New Zealand had been on a nationwide lockdown since 25 March with the intention to flatten the COVID-19 curve. The month-long lockdown announced by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is gaining praises from people around the world for her quick decisions.
According to New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, there is a total of 1,064 reported COVID-19 cases as of this morning (13 April), and 15 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours. A total of five people have lost their lives to COVID-19, and 546 patients have recovered.
The peak of daily new cases was at 89 on 2 and 5 April, and the number of new cases had been reduced significantly to less than 50 per day.
According to a new modelling released on Thursday (9 April), it was revealed that New Zealand’s early move to impose a lockdown might have saved the country from seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. New Zealand’s Centre of Research Excellence in Complex Systems and Data Analytics, Te Pūnaha Matatini, predicted that the nation could have seen about 200 new cases reported on Thursday, as compared to the actual number of cases which was recorded at only 29 that day.
It was also forecasted that the number of cases would continue to float under 50 for the rest of April.
The Director of the centre, Professor Shaun Hendy, thought that the lockdown had a significant effect on containing the virus. He explained that if the nation hadn’t gone into lockdown, new case numbers would have been “steadily rising the end of March”.
“We think the lockdown has had a significant effect, which means that our worst-case scenarios are no longer relevant, as long as we continue to be able to contain the virus.”
“Ultimately we have to follow the case numbers and these will always lag behind the time when the infections take place. But in our graph you can see that if we hadn’t gone into lockdown, then new case numbers would have been steadily rising since the end of March,” said Prof Hendy.
If Ms Ardern did not respond promptly by closing the borders, New Zealand would have had an outbreak and the situation would have been much worse.
Ms Ardern was praised for her outstanding leadership amid the current pandemic, minimising the virus transmission within the nation. On 25 March when Ms Ardern addressed the Level 4 lockdown starting that very midnight, she urged that New Zealand needed to “act quickly” to contain the coronavirus.
Seeing how New Zealand had 102 cases recorded as of that day, she reminded the nation that Italy was once recorded at that number as well. Even though the number of confirmed case was considerably low, Ms Ardern took quick actions to prevent the cases from increasing exponentially.
“We currently have 102 cases, but so did Italy once. Now the virus had overwhelmed the health system, and hundreds of people are dying every day.”
“We have always said we would act early, decisively, and go hard, and we will.”
To prevent the coronavirus from spreading further in the community, non-essential businesses and schools were ordered to close. The Prime Minister had also ordered the people to stay home, as well as urging the people to not head to the supermarket if they did not have immediate needs.
Instead of telling the New Zealanders not to panic-buy, she assured that there will be enough for everyone if they shop normally. Ms Ardern added that New Zealand will not run out of food with a smile on her face.
Understanding how difficult it would be for people to go into self-isolation, she reminded them that by staying at home they would save thousands of lives. Ms Ardern mentioned that she would not risk the lives of the people in New Zealand by letting the situation worsen.
During difficult times like this, she told the people of New Zealand to “be strong, be kind, and unite against COVID-19”. The Prime Minister was praised for her natural empathy and how calmly she handled the situation, as well as the detailed plan she disclosed to the nation.
Not forgetting about the children who may not fully understand the bigger picture of the pandemic, Ms Ardern addressed that both the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny are essential workers. Knowing that children will be disappointed for not being able to welcome the Easter Bunny during the past Easter weekend, she asked them to understand that the Easter Bunny will be busy at home with the other bunnies as well.
Her leadership in this pandemic had shown impressive results with the number of new COVID-19 cases falling, and this is something worth learning from.
So far, it has yet to be decided if New Zealand will exit Level 4 lockdown and Ms Ardern urged the people to remain focused on ceasing the spread.