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London and the United Kingdom have gone into lockdown and workers in major states and cities in the United States have been told to stay at home as the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpasses 10,000.

In New Zealand, libraries, art galleries, museums and university lecture theatres are all temporarily closing their doors as the number of Covid-19 infected people across the country continues to rise.

Countries have gone into lockdown with citizens told to return home. Italy, with 60 million citizens, has recorded 3405 deaths, exceeding the 3248 in China, a country with a population 20 times larger.


It took three months to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases worldwide. The second 100,000 took only 12 days.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the shutdown of London and the UK today.

All pubs, bars, shops, restaurants, gyms and leisure centres across the UK will shut their doors tonight as the Prime Minister unveiled a package of measures to protect workers and the economy.

Johnson urged people not to go out tonight as he introduced the stringent measures, which he said were necessary to "turn the tide" on the epidemic.

The UK Government has also announced "an unprecedented" plan to pay 80 per cent of wages in order to protect workers. The scheme will cover the salary of those on up to £2500 ($NZ5100) a month, just above the median income.

As the number of new UK infections today leaped by 714 up to 3983, Johnson said that 75 per cent of the population should stay indoors.

"I know it's been tough and it's been inconvenient, but these actions that we are all taking together is helping to take the strain off our NHS. We will be able to save literally thousands of lives, people of all ages who don't deserve to die now," he said.

Johnson added: "We are taking away the ancient, inalienable right of the free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub - and I can understand how people feel about that."


In America, the US-Mexico border is closing to nonessential travel, New York has told non-essential workers to stay home and the entire state of California is effectively locking down.

There are now 39 positive cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand; 11 new cases were confirmed by Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield on Friday afternoon.

This is the single highest one-day increase in New Zealand since Covid-19 arrived in the country in late February.

Even more major sporting events have been cancelled as health officials tell New Zealanders to practice "physical distancing" whenever they can.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reiterated her call that people should not panic and says Kiwis should "trust doctors".

Minister for Health David Clark talks to Mike Hosking.

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Of the new cases announced on Friday, five were in Auckland, two in Waikato, one was in Hawke's Bay, two in Wellington and one in Canterbury.

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses in New Zealand too – the Government yesterday announced details of a $900 million loan to embattled Air New Zealand.

This comes as the New Zealand Superfund revealed it has lost almost $9 billion since the start of the year and supermarkets place temporary limits on some items in store amid "unprecedented demand".

Speaking to media yesterday, Bloomfield said the Ministry of Health was expecting more Covid-19 cases given the rapidly evolving situation overseas, as well as the increased number of New Zealanders coming home from overseas.

Community transmission has not occurred in New Zealand, Bloomfield confirmed.

Despite this, leaders in both Auckland and Wellington have moved to temporarily close public places to prevent the virus' spread.


Auckland's art galleries, pools, recreational centres and libraries would all be closed for at least two weeks in response to Covid-19, Mayor Phil Goff confirmed yesterday morning.

This was, as he said, a "necessary step".

"Our main concern right now is to protect people's health and wellbeing," he told media.

He said the moves would not result in any job losses but staff at the public facilities could be redirected into other roles related to the Covid-19 response.

In Wellington, the Te Papa's chairwoman Dame Fran Wilde announced the museum would close for at least two weeks, due to Covid-19.

"The health of our visitors, our staff and our community is of paramount importance."


It was a similar message from Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater, who confirmed the university would suspend teaching across its campuses next week.

The University's intention is to be in full digital teaching and learning mode from the week of March 30 onwards.

"Closure of schools and universities to help contain the spread of Covid-19 is a real possibility for New Zealand, particularly as the prospect of community transmission of the virus becomes more likely."

And when a widespread community outbreak reaches a national level, at that point all schools and early childhood centres in New Zealand would close, according to advice from the Ministry of Education.

It warned that if community transmission of Covid-19 did occur in New Zealand, schools would shut for at least 14 days.

But, according to Education Minister Chris Hipkins, the public health advice was that schools and early learning centers were still safe.


Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began, offered a ray of hope with no new infections reported for a second day in a row and only 39 cases reported nationwide – all of them brought from the outside.

The Government yesterday also announced its much-anticipated Air New Zealand rescue plan.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced the Government would provide a $900 million loan to the airliner, which has been significantly impacted by Covid-19.

"Without this intervention, New Zealand was at risk of not having a national airline."

Air NZ, which is 52 per cent owned by the Government, has been forced to slash its international routes and will likely have to shed potentially thousands of jobs.

The loan means Air NZ was now in a position to make sure New Zealanders overseas can return home.


Just hours later, the Ministers in charge of Economic Development announced close to $113 million worth of support for the East Coast forestry sector.

The bulk of that funding, some $100 million, will go towards redeploying forestry workers who have been unable to work due to the economic impact of Covid-19.

And there was some good news for anxious migrant workers grappling with the reality of closed borders yesterday as well.

The Weekend Herald can reveal that the Government is looking at letting thousands of migrant workers stay in New Zealand longer to ease their plight in the wake of the unprecedented border closures.

An announcement is likely to come next week as officials look at how many foreign workers this may affect.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the Government was doing everything it could to bring New Zealanders overseas back home.


He said the Defence Force 757s or Air NZ planes could be used to collect New Zealanders abroad. - Additional reporting UK Daily Telegraph