VIRUS UPDATES
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* All you need to know - essential information and latest updates

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expects New Zealand's border restrictions will become even tighter today, as Covid-19 continues its spread around the globe.

"I expect that we will see further border restrictions in New Zealand because that is what we have been doing to date," she said yesterday.

Her comments come as Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced this morning he had cancelled his trip to Canberra today to meet with his Australian counterpart, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

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The meeting will take place via Skype.

The pair are to "compare notes" on how the two countries are reacting to the pandemic.

"This is a rapidly changing situation, and as I am sure people will understand, that means we have to be prepared to make changes like this from time to time," Robertson said.

"On the call with Treasurer Frydenberg today we will cover a range of important issues, including responses to the situation presented by the global spread of COVID-19.

"As we respond to this global health crisis it is important to keep in regular contact with our closest neighbour and trading partner. It is important that we share information and work closely together on our responses to this global event."

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Australia has earmarked billions of dollars of Government spending to help limit the economic damage of the virus' spread.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that more than six million Australians will be getting a cheque for A$750 ($775) as part of a A$17.6 billion stimulus package.

Robertson has also signalled a Government spending package, with further details of that to be announced next week.

The virus continues to wreak havoc on stock markets, in the skies, on sporting arenas - and even close to the US President, Donald Trump.

A Brazilian official who met Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday has tested positive for coronavirus, though Trump said he "isn't concerned".

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The White House spokesman later said "exposures from the case are being assessed", but that Trump and Pence "do not require being tested at this time".

The World Health Organisation has declared Covid-19 a pandemic as the number of people to contract the disease surpassed 120,000 world-wide.

And as the health implications worsen, so too does the economic global picture.

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

Trump sent shock waves through international markets after he placed a 30-day travel ban between Europe and the US.

"We made a life-saving move with early action on China," Trump said from the Oval office.
"Now we must take the same action with Europe."

Ardern reiterated previous comments that New Zealand had some of the "toughest travel restrictions in the world".

"[On Wednesday] we moved on further restrictions – I expect we will be doing the same [today]."

She said yesterday she would be receiving advice within 24 hours from top scientists as to whether New Zealand's border restrictions need to get tighter.

This would give her officials time to analyse Trump's move and to take stock of any wider implications.

She also said the Government was keeping an eye on the situation in Italy.

"Now, of course, we're seeing outbreaks in the US – we need to factor all of that in, in the continual advice we are getting [when it comes to] our border restrictions."

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed for the fifth day in a row, New Zealand has had no new cases, or possible cases, of Covid-19.

Despite this, Robertson has admitted the economic impact of the disease would be worse than what the Government had initially anticipated.

Moments before he took the podium to speak to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce yesterday, ANZ – New Zealand's biggest bank – said a recession in New Zealand was "looking highly probable".

Finance Minister Grant Robertson. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Finance Minister Grant Robertson. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In the speech, where he said New Zealand was "in the eye of the storm," Robertson predicted the economic impact would last throughout 2020 – he had previously only anticipated a "short, sharp shock".

Speaker Trevor Mallard has also been forced to cancel his annual Speaker's Tour amid Covid-19 concerns.

Mallard and three other MPs were meant to head to Japan, Malaysia and Thailand for a number of engagements.

That trip will now not go ahead until after the election, Mallard told the Herald.

"We certainly wouldn't want to be the cause of it [Covid-19] spreading."

As the Government continues to provide updates on its plan to limit the spread of Covid-19, the National Party continues to criticise ministers' response to the outbreak.

National leader Simon Bridges has called on the Government to earmark the remaining $645 million in the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) kitty on spending to support small businesses.