New Zealand so far only has 22 COVID-19 related deaths, and only 21 active cases as reported by Johns Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Centre. The last COVID-19 patient was just discharged according to a press briefing on May 27.
The US still struggles with nearly 1.8 million cases and over 100,000 deaths, but one can argue that the difference in population between the two countries is significant. The US has 328 million people while New Zealand has less than 5 million. In addition, New Zealand only has 46 people per square mile compared to 94 people per square mile in the US.
Just like Australia, New Zealand has a relatively low fatality rate to that of Western countries.
“Here in New Zealand, we are all very aware of how lucky we are, and we connect with colleagues overseas and really feel for them,” Auckland City Hospital intensive-care specialist Chris Poynter previously told Business Insider.
Experts attribute the success to restrictions, law-abiding citizens, and communication between the government and the public.
Insider’s Rosie Perper said that New Zealand started restricting travels as early as February 3, and the country had zero cases at the time.
The first case recorded was on February 28 and 102 more came after less than a month. This prompted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to raise the country’s alert to Level 3 restrictions where schools, mass gatherings were prohibited. Level 4 restrictions were implemented two days later and travels were extremely restricted.
“At least for New Zealand, it was relatively prompt action at an early stage to go for a strong lockdown,” Nick Wilson, a professor and public health expert at the University of Otago in New Zealand, told Perper.
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Citizens had no problem following the law, as proven by data where the rise of cases slowed down in just after 10 days.
“The Google data shows that New Zealanders have followed the lockdown rules … with a remarkably high level of behavior change,” Wilson wrote in an April 12 blog post.
“Activity dropped almost instantly, by over 90 percent from baseline levels in some categories,” he added.
Contract tracers can later see where an infected person has been and whether to alert the areas where that person has visited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labels contact tracing “part of a multipronged approach” to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Testing and tracing, taken together, “are the backbone of public-health work,” Insider’s Hilary Brueck stated.
According to Wilson, “New Zealand shows the benefit of having quite high levels of scientific expert input into the policymaking process and a Prime Minister who is a very good communicator who the public trust.”
Arden, along with other top government officials were praised for taking a 20 percent pay cut as well.
However, US President Donald Trump and health officials have reported information differently, with the former initially saying that the outbreak “may get a little bigger; it may not get bigger at all,”.
Rosemary Taylor, an associate professor of sociology and community health at Tufts University told Insider that social media has helped with inconsistent information by spreading “erroneous rumors” about fatality rates
The mainstream media, or as Trump would say ‘Lamestream Media’, has been delivering conflicting messages. But for people to take threats seriously, “government transparency, a robust belief in scientific data, and faith in international cooperation – to all of which President Trump has expressed antagonism in the past,” said Taylor.