The Northern Ireland-born director of public health in New Zealand has described the country's Covid-19 success as "humbling".
Dr Caroline McElnay, who grew up near Bushmills in Co Antrim, said she feels "blessed" that politicians in New Zealand "were very prepared to make some difficult decisions in the early days" of the pandemic as they moved to stamp out the virus.
New Zealand has followed a strict elimination strategy and has almost no restrictions in place, becoming the envy of many countries around the world as they have been ravaged by the brutal effects of Covid-19.
"We've really had very little significant transmission in New Zealand since last April," explained Dr McElnay, a former pupil of Coleraine High School.
While Northern Ireland has recorded 1,834 new cases over the past seven days, of which 281 were announced on Thursday, New Zealand is currently dealing with a cluster of 11 cases in Auckland.
"That makes life a bit busy at the moment," said Dr McElnay.
The Queen's University medical graduate said strict border controls, which include mandatory managed quarantine for all arrivals into the country, have been crucial in stopping Covid-19 from taking hold in New Zealand - but they are also preventing her from attending an upcoming family wedding in Northern Ireland.
"I was back in 2019 to see family, which was fantastic and I was meant to be back in 2020 for a family wedding but that didn't happen," she said.
"It was my nephew's wedding that was postponed and is now happening in April and sadly I won't be able to get to it. There's no restriction on me leaving the country, but it's the fact that if I go, I have to go into quarantine when I get back, there are no exceptions to quarantine."
Dr McElnay said the strict rules have allowed New Zealand to "stamp out" Covid-19 and remain largely clear of the virus: "We closed the borders, we required everybody to stay at home, we managed to wash out the infection that was here in the country and then when we managed to get out of lockdown, we didn't have community transmission, so for us keeping a really close containment on people returning from overseas is really critical to stopping any community cases because they are harder for us to contain.
"Effectively at the moment, we have no restrictions on peoples' movement within New Zealand, the only restrictions are people coming in at the border who are required to go into quarantine for 14 days and testing. That's been a critical part of our strategy."
Referring to the UK's limited managed quarantine policy, she continued: "We have certainly seen that those managed quarantine facilities do work, they do help you to contain."
Asked if it is too late to implement the same border rules as New Zealand, she said: "It could be, whilst your border closures or containment at the border will add an extra level of intervention, if you have got it circulating in your community then you need to deal with that.
"Stopping it, keeping it out, is the analogy we've used...so keep it out and stamp it out and that's what we're doing. It's actually really hard to stamp it out when you've got thousands of cases. Our strategy is a strategy that's a very traditional public health approach, but you can really only do it at an early stage and when your numbers are manageable.
"I think we had this realisation early on as we were going into lockdown that actually if we went into lockdown soon enough and hard enough we could potentially pull this off, but that was an act of faith. We knew we had to do something.
"We very quickly realised that the virus was moving faster than we could make decisions about which parts of the world we should be requiring self-isolation and so we very quickly went to 'let's close the borders'.
"You never quite think you're going to be the one who's in a job that's providing advice to government on really quite significant issues, you never really think that's going to be you but actually when it happens, you just have to get on and do it and every now and again, you have these little out of body moments.
"I've been very lucky, there has been a team of us and we've been really well supported, it's nice and very humbling to look back and see that actually it was a strategy that works, but we're were not sitting back twiddling our thumbs and resting on our laurels because we are very aware that Covid is raging out there in the rest of the world."