- New Zealand’s approach to coronavirus, by closing its borders with foreigners and focusing on eliminating rather than containing coronavirus, has been praised by The Washington Post.
- The head of the Beijing Washington Post bureau, Anna Fifield, who is from New Zealand, wrote that it only took 10 days for signs to show that the country’s goal of abolition was successful.
- Otago University Professor Nick Wilson told Business Insider that The Washington Post had a point, but there was still a possibility that elimination would fail and New Zealand needed to turn to alternative strategies.
- On April 8, New Zealand, a country of about 5 million people, had 1,160 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with one death.
- Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
New Zealand’s approach to coronavirus – closing its borders with foreigners and focusing on eliminating rather than containing coronavirus – has been praised by The Washington Post, although a professor warns that elimination can still fail.
On April 7, the Washington Post published a story titled: “New Zealand doesn’t just flatten the curve. It crushes it.”
Anna Fifield, who is from New Zealand but has lived abroad for the past 20 years and is the head of The Post’s Beijing bureau, wrote that “it only takes 10 days for signs that the approach here – ‘abolition’ rather than the purpose of ‘detention’ from the United States and other Western countries – working. “
Professor Nick Wilson, who is the director of the disease epidemiology program at Otago University, told Business Insider that he agreed with The Post, but he warned that New Zealand had not defeated coronavirus.
“Everything seems promising to succeed – but there is still a possibility that elimination will fail in New Zealand, and this country needs to switch to alternative strategies,” he said.
Wilson co-authored an opinion article Stuff.co.nz, with Michael Baker, an epidemiologist and public health professor at Otago University who spoke to Fifield for The Post’s article. They wrote: “New Zealand is now the only Western country to pursue an elimination strategy (although this is a model used in Asian countries, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Taiwan).”
A piece of opinion states that it will not be clear until afterwards whether elimination is the right decision to make.
“In a balanced way, we think this is the right decision, based on what we now know about this threat, the likely impact on health and inequality, the alternative strategies available, and the potential for additional benefits,” they wrote.
Microbiologist and infectious disease from the University of Auckland, Dr. Siouxsie Wiles told Business Insider that “great” responses were praised internationally. He also said he hoped those who criticized the approach would “pay attention.”
“There is always more that can be done but I hope this opens the eyes of those who have been arguing that we should follow the ‘herd immunity’ approach or ‘wait a little longer’,” he said.
Fifield, who arrived in New Zealand about a month ago, outlined in The Post how New Zealand managed to control coronavirus very quickly. He said it did “the previously unthinkable:” it closed its borders with foreigners on March 19, which is a big problem since around 4 million people visit each year.
Closing borders play a large role in the response, especially since New Zealand is a small island nation, and most cases can then be traced via international travel.
He noted that Ardern held the first television address of the Prime Minister’s office since 1982 on March 21, and how on March 23 he did not underestimate the situation when he said: “We currently have 102 cases. But so does Italy once.”
He said the state response had largely united the country, with the person who reports the lock is violated action, as well as the National Party, the main opposition political party, refraining from criticizing the government’s response.
The next challenge for New Zealand is to maintain a virus-free country once it reaches that point, and border security can be tightened.
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