“While the job is not done, there is no denying this is a milestone. So can I finish with a very simple ‘Thank you, New Zealand.'”
Controls at the borders will remain in place for all people entering New Zealand, including health screening and testing for all arrivals, and mandatory 14-day managed quarantine or isolation.
The South Pacific nation of about 5 million people is emerging from the pandemic while big economies such as Brazil, Britain, India and the United States grapple with the spreading virus.
There are no longer any active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. On Monday health authorities reported the recovery of the last confirmed case, as well as no new cases for the 17th straight day.
It is also a significant step on the road to elimination of the virus, which should be confirmed next week.
“This is really good news for the person concerned, and it’s also something the rest of New Zealand can take heart from,” NZ’s Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said.
The country recorded its first case of COVID-19 on February 28, prompting the government into firm and fast action against the deadly virus.
Since then, 1504 Kiwis have contracted the virus and 22 have died. Authorities have previously said they expect the virus to be “eradicated” in NZ by June 15.
The country of five million people has pursued an elimination strategy to beat COVID-19, rather than just aiming to contain the disease. But the Health Ministry has been cautious about declaring victory.
Elimination did not mean eradicating the virus permanently, but eliminating “chains of transmission” for at least 28 consecutive days after the last infected person left isolation, which would be on June 15, the ministry said.
It also required the country to be able to “effectively prevent or contain any future imported cases from overseas”, it said in an emailed statement.
More to come