New Zealand Goes 100 Days With No Covid-19 Transmission

September 20, 2020

New Zealand, a country of about 4.8 million people, has now gone 100 days without a single case of locally transmitted COVID-19, according to news reports.

The last locally-acquired case of COVID-19 of unknown origin was on May 1, around the time the lockdown began to ease, according to BBC News. In late March, the South Pacific island nation imposed one of the world’s strictest blockades, according to the New York Times, “so strong that even retrieving a lost cricket ball from a neighbor’s yard was forbidden”. .

According to the Johns Hopkins University Virus Dashboard, 1,569 cases and 22 related deaths have been recorded in New Zealand so far. Only 21 cases are thought to be active, and those are in quarantine, according to CNN.

Since the second week of June, life in New Zealand has almost returned to its pre-pandemic state. Officials then and now warn that relaxed vigilance could lead to a second wave.

“Achieving 100 days of community-free communication is an important milestone. However, we all know we can’t afford to be complacent,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashley Bloomfield on Sunday (Aug. 9), according to BBC News.” We’ve seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly put an end to any future cases in New Zealand.”

That was the case in Vietnam, where there was no community transmission of COVID-19 for 99 days before a 57-year-old man in Da Nang, central Vietnam, tested positive for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. By the end of July, Da Nang became the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, reporting the country’s first pandemic death, according to news reports.

Other countries successfully pioneered before the 100-day milestone. Taiwan, for example, which could experience a severe outbreak due to its proximity to China and the fact that so many Taiwanese work there, has also gone more than 100 days without any community transmission. According to news reports, since July 22, when Taiwan reported 455 cases and more than 100 days without local transmission, the island has recorded only 22 new cases; none of the new cases appear to be locally transmitted.

Taiwan owes its success in part to a culture that both takes infectious diseases seriously (after suffering a SARS outbreak in 2003) and is accustomed to wearing masks, according to the Bureau of Statistics news report.

While New Zealand does not have a strict requirement to wear masks in public, the country has such a low population density – about 47 people per square mile compared to 93 per square mile in the U.S. – that they have imposed a strict five-week lockdown.