New Zealand’s Health Minister Chris Hipkins recently reported that there are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak recovered from the virus.
“This is a big milestone,” said Minister Hipkins. “New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems that have been developed and strengthened since our first wave of COVID-19 have worked very effectively to chase down the virus, isolate it, and eliminate it.
“It’s really good news, but as always we cannot sit back. Constant vigilance and team work, with everyone playing their part to ensure we stay on top of the virus, needs to be our new normal for some time to come.”
Since August 11, there have been 186 community cases of COVID-19 reported – 179 people linked to the Auckland August cluster, six people linked to the Christchurch returnees group, and the worker from the managed isolation facility at the Rydges.
“The scale and speed of the response ensured the virus was not allowed to spread unimpeded, as people worked around the clock to rapidly identify and isolate cases as they emerged in our communities, then trace and test their contacts,” Hipkins continued. “The Auckland August cluster has been our largest by some margin, and it has taken considerable effort from across the health system, and from all New Zealanders, to contain this outbreak so quickly.
“In the two months since this outbreak began, laboratories nationally have processed nearly half a million tests – almost the same number as in the whole six months prior.
“While having stamped out COVID-19 in our community for the second time is a real achievement, there is an ongoing risk that further community cases will emerge in the future. Everyone should continue to keep a record of where they have been and who they have been with and maintain good hygiene practices. Doing this will support us remaining in Alert Level 1 as the risk of the virus spreading in the community is much greater when there are no restrictions on gatherings or going out.”
One of the successes of this outbreak was the ability to rapidly trace contacts of confirmed cases, including in instances where cases had kept track of every place they had been via the NZ COVID Tracer app.
People keeping a detailed record of where they have been and who they have seen is part of the reason New Zealand was so successful in tracing contacts of cases so quickly in this second outbreak. Even though New Zealand will be in Alert Level 1, kiwis are urged to keep using the app as part of their daily routine.
The Auckland August cluster will officially ‘close’ in four weeks – which is when there have been no new cases for two incubation periods from when all cases are considered recovered.