars, cafes, restaurants and cinemas will be shut. Supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open, Ardern said, adding that the country was well supplied.

All schools will be closed from Tuesday, she said.

“New Zealand is now preparing to go into self-isolation,” Ardern told a news conference.

READ: Asia Pacific steps up COVID-19 efforts as second wave of infections strikes

From Australia’s Bondi Beach to the streets of New Delhi, authorities across the Asia-Pacific region have ramped up efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 amid fears of a second wave of infections in places where outbreaks had appeared under control.

Last week, New Zealand announced it would close its borders to all foreigners in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

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