Over the last few years, as the global community has been reeling under the ravages of the coronavirus, a few countries have definitely performed better than others. Some, like Taiwan, South Korea, and New Zealand, have successfully managed to keep their citizens safe from the threat of Covid-19, maintaining stringent precautions to keep the death rates low.
The response that New Zealand had to the crisis can well serve as a model for the rest of the world. Their Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, left no stone unturned to ensure that her citizens did not succumb to the epidemic. Consequently, she was able to celebrate recently when New Zealand’s last Covid-19 patient made a full recovery.
A Lesson in Efficacy
New Zealand has had one of the most effective responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. With only 22 deaths resulting from 1,504 cases of the infection, New Zealand has emerged victorious in this war of survival and the rest of the world would do well to pay attention and learn from their techniques. Mentioned below are 5 of the things that New Zealand got right during the pandemic.
Swift and Comprehensive Lockdown
When news of the pandemic first broke, Prime Minister Ardern realized that New Zealand must work quickly and remain tough on its lockdown regulations. The country closed its borders to foreign travelers as early as March 15, when it had only a hundred confirmed cases of the infection and no deaths. New Zealand also laid down strict 14-day quarantine guidelines for those coming home from foreign countries.
By the end of March, New Zealand had implemented full lockdown measures with only gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, and hospitals allowed to remain open throughout the country. Large-scale restrictions on vehicular travel were implemented and people had to provide viable reasons for leaving their home. All of these restrictions were strictly maintained for over a month before being lifted at the end of May.
Effective Communication of Rules
All residents received emergency text messages from the government shortly after the rules for the lockdown were finalized. Citizens were informed that they will have to stay for the upcoming weeks in the same place where they chose to spend that night, as travel bans would be implemented throughout the country. From the beginning, Ardern made it clear that her goal was to eliminate the virus altogether from New Zealand.
By being clear and precise in communication, the government of the country was effectively able to manage the citizens’ expectations. This effective communication of rules, timelines, and goals also made it easier for people to understand the purpose of the lockdown and accept it accordingly. Consistent and frequent communication and progress reports enabled the government to earn the trust of the populace, who helped make the lockdown a success.
Enhanced Testing Capacity
New Zealand was able to enhance its testing capacity quicker and more effectively than most other countries. By April, the country could process about eight thousand tests every day. This meant that New Zealand had one of the highest rates of testing and diagnosis in the world.
The country also deployed a team of contact tracers who made use of the strict lockdown measures to quickly and effectively trace people who needed to be isolated, every time a new case of Covid-19 was identified. Experts around the world believe that mass testing and effective contact tracing – backed up by robust quarantine measures – were some of the cornerstones of New Zealand’s success.
Maximizing Geographic Advantage
New Zealand’s geographic position has helped with its pandemic response, as being a relatively isolated island has made it easier to control foreign traffic. The low population density and the lack of a large land border through which illegal immigration can occur have offered some other advantages.
New Zealand took full advantage of these natural perks, quickly closing its international borders and maintaining the restrictions on foreign travel even after the domestic lockdown was lifted. This swift decision-making helped the country leverage its geography to achieve governmental goals.
Adherence to the Pandemic Guidebook
New Zealand’s government always endeavored to follow the world-class guidelines on dealing with a new virus. Find, test, isolate, and treat every affected individual – that is the cornerstone of an effective pandemic response strategy. Effective utilization of contact-tracing and quarantining also played a part in the country’s success.
Taking these measures from day one means that the country can now begin the process of economic recovery without jeopardizing the health of its citizens. In New Zealand, the process of recovery can, therefore, begin weeks before most other countries around the globe. Even without opening international borders, this can provide a major boost to the finances of individual citizens as well as the government.
Countries around the world should consider using the lessons learned from New Zealand’s success to ramp up their own efforts in defeating the Covid-19 pandemic. Only with strict lockdown measures, effective communication, extensive testing, and efficient travel management can we hope to beat the pandemic and restore normalcy to the lives of the common people.
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