New Zealand beat the Coronavirus, or at least that’s what the nation’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, who declared at a press conference that the country “has won the battle. “
It should be noted that New Zealand’s successful strategy against the Coronavirus has attracted worldwide attention thanks to the fact that, from the beginning, the Government of that nation sought to eradicate the virus completely and not “flatten the curve,” as has been the case in other countries.
In this way, and after strict confinement that lasted four weeks and began in mid-March, a part of New Zealanders returned “to their normal life” on Monday, April 27. What did New Zealand do well?
It was on February 28, 2020, when the first case was shown on the island, which was a 60-year-old woman who had recently returned to the country, after a trip to Iran, Bali, and Indonesia. However, since February 3, 2020 (that is, three weeks before confirming the first case ), the Government announced that entry was prohibited for all travelers from China. Only citizens and permanent residents, along with their families, were to be allowed access.
Likewise, from that date (February 3), the different Universities requested the Government to take health exams and Covid-19 tests to all those Chinese students who came to the country to continue their studies or to do some academic type exchange. Furthermore, foreigners who had visited China could enter the country, as long as they had spent 15 days elsewhere before their arrival in New Zealand.
In the second week of March, when the number of infections increased, and it was traced that many of them had contracted the virus in Italy and Iran, the measures also applied to visitors from these nations.
Contrary to many countries, where quarantine is not respected, in New Zealand, the confinement was very strict. Three weeks after reporting the first case, the Prime Minister established Level 4 of her Contingency Plan for one month, which meant that no one could leave the house except to buy food or medicine. The exit was only allowed for all those who worked in some type of essential service.
The communication by the Government was quite effective. From the beginning of the epidemic, Jacinda Ardern proposed a “motto” to face this health emergency, “Go strong and on time.” Citizens reported on social networks different official messages they received on their mobile phones, through which they sought to raise awareness. “Follow the rules. Stay at home. Act like you have Covid-19”.
The national police even created a special line, so that people could report to all those who breached the quarantine rules.
It had not been 10 days since the first case of Coronavirus was confirmed in New Zealand, when the Prime Minister ordered the complete closure of the borders. By then, the number of infected had exceeded 100 cases. However, the figure was enough for Ardern to take this measure, which in many countries was considered extreme.
In recent years, tourism in New Zealand has increased, especially since the nation offers great opportunities for ecotourism and sports for visitors. Proof of this is the airline Air New Zealand, which in recent months had achieved considerable growth nationally and internationally.
After the closure of borders, this sector was severely impacted.
To cope with this, the Government established a financial aid program for all those citizens who became unemployed during this time of confinement.
According to the BBC, there are two types of strategy against Coronavirus: the Mitigation one, which was applied by countries like the United States and which consists of increasing restrictions as the epidemic grows, in order to flatten the curve.
The other is the Elimination Strategy, whose goal is to introduce strict measures from the beginning so that the spread of the virus is avoided. “This approach has a strong focus on border control and emphasizes the isolation of cases to eliminate transmission chains,” a group of experts told the BBC.
A key point. Obviously, the geography and population of New Zealand cannot be compared with other countries that have been severely hit by the Coronavirus pandemic.
While it is true that each country is different and that, for the same reason, the epidemic has behaved differently in all of them (border control is easier in places like New Zealand, thanks to its geography).