New Zealand has successfully marked a hundred-day victory without community transmission of coronavirus. The country fought strategically for 65 days to eliminate the virus, the first known case was reported on the 26th of February, and the last community transmission was reported on the 1st of May.
The country relied on 3 types of measures to eradicate the roots of the virus. They were~
- Borders are still kept under control to stop the virus from entering the nation from any outside source
- the strict practice of social/physical distancing to break the vicious cycle of community transmission
- case-based controls using testing, quarantine and contact tracing
Every COVID-19 infected country is pursuing a suppression strategy. When compared to the high-income countries in North America and Europe, New Zealand did succeed to achieve a low death rate and case numbers by following the earlier mentioned measures.
The death rate per million population due to coronavirus
When compared to the other countries who are pursuing COVID-19 containment or elimination processes like Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Mongolia, Fiji, Vietnam, Australia, and Taiwan, New Zealand possesses the smallest number of jurisdictions. And mostly all of them faced new outbreaks after a certain time but the exception is still enjoyed by New Zealand, Mongolia, Taiwan, and Fiji.
Very similar responses to the COVID-19 havoc has been adopted by Australia. It is essential to recognize that most of the states and territories are in an equivalent position as New Zealand. But, Victoria to a lesser extent, New South Wales is witnessing a significant revival.
The major difference that played a crucial role was that New Zealand adopted a clearly articulated elimination strategy relatively earlier and strictly followed the same. The country exercised an intense lockdown and that proved its effectiveness by rapidly extinguishing the virus.
The decisive response proved highly effective
The world needs to learn from New Zealand’s coronavirus experience. A powerful, decisive response to the life-threatening pandemic proved highly effective by decreasing the number of new cases and death rates in the country. According to the OECD i.e. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, New Zealand has the lowest coronavirus death count.
Because of the implemented lockdown, the total all-cause deaths have also dropped down in the country. When this particular observation is studied further, it portrays that it did not leave any severe negative impact on health but the fact that it might put some negative effects if practiced in a long run cannot be kept unseen.
The eradication of the deadly virus seems to have allowed the country to hop back to minimized economic damaged when compared to Australia. But the concern lies on the path where the economic impact is likely to keep playing out over the forthcoming months.
Fighting the pandemic!!
COVID-19 Update— Unite against COVID-19 (@covid19nz) August 9, 2020
There are no new cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand today.
It has been 100 days since the last case of COVID-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source. We have 23 active cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation facilities.
The country has gained a much better understanding of coronavirus in the last 8 months. The country acknowledged that without any effective measures of control, the virus will continue to spread globally, that too for a long period of time may be years and leading to horrifying consequences by infecting billions of people and killing millions. The proportion of infected people who end up dying seems to be slightly below 1%.
It is commonly believed that the survivors are out of danger but this deadly infection also causes severe long-term consequences for some survivors. The biggest uncertainties include immunity to fight this virus, whether it can be developed from vaccines or exposure to infection, and check whether it is long-lasting or not. The uncertainty also lies in the potential for treating the sufferers with antivirals and other therapeutics.
This recognition adds to the list of huge benefits of sustaining the COVID-19 elimination. The world knows that if by any chance New Zealand were to experience a widespread coronavirus transmission, the impact on Pasifika and Māori populations could have been disastrous.
The critical measures were obediently followed to get through this life-threatening period, which included improving contact tracing with suitable digital tools, the use of fabric face masks, the requirement for a dedicated national public health agency, and application a science-based approach to border management.
Maintaining the elimination completely depends on the adaptation of a highly strategic approach to risk management. This particular strategic approach involves choosing an optimal mix of interference and efficiently using resources to keep the deadly risk of coronavirus outbreaks at a consistently low level. Numerous measures can be contributed to achieving this goal in the upcoming next few months, while also permitting supplementary increases in global travel, like ~
- revival planning for a failure of control on border and outbreaks of varied sizes, with an upgraded alert level system and state-of-the-art contact tracing.
- making sure that all the residents of New Zealand possess a re-useable fabric face mask with their use that is built into the alert level system
- conduction of exercises and simulations to assess the outbreak management procedures, that would possibly include mass masking days to indulge the public in the respective response
- conduction of responsibly exploring processes for allowing quarantine-free travel between nations that are free of the virus, such as various Tasmania, Pacific Islands, and Taiwan (which may need digital tracking of arriving travelers for the initial few weeks)
- planning for carefully managing the inbound travel through key long-term visitor groups like the tertiary students who would generally still require managed quarantine or self-isolation period.
Jumping back to a better normal!!
New Zealand is incapable of changing the reality of the global coronavirus pandemic but it can definitely leverage the possible advantages. One must conduct an official inquiry about the coronavirus response so that they can learn everything they can possibly improve their response capacity for forthcoming future events.
One also needs the establishment of a specialized national public health agency for managing serious threats to public health and offer the critical mass to advance public health generally. Such an agency would seem to have been an essential factor in the victory of Taiwan, which completely avoided a costly lockdown.
Businesses should not expect a recovery phase soon. A recent survey by Massey University says that 7 out of 10 New Zealand residents support the approach of green recovery. According to the description published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the country’s tactics of eliminating COVID-19 have proved to be an attention magnet all across the globe. One must support a rejuvenated World Health Organization that is capable of providing improved global leadership for pandemic control and prevention, which will include major use of an elimination approach to combat the deadly coronavirus.
- total number of active cases in the country remains 23 and all of them are managed to quarantine
- since the virus has stepped into the country, it has recorded 1219 confirmed cases and 22 deaths
- the lockdown was first imposed in March month and now the government has lifted almost all of its lockdown restrictions
- the country has been praised globally
Opinions about the tragic victory
Yesterday, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield who is the Director-General of Health said that “Achieving 100 days without community transmission is a significant milestone. However, as we all know, we can’t afford to be complacent.” He also said that “We have seen overseas how quickly the virus can re-emerge and spread in places where it was previously under control, and we need to be prepared to quickly stamp out any future cases in New Zealand.”
Jacinda Ardern who is the Prime Minister of New Zealand was having a similar tone while expressing the delight which was tempted with caution. She said that “The landmark doesn’t lessen any of the risks of another spike in infections.” She also mentioned that “One hundred days is a milestone to mark but, again, we still need to be vigilant regardless.”
How the sign of caution in the tone is justified??
- Other countries did achieve early success in suppressing the deadly virus, but they witnessed a rise in the spread of infection again after lifting the restrictions laid due to lockdown that proved to damage the economy
- Vietnam did succeed to attain 99 days without community transmission until July month when a 57-year-old man in Da Nang tested positive for the COVID-19
- By late July, Da Nang became the epicenter of a novel coronavirus outbreak, which lead to the country’s first coronavirus death since the pandemic commenced
- Even Australia as well has witnessed a resurgence of Covid-19 in some states, including Victoria and New South Wales, where a strict lockdown was imposed
- New Zealand is among a small group of countries that achieved the 100-day community transmission milestone