New Zealand’s Covid-19 Strategy: Most Effective? Or Politically Overstated?
While the Coronavirus has just surpassed over 8.4 million cases worldwide, some nations have been remarkably praised for their responses towards the virus. New Zealand (NZ) has been such an applauded country.
International mass media organisations have published numerous articles, reports and interviews praising Prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s government for their successful elimination of the deadly pathogen, with The New York Times referring to the NZ’s fight against the virus as the “most stringent in the world”, and The Washington Post stating that the country “isn’t just flattening the curve, It’s squashing it”. But is this entirely accurate? Is New Zealand the most effective in its fight against China’s coronavirus?
In order to fundamentally reason as to whose Covid-19 response is the most effective, it is paramount that the facts and figures, rather than merely the words of the New Zealand prime minister, are taken into consideration. Primarily, it is essential to note the date of the first diagnosis between considered countries.
Sri Lanka (SL) recorded its first Covid-19 case on the 27th of January, when a tourist from Wuhan, China was admitted to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (IDH) in Angoda, Sri Lanka. New Zealand recorded its patient zero on the 28th of February, over a month after the first patient in SL.
However, amidst the longer occupation of the virus in the country, Sri Lanka is definitely dominating the statistics in terms of excellent containment of Covid cases. Sri Lanka has confirmed 1,924 cases till date, and New Zealand has recorded 1,507. At first glance, New Zealand seems to be at a better standpoint than the Asian nation, however, it is vital to take into account the population of the 2 countries; New Zealand holds a population of just 5 million people, while Sri Lanka populates a number more than 4 times that, at 21 million.
This is principal in the determination of the cases per millionth of the population, whereby Sri Lanka records at 90 per million, while New Zealand soars at 301 cases per million. This is a significantly dramatic division between the 2 countries and raises concerns as to the credibility of the global mass media outlets on praising NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response as “the most stringent in the world”.
The death toll per millionth of the population can also be determined in the same manner. While New Zealand receives overwhelming international praise, it is indisputable that the nation has a death per million of 4 persons, while Sri Lanka, which has received zero global recognition, holds a death toll of just 0.5 persons per million.
In spite of the World Health Organisation ranking Sri Lanka 35 positions behind New Zealand in its Overall Healthcare Efficiency ranking, New Zealand lost 22 lives to the pandemic, while the island nation of Sri Lanka lost 11. This is substantial evidence of a solid healthcare structure in place in Sri Lanka, because while Sri Lanka holds a population of more than 4 times the amount of New Zealand, the country suffered half the amount of deaths than that of New Zealand.
Nonetheless, due to the strict lockdown restrictions in both countries, future GDP growth levels are forecasted to predominantly suffer. The Asian development bank reports that the forecasted 2020 economic growth rate of Sri Lanka would be -6.3%, which is a sharp dive from its +2.3% in 2019. However, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecasts New Zealand’s 2020 economic growth to almost -7%, a figure comparatively worse than that of Sri Lanka.
The Treasury of New Zealand reports that the 2020 unemployment rate in New Zealand is likely to reach 9.3% by the end of September, which is a seemingly inferior position when compared to the forecasted unemployment rates in Sri Lanka. It is almost concrete that Sri Lanka’s Covid-19 response has been more efficient than that of New Zealand in all forms. Why is this economic aspect of New Zealand’s pandemic response not brought out by mass media organisations?
Nevertheless, while New Zealand had claimed to hold zero Covid cases by the 7th of June, Sri Lanka still holds 514 active cases. However, all patients in Sri Lanka are diagnosed within the quarantine centres and the Welisara Navy camp. This indicates that there are no remaining cases of the deadly pandemic in the public’s reach and that is a major aspect that must be applauded.
Sri Lanka is now on the road to recovery, where offices and businesses have already commenced trading for the last 3 weeks, while all schools and universities are scheduled to reopen by the end of next month. The absence of authenticity in journalism is evident when all mass media organisations failed to shed light on the strategic response of Sri Lanka in being one of the most effective in the global arena.
NZ Prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been accused of a major donations scandal in the NZ political sphere, announced on the 16th of June that 2 new Covid cases have emerged, breaking the nation’s record of zero cases. Jacinda Ardern said that she “did a little dance” when she heard about the zero-case record in New Zealand, but has now instructed the New Zealand military to intervene in strict border control activities to discontinue the spread of a potential second wave in New Zealand, as new cases are being reported within the public since.
With the recent changes by the Central bank of Sri Lanka to reduce the Statutory Reserve ratio, following the stern reprimands of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 115 billion rupees are to be injected into the domestic economy, which would be of utmost benefit to the Sri Lankan economic recovery.
While the international community and mass media organisations turn a blind eye to Sri Lanka’s successful Covid-19 response, it is with utmost gratitude that we Sri Lankans appreciate and salute the front-line workers, military officials, and government agencies for their strategic solutions and persistent strains in the saving of lives and recuperation of the economy.