The Reason Why New Zealand only has One Death from the Coronavirus

While most of the countries in the world seem to be languishing under the Corona epidemic, New Zealand seems to be dealing with it in a way we should all be learning from. On Thursday, the country reported 29 new confirmed and probable cases, bringing New Zealand’s total to 1,239 — including only one death. Of those cases, only 14 are in the hospital — and 317 have recovered. How could this happen?

On the surface, it seems like New Zealand’s main advantage comes from its geographical location. Being an island nation, the cross-border transmission was more or less negligible. It also has far fewer flights than other island nations like Australia, giving it an edge. But the real reason behind New Zealand’s effective handling of the coronavirus has been the widespread acceptance and application of good science, propagated by an effective leader in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. While UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (currently in the ICU after having tested positive for COVID-19) warned citizens that they should prepare to lose loved ones before their time, Ardern was clear that she would value people not just the economy.


On March 14, when most countries hadn’t even acknowledged the threat posed, she implemented strict re-entry restrictions, anyone entering the country would have to self-quarantine for 2 weeks. New Zealand only had 6 cases at the time. Since then, the Ardern government also implemented a strong social distancing order as of March 23. The order shut schools and nonessential services and banned many outdoor activities. New Zealanders (including immigrants) have also received recurring payments from the government designed to make it easier for people to avoid working.

Now it appears that New Zealand might actually have a chance of stamping out the outbreak within their borders altogether. PM Ardern, however, remains prepared for the worst and is reluctant to release the lockdown for now. NZ health authorities are also trying their best to improve their healthcare facilities and stay prepared for the worst, whilst hoping for the best.

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