New Zealanders gathered at restaurants and cafes Tuesday to celebrate the official end of their long coronavirus quarantine period.
After more than two months of restrictions that brought everyday life to a standstill, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lowered the four-tiered lockdown system first imposed in March to its lowest tier, scrapping all virus-related restrictions on public gatherings, including sports and weddings, while keeping New Zealand’s borders closed to international travel.
New Zealand has had a total of 1,504 confirmed coronavirus infections with 22 deaths out of 5 million citizens, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Despite the return of normal life within its borders, Antarctica New Zealand, the government agency responsible for carrying out environmental research on the continent, said Tuesday it will cut back research visits to its Antarctica base to prevent spreading COVID-19 outside the country.
Separately, a new study has found that lockdowns across the globe prevented millions of deaths from the novel coronavirus. Imperial College London says lockdowns and closing nonessential businesses and schools may have saved about 3 million lives in 11 countries — Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
A separate study in the United States concluded that lockdowns in China, France, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and the U.S. prevented another 530 million COVID-19 cases.
The World Health Organization warned Monday that while the situation is improving in Europe, it is worsening in other parts of the world.
“More than 100,000 cases have been reported in nine of the past 10 days. Yesterday, more than 136,000 cases were reported, the most in a single day so far,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Tedros said 75% of the new cases are in 10 countries, mostly in Latin America and South Asia.
According to the latest figures from U.S.-based Johns Hopkins, the number of COVID-19 infections worldwide now stands at 7,142,462 confirmed cases, with 407,009 deaths. The United States is the leader in both categories, with total infections at 1,961,187 and more than 111,000 confirmed deaths.
Following the U.S. with the most coronavirus infections is Brazil, with 707,412 confirmed cases. The South American country’s 37,134 deaths are the world’s third-highest after the U.S. and Britain, which now stands at 40,680.
The government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has come under fire for allegedly manipulating the country’s official coronavirus data.
The firestorm began last Friday after the health ministry took down a website that published the number of deaths and infections and replaced it with a site that only published the latest casualties for the last 24 hours.
The controversy deepened after the ministry released two different sets of data. The ministry issued a statement the next day saying the discrepancy was due to incorrect data supplied by local authorities.
Critics say the allegedly manipulated data is part of Bolsonaro’s dismissal of the pandemic as nothing more than “a little flu” and his disdain of quarantines and social distancing guidelines because of its impact on the Brazilian economy.