New Zealand discharged its last COVID-19 patient on Monday and lifted all domestic restrictions as the country defeated the deadly virus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that she danced around her living room when she was informed about the success.
While strict border restrictions will continue to be in place, PM Ardern said that social distancing and restrictions on public gatherings have been lifted. She said public and private events can go on without restrictions, retail and hospitality sectors can operate and all public transport can resume.
"We are confident we have eliminated the transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now," she said, at a time when the world is grappling with the fast-spreading COVID-19.
With a population of 50 lakh, New Zealand had reported 1,154 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths.
There have been no fresh cases reported in the last 17 days. There was only one active case for more than a week until Monday.
The PM said that the sacrifices made by the people in New Zealand, including a stringent seven-week lockdown that helped contain the infection rates, had been rewarded now as there were no active or new cases in the country.
Most businesses were shut and everyone except essential workers had to stay at home amid the lockdown in New Zealand.
The country pursued an 'elimination strategy' to defeat coronavirus, rather than just controlling the virus. Elimination did not mean eradicating the virus from the country, but eliminating "chains of transmission" for at least 28 consecutive days after the last infected person left isolation, the ministry said.
When informed about the news, she said, "I did a little dance with baby daughter Neve. She was caught a little by surprise but she joined in, having absolutely no idea why I was dancing around the lounge."
"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," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said in the statement.