Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has revealed the biggest challenge he has faced amid the COVID-19 response, as well as what he is most proud of.
The health official has captured the hearts and imaginations of more than a few New Zealanders as he continues to draw praise for his cool and collected response to the COVID-19 crisis.
With his bespectacled face emblazoned upon hand towels and numerous memes, the leading physician has become something of a local icon - and now, Dr Bloomfield has revealed those feelings are very much reciprocated.
"The thing I am most proud of actually - and it stunned me - is the extent to which all New Zealanders did what was asked of them in alert level 4," the Director-General of Health said with a smile during Tuesday's daily press briefing.
"Our success now, the fact that we just had two weeks in alert level 3, we're less than two weeks into alert level 2 - and already people are impatient to get to alert level 1 - is phenomenal.
"That was because of the extent to which New Zealanders trusted the decisions that had been taken and put their shoulders to the world behind it [sic]. We're now able to reap the benefits of that."
Dr Bloomfield admitted his biggest challenge throughout the outbreak was the initial lack of knowledge regarding the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a major roadblock when developing a response.
"The biggest challenge was the classic challenge of these situations, which was incomplete information... [and a] lack of information.
"It's hard to recall now just how little we knew in those early days, how much we had to base decisions on not just advice we were getting from our science advisers and public health officials, but also a very small number of studies that were initially just coming out of Wuhan," he explained.
Fortunately, a lot more is now known about the vrius and its transmission, he says, aided by New Zealanders stationed across the globe.
"We were very fortunate [to have] fantastic diplomatic staff who, around the world, were sending reports back on a daily basis about what was happening in other countries.
"Of course, we know so much more now than we did then, even if you take one area - for example, around pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic transmission."
The glowing praise comes as New Zealand marks its fourth consecutive day of no new COVID-19 cases since the last case was announced on Friday. The country hasn't seen a day of more than a single new case for more than two weeks, with three cases being confirmed on May 11. There have been no days of double-digit case numbers since April 18.