How New Zealand Eliminates COVID-19?

United Against COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19). This virus is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020. As of 29 June 2020, more than 10 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in more than 188 countries and territories, resulting in more than 499,000 deaths; more than 5.07 million people have recovered.

COVID-19 And New Zealand.

At a time when the world is grappling with the fast-spreading Covid-19 with over 1 billion active cases, New Zealand has announced that it has eradicated the novel coronavirus which causes the disease. Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus in New Zealand, including 22 who died.

The satisfying announcement came on Monday, 8 June when the country’s health officials said that it has no active cases of Covid-19. The Pacific island nation is among only a handful of countries that have emerged from the pandemic, which first gripped the United States and has now turned Latin American into a hotspot.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the country no longer has any coronavirus cases. It has also seen very few COVID-related deaths.

What have been smart strategies for New Zealand’s success?

Strict Lockdown.

On March 15, when New Zealand had only 100 confirmed cases and no deaths. Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern said “We must go hard and we must go early,”. She closed its borders to foreign travelers and made people coming home quarantine for 14 days. Then 10 days later, she introduced full lockdown measures, which were strict by international standards. Only grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, and gas stations could stay open. There were restrictions on vehicle travel, and only limited social interaction was allowed within households. Commuters are now back out in full force in Christchurch as New Zealand returns to work

Be kind. Stay Safe. COVID-19. Govt. New Zealand.
Be kind. Stay Safe. COVID-19. Govt. New Zealand.

Those restrictions lasted for over a month before they were slowly eased again. Now, all social and economic restrictions have been lifted, and only border restrictions remain.

The lockdown rules were vital as they “suppressed the spread of the virus early and bought precious time that other countries wasted,” Oksana Pyzik, a senior teaching fellow at University College London’s School of Pharmacy, told DW.

Strong Communication.

Shortly before the strict lockdown, the government sent emergency text messages to residents.

This is a message for all of New Zealand. We are depending on you, it read. Where you stay tonight is where you must stay from now on … it is likely [the strictest] measures will stay in place for a number of weeks.

Government Of New Zealand.
COVID-19 Emergency Alert Messages.
COVID-19 Emergency Alert Messages.

As the situation progressed, Ardern was clear about the approach she wanted to take in the COVID-19 fight. “We have the opportunity to do something no other country has achieved: elimination of the virus,” she told the nation in a briefing on April 16, 2020.

“The government was really good at managing people’s expectations,” a resident from the capital city Wellington told CNBC. “We were told it would take two weeks for signs that the lockdown was having an impact on the numbers. This made the purpose of the lockdown easy to understand and accept.”

Pyzik also believes the government got its messaging right. “Consistent messaging about prioritizing health and frequent communication and daily PM press conferences directly to the population including children helped to achieve buy-in from the public.”

Progressive Testing Capacity Of COVID-19.

In the early days of the pandemic, Ardern announced the country could process up to 8,000 tests per day, one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world. In total, it has tested just under 295,000 people, again giving it a comparatively high per capita rate of testing.

COVID-19 testing in New Zealand.
COVID-19 testing in New Zealand.

Shaun Hendy, the head of Te Punaha Matatini, a scientific body advised the government in its COVID-19 response. He told the news website Axios that New Zealand’s strict lockdown meant the country’s contract tracers could more easily trace people who needed to isolate when cases were identified.

Pyzik agrees it has been effective. “Following the WHO advice around mass testing and robust contact-tracing has been key to limiting the death toll,” she told DW.

Geography Was A Plus Point!

The fact that it is a relatively isolated island has greatly helped pandemic response. It has more control over who can enter than other countries with large land borders. It also has a relatively low population density, meaning the virus cannot travel as easily through the population. As fewer people encounter each other.

Sparsely populated remote island.
Sparsely populated remote island.

Pyzik agrees that this has helped New Zealand. ” As New Zealand is a sparsely populated remote island. Mass testing and closing the borders to drive out COVID-19 would be difficult to replicate elsewhere to the same degree of success,”. However, it does not mean New Zealand cannot be used as a benchmark by other countries. “Despite the advantages of New Zealand’s small population and remote location, the lessons that other countries can, and should learn from, are around the importance of moving swiftly,” she adds.

Proper Guidelines Were Followed Against COVID-19.

New Zealand’s government was following the best guidelines for dealing with a new virus. The cornerstone of a pandemic response for every country must be to find, test, isolate, and care for every case, and to trace and quarantine every contact, That is every country’s best defense against COVID-19 and it is how New Zealand succeeded in overcoming COVID-19.

Stopping the virus also means the country can begin its economic recovery sooner. Ardern said the economy would now operate at just 3.8% below normal. “We now have a head start on economic recovery because at level one we become one of the most open, if not the most open, economies in the world,” she said.

Summing Up All.

During a national emergency we discover how well, or poorly, a country is governed. But New Zealand’s success so far in working towards eliminating COVID-19 isn’t due just to leadership from the top. It’s been a collective success, involving most “ordinary” Kiwis and unity across political divides.

For more articles visit our website Fajar Magazine.

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