"I did a little dance," said the smiling Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirming New Zealand is COVID-19-free.
Starting from March 25, the New Zealand government put the country into a strict lockdown for four continuous weeks. At the time, New Zealand had had around 200 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
And finally, New Zealand recently declared no known active COVID-19 cases in the country. The Ministry of Health announced that the last remaining case was a woman from Auckland, and she's now been symptom-free for 48 hours and is regarded as completely recovered.
Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, said the patient was now allowed to leave isolation and the fact that there are no active cases for the first time since February was "a significant mark in our journey."
It's been 24 days since New Zealand's last new case was reported, with more than 40,000 people having been tested at that time.
Dropping Social Distancing Measures
As New Zealand's last known COVID-19 case recovered, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that its social distancing restrictions would be completely dropped within hours.
However, the country's strict border restrictions will remain in place, including quarantine for travelers and managed isolation, with no clear timeline for when they will be removed.
But the rest of the country's social distancing measures will be lifted by midnight on Monday (1200 UTC), which means that all public and private events can resume as normal without restrictions. The retail and hospitality industries can also operate freely without social distancing measures.
Ardern said that easing restrictions would help the economy of New Zealand. In addition to that, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) happily said that fans would once again be allowed into the stadiums for the start of the country's domestic rugby union competition.
New Zealand has reported a total of 1,520 confirmed and probably COVID-19 cases with 22 deaths. However, scientists predicted that this number could have increased to thousands if the country had not quickly introduced the restrictions.
How Did They Do It?
In 2018, health officials in New Zealand had been briefed on the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, when almost 9,000 New Zealanders died.
Since 2010, New Zealand's Ministry of Health has prepared a pandemic plan revised in 2017, giving the credits to the retired medical historian Professor and the author of books on the Spanish Flu, Geoffrey Rice.
One of the measures taken by the New Zealand Government is the biological screening of animals coming from abroad. The point of that is to prevent any livestock diseases from entering the country.
According to Google data, people living in the country had "massively reduced their movements," and more people stayed home than those in the United States, Britain, and Australia.
According to The Guardian's reports, Ardern said the following:
"Our collective results, I think, speak for ourselves. This was what the sacrifice of our team of five million was for – to keep one another safe and to keep one another well."
Prime Minister Ardern celebrated the achievement, but she also said that New Zealand will almost certainly face new cases at some point in the future and urged caution and patience in the coming months, saying that "it is a reality of the virus."
"We are confident we have eliminated the transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time. It is a sustained effort," Ardern said at a press conference.
She added that New Zealand "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 For now, the lives of the people of New Zealand can get back to.