New Zealand claims coronavirus battle ‘won’ as new cases fall to single digits, lockdown eases

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

New Zealand claimed Monday to have effectively eliminated the coronavirus as the number of new cases remained in the single digits over the past several days.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters the COVID-19 virus was “currently” eliminated with just five new cases reported on Monday and she announced the nation will ease strict lockdown rules from Level Four to Level Three.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

"There is no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle," Ardern said. "But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way."

Jacinda Ardern said there hasn’t been widespread community transmission of the virus in New Zealand and the country has so far managed to avoid the worst scenarios for an outbreak. (AP Photo/Nick Perry, File)

Jacinda Ardern said there hasn’t been widespread community transmission of the virus in New Zealand and the country has so far managed to avoid the worst scenarios for an outbreak. (AP Photo/Nick Perry, File)

The government took its first steps in restarting the economy by reopening some businesses like construction and restaurant take-out service. But social distancing rules will remain in effect. Ardern said the nation was opening the economy, not people’s social lives.

As of Monday, New Zealand has 1,469 confirmed coronavirus cases and 19 deaths linked to the disease.

NEW ZEALAND INCHES CLOSER TO GOAL OF WIPING OUT CORONAVIRUS

While the downward trend of cases to the single digits has given the country confidence it has beaten the virus, both Arden and health officials warned that “elimination” did not mean there would be no new cases of the disease, the BBC reported.

New Zealand's Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said while “elimination” does not mean “eradication,” it does mean there are a small enough number of infections so “we know where our cases are coming from."

He added that New Zealand will now be “able to stamp out any cases and any outbreak that might come out.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

Ardern said the island nation would continue to hunt down the last few COVID-19 cases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.