A patient with coronavirus was treated at Rotorua Hospital and has been discharged as the country prepared the nationwide lockdown.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield announced there were 50 new cases yesterday , which brought the New Zealand total to 205.

There were six people in hospital in a stable condition, one in Rotorua (who had since been discharged), two in Waikato and three in Wellington. Three patients were discharged from hospitals yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon a state of emergency was declared in New Zealand.

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Bloomfield said he expected the number of cases to continue rising for the next 10 days, and the numbers would drop if people stayed at home.

He said there were two possible strains of Covid-19.

"Whatever the strain, we know the way to beat it is the same."

Rotorua Lakes mayor Steve Chadwick told the Rotorua Daily Post that as it was a national state of emergency, it was a team in Wellington co-ordinating the response.

Locally, she said, the Lakes District Health Board was leading the Civil Defence response, but the council were in touch and "will do anything that they direct".

"Those directives are: stay at home, play your part," she said.

She also told people to "keep connected" and not to isolate themselves completely.

Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell, who is also the chairman of the Bay of Plenty Civil Defence & Emergency Management Group, said he had been in contact yesterday with the mayors of Ōpōtiki, Whakatāne, Kawerau, Rotorua Lakes and the Western Bay of Plenty Districts to discuss a local response plan.

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"We're in really good shape, we're a coordinated team, we work well together," he said.

"I'm confident we have a good plan in place."

The regional Civil Defence controllers would be on 7-day shifts, he said, and they were planning to "augment" that with back-up "as need be".

"As need be would mean if there was a major Bay of Plenty community breakout," Powell said.

"I'm very hopeful that we won't. Because we have an older demographic, we've discovered that people are really taking this seriously."

He was very "conscious" of the Bay of Plenty's older population, he said, and was "heartened" by the meeting with his regional counterparts.

He said the situation about a national emergency was "a very specific thing".

"This is very unique, and so the regions need to be able to lock right into that and to play their part ... in the national structure," he said.

Lakes District Health Board outpatient clinical nurse manager Kelly Beckett said all face-to-face outpatient consultations at Rotorua and Taupō hospitals were cancelled unless clinically urgent.

Waiariki Labour MP Tamati Coffey said these were "extraordinary circumstances" and was fully supportive of the Government's actions.

"It kicks off a chain reaction - this is an emergency. A real, real threat and we need to be utilising all of our resources."

He said the ability to send New Zealanders key messages through text would be crucial.

"These are extraordinary circumstances that require an extraordinary response."

He said he hoped the seriousness of the situation would now be received but also hoped the anxious and vulnerable were not too frightened.

Rotorua Lakes councillor Trevor Maxwell said he was "very supportive of all the Government is trying to do".

The council pledged yesterday to work alongside the Government's Covid-19 strategy.

"We working to protect our people in our community, cushion economic and social impacts and position our district for recovery," he said.

Rotorua National MP Todd McClay said he was one of only 20 Members of Parliament passing "urgent legislation" yesterday to help households and small businesses through the crisis.

"A state of emergency being called means that there will be more restriction on people's ability to move in the community," he said.

"It's important that the government provides clear information quickly to essential workers on what they should do and to other members of the community on how these additional restrictions will affect them."

He also urged the Rotorua community to remain calm, and thanked members of the medical community "for all they will do in the coming months in extremely difficult circumstances".

Joseph Taiaroa. Photo / Stephen Parker
Joseph Taiaroa. Photo / Stephen Parker

Rotorua resident Joseph Taiaroa wore a mask and gloves to the CBD yesterday.

The 69-year-old was mildly concerned about the lockdown, he said, "but it had to be done".

He was trying to see his doctor yesterday but was unable to visit due to the closures of face-to-face appointments, and wore gloves and a mask due to concerns about catching Covid-19.

He has asthma, he said, and with his age "getting on" as well, he didn't want to risk it.

"There are so many people visiting the supermarkets and touching the trolleys," he said.

He hadn't done much to prepare for the lockdown, he said, and his family mostly lived further south, in Taumarunui, Levin and Palmerston North, but he had a daughter who still lived in Rotorua.