New Zealand has successfully wiped out coronavirus after the final person known to have been infected recovered.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was confident the country had halted the spread of Covid-19 but said it would “almost certainly” see more cases in the future.
“We are confident we have eliminated the transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort,” she told a news conference.
“I do want to say again, we will almost certainly see cases here again, and that is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of this virus. But if and when that occurs we have to make sure, and we are, that we are prepared.”
It has been 17 days since the last new case was reported, with 40,000 tested in that time.
Monday also marked the first time since late February that there have been no active cases.
Following the country’s progress, ministers have approved another phase of reopening from midnight, Ms Ardern said.
She said the government’s focus would be on the country’s borders, where isolation and quarantine will continue.
New Zealand’s director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, said having no new cases was a “significant mark in our journey”, but added that “ongoing vigilance against COVID-19 will continue to be essential”.
A number of factors have helped the nation of five million eradicate the disease swiftly, according to experts.
Its isolated location in the South Pacific provided it time to observe how outbreaks spread in other countries, and Ms Arden acted decisively by imposing a strict lockdown early in the outbreak.
Around 1,500 people contracted coronavirus in New Zealand, with just 22 deaths.
Meanwhile, China has reported four new cases, all of them brought from outside the country. The country officially announced a total of 4,634 deaths out of 83,040 total cases since the virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan late last year.
South Korea reported 38 new cases, more of them in the Seoul region, as schools fully reopened on Monday. Health minister Park Neunghoo called for officials to examine supplies of testing equipment in case infections continue.