By Loren Dondo
NEW ZEALAND has reached a breakthrough fighting against the corona virus pandemic. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is overjoyed by the country’s victory, following a report announcing 0 new cases of Covid-19 in the country.
The news has come at a time where most countries are experiencing an increase in corona virus cases and riots caused by the death of George Floyd in the United States. It has been a long time since there has been any good news in the media.
Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern says the victory “is an opportunity to do something no other country has achieved” which is to eliminate the virus. According to the John Hopkins University, New Zealand had 1, 472 cases and 19 deaths before dropping to 0.
It is shocking to learn that the possibility of having no new cases after such a large number is not out of reach. Most people must be wondering what made New Zealand able to fight off the virus.
When the Prime Minister discovered the first case of Covid-19 in New Zealand she was quick to act. In March, New Zealand was about to commemorate the first anniversary of the Christchurch shooting with a national event when critics showed concern over social distancing.
The Prime Minister was asked whether she worried about the spread of corona virus in a large gathering but she showed confidence in existing scientific advice. However, things took a turn when covid-19 cases started to rise and the anniversary was cancelled.
By March 23, a lock down was announced by Ardern and there were about 102 cases with no deaths. “We’re going hard and we’re going early,” Ardern said. “We only have 102 cases, but so did Italy once.”
The lock down in New Zealand showed how the government prioritised the public’s health. Meanwhile, countries which were hesitant to quickly impose lockdowns for fear of economic damage are now having a difficult time conquering the virus.
Economic challenges, which are inevitable during lock down, were considered by Prime Minister Ardern and the cabinet who took a 20% pay cut for 6 months in order to aid the public during hard times.
Lorry driver, Patrick Weston expressed concern over the economy and said “so many people are out of work, and others are looking for jobs.”
The move to aid the public instead of ignoring economic grievances might have suppressed resistance towards lock down.
Other advantages for New Zealand, in the fight against Covid-19, included the fact that the country is an isolated island which made it easier for lock down measures imposing travel ban. Countries such as South Africa have found it difficult to control the spread of corona virus due to immigrants being able to boarder-jump.
New Zealand also has a small population which is reportedly smaller than that of New York. This has made it easier for social distancing which is one of the key ways to prevent corona virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the spread of the virus usually happens when an infected person laughs, sneezes, coughs or talks and droplets from their mouth or nose land on people or are inhaled into the lungs. Hence why social distancing and face masks are encouraged by the CDC and World Health Organisation (WHO).
While New Zealand can do a happy dance over the ‘breakthrough’, the Prime Minister is still uncertain about the future of the country.
“The country might see cases again because the elimination (of Covid-19) is a sustained effort,” she says.
Although there is a positive lesson learnt from New Zealand and hope for affected countries to follow suit, there is no easy road to life before Covid-19.