The Coronavirus pandemic has literally brought the world to its knees, and even the world’s leading economies have come to a standstill, struggling to stay afloat.
However, there are some countries that have not just shown the way, but rather, led a strong fight against Covid-19. Like New Zealand.
With quick action and decisive thinking, New Zealand may have just managed to stop the outbreak even before it could take hold.
Reportedly, New Zealand is the only country to have recorded over 1000 cases of Covid-19, but only 1 death.
The first positive case in New Zealand was confirmed on February 28. To date, the total cases have been 1,210 which clearly indicates that the increase rate has been significantly lower in comparison to other countries.
The main reason for this has been the urgency that New Zealand displayed in taking precautions, and thereby, containing the spread of the virus.
Early in March, New Zealand advised all international visitors to self-isolate for 14 days. And by March 19–only 19 days after the first confirmed case in the country–New Zealand closed its borders. This was a highly critical decision for a country largely dependent on tourism-related revenue.
But New Zealand continued in the same vein and under Ardern’s leadership, within a week, schools and all non-essential services were shut down, several outdoor activities were banned, and ‘social distancing’ was implemented.
During this time, PM Ardern publically condemned and demoted a minister who went on a drive with his family, making it clear that the rules of social distancing, were indeed equal for all.
Additionally, the government also provided recurring payments to the people, to make it easier for people to stay indoors without work. And to make the lockdown ‘bearable’, people displayed bears on their windows, in trees, and on windows.
Ardern’s straightforward, transparent approach, has also helped build trust among the public, and not succumb to irrational fear (that in some instances, including in India, has transformed into racism).
She’s regularly answered questions about people’s concerns, regarding government support, subsidies, etc.
She even found ways to keep people’s spirits up, especially with Easter around the corner.
And she has certainly led the mantle for work from home by addressing the nation in sweats, from her home.
Because in 2020, when the going gets tough, the tough stay at home.
Additionally, like most other countries that have managed to control the outbreak, even New Zealand has maintained a high rate of testing. And yet, despite the increase in testing, there has been a decline in the number of positive cases reported.
Clearly, in New Zealand’s case, the effort wasn’t on just stopping the virus from spreading, but rather, on eliminating it completely.
A feat that the country seems to have achieved for now as PM Jacinda Ardern announced in a press conference that the country had won the battle against community transmission of Coronavirus.
There is no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle. But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way.
While cynics may point out that the size of the country and the population allowed it to better control the spread, there is no denying that a decisive, fast-paced approach has allowed New Zealand to significantly limit the loss of life due to Covid-19.
Under the leadership of PM Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand has constantly set examples for the rest of the world to follow – especially in terms of dealing with armed attacks, gender equality, or prioritizing what’s important for a country’s growth. And the efforts it has taken to counter the Covid-19 pandemic are just another example of New Zealand leading the way.