WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand appears to have eradicated the coronavirus for now after health officials said the last known infected person has recovered.
According to CNN, no one has tested positive for the virus in the last 17 days, no one has received COVID-19 treatment in a hospital in the last 12 days and the reported case of "community" spread came 40 days ago.
The announcement was greeted with joy around the country and means the nation of 5 million will be among the first to welcome throngs of fans back into sports stadiums, allow large concerts and remove seating restrictions from flights.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was confident New Zealand had halted the spread of the virus, although she notes more cases were likely and her government was focusing on being prepared.
Experts say some travelers will likely bring in infections. Border restrictions will be among the last lockdown measures still in place.
Being an island nation of just 5 million residents, geography has been kind to New Zealand in preventing further spread of the virus. But Ardern was also among the most aggressive world leaders when it came to responding to the virus. She ordered anyone entering the country to self-isolate on March 14, when the country had just six confirmed cases. Nine days later, she ordered the closure of non-essential businesses, when there were just over 100 cases and no confirmed deaths.
reports that New Zealand also has one of the highest testing capacities per capita in the world.