NewsMobile Explainer: How New Zealand ‘cracked the code’ to free itself from COVID-19

New Zealand

New Zealand on Monday ended all restrictions on various industries, establishments and permitted its citizens to return to a state of normalcy. The nation has also done away with the practice of social distancing and there shall be no restrictions on public gatherings of any size.

It is in this context that NewsMobile explores what went right for this island nation; what are their future plans and what India can learn from their successful experience.

Also Read: COVID-19 Explainer: Nations that have successfully flattened the virus curve 

How New Zealand brought the situation under control?

What helped the nation was a concerted and sustained effort from all its stakeholders including the citizens and the government.

Apart from this, a four-stage alert system was introduced.

Level 4 meant all industries shutting down with not even takeaways being permitted. This was the situation on March 25, 2020.

Sometime in the latter half of April, the country moved to Stage 3, wherein food takeaways were permitted and also certain essential services were permitted to operate.

As the number of cases kept declining successfully, the nation moved to Stage 2 sometime in mid May.

The nation hoped to reach Stage 1 by June 22. At this stage, a return to normalcy would be considered normal. All establishments, restaurants would be permitted to stay open and social distancing norms would be done away with.

It is exactly this stage that has been reached ahead of schedule on June 8.

New Zealand has reported zero COVID-19 cases for the past two weeks.

Also Read: Women leaders raise the bar! Dynamic examples in the forefront of COVID-19 battle

With just around 1500 cases, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern adopted an ‘elimination approach’ rather than a ‘containment strategy’.

New Zealand PM

Lockdown was imposed, aggressive testing and isolation were the key factors.

The entire nation chased the virus out of the nation rather than waiting for the virus to enter the nation and then contain it.

What is the current situation and will there be any restrictions?

As mentioned earlier, all norms of social distancing have been done away with, currently.

However, the borders continue to remain sealed.

The government has also stated that New Zealanders who are arriving back will be subjected to a compulsory 14-day quarantine process.

What lessons can India imbibe from New Zealand?

India is a country with a population of almost 1.3 billion people compared to New Zealand’s approx. 48.9 Lakhs (2018).

Hence, striking a direct comparison between the two countries, may not be a logical correlation. However, what India can definitely learn and imbibe from the COVID-free nation is, the process. India needs to adopt a planned approach with real outcomes. A policy of flip flops does little to help the situation improve.

New Zealand planned the entire scenario meticulously and went about achieving it.

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