Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

New Zealand clears last coronavirus case

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she 'did a little dance' on hearing the news

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 on 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.

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

The country's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern looked elated as she shared the news, revealing she danced around her living room when told about the milestone.

While strict border controls will remain in place, Ms Ardern said restrictions such as social distancing and limits on public gatherings were no longer needed.

"We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now," she said in a televised address, saying Kiwis had "united in unprecedented ways to crush the virus".

Asked about her reaction upon hearing the news, she replied: "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."

Coronavirus around the world

New Zealand's move down to Level 1, the lowest rating on its four-tier virus response system, means nightclubs can operate without dance-floor restrictions and theatres will reopen.

It also means sporting events can proceed with crowds in the stands, a change New Zealand Rugby said offered its Super Rugby Aotearoa competition the opportunity to achieve a global record when it kicks off this weekend.

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, had recorded 1,154 confirmed cases and 22 deaths.

Updated: June 8, 2020 02:44 PM

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