Unlike other countries, New Zealand has managed to only have one coronavirus death. And, for the fourth consecutive day, they reported a decline in cases. Even so, they decided to still tighten border restrictions.
On Thursday, the country reported 29 new cases, which brought the total number to 1,239. However, they only reported one death so far, on March 29. New Zealand, the country of only 5 million people, is half-way through a month-long lockdown. And so far, the plan is working.
“We are turning a corner,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a speech Thursday. “And your commitment means our plan is working.”
On February 28, New Zealand confirmed its first case of COVID-19, well over a month after the USA did.
“I think we had a little bit more time to think about it, and we could learn from the experience of China,” said Professor Michael Baker, from Otago University’s Public Health Department. Mr Baker helped advising the government in its response to the virus.
Other countries see positive signs and are quick to think of lifting restrictions, while New Zealand is only strengthening them. The country has been under lockdown since March 23.
”At the halfway mark, I have no hesitation in saying that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge,” Miss Arden explained on a live conference on Thursday. “You made the decision that together, we could protect one other. And you have. You have saved lives.”
Ardern has said she has no plans to lift the month-long lockdown early. Moreover, she also stated that she might extend it.
“If we move too early, we will go backwards,” she said Thursday.
Among the good decisions that New Zealand took in combatting the virus was widespread testing. Over 51,165 tests were carried out until now. Professor Baker responded negatively to the approach of other countries. He was disappointed in countries like the US and the UK, countries with some of the world’s top science resources, for not doing better than New Zealand, a country with limited resources.
Another advantage that the Kiwis had was the fact that the country is an island. More so, an island far from other civilisations.
As to why New Zealand managed to only have one death, the answer is simple. Many of the patients infected with the virus are young. People aged 20 to 29 take up just under 25% of New Zealand’s confirmed and probable cases, while those aged 30 to 39 make up 15%.
The whole world knows that other countries saw a higher mortality rate between the elderly. The reason why younger Kiwis have a higher rate of getting infected witht he virus is due to travelling. Many hurried back to New Zealand when hearing about the travel restrictions.
Mr. Baker said that was the “healthy traveler effect.”
“People who go traveling are generally in better health than most people. We know that the mortality risk is so much higher in older populations and people with chronic conditions and they tend to travel less,” he said. “The very good outcomes so far in New Zealand is because the cases have been in younger age groups and they have been relatively healthy.”
If you want to find out how other countries are dealing with the virus, check this article out!