New Zealand reports no new coronavirus cases on Monday

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand reported no new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, marking a significant moment that indicated the country's bold strategy of trying to eliminate the virus was working.

It was the first time since the outbreak took hold in mid-March that the country has reported zero new cases.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the figures were clearly encouraging and a cause for celebration but it won't be known until later this week if new cases continue to pop up in the community.

New Zealand closed its borders and imposed a strict monthlong lockdown after the outbreak began.

The lockdown rules were eased a little last week to help reopen the economy, but many restrictions remain in place. Many businesses -including most retail stores and sit-down restaurants - remain closed, most school children are learning from home, and people are required to maintain social distancing.

New Zealand has reported nearly 1,500 cases of the virus and 20 deaths.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.