New Zealand lifted all national restrictions on the coronavirus virus on Monday after the recovery of the last person still in solitary confinement.
Border controls will remain in effect, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who added, however, that social distancing measures and restrictions on the number of people who can assemble are no longer necessary.
“We are confident that we have eradicated the transmission of the virus in New Zealand so far,” said Ardern in a televised speech, adding that her compatriots had “united in a precedent to defeat the virus. “
The South Pacific archipelago, which has a population of five million, has counted 1,154 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths.
No new contamination has been identified for 17 days. It has been a week since there has been only one active case.
The identity of the last patient has not been released, but it is believed to be a woman in her 50s who is believed to be linked to a chain of virus transmission in Auckland.
Department of Health Director General Ashley Bloomfield announced Monday that the person has recovered and is no longer in solitary confinement.
“Having no active cases for the first time since February 28 is certainly an important milestone in our journey, but, as we said earlier, it will be essential to maintain vigilance against COVID-19”, he said in a statement.
New Zealand has been praised for its effective response to the coronavirus epidemic, which involved including strict confinement for seven weeks until May.
“The last case had no symptoms for 48 hours and is considered to have recovered,” said the health ministry.
The health alert has been reduced to level 1, on a scale of 4, which means that theaters can reopen, as can discos, without any restriction on the number of customers.
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Sports events will no longer be obliged to be held behind closed doors, a major development for the local rugby federation, which will allow its “Super Rugby Aotearoa” competition to start in full stadiums.
“We are incredibly proud and grateful to be the first professional sporting competition in the world in a position to allow our teams to play in front of their fans again,” said New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson. “It’s going to be a unique competition and it’s good that New Zealanders have the opportunity to participate.”
This competition is a tight version of Super Rugby that pitted franchises from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan before its early suspension in March due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The Aotearoa Super Rugby Championship will only bring together the five New Zealand franchises and is intended as a temporary substitute for multinational competition.
Ardern noted that lifting the restrictions would help support the national economy.
“We are ahead of the economic recovery because this level 1 makes us one of the most open economies in the world, if not the most open,” she said.
She said the models showed that at level 1, the economy was operating at 96% of its potential, compared to only 63% at level 4.