Sunday August 9th marked 100 days since the last known community transmission of the coronavirus in New Zealand. Right now, the country of five million inhabitants reports only 23 active cases of COVID-19, all held in managed isolation facilities. While New Zealand is known internationally for its stunning landscapes (featured in the Lord of the Rings movie series), the island nation and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have become a shining example in global efforts to subdue the pandemic. With 1,219 confirmed infections and 22 deaths, New Zealand has kept coronavirus case numbers low.
Their success managing the virus can be partially attributed to closing the nation's borders on March 19th. While cases rise in neighboring Australia, New Zealanders can enjoy many activities safely, such as shopping, crowded events, and sports. The PM's strong and effective response to the virus has her domestic and international acclaim. However, the nation has not relaxed all restrictions. The government continues to restrict travel to New Zealand, and all entering the country must quarantine. Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield reminded New Zealanders, “We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand.”
Dr. Bloomfield emphasized other factors contributing to New Zealand's success—testing and teamwork. Despite evidence of no community spread, labs continue to process thousands of swabs. The Director-General praised citizens for continuing to submit to testing in order to catch any infection which may still silently spread or rebound among the population. “Every person in the team of five million has a role to play in this…Don’t let the team down—none of us can afford to do that,” she said in a press release announcing the 100 days of no community transmission. The people of New Zealand certainly have cause to rejoice in their community efforts.