During a press conference, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared that New Zealand has stopped the widespread transmission of coronavirus within their country, CBS News reported. Ardern said that the number of new cases has been “in the single digits” for the past several days and that the “widespread, undetected community transmission” of the virus was a thing of the past for New Zealand.
According to CBS News, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths attributed to coronavirus in New Zealand has been much lower than the numbers in other countries. New Zealand has only 1,122 confirmed cases and only 19 people have died.
During the same press conference, Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield answered questions about whether the virus could be completely eliminated from the country.
“Our goal is elimination… that doesn’t mean eradication, but it means we get down to a small number of cases so that we are able to stamp out any cases and any outbreaks that might come up… We may well reach zero, but we may well then have small numbers of cases coming up again. That doesn’t mean we have failed, it just means that we are in the position to have that zero-tolerance approach to have a very aggressive management of those cases.”
According to CNN, New Zealand’s success at keeping the number of cases low and drastically reducing the spread of coronavirus can be attributed to the strict lockdown the government imposed shortly after the pandemic started. New Zealand only had six confirmed cases of coronavirus when Prime Minister Ardern announced that all people entering the country would have to self-isolate. The whole country went on lockdown only nine days later when there were only 103 confirmed cases. They remained on strict lockdown for five weeks and are just now beginning to slowly loosen restrictions.
Widespread testing is another reason the country has been able to keep the spread of the virus under control CNN reported. New Zealand is performing about 8,000 tests per day, which means they’re testing about 56,000 people each week. Per capita, New Zealand is doing more testing than bigger countries like the UK and the U.S. Per CNN, the volume of testing allowed New Zealand’s health officials to identify how the virus was spreading and react appropriately.
Arden stressed that the fight against coronavirus transmission must continue. She said public officials are working to “hunt down” the remaining cases, and that New Zealanders need to “remain vigilant” in order to rid the country of the virus.