Wellington, New Zealand:
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern brought most of New Zealand to the lowest virus alert level on Monday, saying the country was on the way to eliminating Covid-19.
Ardern announced that New Zealand would descend on its four-tier warning system to virus level one from the end of Monday, with the exception of Auckland, where the country’s most recent outbreak occurred.
“Our joint actions have managed to bring the virus under control,” said Ardern, whose government has received widespread international praise for its response to coronaviruses.
The decision means mass gatherings like the first Bledisloe Cup rugby test between the All Blacks and Australia on October 11th in Wellington can take place without restrictions.
New Zealand has just recorded 25 deaths out of a population of five million with no new cases reported on Monday.
The virus was believed to have been eradicated at some point, with the country enjoying 102 days of no community transmission after a strict national lockdown from late March to late May.
Ardern said elimination is still New Zealand’s goal.
“The analysis completed for the Ministry of Health suggests that there is still a 50:50 chance of eliminating Covid again by the end of this month,” she said.
But she said Auckland “takes more time” to clean up a persistent group of infections discovered last month in the city of 1.5 million people.
“This was the center of the outbreak and so caution is advised here,” she said.
The origin of the Auckland cluster is unknown, but health officials say it is not the same strain of virus that emerged earlier this year.
Despite the mystery, Ardern said extensive testing and effective contract tracking would keep it in check.
Auckland’s alarm will drop slightly from 2.5 to two on Wednesday, which means the maximum number at social gatherings will increase from 10 to 100.
The city’s virus setting will be reviewed in two weeks, with the possibility of joining the rest of the country on October 7th at level 1.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)