Not even rugby has this pulling power. Internet use has surged past broadband traffic not seen since last year's Rugby World Cup.

Telecommunications company Chorus has been providing updates on New Zealand's internet use over the past few days, as the country prepares to go into lockdown just before midnight tonight.

A spokesman said: "This is the first time that traffic on the network has exceeded the Rugby World Cup 2019 traffic peak of 2.6Tbps."

The figure comes as much of the Kiwi workforce has started working from home in the past week or so after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country would be put on alert level 4.

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"There is no congestion in the Chorus network," the spokesman said.

"As new behaviour patterns settle during the lockdown, we expect network traffic levels to reach a steady state."

Chorus is considered to be an essential service, so its staff would work and help customers over the next four weeks of lockdown.

The spokesman also confirmed that the company is working with retail service providers to make sure points in the network where it handed over traffic between one another remained free of congestion.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

An update from health officials on Covid-19 is expected shortly.

As of yesterday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Zealand was 155 after 40 new cases were announced.

Health staff have also confirmed that community transmission can now be expected, as a handful of the cases did not have any connection to overseas travel.

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