New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has declared her country’s lockdown a success after a stunning drop in daily cases to just 29 on Thursday.
“We are turning a corner, and your commitment means our plan is working,” she said.
The number of new coronavirus cases has declined for the fourth-straight day, giving the best evidence yet that New Zealand has squashed the spread of the deadly infection.
A fortnight ago, the Kiwi government implemented a near society-wide lockdown, with particularly strong restrictions on business, to combat the spread of COVID-19.
On the evidence of the first half of the lockdown, Ms Ardern believes her country is winning the fight.
“At the halfway mark I have no hesitation in saying, that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge,” she said.
“In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, Kiwis have quietly and collectively implemented a nationwide wall of defence.
“You are breaking the chain of transmission. And you did it for each other.”
Ms Ardern has also announced her government will decide whether to extend or relax the lockdown, which is due to expire at midnight on April 22. New Zealand could drop the arrangements on April 20.
One Kiwi has died to date, a 75-year-old South Island woman.
New Zealand will also implement new controls to keep case numbers down.
As of Friday, every new arrival will be required to quarantine for a fortnight – similar to measures in Australia.
The government will also turn to tracking applications to assist with contact tracing.
There will also be roadblocks across the country to stop Kiwis travelling to beach houses or to visit family over Easter.
“As we head in to Easter I say thank you to you and your bubble,” Ms Ardern said, warning against complacency.
“We have what we need to win this marathon.
“You have stayed calm, you’ve been strong, you’ve saved lives, and now we need to keep going.”