For the fifth consecutive day, there are no new cases of COVID-19 cases in New Zealand, ministry of health officials announced on Wednesday. The positive metrics do not end there – there are also no COVID-19 hospitalizations in the country, following the discharge of a patient from Middlemore Hospital in Auckland.
During a press briefing on Wednesday, officials shared the hopeful statistics. The total number of recovered cases is now at 1,462, and there are just 21 remaining active cases of COVID-19.
The country has conducted a total of 267,435 coronavirus tests and contact tracers are working to monitor the remaining cases through the NZ COVID Tracer app.
New Zealand also launched another app on Wednesday, which will provide health care professionals with access to information on the updated case definition, on local clinical pathways, and on guidance around use of personal protective equipment.
The country has slowly been opening after closing its borders, which has been "so important for us to keep the infection out of the country," public health official Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said during the press conference. Bloomfield also credited proper hygiene such as hand washing.
With about 1,500 confirmed cases and only 21 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, New Zealand has fared much better than most countries. Still, officials are taking their time to drop the alert level from two to one – the least severe level.
Ardern said that to fully "succeed" in the fight against the coronavirus, the country must "hunt down" the remaining cases of the virus. "There is no widespread, undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle," said Ardern. "But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way."
The prime minister has been praised for her handling of the pandemic – and how she's dealt with the economic blows suffered at the hands of coronavirus. Last month, Ardern announced she and other top government officials would take a 20% pay cut. The pay cut will last six months, "as we acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsidies, taking pay cuts and losing their jobs as a result of COVID-19's global pandemic," Ardern said during a press briefing.