New Zealand has successfully wiped out coronavirus after the final person known to have been infected recovered. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was confident the country had halted the spread of COVID-19, but said it would “almost certainly” see more cases in the future. Following the country’s progress, ministers have approved another phase of reopening from midnight, Ms Ardern said.
New Zealand’s PM stayed calm during an earthquake on live TV on Monday morning. She interrupted AM Show presenter Ryan Bridge to tell him there was an earthquake happening, looking briefly troubled, before smiling and carrying on with the interview. The 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck about 90km north of the capital, Wellington, at 08:00 local time (20:00 GMT Sunday). It was felt across the country.
New Zealand has entered level two of lockdown easing – and the country is open for business. Shopping centers, retail stores and restaurants reopened as of midnight with many people returning their workplaces during the coronavirus pandemic. But most gatherings will be limited to 10 people and social distancing guidelines will remain in place under the level two restrictions.
New Zealand claimed Monday it had “eliminated” the coronavirus as the country announced the easing of restrictions from “level four” to “level three,” with new cases in single figures. Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s Director General of Health, said the low number “does give us confidence that we’ve achieved our goal of elimination, which — that never meant zero but it does mean we know where our cases are coming from.”
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern has thanked people for “stopping an uncontrolled explosion of Covid-19”, as she announced an easing of lockdown. The country has been praised for its quick and strict response to the virus, and will move from “Level 4” lockdown to “Level 3” late next Monday. It means some businesses can reopen, along with some schools, while rules on local travel will be relaxed.
The Australian man charged with murdering 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, has suddenly changed his plea to admit all charges at a hastily arranged court appearance. The man accused of the shootings, Brenton Tarrant, a former gym instructor from Australia, was charged with the murders and had maintained a not-guilty plea throughout. His trial was set down for the 2 June in Christchurch high court.
New Zealand’s parliament has passed a bill decriminalizing abortion and allowing women to choose a termination up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Voting to remove the procedure from the country’s Crimes Act changes a law that has been in force since 1977. Previously, two doctors were required to approve an abortion – and this could only happen if there was a “serious danger” to the pregnant woman’s health.
A court in New Zealand has found a Samoan-born chief guilty of more than 20 charges of dealing in slaves and human trafficking. Joseph Auga Matamata, 65, was convicted of offenses over a 25-year period. His victims, who were all Samoan, were too scared to alert the authorities because of his status as a matai or chief, the court heard.
Severe flooding forced thousands of residents in New Zealand’s South Island to flee their homes on Wednesday and left hundreds of tourists stranded at the remote Milford Sound. The Southland region declared a state of emergency after being deluged with more than 1,000 millimeters (39 inches) of rainfall in 60 hours, triggering landslides on large roads and causing rivers to burst their banks.
New Zealand police said on Tuesday they were ending the search for the bodies of two people still missing following the deadly eruption of a volcano earlier this month. Those still missing, presumed dead, are Winona Langford, a 17-year-old Australian tourist, and Hayden Marshall-Inman, a 40-year-old New Zealand tour guide. Their bodies are thought to have been swept into the ocean around the uninhabited volcanic island.