New Zealand announces 'world's toughest border restrictions' in bid to halt coronavirus outbreak

New Zealand has announced everyone arriving in the country will have to isolate themselves for 14 days in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The country has just six confirmed cases of Covid-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.

Speaking at a press conference in Christchurch, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the new rules, which come in from midnight Sunday, will mean the country has the toughest border restrictions in the world.

"Alongside Israel and a small number of pacific islands who have effectively closed their borders this decision will mean New Zealand will have the widest ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world," Ardern said.

The only countries exempt from the restrictions are a handful of Pacific islands that haven’t yet had any cases of COVID-19.

Ms Ardern said: "I make no apologies. This is an unprecedented time."

Countries across the world have put preventative measures in place. Credit: AP

Ms Ardern added that while New Zealand doesn't have a coronavirus community transmission yet, now is the time to prepare.

"If you don't need to travel overseas, then don't. Enjoy your own backyard for a time. Stop handshakes, hugs and hongi."

"We are a tough, resilient people. We have been here before. But our journey will depend on how we work together. We are taking every measure we need as a Government.

"Look out for your neighbour, look out for your family, look out for your friends. Look after your older ones, we are all in this together."

Ms Ardern continued: "We understand these decisions are disappointing people but we have to prioritise people's health."

The restrictions will be reviewed in 16 days and there will be more advice for self-isolation next week from New Zealand.

New Zealand's border is already closed to international visitors who have travelled to China or Iran, while people arriving from Italy and South Korea, must go into quarantine for 14 days.

All cruise ships will also be banned until 30 June, although cargo ships will still be allowed.

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