New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that coronavirus has been “currently” eliminated in the country.
There were just five new Covid-19 cases reported on Monday with no widespread community transition.
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.
Easing of lockdown
As such, from midnight on Monday, certain businesses such as construction will be allowed to reopen, 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.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the low number of new cases in recent days “does give us confidence that we have achieved our goal of elimination”.
He warned that “elimination” did not mean there would be no new cases, “but it does mean we know where our cases are coming from”.
Ms Ardern said there was “no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand”, adding: “We have won that battle.”
Meanwhile, South Korea is looking at reopening schools as the number of cases begins to tail off.
Authorities reported 10 new cases on Monday, the 26th straight day where this number has been in double figures.
Using an active test-and-quarantine program, South Korea has so far managed to slow its outbreak without imposing lockdowns or business bans.
However, schools have been closed and remote-learning programmes set up in their place.
Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun instructed education officials to prepare measures to ensure hygiene and enforce distance between students at schools so the government could announce a timeline for reopening schools no later than early May.
Authorities in China reported three new cases on Monday and have now gone 12 days without recording a death relating to Covid-19.
The coronavirus outbreak originated from the country, and 723 people remain in hospital suffering from the virus, while a further 1,000 are being kept in isolation.
Beijing added one additional post-mortem death to its count, raising China’s overall death toll to 4,633 from 82,830 cases.
Of the new cases, two were imported and one was detected in the province of Heilongjiang bordering Russia, according to the National Health Commission.