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What Could the Countries that Return to the Lockdown Should Learn from New Zealand?

While countries such as Lithuania, Russia and China enter confinement again, New Zealand remains an example to follow in handling the health crisis.

People clapping from their balconies during the quarantine

Since the beginning of the pandemic, New Zealand has been known as the country that a fortress in the face of the pandemic due to its demands regarding restrictions and biosafety measures. Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, New Zealand has been recognized for its strength in the face of the pandemic due to its demands regarding restrictions and biosafety measures. As a result, so far in the pandemic, the oceanic country has reported 6,832 infections and 28 deaths. Likewise, the peaks that the country has experienced do not exceed 166 new infections. In contrast, we find countries such as China, Russia and Lithuania, which have recently resumed the measure of confinement and closure of non-essential services to control the high number of infected since the end of September.

How are Russia, China and Lithuania doing?

In the case of Russia, 8,593,200 infections and 475,212 deaths have so far been reported since the pandemic began. Right now, the Eurasian country is at its highest peak of cases with approximately 39,597 new infections daily. For this reason, since last Thursday, October 27, the authorities of Moscow, the capital of the country, decreed a mandatory confinement and closure of non-essential services for 11 days. The president, Vladimir Putin, has been reluctant to confinements at the national level, but in order to contain the cases of coronavirus, he decreed a non-working week from Saturday, October 30 to Sunday, November 7.

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For its part, China has a total of 97,423 infections and 4,636 deaths since the start of the health crisis. In recent days, approximately 74 new infections have been reported daily. As a measure and in order not to report 15,000 new daily infections as in February of this year, the measure of "Zero tolerance" to COVID-19 infections has been taken. This in order not to have to cancel the 2022 Winter Olympics that will be held in Beijing in February next year. The closure in some tourist areas throughout the country and the cancellation of flights in Beijing, as well as the requirement not to perform weddings and to have shorter funerals, are some of the measures that the government of the country has taken.

Finally, in the case of Lithuania, there have been a total of 412,769 infections and 5,936 since the start of the pandemic. At this time, the European country is at a peak with 3,248 new infections per day. Due to the increase in cases, on October 21, the government decreed a quarantine and a curfew for a month to control the situation, being one of the first in Europe to return to these measures. Lithuania is one of the countries with the lowest vaccination rates on the continent.

What can we all learn from New Zealand?

With New Zealand the saying of "cure in health" applies, because due to the strict restrictions, today the country presents very low numbers regarding infections and deaths. Likewise, the island has administered a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to 82% of its population, while 72% of the people has already received both doses.

As a result, the Government has decreed the suspension of isolation for its traveling citizens, so that many of the expatriates who were waiting for hotel places for this process will be able to return in November and only have to quarantine for 7 days (before they were 14). The elimination of this measure is expected to become effective in December, during the summer time in the southern hemisphere.

Undoubtedly, the measures are still demanding, but that demand is rewarded in the positive numbers, compared to other nations. So countries that are moving in and out of lockdown and increasing their numbers of contagions and deaths may need to follow New Zealand's lead in terms of political and individual biosecurity measures. While it has been said that the pandemic is nearing its end, with the new variants and peaks, this is in doubt. Here the words of world health entities penetrate, "we must not lower our guard."