New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been praised for her leadership amid the global coronavirus pandemic

By Eric Todisco
August 09, 2020 11:30 AM

New Zealand is celebrating a major milestone in its fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Ministry of Health confirmed in an emailed statement on Sunday that the island nation has gone 100 days with no detected community spread of COVID-19, according to multiple outlets.

As of Sunday, New Zealand — which has a small population of just under 5 million — has a total of 1,569 confirmed cases and 22 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

"Achieving 100 days without community transmission is a significant milestone, however, as we all know, we can't afford to be complacent," Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand's director-general of health, said on Sunday, according to Reuters.

Bloomfield added, "We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been praised for her leadership amid the pandemic, called her re-election campaign, which she kicked off on Saturday, a "COVID election."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Hagen Hopkins/Getty

On March 23, New Zealand had just over 100 cases of COVID-19, but Ardern, 40, decided it was time to take action, and put the entire country into one of the most restrictive lockdowns. Everyone, except for essential workers, was required to stay home for four weeks, only leaving for groceries or solo exercising (though swimming at the beach is prohibited). The country was also shut off to any international travel.

By late April, the country claimed it had "eliminated" the virus after reporting a significantly low number of confirmed cases in the country.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Experts have said that New Zealand’s strategy against COVID-19 may have worked better than other countries who tried to slow the spread and “flatten the curve” instead.

While New Zealand is celebrating success against COVID-19, the United States surpassed 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday with at least 162,441 deaths in the country, according to Johns Hopkins.

Currently, the U.S. leads the world in COVID-19 cases.

Medical workers prepare to help coronavirus patient in busy hospital
Win McNamee/Getty

Last week, the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, whose models are included in the CDC’s weekly list of national forecasts, predicted that by December, the death toll in the United States could reach 295,011.

However, the total amount of deaths could be much higher — or lower — depending on how many states and individuals continue working to prevent the spread of the virus.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.