Previously on New Zealand’s battle against the pandemic of COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced an extension for the nationwide Alert Level 4 lockdown until 27 April.
Following the exit of the Level 4 alert, the country will go into Level 3 for two weeks, and further decisions will be made on 11 May.
Earlier today, New Zealand had declared that it had stopped community transmission of COVID-19 and Ms Ardern asserted that the coronavirus was “currently” eliminated. This was prompted by the record of single figures of new cases for several days. One confirmed case was recorded as of yesterday (26 April).
According to BBC News, this piece of news was released hours before the country exits Level 4 alert – the toughest level of social restrictions.
It was reported that from Tuesday onwards, non-essential businesses, healthcare, and education activity will be able to resume. However, most people are still required to stay home at all times and avoid all social interactions.
Although Ms Ardern stated that the nation will open up the economy in the Level 3 alert, people are still not allowed to resume their social activities.
“We are opening up the economy, but we’re not opening up people’s social lives,” said Ms Ardern.
Clarification on “elimination”
New Zealand’s Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, explained that “elimination” did not mean there would be no new cases, but the authorities would know where their new cases come from.
Mr Bloomfield noted that the low number of new cases in recent days “does give us confidence that we have achieved our goal of elimination”.
Ms Ardern also announced that New Zealand had “won the battle” as there was no widespread undetected community transmission in the nation. However, noting that complacency will pose a threat towards national safety, Ms Ardern urged that the country “must remain vigilant” if they wanted to maintain the positive progress.
New Zealand had avoided “the worst”
By deciding to close its borders during the early stage of the outbreak, New Zealand reported a total of 1,469 COVID-19 cases and 18 death cases to date, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Health.
Ms Ardern hinted that modelling indicated the country could be observing more than 1,000 cases per day if the lockdown had not been imposed so early.
She went on to say that the country could never know how bad the situation would have been, but through their “cumulative actions”, the nation had “avoided the worst”.
Despite the opening of more businesses at Level 3 alert that will include restaurants for takeaways, mass gatherings are still banned. Other than that, shopping malls will remain closed, most children will remain away from school, and the New Zealand border will remain closed.