The New Zealand Health Ministry has announced that their last patient infected with COVID-19 has recovered, meaning the country is completely coronavirus free.
The Health Ministry released a statement on Monday, announcing that, for the first time since the end of February, there are no active cases for the novel coronavirus throughout the country.
“Having no active cases for the first time since February 28 is certainly a significant mark in our journey but as we’ve previously said, ongoing vigilance against COVID-19 will continue to be essential,” Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said in the statement.
This was also the 17th consecutive day that New Zealand has reported no new cases, in a trend that began on 22 May.
Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern is expected to make an announcement later about whether the country will move from Level 2 to Level 1 of their phased lockdown restrictions, which would mean all social distancing measures and curbs on mass gatherings will be lifted – save for re-opening its borders. The Pacific island nation is holding firm on its objective to entirely eliminate the virus rather than slow the spread. Should they lift all restrictions, they would be one of the first industrialised nations to do so.
“We are sticking to our ‘plan a’ which is the elimination strategy that includes a plan on how to respond to infections and outbreaks,” Bloomfield told Stuff on Thursday. “I haven’t seen a better plan in other countries …so I don’t see any need for us to change the plan.
“I have not seen a better plan for health and the healthcare system and also for the economy. Comparing New Zealand to other countries that had gone into lockdown, Kiwis had come out faster. Many other countries still had high numbers of active cases,” he added.
While New Zealand are on the verge of eliminating the COVID-19 threat, other nations such as the United States, Brazil, Russia, the United Kingdom and India are still struggling to contain the virus and are still seeing daily new cases rise. The total number of cases around the world now stands at 7,015,079, while 402,874 people have lost their lives, according to Johns Hopkins University. There were over 17,900 new cases reported around the world on Saturday alone.