The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has released a media statement saying it is well-prepared and ready to assist the All-of-Government effort on COVID-19 when required.

New Zealand on Wednesday afternoon went into the State of Emergency for at least a week and a total lockdown was activated from 12 a.m. on Thursday, March 26.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the NZDF was committed to serving and helping New Zealand through a rapidly developing situation.

“Currently we have military planners and other people with specialist skills working in government agencies to assist with the response,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said.

“Any request for extra assistance would come from civil authorities but we’re standing by to help if we’re needed and we’re here to help New Zealand get through this safely.’’

As a relatively small military, the NZDF maintained high states of readiness, he said.

“We have a range of capabilities should these be required to assist in the response to COVID-19, including transport aircraft and vehicles and skilled personnel who can assist other government agencies if needed.”

To maintain that state of readiness, and keep NZDF people safe, personnel and civilian staff had been following Ministry of Health guidelines around hygiene, physical distancing and self-isolation on return from travel, he said.

“We have initiated Operation Protect to focus and organise our contributions to the All-of-Government effort to respond to, and manage the effects of, COVID-19.

“We are doing this while continuing to support our missions overseas and maintaining our other requirements, such as search and rescue, regional and domestic response options and training.”