Jacinda Ardern Says New Zealand Has 'Eliminated' The Coronavirus Threat
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After being plunged into one of the most comprehensive coronavirus-related lockdowns in the world, New Zealand appears to have emerged as a winner.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her government's Level Four restrictions have helped stop community transmissions of the virus and effectively eliminated its threat to society.
The number of cases in New Zealand have jumped only by single digits over the past few days and health experts are cautiously optimistic.
The country's Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, said: "[The low number of cases] does give us confidence that we've achieved our goal of elimination - that never meant zero but it does mean we know where our cases are coming from."
"Our goal is elimination.
"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."
New Zealand has recorded 1,461 cases of coronavirus, with just 325 active patients remaining. Sadly, 18 people have died, but 1,118 have recovered.
Ms Ardern said during a press conference that it appears her country is through the worst of the pandemic.
"Elimination means we may well reach zero but we may well then have small numbers of cases coming up again," she said.
"That doesn't mean we have failed, it just means that we are in the position to have that zero tolerance approach to have a very aggressive management of those cases and keep those numbers low and fading out again."
New Zealand will today be coming out of Level Four lockdown and will move to Level Three, which will allow residents to access some non-essential business, healthcare and education.
Citizens will also be able to buy takeaway food and take part in low-risk recreational activities like swimming at the beach. Funerals and weddings will be able to have up to 10 people in attendance as well.
People are still advised to stay at home for as long as possible, however it's a small lifeline for the economy.
Ms Ardern has praised New Zealanders for being understanding during this difficult time.
"It's been nearly five weeks living and working in ways that just two months ago would have been impossible. But we did. And we have done it together," she said.