New Zealand has “currently” achieved its goal of eliminating the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, as the country comes to the end of a strict month-long lockdown.
Speaking at a press conference, Ardern said she was optimistic the country could continue on “a path of success,” but warned that the lifting of restrictions was not a return to life as it was before the coronavirus pandemic.
New Zealand‘s Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield added that elimination of the virus does not mean having zero infections, but rather that “we know where our cases are coming from.”
New Zealand will begin to ease restrictions on Tuesday, with some 400,000 people expected to be back at work as some shops and schools reopen.
Retail stores will be allowed to trade, provided the customers order and pay online and don’t enter the premises.
“We need to move slowly and we need to move cautiously,” Ardern said.
Ardern warned she would “not risk the gains” the country had made in lockdown, adding that if need be, the country could stick to the level of restrictions taking effect on Tuesday for more than the initial two weeks outlined.
Opening travel to Australia and the Pacific Islands was also being discussed, but Ardern warned she was being “particularly cautious” about the possibility.
On Monday the country reported five new cases of Covid-19, with 1,469 cases in total. New Zealand’s death toll stands at 19.