New Zealand recorded for the first time zero active Covid-19 cases since the pandemic hit its shores, demonstrating its goal to eradicate the virus.
On Monday, the South Pacific nation said that the last of its patient has recovered. This makes it the only country in the world to eradicate the pathogen and the first to suffer a significant outbreak. Only a handful of countries can claim that they had only very few infections, mainly small islands.
It was just hours before Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that the existing constraints on individuals and businesses would be removed and the road to every day opened life.
Instead of simply suppressing the transmission of the virus, New Zealand pursued an explicit elimination strategy. It introduced one of the world’s most restrictive lockdowns, forcing everyone to stay home and only allowing vital resources to run. The government says that, while this has almost certainly led to a deep recession, the removal of the virus should enable the economy to recover more quickly than most other peers.
The country however took a different path to the process of virus removal. Twenty-eight days of no new cases following the last person to contract the virus via Community transmission left quarantine, is the definition of elimination from the Ministry of Health, which would reach on June 15.
The seven-week lockdown was uplifted on 14 May and the cabinet will decide today whether the national alert level is reduced to 1, eliminating the last remaining limitations, including the social distancing requirement. A press conference will be held at 3 p.m. by Ardern. in Wellington.