There are no new cases of COVID-19 infections in New Zealand for the fifth consecutive day, health officials reported on Wednesday, May 27. The positive indicators do not stop there - there are still no COVID-19 hospitalizations in the country, following a patient's discharge from Auckland's Middlemore Hospital.

Officials shared the positive figures at a press conference Wednesday. The total number of recovered cases now stands at 1,462, and only 21 remaining active COVID-19 cases remain.

The country has carried out a total of 267,435 coronavirus studies, and the touch tracers are operating through the NZ COVID Tracer software to track the remaining cases.

New Zealand also launched another app on Wednesday to provide healthcare professionals with access to updated cases, data, and guidance on personal protective equipment usage.

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Race to respond

After closing its borders, the country has slowly opened up. Public health official Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said closing the borders was "so important for us to keep the infection out of the country." Bloomfield also credited for proper hygiene, such as washing hands.

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According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, New Zealand has fared much better than most countries, with around 1,500 confirmed cases and only 21 deaths. Still, officials take their time to lower the level of alert from two to one - the least severe level.

In late April, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that New Zealand had "won" the battle against the virus's widespread transmission to the community.

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Ardern said the country must "hunt down" the remaining cases of the virus to fully "succeed" in the struggle against the coronavirus. 

The Prime Minister has been praised for her handling of the pandemic - and how she handled the economic blows that coronavirus caused.

Ardern announced last month that she and other top government officials would take a pay cut of 20 percent. 

The pay cut will last six months, "while we recognize New Zealanders who rely on wage subsidies, take pay cuts and lose their jobs as a result of the [COVID-19 pandemic]," Ardern said.

Ardern's decision also garnered applause from prominent health figures, including Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the Emergencies Program of the World Health Organization.

"[New Zealand has] gone from public health measures to a very graded response to very systematic case finding and contact tracing to a high rate of testing," Ryan said.

Restrictions? Down to Level 2

Ardern has eased some restrictions on coronavirus as the spread of the virus has slowed in the region. According to the health ministry, the country switched to Warning Level 2 on Wednesday, allowing many companies to reopen immediately and allowing for social gatherings of up to 100 people beginning at noon on Friday, May 29.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters recently suggested that the country was "far too long" under lockdown.

"We have been in compulsory lockdown for far too long," Peters said.

During the press conference on Wednesday, Bloomfield said he could not speak on Peter's comments. However, she clarified the country is "working very hard" on what Level 1 will look like while separately "working very hard with a whole range of players."

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