Further to my post above, the PM in today's 4pm announcement gave some clarification of how the Government views the term "elimination". The PM said this:
"Elimination doesn't mean zero cases, it means zero tolerance for cases, it means when a case emerges, and it will, we test, we contact trace, we isolate, and we do that every single time with the ambition that when we see covid we eliminate it. That is how we will keep our transmission rate under "one" and it is how we will keep succeeding."
So, the Government is pointing out to journalists around the world that NZ's interpretation of the term elimination doesn't mean zero cases. I'm pleased the PM gave this clarification because many people are of the view that it's far too early yet to know whether this virus can in fact be completely "eliminated".
I think there is a lot of confusion around the what the words elimination and eradication actually mean, when it comes to this. But it is clearly defined as below, and elimination does mean the zero incidence as a result of deliberate effort, but continuing intervention is needed. Professor Skegg said at the select committee early on that we could eliminate it while in level 4 https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12321119
My understanding is elimination is
Elimination of disease: Reduction to zero of the incidence of a specified disease in a defined geographical area as a result of deliberate efforts; continued intervention measures are required. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su48a7.htm
My understanding is eradication is
Eradication: Permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidence of infection caused by a specific agent as a result of deliberate efforts; intervention measures are no longer needed. Example: smallpox. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su48a7.htm
So it appears we can really only talk about eliminating it from NZ, because it will continue to exist in the rest of the world, until a vaccine is introduced, but even then I do wonder it if can be eradicated from all parts of the world long term. I suppose if we talk about eradicating it from NZ, then we have to then say that NZ will have to rely of quarantining to make sure no new cases get into NZ.