Wellington, June 9 : The Ministry of Health reported no cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand on Tuesday, the first day of epidemic Alert Level 1, 18 days since the last new case was reported in the country. "We are confident we have eliminated community transmission of the virus here in New Zealand," Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a press conference. Border restrictions have increased although people's lives are back to normal domestically, Bloomfield said. He said people at the border are being tested no matter if they have symptoms or not.
"Having no active cases for the first time since February 28 is certainly a significant mark in our journey but as we've previously said, ongoing vigilance against COVID-19 will continue to be essential," a Ministry of Health statement said on Monday. The combined number of confirmed and probable cases was 1,504, including 1,154 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is the number reported to the World Health Organization. The number of COVID-19 related deaths in New Zealand was 22. The number of recovered cases was 1,482. New Zealand's medical system could handle the COVID-19 pandemic as the country is heading into a colder winter with increasing influenza risks, said David Murdoch, dean of the University of Otago (Christchurch campus) and co-leader of The Infection Group under the university. "New Zealand is heading into winter.
The big worry is the influenza season," Murdoch told Xinhua. June marks the start of winter in New Zealand, a season which usually sees the highest number of respiratory virus infections in a year. "The country has had a pandemic plan for quite a few years. So there has been preparation. We all thought influenza was the most likely virus, but a lot of the principles and the pandemic plan apply to other infections, so the key parts of that can be adapted for this," he said.
However, this sort of pandemic potentially could overwhelm any system if it was really bad, Murdoch added. (UNI)