WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that she was confident that New Zealand had stopped the spread of the coronavirus after the country’s last known infected person recovered.

The last new case was reported 17 days ago, while 40,000 people were tested during this period. And Monday also marked the first time since late February that there have been no active cases.

Ardern also announced that the Cabinet had agreed to another phase of the country’s reopening, which was to take place at midnight.

“We are convinced that we have eliminated the transmission of the virus in New Zealand for the moment, but elimination is not a moment, it is a sustained effort,” she said during a press conference. “We will almost certainly see cases here again, and I want to repeat, we will almost certainly see cases here again, and this is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of this virus. But if and when that happens, we need to make sure and we are, that we are ready. “

She said her government will focus on the country’s borders, where the isolation and quarantine will continue.

Experts say a number of factors have helped the nation’s 5 million people eliminate the disease. Its remote location in the South Pacific gave it vital time to see how the epidemics had spread to other countries, and Ardern acted decisively by imposing a strict lockdown at the start of the epidemic.

Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus in New Zealand, 22 of whom died.

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