While it seems as though there is no “magic bullet” for defeating COVID, some governments have done better at it than others. One country, New Zealand, has a track record of doing it right. As a matter of fact, there have been no domestic restrictions in NZ since early October.
What the Numbers Tell Us
New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island and the South Island —and more than 700 smaller islands, covering a total area of 268,021 square kilometers.
The country of 5 million has confirmed 1,949 coronavirus cases and processed over 103,000 returned travelers in managed isolation facilities since the pandemic began.
New Zealand’s successful response has resulted in just 25 people dying from the virus. That’s remarkable in a nation of 5 million. The only new cases are those originating from returning travelers. Authorities and people around the country remain highly tuned to any breaches at the border.
Over 1.5 million COVID-19 tests have been processed, giving New Zealand one of the world’s highest rates of testing per positive case.
The big picture: Last March, the government closed the borders to non-permanent residents and imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns under a four-tier system.
The country is currently on level 1 measures, meaning “the disease is contained in New Zealand, but it remains uncontrolled overseas,” per the Health Ministry. Masks are required for public transport and planes.
On Saturday, Jan. 16, approximately 20,000 music fans attended a concert in Waitangi, New Zealand, marking one of the biggest single gigs since the pandemic began. The show was the first of New Zealand band Six60’s six-show summer tour around the nation.
While the show was outside, audience members came into close contact with one another, did not have to wear masks, and did not have to follow any social distancing guidelines. New Zealand has effectively contained the virus; they currently have fewer than 80 active cases, according to NME.
New Zealand has been able to safely hold large, non-socially distanced events since the end of 2020; they held several New Year’s Eve festivals with crowds around 20,000, such as Rhythm and Vines in Gisborne, Rhythm & Alps in Wanaka, and Northern Bass in Mangawha
How New Zealand Handled COVID
A private company that played a leading role in eradicating COVID-19 in New Zealand has opened an office in Texas and is sharing some key learnings about stopping the spread. In order to eradicate the coronavirus in the United States, many experts say our system of contact tracing must become more robust.
If leaders want the public to trust and engage with the process, one New Zealander says they need to get rid of the word “tracing.” The word and term has become poison here in the U.S., implying “big brother,” that the government is watching. Instead, SaferMe CEO Cint Van Marrewijk, said we should be calling it “contact logging.”
“You do not have to track where someone goes,” Van Marrewijk said on a Texas Podcast. “It’s all about