- New Zealand has no coronavirus cases for 17 straight days.
- Public transport, hospitality, weddings, and funerals are to resume without any restrictions soon.
- Others, however, fear that risks will increase as incoming travelers come in and as winter season sets in.
After completely eliminating the coronavirus cases in the country, New Zealand will soon lift its lockdown starting on the midnight of June 8, 2020. Health authorities reported zero cases of COVID-19 across the country, confirming no active cases for 17 consecutive days.
The final coronavirus patient was a woman in her 50s and has shown no symptoms for 48 hours. She was announced as recovered at St Margaret’s Hospital and Rest Home in Auckland.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently announced that New Zealand will move to a level 1 alert. This allows public transport, hospitality, weddings, and funerals to resume without any restrictions.
Ardern asked the public to keep a record of their whereabouts in order to make contract tracing easier, in case another case happens. The country was placed under a strict four-week lockdown in March to control the spread of the coronavirus.
A four-tier alert system was implemented in which restrictions were gradually eased as infection rates began to slow down. During the early part of the lockdown, people were ordered to stay inside their houses and were only permitted to go out for trips to the supermarket or for health reasons.
Level 2 allowed barbershops to open again for business.
New Zealand is not on the “elimination” status yet, because according to the definition by the Ministry of Health, elimination means having zero cases for 28 straight days. This is yet to take place on June 15.
Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s Director of Health, 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.”
Since its first recorded case on February 28, New Zealand has had 1,154 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Almost 300,000 tests have been initiated in the country and they have since recorded 1,504 cases and 22 deaths.
This was an end to “only the first battle,” according to Michael Baker, Professor of Public Health at the University of Otago. He added that the risk will increase in New Zealand as incoming travelers come in and as winter season sets in since coronaviruses are more transmissible in colder weather.
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