New Zealand reports zero new confirmed coronavirus cases
New Zealand on Monday reported zero new confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, over a 24-hour period.
The announcement marks the first time the country has seen no new confirmed cases of the virus in a day since its government instituted a national lockdown more than a month ago. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern late last month began relaxing restrictions on travel and businesses after seeing a significant decline in coronavirus cases.
As of Monday, the New Zealand Ministry of Health had reported 1,487 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 20 deaths caused by it. Four people remain hospitalized with the disease. Nearly 90 percent of all coronavirus patients have recovered, according to the health department.
“It is cause for celebration. … It is important that we reflect that it is symbolic of the effort that everybody has put in,” Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s director-general of health, said after announcing the updated figures, according to The Guardian.
He also noted that one person already registered as a probable COVID-19 case had their status changed to “confirmed.” While touting the progress, Bloomfield said the community needed “to be continuing vigilance.”
Ardern echoed Bloomfield’s remarks, noting that the gains New Zealand made were a product of its “lockdown period.” She warned that individuals violating current restrictions would “jeopardize” public health.
New Zealand implemented a national lockdown on March 25, just eight days after the country reported its first case of the virus. Ardern said last week that there was no longer “widespread undetected community transmission,” declaring that the country had “won that battle.”
In response, the government moved from a “level four” to “level three” alert, which allowed businesses to partially reopen with some restrictions. The advisory still required people to socially distance while outside of their homes.
The government is expected to make another announcement regarding restrictions on May 11. Ardern and Bloomfield said they’d revisit the COVID-19 figures later this week to help with any decision on the restrictions.
“It’s not just the number of cases or the pattern,” Bloomfield said. “But the level to which people are taking seriously the expectations, particularly around physical distancing, hygiene measures and not really squandering the advantage we’ve created for ourselves.”