New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday said she was confident that the country had eliminated the transmission of the coronavirus, after the last known infected person recovered, AFP reported.
The prime minister said that the government will lift all restrictions that had been imposed to curb the spread of the virus, but strict border controls will remain in place. Only New Zealanders and their immediate families will be allowed to enter the country for now. They will have to undergo 14-day quarantine, The Guardian reported.
New Zealand moved down to Level 1 in its virus response system. This means nightclubs will open without any restrictions on dance floors and theatres will open too. Sporting events can be held with crowds in the audience.
Ardern said the sacrifices made by the people helped curb Covid-19 cases. She said from Monday, New Zealanders will live in a country “where life feels as normal as we can in the time of a global pandemic”.
The prime minister said that easing restrictions will also help the economy. “We now have a head start on economic recovery because at level one we become one of the most open, if not the most open, economies in the world.”
This came at a time when, globally, cases have been rising in other countries. There are more than 70.16 lakh coronavirus cases worldwide, and over 4.02 lakh people have died of the infection.
On Monday, the country’s Ministry of Health, in a statement, said there were no active cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand. It was notified that the remaining case was symptom-free for 48 hours and had recovered.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said that this was good news for the person concerned and the rest of New Zealand. “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,” he added.
New Zealand, which has a population of five million, had 1,154 confirmed coronavirus cases and 22 deaths. The government had imposed a lockdown on March 25, which required most New Zealanders to remain home most of the time. Ardern received praise globally and from the World Heath Organization for a cautious approach towards the virus.
However, Prime Minister Arden cautioned against a resurgence. “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, according to AP. “We [are] almost certainly will see cases here again, and I want to say again, we will almost certainly see cases here again, and that is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of the virus. But if and when that occurs we have to make sure and we are, that we are prepared.”