New Zealand’s Rapid Response to New Cases Is What Pandemic Leadership Looks Like
Auckland is under strict restrictions after four new cases of Covid-19 popped up
On Tuesday, New Zealand confirmed four new coronavirus cases — its first since May 1. That means there were 102 days during which there was no community spread of Covid-19 in the island nation. Within the same period of time, the United States reached record high numbers of new cases. Today the U.S. recorded 48,690.
It’s obvious from the rapid way New Zealand responded to the new cases how the country managed to keep its numbers so low for so long. The night the cases were confirmed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in a public address that the city of Auckland, where the new cases were discovered, would be put under Level 3 restrictions on Wednesday. The rest of the country would move to Level 2 lockdown.
In March, New Zealand established a four-level “alert system” of restriction measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, with Level 4 consisting of full lockdown. The levels reflect the likelihood that the disease is not contained.
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Level 3 means there’s a “high risk” that the disease isn’t contained. Until Friday, Aucklanders must stay home unless absolutely necessary and wear masks and physically distance when outside their homes. Restaurants and bars are closed, and schools are being shut down immediately.
The restriction measures, Ardern explained, would allow the government to buy time to contact trace (which, she noted, was already underway) and find the origin of the infection. Tracing the origin of an outbreak, she reiterated, is crucial to stop community spread — and put the country back on track to recovery.
“One of the most important lessons we’ve learned from overseas is the need to go hard and go early and stamp out flare-ups to avoid the risk of wider outbreaks,” she said. “As disruptive as it is, a strong and rapid health response remains the…