The Real Reasons New Zealand Is Beating COVID-19
From May 23, 2020, to June 15, 2020, New Zealand experienced absolutely zero new coronavirus cases. These numbers stand in stark contrast to the totals coming in from many other countries around the world, including the United States, which reported more than 500,000 new cases during that time.
The disparity between these infection rates has prompted many to question just how New Zealand was able to beat COVID-19 — even if the reprieve only lasted for a short time. Let’s take a look at what the country is doing right, so we can follow their lead.
Free Community Testing
While the initial testing procedures in New Zealand instructed healthcare workers to only test those who had recently traveled and were experiencing multiple COVID-19 symptoms, the country quickly eased these restrictions to allow for greater testing. New Zealand has about 4.8 million people, and fewer than .03% of the population has caught the novel coronavirus to date.
Three days before New Zealand experienced its first real respite from COVID-19, the country’s Ministry of Health released the NZ COVID Tracer app. This smartphone/tablet application encourages citizens to set up an account with their personal information and then allow the app to monitor their movements via scannable QR codes on the exteriors of buildings. GPS features may be added in the future.
Stay-at-home pleas and campaigns often came too late and received too little enforcement in countries such as Italy, England and the United States. New Zealand's citizens began self-isolating in March, and they took the shelter-in-place mentality seriously.
Communication between the New Zealand government and its people has been exceptionally straightforward and clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mostly, this communication came in the form of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Facebook chats, although official press conferences were held before and after the shelter-in-place period.
While the Prime Minister was administering hopeful talks from home, the people were listening. For the most part, every New Zealand resident took the growing threat of infection seriously and did their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
New Cases and Continued Efforts
On June 16, 2020, New Zealand reported its first new cases in more than three weeks. The virus seems to have re-entered the country via two female travelers from the United Kingdom. The women are currently being monitored and kept in isolation, and contact tracing has already helped officials find another infected individual in the Wellington area. A total of 302 individuals — all of whom had some contact with the two women — are currently being tracked and monitored for signs of infection.