As New Zealand begins to slowly roll back its lockdown measures, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that the country has “currently” eliminated COVID-19.
“There is no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand,” she said.
“We have won that battle. But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way.”
Ardern warned New Zealanders that this doesn’t mean that new cases would stop completely.
“Elimination means we may well reach zero, but we may well then have small numbers of cases coming up again,” she said in a recent press conference.
“That doesn’t mean we have failed, it just means that we’re in the position to have that zero-tolerance approach to have very aggressive management of those cases and keep those numbers low.”
New Zealand director of general health, Ashley Bloomfield, also revealed that health officials knew where all new cases of COVID-19 were originating from — something Australia has not been able to tackle.
There has been much worldwide applause for Ardern’s handling of the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand, including her move to put the country in a four-week lockdown before the situation escalated.
Others have criticised Ardern for shutting down the country, instead of trying out measures similar to Australia — where many companies were allowed to keep working.
But, Ardern has pushed back on this notion.
“We should not confuse the success of our actions with overreaction, and there is plenty of proof around the world of the devastating result of responding too late,” she said.
While Australia has also achieved better outcomes compared to a lot of the world, the messaging between the Federal and State Governments has been confusing, to say the least.
It also didn’t help when Aussie politicians backflipped on certain restrictions, some in a matter of hours, like the ban on hairdressing appointments over 30 minutes that was swiftly kicked to the curb.
While no politician — or person — is perfect, in comparison, Ardern’s messaging has been straight forward and succinct: stay home. This allows for little confusion for the public, which is half the battle in Australia.
As of 11:59pm last night, New Zealand has moved to level three restrictions, which will see certain retailers, schools and restaurants open.
“We are opening up the economy, but we’re not opening up people’s social lives,” Ardern said of the slight relaxing of restrictions.
These level three restrictions are closely in line with what Australia is currently following.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.