New Zealand lifted all domestic coronavirus restrictions on Monday after its final COVID-19 patient was given the all clear, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealing she danced around her living room when told about the milestone. While strict border controls will remain in place, 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”. The South Pacific nation, with a population of five million, has had 1,154 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths.
There have been no new infections for 17 days and, until Monday, just one active case for more than a week. Details of the final patient were not released for privacy reasons but it is believed to be a woman aged in her 50s who was linked to a cluster at an Auckland nursing home.
Ardern said the sacrifices made by New Zealanders, including a drastic seven-week lockdown that helped curb infection rates, had been rewarded now that there were no active cases in the country. 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.”—APP