Watch: New Zealand lifts Auckland virus limits
New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said the country has “beat the virus again” as Auckland prepares to come out of a second lockdown.
The island nation says it has overcome a potential second wave of the coronavirus that hit New Zealand's biggest city in August, forcing its residents back into lockdown for over a month.
Ardern said on Monday there had been no new confirmed cases in Auckland for 12 days and that she was confident the virus had been contained.
The 40-year-old was pictured looking cheerful as she and fiance Clarke Gayford arrived to vote in Auckland in the upcoming New Zealand general election over the weekend and posed for photos with supporters.
The election was originally due to be held on Saturday 19 September but was delayed due to the re-emergence of COVID-19 in the community.
An opinion poll in July showed the Labour leader on track to cruise to victory as her party charted 61% – likely a result of her government’s quick handling of the coronavirus crisis, which included an early national lockdown, an efficient testing and trace system, and the decision to close its borders to non-New Zealand residents.
In late May Ardern proclaimed New Zealand coronavirus-free after its national lockdown.
New Zealanders enjoyed 102 days without community transmission before a cluster was identified in Auckland and tough restrictions were introduced in the city.
Now it appears the virus has been eradicated once again and that citizens can enjoy some semblance of normality.
“All signs point to it now being under control,” Ardern said.
“Aucklanders and New Zealanders have stuck to the plan twice now and beat the virus again. We put our heads down and got on with it.
“There is now a 95% chance of the cluster being eliminated. We are confident it has been contained.”
Auckland's restrictions will lift at midnight on Wednesday, meaning the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland on 18 October can be played in front of a full stadium.
But Ardern warned people to not become complacent as she pointed out there has been a decline in use of the national COVID-19 tracing app and a fall in test numbers.
"A resurgence of the virus is not our only worry, resurgence of complacency is right up there too," Ardern said.
New Zealand’s tough approach has limited its total coronavirus cases to 1,855 and deaths to 25, according to Johns Hopkins University.
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