New Zealand reports 100 straight days without new local coronavirus cases

New Zealand reports 100 straight days without new local coronavirus cases
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One-hundred days have passed since New Zealand recorded a case of the novel coronavirus caused by local transmission, the country’s health ministry announced on Sunday.

“It has been 100 days since the last case of COVID-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source,” the ministry said in a statement. “No additional cases are reported as having recovered, so there are still 23 active cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation facilities.”

The 100-day milestone comes as regions throughout the world continue to weather outbreaks and rising case counts. As of Sunday morning, more than 19.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, were reported worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.

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In Australia, which neighbors New Zealand, lockdown measures were recently instituted in some regions because of surging infection rates. 

New Zealand, a country with roughly 5 million people, has meanwhile emerged as a success story. The country implemented a number of lockdown measures in March, including the shuttering of non-essential businesses and bans on mass gatherings, as the disease spread. But by late April, health officials expressed confidence that they had eliminated community transmission of the virus. 

"There is no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle. But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time.

Ardern lifted the majority of the country's economic and social restrictions in June, which allowed for the reopening of restaurants and the resumption of sporting events and concerts. The border has reportedly remained closed to all non-residents. 

Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand's director-general of health, said in a statement that "100 days without community transmission is a significant milestone," but stressed that citizens could not lose sight of the potential for another outbreak. 

"However, as we all know, we can’t afford to be complacent," she added. "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. Every person in the team of five million has a role to play in this."