New Zealand has ‘eliminated’ coronavirus, schools to reopen

“We have won that battle,

01:21 PM | 27 Apr, 2020
New Zealand has ‘eliminated’ coronavirus, schools to reopen
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AUCKLAND – New Zealand is preparing to ease rules on a strict lockdown put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus after the country's health chief said it had 'eliminated' Covid-19.

The country has reported single figure cases for numerous days, and five new Covid-19 cases on Monday, but has not seen widespread community transition and will allow a partial reopening of the economy.

At the daily media briefing, Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there was one confirmed case and four new probable cases today and the total number of active Covid-19 cases is now 1469.

The latest victim to the virus was a woman in her 90s, who was a resident at St Margaret's Rest Home in Auckland and had underlying health conditions, he said. She was part of a group from the rest home who had been transferred to Waitakere Hospital.

Dr Bloomfield said 1180 people had now recovered from Covid-19, an increase of 38 on yesterday.

"This means around 80 percent of our cases are now recovered," the Radio New Zealand quoted him as saying.

He said there were seven people in hospital, including one person in ICU in Middlemore.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country has so far managed to avoid the worst scenarios for an outbreak and would continue to hunt down the last few cases.

However, authorities have warned against complacency reiterating it does not mean a total end to new coronavirus cases.

From midnight on Monday, some non-essential business, healthcare education activities will be able to resume, but social distancing rules will still apply.

“We are opening up the economy, but we’re not opening up people’s social lives,” Ms Ardern said at the daily government briefing.

PM Ardern said alert level 4 had been nearly five weeks "living and working in ways that just two months ago would have seemed impossible, but we did and we have done it together".

She said testing had grown from zero to the capacity to perform 8000 tests per day, one of the highest rates of testing per capita.

Teachers are also getting ready for alert level 3 when some students will return to classes.

Schools are reopening on Wednesday for children up to Year 10 who cannot study from home, or whose parents need to return to work.

While building firms are preparing to return to work tomorrow, although there will be restrictions in place.

Under level 3, workers can resume on-site work, provided they have a Covid-19 control plan in place, with appropriate health and safety and physical distancing measures.