New Zealand 'eliminates' coronavirus; cases down to single digits
New Zealand has achieved its goal of "elimination" of the coronavirus as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said they have "won the battle" against community transmission. On Sunday, New Zealand reported one new case, one death, and four "probable cases." The island country now looks forward to "opening up the economy" as it eases certain lockdown restrictions. Here are more details.
New Zealand's Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, clarified that "elimination" does not mean "eradication." Bloomfield said it simply means that they are in a position to "stamp out" any new cases that might pop up. He said that the recent low number of new cases "does give us confidence that we have achieved our goal of elimination."
PM Ardern said the coronavirus was "currently" eliminated and described the new infections dropping to single digits as "incredible." She extended sympathies to those who lost loved ones during the pandemic and praised New Zealanders. She said, "It's been nearly 5 weeks living and working in ways that just two months ago would have been impossible. But we did. And we've done it together."
From Tuesday, New Zealand will resume certain non-essential businesses, along with healthcare and education activity, as it relaxes its lockdown from "level four" to "level three." The "level three" lockdown allows schools to reopen with limited capacity, resumption of manufacturing and forestry work, takeout at restaurants, etc. Ardern said, "We are opening up the economy, but we're not opening up people's social lives."
According to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, New Zealand has reported a total of 1,469 COVID-19 cases, including 19 deaths and 1,180 recoveries. New Zealand has received praise for handling the pandemic, enforcing some of the toughest restrictions on travel and activity early on. Ardern said daily infections could have been as high as 1,000 had the lockdown not been imposed that early.