With recovery of last case, New Zealand has eradicated virus


New Zealand is to completely end their coronavirus lockdown restrictions after the last person with the virus recovered, meaning that they have no active cases.

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

Even Australia, the country which the Government's critics have held up as a shining example, still has nearly 500 active cases and has only chalked up two (separate) days without a new infection in the last month.

"Thank you, New Zealand", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference, saying she had danced for joy at the news.

New Zealand lifted most of its remaining lockdown restrictions as the country prepares for a new normal.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern attributed New Zealand's success to its strict border controls.

The New Zealand government has also ended its state of national emergency, though many emergency powers remain with authorities after legislation passed last month.

"I did a little dance", she said yesterday when asked how she reacted to the news of no active cases.

"Today, 75 days later, we are ready", she said.

Bloomfield said there was no sign that anyone was at risk at the QT Hotel in Wellington, where Avatar workers are self-isolating.

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"At Level 1, we expect the continuation of recovery", she told reporters, but cautioned, "we will nearly certainly see cases here again".

Being an island nation of just 5 million residents, geography has been kind to New Zealand in preventing further spread of the virus.

Elimination did not mean eradicating the virus permanently from New Zealand, but eliminating "chains of transmission" for at least 28 consecutive days after the last infected person left isolation, which would be on June 15, the ministry said.

"Here in New Zealand we went hard and early on a single plan that had a dual objective - to protect lives and protect livelihoods".

The total number of cases in the country stands at 1,504 with 22 deaths.

Ardern announced that her government would begin easing curbs on gatherings, including social distancing restrictions, from midnight on Monday.

She quoted Google tracking data that reported New Zealanders massively reduced their movements with 91 per cent down in retail and recreation.

"The reason that New Zealanders, as of tomorrow, will be able to move around with freedom that very few other countries in the world have is because we are maintaining those restrictions at the border".

Ardern did not commit to a timeline for a proposed "travel bubble" to open with Australia, although the tourism industries in both countries have been pushing for it.