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The fight against Coronavirus in New Zealand: a system of protection and predictive models

New Zealand is among the countries that have contained the spread of Covid-19 better than others

The Covid-19 pandemic poses a major challenge for all countries around the world, and has put enormous pressure on the health and organisational systems of even the most developed Western and Asian economies. While maintaining certain standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), measures to contain the pandemic vary widely from country to country, as do prevention initiatives to avoid or mitigate the effects of new waves of the pandemic. Some of the countries that have best responded to the Coronavirus pandemic are Vietnam, Taiwan, Iceland, New Zealand and Singapore, all of which launched rapid emergency plans and effective containment and tracking protocols that rely on new technologies.

Moving to Oceania, New Zealand is also considered a model by many experts. On 28th January 2020, while the virus spread in Asia from China to neighbouring countries, New Zealand set up the National Health Coordination Centre (NHCC) in response to the pandemic. A decree on infectious and notifiable diseases was issued with effect from 30th January, requiring health workers to report any suspicious cases under the 1956 Health Act, the first step in creating a system of protection able to deal with the spread of the virus. The country also imposed travel restrictions to and from other countries from February. The next step came on 23rd March with the launch of a communication campaign and a strategy to curb the virus that focused on the creation of predictive models able to take into account more factors than baseline data, including hospital saturation and the effectiveness of using personal protective equipment. New Zealand has been cited as a model for its approach to address the first wave of Covid-19, with authorities moving straight to the “virus elimination” strategy when there were still only slightly over 100 cases in the country. On 26th March, the government announced a total freeze on activities and an alert level 3, reducing restrictions in the following months until 8th June when the country returned to an alert level 1 and activities gradually reopened. This aggressive approach, coupled with particularly effective organisation, has allowed New Zealand to maintain low numbers of cases, even when the second wave of the virus began in Europe and the United States in September. The country registered just 44 cases between 10th and 23rd November, and a total of just over 2,000 infections, with a very low death rate: 25 deaths as of 24th November, all of which occurred in the first half of 2020. 

Discover more on the countries that have best responded to the pandemic: