New Zealand recently announced itself to be COVID Free, probably one of the first to do so. Despite few new cases have been reported again, the Jacinda Ardern’s administration is a model for other governments to behold.
At the time New Zealand announced itself as COVID Free, the country reported only 1,504 cases and 22 deaths in total, which is a small number in comparison to the havoc wreaked by the deadly virus worldwide. While, factors like New Zealand’s geography and demography with a low population density do come into play for such an effective control on the virus, many crucial steps by the government of New Zealand take can be considered by others.
The lockdown and its rules were communicated effectively, with emergency messages sent to everyone in New Zealand notifying that stringent measures will be taken in weeks. Comparing this to India’s situation where the notification was given 4 hours before the actual lockdown, fallacies are visible in the Indian Government’s method. When the number of cases were so low, giving people time to prepare and return home would have had much less risk then what the government actually did, which led to hundreds of thousands of migrant workers on the street, and the ensuing apathy from central and state governments to the workers plight.
Contact tracing and testing were done much faster in New Zealand, and while geography and population does play a factor, the reaction of the government of New Zealand is still commendable. When it comes to India, initial testing, contact tracing, and isolation were slow, sluggish, and ill-managed, with the headlines filled with stories of people breaking mandated isolation or travelling with the coronavirus.
Add to this, the fact that Indian media was busy fanning communal hatred at the start of the pandemic and there was no dissemination of information, it is clear to see why the Indian lockdown has failed. The Indian government’s shoddily planned lockdown did not flatten the curve and nearly destroyed the economy. One can only hope that the second phase of the battle against coronavirus in our country takes some lessons from New Zealand and the government makes decision with poise, consideration and expert knowledge.
Featured Image Credits: The Guardian
Prabhanu Kumar Das