Fiji announced that it would be coronavirus-free on Friday after the island nation's last known infected patient received the all-clear, continuing the Pacific's remarkable success story against the virus.
There was panic among Fiji's 930,000 residents when the first COVID-19 case was reported in mid-March, but strict isolation and border controls prevented infections, which peaked in 18 confirmed cases.
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama attributed the country's status without viruses to "answered prayers, hard work and confirmation of science".
"Fiji has just cleared the last of our active COVID-19 patients," he tweeted.
"And even if our test numbers increase day by day, it's 45 days since we recorded our last case. Without deaths, our recovery rate is 100 percent."
The Pacific Islands were initially thought to be the most severely affected by the virus due to insufficient health infrastructure resources and a high rate of health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
There were also fears that the islands could become infection incubators due to their geographic isolation, such as when 83 people died in a measles epidemic in Samoa at the end of last year, most of them babies and toddlers.
However, the nations in the region acted quickly and made the costly decision to seal the borders and close the tourism trade that supports their economy to protect their people.
"The drawbridge raised"
As a result, many have not registered a single case of the virus, including Palau, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands and Micronesia.
"They went beyond the elimination strategy and sought exclusion – they lifted the drawbridge," Otago University epidemiologist Michael Baker told AFP.
"In the case of Fiji, they had cases, but they have now gotten rid of them. In a way, you could say that they did better than New Zealand."
New Zealand is on the verge of eliminating the virus. Health authorities report that there were no new infections on Friday for two weeks and only one virus case was still active.
Fiji has already expressed interest in joining a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia and New Zealand, two nations that supply the majority of tourists to this tropical idyll.
Despite Fiji's success against COVID-19, officials worried about a possible second wave of the disease and insisted that social distance restrictions still exist.
"To avoid the risk of a second wave, the healthy habits we've picked up over the past few months must continue," Bainimarama said in a Facebook video on Friday.
"Wash your hands, wear face masks when you feel unwell, and keep a safe physical distance from others as much as possible," he said.
Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete said a nighttime curfew for meetings of more than 20 people will remain for the time being.
"We cannot drop our guard," he said.
The chefs, one of the first countries in the world to declare themselves virus-free in mid-April, have announced measures to carefully reopen their borders.
Prime Minister Henry Puna said that citizens and people with work permits who have been in New Zealand for 30 days may soon return home without going into quarantine.
The Cook Islands News described the move as "the first step in bringing tourists back."
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)