New Zealand has eradicated the coronavirus from its shores after health officials reported on Monday that the final person known to have been infected had recovered.
The news swiftly led to the country’s government announcing all forms of public events can again take place without limitations or social distancing guidelines.
It has been 17 days since the last new case was reported in New Zealand, and Monday also marked the first time since late February there had been no active cases.
Health officials caution that new cases could be imported into the country, which has closed its borders to everybody but citizens and residents, with some exceptions.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said it was a pleasing development.
“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,” Dr Bloomfield said.
The New Zealand government responded by removing all restrictions on public gatherings, meaning, among other factors, sport stadiums will again be able to hold fans without regulations about social distancing.
Experts say a number of factors have helped the nation of five million wipe out the disease.
Its isolated location in the South Pacific gave it vital time to see how outbreaks spread in other countries, and prime minister Jacinda Ardern acted decisively by imposing a strict lockdown early in New Zealand’s outbreak.
Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus in New Zealand, including 22 who died.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— South Korea reported 38 new cases, most of them in the Seoul region, where authorities are trying to stem transmissions among e-commerce workers, door-to-door sellers and people who went out amid loosened social distancing. Health minister Park Neunghoo called for officials to examine supplies of testing equipment in case infections continue to increase. He also called for education officials to double-check prevention measures. Schools fully reopened on Monday, with the last grades returning to classes in the final phase of the reopening.
— China reported four new cases, all of them brought from outside the country. China has officially announced a total of 4,634 deaths out of 83,040 total cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese industrial city of Wuhan late last year. China has increasingly opened up with the sharp reduction of cases, and officials in Beijing on Monday said the city was reopening the office where citizens can bring complaints and petitions.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?