Even as the world continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus, with cases crossing the 7 million mark, including 402,699 deaths, New Zealand on Monday announced it had eliminated the disease after health officials said the last known infected person had recovered. Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus in New Zealand, including 22 who died.
It has been 17 days since the last new case was reported in New Zealand, during which time an additional 40,000 people have been tested, and Monday also marked the first time since February when there has been no active cases, AP reported.
However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said border controls would not be lifted even though the government is set to roll back all containment measures.
“We can hold public events without limitations. Private events such as weddings, functions and funerals without limitations. Retail is back without limitations. Hospitality is back without limitations. Public transport and travel across the country is fully opened,” she said at a news conference.
The South Pacific nation had imposed 75 days of restrictions, including about seven weeks of a strict lockdown in which most businesses were shut and everyone except essential workers had to stay at home.
“While the job is not done, there is no denying this is a milestone. We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort,” Ardern said.
Even as the South Pacific nation of about 5 million people is emerging from the pandemic, big economies such as Brazil, Britain, India and the United States are still seeing daily spike in cases. Besides New Zealand, eight other smaller nations have successfully managed to stamp out Covid-19.