By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) - As New Zealand moves towards a nation-wide four-week lockdown from Wednesday mid-night triggered by coronavirus pandemic, local authorities warned businesses which received wage subsidy and still fired employees, the local media reported on Wednesday.
New Zealand businesses “taking the available wage subsidy but firing their staff were committing fraud and police should be informed of this,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, quoted by the daily New Zealand Herald.
Ardern also said her government has taken measures to save jobs and businesses and help home owners and renters.
"I know how hard this will be, especially for New Zealanders who face the first day unemployed and with an uncertain future," she added.
The country reported 50 cases, including three more “probable” ones, of the deadly infection known as COVID-19, today taking the toll to 205 confirmed cases, daily New Zealand Herald reported.
Referring to lockdown from mid-night, the Prime Minister said that New Zealand police will be out and about from Thursday and "may ask people who are on the street where they are going and why."
Ardern urged people to “stay local” else the lockdown may be extended.
"Common sense will apply and the police will be applying the same practices they do every day when they're assessing if people are out as they should be.
"There is no reason for us to have roadblocks in and out of centers, because ultimately, everyone is in lockdown," she told Newstalk ZB radio program.
New Zealand had on Monday announced widening the scale of restrictions to stem the spread of the pandemic.
"We need to make sure that what we do with New Zealanders coming home is protect the health of them and protect the health of others,” she said, referring to country's citizens who are out of the country and intend to return home.
The country’s Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield warned the number of coronavirus cases would “continue to increase for at least 10 days, before turning around”.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 170 countries and territories. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 424,000 while the death toll is nearly 19,000 and over 109,100 have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the rising number of cases, most who contract the virus suffer only mild symptoms before making a recovery.