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New Zealand clears its last COVID-19 case

Country endured a strict lockdown

SAMAA | - Posted: Jun 8, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
Posted: Jun 8, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: AFP

New Zealand has no active COVID-19 cases after the country’s final patient was given the all clear and released from isolation, health authorities said Monday.

The milestone was “really good news” and an achievement the whole of New Zealand could take heart from, health department director-general 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,” he said in a statement.

New Zealand has won praise for its handling of the pandemic, which involved a strict seven-week lockdown that ended last month after the virus was contained.

The South Pacific nation, with a population of five million, has had 1,154 confirmed cases and 22 deaths.

There have been no new infections for 17 days and, until Monday, just one active case for more than a week.

Details of the final patient were not released for privacy reasons but it is believed to be a woman aged in her 50s who was linked to a cluster at an Auckland nursing home.

“(The) remaining case has been symptom-free for 48 hours and is regarded as recovered. The person has now been released from isolation,” the health department said.

New Zealand will move to its lowest alert level by midnight, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday.

That means all restrictions within the country will be lifted and only borders will remain closed. Public and private events, retail, hospitality, public transport and domestic travel will all be allowed without any restrictions.

Ardern said New Zealand had “united in unprecedented ways to crush the virus” but warned that “elimination is not a point in time but a sustained effort” and that the country would “almost certainly see cases again”.

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