New Zealand has “no widespread undetected” novel coronavirus cases, since the country has reported single-digit cases for eight days now, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday.
Addressing a news conference in Auckland, Ardern said: “There is no widespread community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle.”
New Zealand will move to alert level-three, during which it will ease out of complete lockdown measures imposed a month ago to stem the spread of COVID-19.
A total of 19 people have died due to the virus among 1,469 people were infected in New Zealand .
According to the daily New Zealand, Ardern was “optimistic” that the country had “eliminated COVID-19 currently.”
“Elimination means we may well reach zero, but we may well then have small numbers of cases coming up again,” she added.
The country’s health chief Ashley Bloomfield added that the low number of new cases “gives us confidence that we have achieved our goal of elimination.”
“But, it does mean we know where our cases are coming from,” he added.
Ardern said: “That doesn’t mean we have failed; it just means that we’re in the position to have that zero-tolerance approach to have very aggressive management of those cases and keep those numbers low.”
On whether the country would collaborate with Australia on fighting COVID-19, Ardern said her government was focusing on fighting the virus domestically at present.
“We do not want to jeopardize the work done by New Zealanders in combating COVID-19 by opening our borders [with Australia] too early. This also applied to Pacific Island nations,” she said.
New Zealand imposed a strict lockdown closing educational institutions, offices, bars and restaurants including delivery services on March 26 to halt the spread of the disease. It closed borders and quarantined those who returned home from abroad.
Authorities had strictly banned people from visiting beaches, waterfronts and playgrounds. Those found violating the restrictions orders were penalized, including a former minister who was once in Ardern’s cabinet.
Ardern said that around 400,000 would be able to return to work on Tuesday as the country eases restrictions.
She has received appreciation from the international community for the leading fight against COVID-19, Ardern said New Zealand was 11 hours away from moving out of the “strictest constraints” in country’s modern history.
“We did. And we did it together,” she added.
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