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New Zealand Plans to Ease Coronavirus Lockdown in a Week

WELLINGTON: New Zealanders will remain in total lockdown for another week, prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said, with restrictions easing if elimination progress is maintained.

Speaking at the Beehive in Wellington, Ardern said New Zealand was in with a fighting chance of eliminating the disease, and the number of deaths was low enough that she still received a phone call for each one.

“We have done what very few countries have been able to do. We have stopped a wave of devastation,” Ardern said.

“Our transmission rate, the number of cases each person with the virus passes it onto, is now 0.48, less than half a person each. Overseas the average is 2.5 people. We have amongst the lowest number of confirmed cases per 100,000 people in the world.”

The prime minister said New Zealand had a “relatively low proportion of serious cases”, and according to the Oxford University coronavirus government response tracker, one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.

Overall 1,400 people have become infected with coronavirus in New Zealand, and 12 people have died, all older people with pre-existing health conditions. On Monday, nine new cases were confirmed by the Ministry of Health, but random testing of 1,000 people in the community had returned no positive results.