The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern stated on Wednesday that she was cautiously optimistic about slowing the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus or COVID-19 as the authorities reported the least number of new cases in two weeks.
The country confirmed 50 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday from 54 on Tuesday and also 67 on Monday, which brought the tally to 1,210 with a single death. The nation which has around five million people got into lockdown and a national emergency as declared in late March for halting the transmission of the virus.
New Zealand prime minister optimistic
"We may yet see bumps along the way but I remain cautiously optimistic that we are starting to turn a corner," Ardern told a media briefing in Wellington. She said there was no plan to relax the tough restrictions during Easter and urged everyone to avoid any travel during the long Easter weekend, in mid-April.
"Please do stay at home, stay to save lives and enjoy your 'staycation'," Ardern said in Wellington. "Nothing changes because its Easter, the rules remain the same and the police will be enforcing this." Churches and places of worship will be closed at Easter, Ardern said as she encouraged people to use social media and online platforms to take part in religious services.
New Zealand has fewer infections than many countries
Under the lockdown, offices and schools have been shut and all non-essential services, bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms, cinemas, pools, museums, libraries and playgrounds have been closed for a month. Ardern on Tuesday demoted her health minister for breaching the lockdown rules to the bottom cabinet ranking and stripped him of his role as associate finance minister.
The government also extended for a second time the state of emergency for a further seven days. New Zealand has fewer infections than many countries, like neighbouring Australia, where the number of total cases is nearly 6,000, although the pace of infections there has slowed dramatically in the past week.
(With agency inputs)