We did it! Zero active Covid-19 cases in NZ

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo: Getty Images
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo: Getty Images

There are no active cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand.

The final case, an Auckland woman in her 50s associated with the St Margaret's rest home in Auckland, has now recovered from the virus.

Today's news of no active Covid-19 cases will have a major influence over Cabinet's decision on whether the country moves to level 1.

Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the woman's recovery was "really good news" for her and something "the rest of New Zealand can take heart in".

"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."

A media statement was released at 1pm with the latest Covid update.

There are no new confirmed or probable cases.

Cabinet is currently meeting to assess whether to move the country to the laxest of alert levels, which would see life mostly return to normal, except for strict border restrictions.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield will join Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the post-Cabinet conference at 3pm, where the decision of alert level 1 will be announced.

It is now 17 days since the last new case was reported in New Zealand. Our total number of confirmed cases remains at 1154, which is the number the country reports to the World Health Organisation.

The combined total of confirmed and probable cases remains at 1504.

There have been no additional deaths to report and no one is in hospital.

Yesterday 800 tests were processed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 294,848. The Ministry said lower testing volumes were regularly observed over weekends.

And 5000 more people have downloaded the NZ Covid Tracer app, bringing the total number of 522,000 registrations. Meanwhile, 37,504 businesses have created posters with QR codes and people have scanned into businesses 734,415 times.

"We are keeping our testing approach under constant review," the ministry said.

"New Zealanders can be assured that our capacity remains high and that testing at the border and in our communities will continue to be an essential part of our Covid-19 elimination strategy.

"We want to encourage and remind everyone that if they have any respiratory symptoms, they should seek advice from Healthline, their GP or after-hours clinic about getting tested. Testing is free," the Ministry said.

Eight significant clusters are closed. This is unchanged from yesterday.

A cluster is considered to be closed when there have been no new cases for two incubation periods (ie 28 days) from the date when all cases have completed isolation.

Prof Michael Baker.  Photo: ODT files
Prof Michael Baker. Photo: ODT files
Professor Michael Baker said having no active cases was "an important milestone on the way to Covid-19 elimination".

"These active cases are not themselves a major concern as we know about them and can ensure they are safely isolated. The worry has always been about the undetected cases that can cause outbreaks if we come out of lock down too swiftly," he said.

"As long as we are still at Level 2, we need to continue to follow physical distancing and other rules designed to minimise our risk of spreading Covid-19 and having another outbreak."

Baker said it was a real achievement that New Zealand may soon move to alert level 1.

"This event, when it happens, is a statement that we have achieved the goal of eliminating the Covid-19 virus from this country.

"This is, however, only the first battle in what will be a long-term war against this virus. The threat from Covid-19 obviously remains while this pandemic continues across the globe. This risk will rise again in New Zealand as we gradually increase the numbers of incoming travellers. It will also rise during the coming winter when coronaviruses are more transmissible."

Department of Public Health senior research fellow Dr Amanda Kvalsvig said having no active cases "isn't really a meaningful landmark for pandemic control".

The numbers of 'active' and 'recovered' cases don't tell us how many people are still infectious, and don't answer the really important question which is whether there is still virus circulating in the population. If we continue to find no new cases despite ongoing testing, that's much more informative and so far the results are encouraging."

The Ministry's latest update and advice from Bloomfield will be among the evidence Cabinet will weigh up to make its decision on alert level 1.

Alert level 1 means all restrictions on businesses and gatherings are lifted and physical distancing is "encouraged" instead of being mandatory.

The golden rules of alert level 1 were:

• If you are sick, stay home

• If you have cold or flu-like symptoms get tested

• Wash your hands, Wash your hands, Wash your hands

• Sneeze and cough into your elbow and regularly disinfect shared surfaces

• If you are told by health authorities to self isolate you must do so immediately

• If concerned about your wellbeing or you have underlying health conditions, consult with your GP

• Keep track of where you've been and who you've seen so we can use that for contact tracing if needed

• Businesses should help with rule seven by displaying a QR code

• Stay vigilant

Comments

Great news! Shame about the NZ economy- but no matter- all government workers still have a job.....paid by the taxpayers- they are covered.

Would you prefer a booming funeral trade?

Looking with envy from Australia where the virus continues to spread slowly because the lockdown was not as strict and coordinated. The states can't even agree with each other.
Congratulations to Jacinda and the whole team of 5 million.
And I want to thank a man whom I had never been a fan of, and that is Winston Peters. Winston's decision to support Labour and allow Jacinda Ardern to become PM is not to be overlooked. If National had formed government and Simon Bridges had been PM then NZ would not be in the world leading position it is today. So thank you Winston, New Zealanders are forever in your debt.
Immigration had better be on their toes, there are over 2 billion people wanting to move to NZ now.

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