WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand this year pulled off a moonshot that remains the envy of most other nations: it eliminated the coronavirus. But the goal was driven as much by fear as it was ambition, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed in an interview with The Associated Press. She says the target grew from an early realization the nation’s health system simply couldn’t cope with a big outbreak. New Zealand’s response to the virus has been among the most successful, with only 25 deaths. There have been plenty of bumps along the way. When a handful of cases began cropping up in August, Ardern found herself defending wildly exaggerated claims from President Donald Trump, who said, “It’s over for New Zealand. Everything’s gone.”
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