New Zealand Records No New Coronavirus Cases For First Time In Almost Six Weeks
The total number of cases in the country has remained at 1,487, with the death toll also unchanged at 20.
New Zealand's director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said the figures were 'cause for celebration' but warned the country would need 'continuing vigilance'.
New Zealand, a country of nearly five million people, brought in some of the toughest restrictions in the world on travel and activity early on in the pandemic when it only had a few dozen cases, shutting its borders by 19 March and beginning to impose a full-scale lockdown on 26 March.
The lockdown was eased last week and Bloomfield said the 'real test' would come later this week when the impact of this easing on the spread of the disease becomes apparent.
He said: "Clearly, these are encouraging figures today. But it is just one moment in time.
"The real test is later this week when we factor in the incubation period for the virus and the time it takes for people to display symptoms, which is generally five to six days after exposure.
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"So that is when we will have an indication if there are any new cases coming through that might be emerging in the community as a result of our shift from Level Four to Level Three. We cannot afford to squander all the hard work and effort of the past weeks.
"This is the first day we've had no new cases and we want to keep it that way."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to decide in the next week whether the country can move down to Level 2, where gatherings of 500 could be allowed outdoors, though she warned that the country must 'not get ahead of ourselves' and 'finish the job we started'.
The country is also in talks with Australia about the possibility of developing a 'trans-Tasman bubble', whereby people will be able to travel between the two nations.
Ardern said: "Both our countries' strong record on fighting the virus has placed us in the enviable position of being able to plan the next stage in our economic rebuild."
She added: "Don't expect this to happen in a couple of weeks time.
"We need to ensure that we're locking in the gains that all New Zealanders have helped us achieve and make sure we have health precautions in place to make sure we do this safely."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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