People are talking about New Zealand’s coronavirus response. And they really should be.

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People are talking about New Zealand at the moment. And they really should be. Because its response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has been an inspiration.

A “masterclass”

New Zealand’s left-leaning government had some advantages when the pandemic hit. For example, it’s small and socially distant; and with five million people spread across an area the size of Britain, even the cities are not overly crowded. But the figures are still impressive:

And this situation, according to university lecturer Suze Wilson, is partly down to a “masterclass in crisis leadership” from prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

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As the BBC reported on 20 April, Ardern’s government:

visibly put people’s health first, whereas other countries … delayed imposed social distancing measures for fear of the economic damage

It stressed that “science and empathy” led the way in the country’s response, alongside a ‘clear message’.

Ardern took bold steps, putting the country under a strict lockdown in late March, when only about 100 people had tested positive for coronavirus. Schools are closed and people working non-essential jobs can leave home only for groceries or exercise. Google mobility data indicates there has been high compliance.

The PM’s motto was “Go hard and go early”. And the country has so far avoided a widespread outbreak, with new cases dwindling from a peak of about 90 per day in early April to just five on 21 April. Only 13 people have died so far, and Ardern has been personally briefed on each death.

The government is also voluntarily taking a significant pay cut for the next few months:

Containment vs elimination

New Zealand’s government isn’t just trying to contain the coronavirus, though; it wants to eliminate it altogether. As Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccine expert at the University of Auckland, stressed, “once transmission is stopped, it’s gone”. And so far, she said, the country has managed to avoid the confusion and half-measures that have hampered the response in many other places:

New Zealand got everything right… Decisive action, with strong leadership and very clear communications to everybody.

The government, which came into the crisis with its books in relatively good shape, has been handing out billions of dollars in temporary wage subsidies to try to prevent mass unemployment. More than half the nation’s workforce has suddenly become reliant on government handouts.

The tourism industry employed more than 300,000 people before the crisis and accounted for about 10% of New Zealand’s entire economy. And a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that, because of this reliance on tourism, the economy could initially be one of the hardest-hit by the coronavirus among developed nations.

Ardern announced on 20 April that the country would stay in lockdown for another week before slightly easing some work restrictions to help restart the economy. Some believe the lockdown should continue for longer. Most social restrictions, however, will remain in place.

In short, the country isn’t out of the woods yet. But with its strong response, it has shown the world what can be done when the political will exists.

Featured image and additional content via Press Association

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  • Show Comments
    1. When the schoolyard bully (cummins), dominates the other weaker kids, they become arse-lickers…, (oops!!, sorry, sycophants.) to curry favour, or through fear, in order to make themselves feel more important to their erstwhile friends ( or whoever). This has , and is , happening in the present regime…, at the cost of thousands of innocent lives.
      The chief “medical” officer and the chief “scientific” officer, have totally ignored the data and the evidence from the rest of the world, simply because it does not comply with the Cummins herd theory and they are therefore complicit in genocide.
      “Keep the economy going” is the matra in the upper echelons of the “elite”, and I know that is important.., very important, but it’s of secondary importance to the health of the people that make the economy.
      Do they think that there enough “slaves”, that they can afford to lose a few hundred thousand?
      As in good old Egyptian times.
      Is that what their “elite” schools teach them…, that they are above us, that we are here to serve them?
      Are they so devoid of the humanitarian feelings that the rest of us feel…, that ONE life needlessly lost effects us all.

      The sociopath that advises the clown in 10 Downing St must be taken down as soon as possible to save the lives of the people he regards as collateral damage.., not only him, but the medical and scientific advisors appointed by him and the clown!

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