New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there is no longer any undetected community transmission of COVID-19 in the country.
New Zealand has effectively “eliminated” the virus, with health authorities aware of and able to trace each current case.
“We have done it together,” Ardern said in a press conference on Monday afternoon, just hours before the country began a phased exit from Level 4 lockdown measures.
“There is no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle. But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way,” she said.
As of 11.59pm on Monday night, New Zealand lifted its Level 4 restrictions and moved to Level 3, allowing some people to return to work and schools to open for children (up to year 10) who need them. People are still encouraged to work from home if possible, but some businesses, like takeaway food stores, can reopen as long as they adhere to contactless pickup and delivery only.
Ardern said the constraints placed on New Zealanders over the past 5 weeks have been the strictest in modern history.
“It’s been nearly five weeks of living and working in ways that just two months ago would have seemed impossible. But we did, and we have done it together.”
On Monday, there was only 1 new confirmed case and 4 new ‘probable’ cases. All of these cases can be traced to a known source, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s Director-General of Health confirmed.
Arden said New Zealanders should pause to digest their success, saying the numbers “are incredible” and they are “thanks to the sacrifices that every single New Zealander has made.”
Ardern also urged caution, saying Level 3 restrictions do not mean a return to life before COVID-19.
“Our team of 5 million needs to have zero tolerance for cases to complete our goal of eliminating the virus at Level 3,” she said.
Ardern also asked people to think about local businesses over the coming days, saying “they need all our support.”