Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters the COVID-19 virus was “currently” eliminated with just five new cases reported on Monday and she announced the nation will ease strict lockdown rules from Level Four to Level Three.
"There is no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle," Ardern said. "But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way."
As of Tuesday, New Zealand has 1,469 confirmed coronavirus cases and 19 deaths linked to the disease.
NEW ZEALAND INCHES CLOSER TO GOAL OF WIPING OUT CORONAVIRUS
While the downward trend of cases to the single digits has given the country confidence it has beaten the virus, both Arden and health officials warned that “elimination” did not mean there would be no new cases of the disease, the BBC reported.
New Zealand's Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said while “elimination” does not mean “eradication,” it does mean there are a small enough number of infections so “we know where our cases are coming from."
He added that New Zealand will now be “able to stamp out any cases and any outbreak that might come out.”
Ardern said the island nation would continue to hunt down the last few COVID-19 cases.