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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during an August news conference in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday an end to the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown outside of Auckland, saying "we've done so well to get this outbreak under control."

What they're saying: "We are within sight of elimination, but we cannot drop the ball," Ardern said at a briefing confirming the rest of NZ will move to level 2 of the country's four-tier pandemic response measures at 11:59pm Tuesday.

Background: New Zealand entered the highest lockdown level last month after detecting its first community case in nearly six months — marking the arrival of the Delta variant in the island nation.

  • Restrictions were later eased to level 3 outside of epicenter Auckland, NZ's most populous city.

Of note: Level 2 now includes extra precautions against Delta. These include mandatory mask-wearing at most indoor venues, which are capped at 50 customers.

  • Auckland will remain at level 4 until at least Tuesday, per Ardern.

By the numbers: NZ locked down on one positive coronavirus test result.

  • The outbreak has grown to 821 cases.
  • 704 cases are currently active, after Auckland reported 20 more infections Monday.

Go deeper

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

23 hours ago - Health

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, said he's reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce school mask mandates because he doesn't want to hurt students.

Why it matters: Cardona's comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates.

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents

Pope Francis. Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies on Saturday to release patents to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to the poor, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: There is a stark divide between countries that have access to COVID-19 shots and those that don't, and the gap has widened as some wealthier countries have begun distributing third doses.