News

New Zealand Discharges Last Hospitalized COVID-19 Patient & Reports No New Cases

On Wednesday, the country’s Director-General of Health announced that no new coronavirus cases have been reported in five consecutive days.

Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield gives an update/ Getty Images.

New Zealand announced Wednesday it had no new coronavirus cases for five consecutive days, adding that the only remaining hospitalized COVID-19 patient has been discharged. 

The country’s Ministry of Health gave the hopeful update regarding the outbreak during a Wednesday press briefing, adding that more than 1,400 of New Zealand’s total 1,504 people with COVID-19 have recovered and only 21 active cases remain. Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said this is the first time in months that there hasn’t been a COVID-19 patient in the hospital. 

Bloomfield also said an app called NZ COVID Tracer is helping officials with contact tracing, adding that more than 422,000 people have registered on the app. Another app called Āwhina was launched Wednesday, Bloomfield said, that will help medical professionals with updates on use of personal protective equipment, updated case definition, and other useful information. 

Between January 22 and May 26, more than 260,000 coronavirus tests were administered in the country with nearly 5 million people. 

The country has moved into what is called “alert level 2” of a four-leveled system, which allows businesses and schools to reopen safely, and gatherings of 10 or fewer people. Level 2 will be in place for two weeks before the government makes the decision to move to “alert level 1.” Bloomfield said New Zealand will be working with cabinet members in Australia to make a joint decision on international air travel and reopening borders to non-citizens. 

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her handling of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, which included early restrictions to keep numbers of cases low, along with empathetic live streams and urging people to “be kind.” The leader even took a 20% pay cut, along with other top members in her cabinet that will remain in effect for six months. 

Neighboring Australia and South Korea have also significantly flattened the curve of their countries’ COVID-19 outbreaks with early contact tracing and testing. Following staggering drop in numbers, both countries have started to ease restrictions.