Only two COVID-19 deaths so far: What is New Zealand doing right?

In the fight against the coronavirus, New Zealand had two key advantages: time and geography.

New Zealand

New Zealand has done something that many countries right now are wishing they could achieve; for four consecutive days, it has recorded a slump in new coronavirus cases.

On Thursday, New Zealand reported 29 new confirmed and possible cases, taking the country’s total to 1,239- including only two deaths. Out of these cases, only 14 are in hospital, and 317 have recovered.

New Zealand, a small island country with a population under 5 million, is midway through a month-long lockdown intended at not only containing the virus but also eradicating it. So far, the method appears to be effective.

In the fight against the coronavirus, New Zealand had two key advantages: time and geography.

On February the 28th, New Zealand confirmed its first coronavirus case, well over a month after the United States confirmed its first case. Moreover, on March the 29th and April the 9th  the country confirmed it’s first and second death respectively.

A Professor at Otago University’s Public Health Department, Michael Baker, said, “I think we had more time to think about the situation, and we could learn from the experience of China.”

The country also had the advantage of being an island far away from most other countries, with less flights than many other places, said Auckland University microbiologist, Siouxsie Wiles.

However, the real lesson from New Zealand has been the combination of reliable science and leadership, said Baker.

Why New Zealand only have two deaths?

Another thing the country has to its benefit is the relative youth of those who have been contaminated with the virus.

People aged 20 to 29 make up 25 percent of New Zealand’s confirmed and possible cases, while those aged 30 to 39 are nearly 15 percent.

Countries around the world have seen continuously a much higher COVID-19 death rate among elderly patients than younger patients.

Can New Zealand succeed in eliminating the COVID-19?

There is reason to be vigilantly optimistic that New Zealand’s plan is working, but both Baker and Wiles agree that it is too early to celebrate.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand said on Thursday, “I have no plans to lift the lockdown early and may need to prolong it. If we act promptly, we will go backward.”

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