New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean which became COVID-19 free. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press meeting, declared that the country has no active COVID-19 cases lately and it is coronavirus free. It is quite astonishing that the country fought the coronavirus pandemic in such a short span. They were able to fight it mainly because of the 75-day lockdown period including the seven-week lockdown for most of the business in New Zealand. The Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University, New Zealand reported that there were 1,504 cases of COVID-19 and only 22 deaths. The country recorded its first COVID-19 case on February 28 and in less than a month, there were 102 confirmed cases. The country’s political leadership and the expert advice given by scientists were the two important reasons for their success in fighting in this pandemic.
The effective measures taken by the Prime minister, Jacinda Ardern has led the nation to live peacefully without coronavirus. Hence, Zoe Marks a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, said that “In a global emergency, women are showing us how to lead.”
New Zealand became coronavirus free by establishing effective strategies. The reason for how New Zealand became coronavirus free is discussed below.
The lockdown was uptight
The Prime Minister of New Zealand conveyed a message saying, “We must go hard and we must go early.”
On March 15, when New Zealand had only 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases and no deaths, the country closed its borders to foreign travelers and made the native people coming home undergo quarantine for 14 days. This was the most effective strategy that New Zealand followed to become a corona-free nation. Again they declared a lockdown 10 days later; the country introduced full lockdown measures, which were strict as per the international standards. Only essentials such as grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, and gas stations were permitted to stay open, vehicle travel was strictly prohibited, social distancing and social interaction were limited to households. Similar restrictions lasted for over a month before they gradually went back to their normal lives. Currently, all social and economic restrictions have been released, and only border restrictions still prevail. The country acted smartly in that they brought lockdown rules early and managed to suppress the spread of the coronavirus and bought precious time that other countries are wasting now.
Despite enforcing the lockdown measures quickly, New Zealand also focused hard on the ramp-up testing. New Zealand had one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world. The country now has effective and sufficient requirements to process up to more than 8,000 tests per day.
Prior to the lockdown being implemented, the New Zealand government had sent emergency text messages to all the residents of New Zealand with a clear explanation about the lockdown.
Christine Nam, a 31-year-old from the capital city of Wellington, New Zealand told Press that all communication from the government had been clear, precise, and based on scientific facts. So, this resource backed information provided by the government served to have the best impact on the citizens and thereby helped to enrich their knowledge about lockdown measures. The citizens also told that the New Zealand government was really transparent about what each lockdown level brings and its effects. The government was really good at managing people’s expectations and their daily needs.
New Zealand was not scared of the economic damages caused due to lockdown, instead, they were scared for the lives of their residents. The country’s economy is expected to drop down by 6% this year because of the pandemic.
Recently, New Zealand’s Parliament passed tax reform. This reform served to be beneficial to the citizens because it stated that the government will refund over 3 billion New Zealand dollars ($1.8 billion) paid by the small businesses. The government ministers and public service chief executives including the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern agreed for a 20% pay cut due to economic crisis. It is also well known that stopping the virus also means the country can begin its economic recovery sooner. That is why New Zealand concentrated on stopping the coronavirus spread as soon as possible. Ardern says that the country’s economy would currently be able to operate at just 3.8% below normal which does not make a big impact and can be recovered at the earliest time possible.
New Zealand depends more on tourism and trade for their income. So it is evident that the economic performance of New Zealand will be lagging. However, economists argue that a virus-free country like New Zealand needs more global trade and foreign investment. Economists also believe that whatever may come towards New Zealand, they can tackle it. Hence it is believed that it is trustworthy to build trade, business, and investments with New Zealand.
Geography was an advantage
New Zealand being an isolated island was of great help in order to fight the virus since they were able to stay away from other countries’ borders. Hence New Zealand has more control over foreigners entering their country. New Zealand also has a comparatively low population density than other countries in the world, therefore, the virus cannot travel with the same ease as in other countries through the population, as fewer people encounter each other. Also because of low population density, it was easy for them to practise social distancing. Hence it is obvious that the country’s geography also served a major purpose in making the nation coronavirus free.
Agata Pyzik, a famous journalist said, “Despite the advantages of New Zealand’s small population and remote location, the lesson that other countries can, and should learn from it, is the importance of moving swiftly,” she adds. Similarly, many leaders had appreciated the New Zealand government for their engrossing work in beating back the dangerous coronavirus.
It followed the pandemic guidebook properly
New Zealand’s government was following the best guidelines for dealing with a new virus given by their country scientist. The country’s Prime Minister in a press-meet once told that they were able to fight the coronavirus mainly due to the advice and guidebook given by their scientists and doctors. Also, she advised other countries to follow their scientists and doctor’s advice to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
WHAT OTHER COUNTRIES SHOULD LEARN FROM NEW ZEALAND?
- Good leadership can yield great success
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, serves to be the best example for a good leader. She skillfully led the nation towards fighting coronavirus. Other government executives also stood by her side in implementing the lockdown in the early stages. The citizens also followed her advice and helped in crushing the virus. So, with her amazing leadership, the country now zero active COVID- 19 cases.
2. The World cannot fight the virus without the public’s cooperation
We, the people also have a lot to learn from New Zealand’s public. The citizens of New Zealand, stayed apart to contribute their part in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. The other country’s public must take inspiration from them and follow proper social distancing. The public must trust the government and obey their orders to overcome the pandemic soon.
Despite being an isolated island nation, New Zealand managed to be self-sufficient with their needs as soon as possible. Right from the embark of the virus, the country began to import essentials to tackle the virus. They made sure their nation received sufficient and basic needs such as medical equipment, test kits, sanitizers, face masks, some pharmaceuticals, and many more. Hence, other countries must also be self-sufficient with their needs to tackle the coronavirus pandemic soon.
It is possible for any country to get through this scenario by practicing social distancing, using proper protective gear while necessary, and by staying at home. Let us stay apart to do our part.