Coronavirus: ‘New Zealand Isn’t Just Flattening The Curve. It’s Squashing It’
New Zealand’s approach to handling the coronavirus crisis has been nothing short of praiseworthy, according to The Washington Post (WP), even though it isn’t bulletproof.
Anna Fifield, who is originally from New Zealand but works as WP’s Beijing bureau chief, had the following to say:
“It took only 10 days for signs that the approach here — ‘elimination’ rather than the ‘containment’ goal of the United States and other Western countries — is working.”
Since Wednesday, New Zealand, which has a population of around 5 million people, had a number of 1160 confirmed coronavirus cases, with one loss of life. In just two days, new cases went down despite the increase in testing.
Professor Nick Wilson, who is the director of a burden-of-disease epidemiology program at the University of Otago, revealed to Business Insider that he agreed with WP, but he noted that the country has not yet defeated the virus.
“Things are looking promising for success — but still a chance elimination will fail in NZ, and the country will need to shift to an alternative strategy,” he warned.
Professor Willson and epidemiologist and professor of public health at the University of Otago, Michael Baker, wrote an article for Stuff.co.nz saying::
“New Zealand is now the only Western nation to pursue an elimination strategy (though this is the model being used in Asian countries, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Taiwan).”
They note that it would not be truly clear until later whether elimination was the best plan to opt for.
“On balance, we think this is the right decision, based on what we know now about this threat, its likely high impact on health and inequalities, the available alternative strategies, and potential co-benefits,” they said.
Siouxie Wiles, the University of Auckland infectious-disease and microbiology expert, told the Business Insider she was pleased with the World’s response to their handling of the situation.
She added that the people who did not take their approach seriously would “take note.”
“There is always more that could be done, but I hope this is an eye-opener for those who have been arguing we should have followed the ‘herd immunity’ or ‘wait a bit longer’ approach,” Siouxie said.
Fifield, who made her way to New Zealand one month ago, noted in her WP article that New Zealand was able to handle the situation with surprising speed.
She said it did the “previously unthinkable” by closing its doors to foreigners in March, which was a difficult decision to make since around 4 million people visit the country every year.
Shutting the country off was a major part of the containment plan, especially since NZ is a little island nation and most of the infected could then be traced through international travel.
In her March 21 televised speech, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s said the following:
“We currently have 102 cases. But so did Italy once.”
“Everything you will all give up for the next few weeks, all of the lost contact with others.
“All of the isolation and difficult time entertaining children, it will literally save lives, thousands of lives.
“The worst-case scenario is simply intolerable. It would represent the greatest loss of New Zealanders lives and our history. And I will not take that chance.”
"We currently have 102 cases. But so did Italy once." PM speaking. https://t.co/Zclw0nzjSx
— JeremyReesnz (@JeremyReesnz) March 23, 2020
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