Coronavirus: New Zealand third-safest in the world during Covid-19 pandemic

September 15, 2021

New Zealand has been hailed as a coronavirus safe haven after an international research group ranks it the third-safest country in the world.

The strict lockdown procedures and rapid response to the virus meant New Zealand was better placed than most to deal with whatever was to come, the research found.

And the country's leader has also earned praise from some of the world's media.

An article in the highly influential Washington Post ran on Wednesday, under the headline: New Zealand isn't just flattening the curve. It's squashing it.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's proactive approach to fighting the virus earning her praise, the journalist (Kiwi Anna Fifield) calling it "a triumph of science and leadership".

Southern DHB has the highest coronavirus infection rate in New Zealand

Population adjusted confirmed Covid-19 cases by DHB

And science is exactly what the Deep Knowledge Group are basing their latest findings on.

According to the data published on the international group's website, New Zealand is the third-safest country in the world to be in during the on-going pandemic, behind Israel and Singapore.

Fourth was Hong Kong, followed by Taiwan, Japan and Hungary.

Australia was at 18.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's leadership has been praised around the world

Otago University public health professor Nick Wilson wasn't prepared to take the rankings as concrete data, questioning why island nations like American Samoa did not rank higher.

But he was not surprised to see New Zealand so high up, and said its quick response had put the country in a good position to fight the virus moving forward, compared to other Western nations.

"The speed of our response will increase the chances of success with the elimination strategy," he said,

"It is probably helped by the relatively high level of trust people have in scientists, officials and the current political leadership (compared to a country like the US)."

In 2019 Wilson led a study into how New Zealand and Australia were placed to survive a global pandemic.

The model was orientated to an extremely severe pandemic, far worse than covid-19, Wilson said.

But nonetheless it found New Zealand, for a number of reasons, to be a safe haven when a virus cripples the world.

The extreme case scenario found closed self-sufficient islands like New Zealand could harbour an isolated, technologically adept population that could repopulate the earth following a disaster.

New Zealand was lucky too with fewer infected travellers arriving in February/March compared to larger countries like Australia, Wilson said.

As of Wednesday there were 1210 confirmed cases of covid-19 in New Zealand.

Public health professor Nick Wilson, right, says New Zealand's covid-19 response has been good, but not perfect.
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