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New Zealand prime minister declares: Coronavirus 'eliminated,' time to reopen everything


Now can they save their economy?

Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that her country has "eliminated" coronavirus transmissions.

Back in March, Middle-earth implemented one of the most draconian pandemic lockdowns on the planet. Most of the nation's businesses were forced to close and all but so-called "essential workers" were required to stay home for nearly seven weeks. The government closed its borders to nearly all foreign travel.

In late April, the government said it had defeated the virus and would begin reopening.

On May 27, CBS News reported that the country had discharged its last coronavirus hospital patient.

Less than two weeks later (and after a total of 1,154 reported cases and 22 deaths), Ardern declared that her nation hasn't reported a single new case in more than two weeks, the New York Post said.

Ardern told reporters that Monday marked a "milestone" in the country's battle against the epidemic.

"We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now," she said, the Post reported, "but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort."

The government has announced that all events — public and private — as well as retail outlets, hospitality businesses, and public transportation will be back to normal — all without social distancing requirements.

Though the Ardern government has been praised for its leadership and the prime minister's poll numbers have shot up, the Post said, the Kiwis still face a major task: reviving an economy that is expected to sink into a recession.

Ardern did note that the government would continue border controls and require everyone entering New Zealand to be tested for the virus.

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