At a time when the globe is grappling with the fast-spreading Covid-19, New Zealand has announced that it’s eradicated the new coronavirus which causes the disease.
he stunning announcement came on Monday when the country’s health officials said that there is no active cases of Covid-19. The Pacific island nation is among only a few of nations that have emerged from the pandemic, which first gripped the us and has now turned Latin American into a hotspot.
It has been 17 days since the last new case was reported in New Zealand, and Monday also marked 1st time since late February that there are no active cases.
New Zealand had recorded fewer than 1500 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 20 deaths. On March 23, a month after the country had recorded its first case, New Zealand committed to an elimination strategy. a couple of days later, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a strict national lockdown when it only had 102 cases and 0 deaths. Her swift deciding won international praise, including from WHO.
New Zealand’s decision to pursue an elimination approach was a vastly different approach to usual pandemic planning, which has historically been supported a mitigation model and focuses on delaying the arrival of the virus, followed by a variety of measures to flatten the curve of cases and deaths.
Michael Baker, professor at the University of Otago’s department of public health in Wellington, who has been advising the New Zealand Government on its response, said implementing a full lockdown—involving the closure of colleges and non-essential workplaces, a ban on social gatherings, and severe travel restrictions—enabled the country to think about elimination. “I think it was the right decision; we had to go hard”, he said.
“The two biggest benefits of pursuing an elimination strategy is that you have few cases and few deaths and you can get business back up and running. the alternative was that we are stuck with the virus and stuck between mitigation and suppression. Suppression is pretty grim.”
While the strategy has had its critics, for Baker, the evidence was overwhelming that elimination will be achieved.
New Zealand has decided to move to national Alert Level 1 from the present Level 2. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that every one coronavirus measures within the country will be lifted from Tuesday, barring border closure restrictions.
She said public and private events can continue without restrictions, retail and hospitality sectors can operate normally, and all public transport can resume.
“Having no active cases for the primary 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 within the statement.