The architect of one of the world's most effective lockdowns says the UK has "all the tools" to rid itself of the virus entirely as he hit out at Britain's lack of global leadership.
In an interview with the United Kingdom's Sunday Telegraph, Professor Michael Baker, the doctor who helped formulate New Zealand's "elimination" strategy, doubled down on his approach despite new cases imported from the UK that have raised awkward questions.
"Ultimately, a strategy of containment and elimination can offer a way out of this scenario as it aims to create a situation where people come out of lockdown into a virus-free population.
"You (the UK) have all the tools you need to pursue containment and elimination if you choose to. The alternative is going in and out of lockdown for months, if not years."
New Zealand has been singled out for its remarkable apparent success in tackling coronavirus, recording just over 1000 cases and only 22 deaths.
Baker advocated "stamping out" the virus rather than flattening the curve as early as February. In April he hailed the "most decisive and strongest lockdown in the world".
On June 8 the country's prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced no new infections for the first time since the epidemic began.
A week later two new cases were found to have been imported from the UK by visitors allowed to break quarantine on the North Island for a funeral.
Professor Baker said that despite the scare "the system is working" and that it was not necessary to ban arrivals from the UK, or other countries with widespread infection.
He said that in the early stages of the coronavirus reaching New Zealand, the country looked to the UK, Europe, the WHO and the USA's Center of Disease Control for leadership.
"The advice was poor to non-existent," he said, in a swipe at Britain's approach. "We turned to Asia for examples," he added.
He also hit out at Sweden, which lies at the opposite end of the spectrum to New Zealand with very loose coronavirus restrictions.
"Sweden based their approach on three big assumptions," he said.
"First the idea the virus would sweep neatly through, creating herd immunity. Second was that the economy would be better off, and that has not been the case. And third, that you could protect the vulnerable [without a lockdown]. You can, but you have to work incredibly hard, and once the virus gets into aged care facilities it is devastating, as it has been in Sweden and the UK."
Professor Baker said that while the tourism industry had taken a huge hit because of the pandemic, that would have happened even without the lockdown.
"For New Zealand there is a real [economic] benefit to returning to, internally, pretty much to normal. We can have large crowds at sporting events with no risk of transmission."