New Zealand declares nation virus-free with recovery of last known case

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Mark Mitchell/AP)

No infections and no social distancing.
That’s how New Zealand is kicking off the week as the last known person infected with coronavirus has officially recovered from the deadly disease.
The country’s health authorities announced Monday that New Zealand appears to have completely eradicated the virus and gave the green light for its 5 million citizens to go back to crowded bars, sports stadiums and concerts.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, whose leadership during the pandemic has drawn global attention, said she “did a little dance” in her living room after learning her country had no more active cases. However, she urged the public to remain vigilant and be prepared for new infections to emerge in the future.
“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,” she said in a news conference Monday. “We almost certainly will see cases here again, and I do want to say that again, we will almost certainly see cases here again, and that is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of this virus. But if and when that occurs we have to make sure — and we are — that we are prepared.”
New Zealand, which also benefitted from geography to contain the spread of COVID-19, is lifting all restrictions this week, but its borders will remain closed to foreigners, with limited exceptions. Those who do make it into the country will have to go into quarantine.
The isolated nation saw just over 1,500 coronavirus infections and 22 deaths from the disease.
The last person with critical symptoms was discharged from the hospital late last month.

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