New Zealand is officially coronavirus free after the country’s final active case recovered.
Kiwi health authorities announced today the country’s final case, a woman in her 50s from Auckland, was now virus-free.
New Zealand hasn’t had a single new coronavirus case for 17 straight days.
The milestone positions Australia’s trans-Tasman neighbour at the forefront of the fight against the disease.
“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.
“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.”
New Zealand recorded its first case of COVID-19 on February 28. Since then, 1504 Kiwis have contracted the virus and 22 have died.
The no active cases will likely mean New Zealand can move down to alert level one – a return to normal life where social distancing is “encouraged” rather than mandatory.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will address the country after 3pm, local time, today with the country’s director of general health.
Ms Ardern is expected to encourage the country to get back to normal life.
New Zealand processed 800 tests yesterday, bringing the country’s total number of tests to 294,848.
More than 522,000 Kiwis have also downloaded the COVID-Tracer app, a tracing app similar to Australia’s COVID-Safe app.
Professor Michael Baker told the New Zealand Herald the no active cases was an important milestone for the country.
“These active cases are not themselves a major concern as we know about them and can ensure they are safely isolated. The worry has always been about the undetected cases that can cause outbreaks if we come out of lock down too swiftly,” he said.
“As long as we are still at Level 2, we need to continue to follow physical distancing and other rules designed to minimise our risk of spreading COVID-19 and having another outbreak.”
Prof Baker said New Zealand would be a world leader when it moves to level one.
“This event, when it happens, is a statement that we have achieved the goal of eliminating the COVID-19 virus from this country.
“This is, however, only the first battle in what will be a long-term war against this virus. The threat from COVID-19 obviously remains while this pandemic continues across the globe. This risk will rise again in New Zealand as we gradually increase the numbers of incoming travellers. It will also rise during the coming winter when coronaviruses are more transmissible.”