New Zealand claims coronavirus ‘elimination’ as new cases drop to single digits — ‘We have won that battle’
Medical staff test a supermarket employee who volunteered at a pop-up community COVID-19 testing station at a carpark in Christchurch, New Zealand.(Mark Baker/AP)
After five weeks in lockdown, New Zealand has beaten coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday.
“There is no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle,” Ardern said at a press conference. “But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way.”
The country has seen a steady drop in new cases since April 5, including no reported infections on Sunday. On Monday, five were reported.
Just 1,469 people in New Zealand have tested positive for coronavirus, with 19 deaths reported.
Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general of health, said the low number of new cases “does give us confidence that we have achieved our goal of elimination.”
“Our goal is elimination," he said Monday. "And again, that doesn’t mean eradication but it means we get down to a small number of cases so that we are able to stamp out any cases and any outbreak that might come out.”
Ardern also announced that New Zealand was moving from a “level four” lockdown to a “level three.” Some contact-less businesses, including food takeout, will now reopen, as will elementary schools for those 10 years old and younger.
But Ardern still urged people to keep their distance and stay home as much as possible.
“It’s been nearly 5 weeks living and working in ways that just two months ago would have been impossible," she said. "But we did. And we have done it together.”