New Zealand appears to have completely eradicated coronavirus, as the last known patient in the country recovered on Monday.
There have been no new coronavirus infections in New Zealand during the past 17 days. The country has seen only around 1,500 total cases out of a population of about 5 million, helped in part by its relatively isolated location in the southern Pacific Ocean. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern placed the country on strict lockdown at the end of March, but on Monday announced the full cessation of internal restrictions.
“We can hold public events without limitations. Private events such as weddings, functions and funerals without limitations,” Ardern said at a press conference. “Retail is back without limitations. Hospitality is back without limitations. Public transport and travel across the country is fully opened.”
The prime minister told reporters, “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 will focus its coronavirus prevention measures in border control. The country has banned entry of all non-residents, and requires returning citizens to be tested upon arrival and quarantined for two weeks.
The coronavirus has infected over 7 million people and killed at least 400,000 worldwide as of Monday.