As of Monday, the country had reported 1,219 confirmed cases, of which only 21 were active infections, all of which were in managed quarantine facilities. Authorities announced on Sunday no cases of transmission occurred in the community within 100 days, with all new infections coming from abroad.
In total, the island nation of 5 million people reported 22 deaths due to coronavirus.
While other countries – including neighboring Pacific countries Australia and the United States – continued to fight an outbreak, New Zealand has been seen as an example of how to fight Covid-19. One major reason is that although the country appears to have coronavirus under control, the authorities are still checking in thousands of people every day.
“We have seen abroad how quickly the virus can recur and spread where it was previously controlled,”
; said Health Department Director General, Dr Ashley Bloomfield on Sunday. .
“We need to be prepared to quickly quell all future cases in New Zealand. Don’t let the team down – none of us can afford to do that.”
How New Zealand did it
New Zealand’s strategy is simple: in the words of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the country must “go strong, and go early.”
When Ardern closed the border with foreigners on March 19, there were only 28 confirmed cases in the country. And when she announced the nationwide shutdown on March 23, there were only 102 confirmed cases – and no deaths.
Blocking in New Zealand is relatively strict – there are no roads, no beaches and no driving outside of your immediate vicinity. The most stringent rules have been put in place for about five weeks, but the country is still under embargo in effect for another two weeks.
That’s part of the country’s broader strategy: elimination.
“Removal does not mean permanent removal of the virus from New Zealand; instead we are confident that we have eliminated the chains of transmission in our community for at least 28 days and are able to stop the virus. effectively any future importation from abroad “, according to the Health Ministry website.
New Zealand waited until it lowered the curve before lifting restrictions. On June 8, when Ardern announced that all restrictions would be lifted, nearly 40,000 tests in the previous 17 days had not yielded a positive result.
Since June, the country has almost returned to normal – and there is no need to reopen.
New Zealand also goes hand in hand with door locking with tight border restrictions. Only citizens are allowed to enter and they must stay for two weeks in a government approved facility. New Zealanders returning home will currently be charged NZ $ 3,100 ($ 2,040) for facilities if they return temporarily.
In total, 95 confirmed cases have been identified at the border, and 70% of New Zealand cases are imported or import-related cases, according to Health Ministry statistics.
What New Zealand didn’t do
Around the world, great attention has been paid to wearing masks to control the spread of coronavirus.
But in New Zealand, masks are not a major tool to combat outbreaks.
There are several reasons for that. The country has no culture of wearing masks, and in March – when New Zealand is about to begin closing down – it is difficult to buy masks at local stores. At a time when people can go out in public and travel around the country, there are very few cases of coronavirus infection in New Zealand.
In addition to New Zealand’s public health strategies, the country also has a number of natural advantages.
It has no land borders, giving it more control over who enters the country. And New Zealand isn’t densely populated – according to World Bank data, it only has 18 people per square kilometer, compared with 36 in the US and 275 in the UK. India – the country with the third highest number of cases in the world – with 455 people per square kilometer.
But just because masks were not part of New Zealand’s strategy in the past, doesn’t mean that will happen in the future. The Ministry of Health recommends all households prepare for another possible outbreak by wearing a mask.
“The problem is when, not if,” Bloomfield told national broadcaster Radio New Zealand last week, when asked if another case of community transmission in New Zealand was inevitable. “We’re working on the basis it can happen at any time.”