Two new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in New Zealand – both related to recent travel from the UK – after the country went more than three weeks with no confirmed new infections.
New Zealand lifted all social and economic restrictions last week, except border controls, becoming one of the first countries in the world to return to near pre-pandemic normality.
Both cases are connected and were related to the border as a result of recent travel from the UK, the country’s health ministry said.
Last week, New Zealand declared it had no new or active cases of COVID-19, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had warned cases could appear as New Zealanders return home.
She told a news conference at the time: “We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort.
“I do want to say again, we will almost certainly see cases here again, and that is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of this virus. But if and when that occurs we have to make sure, and we are, that we are prepared.”
The island nation has been praised for its response to the virus, and has recorded only around 1,500 cases and 22 deaths.
Experts say a number of factors have helped the country’s success, including its isolated location in the South Pacific and Ms Ardern’s decisive action to impose a strict lockdown early in the outbreak.
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