New Zealand 205 cases on March 25 could have grown to 10,000 by now without the actions we have taken. Some countries said NZ is ‘setting a very ambitious goal trying to eliminate the disease completely from its shores. NZ border closers was introduced mid-March a ‘dramatic’ move from the country whose economy depends on tourism.
It was highlighted that some Kiwis have breached the lockdown violations, including the “most egregious case” being Health Minister. It is too early to see if NZ’s strategy would succeed but “there may be some lessons here for other countries grapy with coronavirus” in terms of fast contact tracing and enforcing isolation.
NZ is not letting up. It is just getting stricter with this ultimate ambitious goal of trying to wipe the disease out completely from the country.
Some of the world news praised our Prime Minister, Jacinta Arden, and how she was ‘thrust into the international spotlight last year when an Australian gunman massacred Muslims in Christchurch. Seventy-two hours, after the deadliest mass shooting in NZ’s history the Prime Minister announced a ban on semi-automatic weapons while also consoling a traumatised nation.
With the covid-19 pandemic, our Prime Minister has shown her softer side, broadcasting live on Facebook sending message to children that, despite the lockdown, the Easter bunny is still an essential worker.
Although most political parties in NZ have given the Prime Minister and the Government praise for their efforts in trying to stamp out virus and keep the economy afloat, some suggested she could have moved even quicker. For example, the National Party has been calling for mandatory quarantining, including by launching a petition which is said received an unprecedented response. While our Prime Minister signalled that tougher border measures were on their way, full details and the extent of the new controls weren’t announced until later date. She (PM) said that scale of the task meant mandatory quarantining wasn’t something that could be introduced overnight.
Nearly 40,000 New Zealanders have returned home since 20 March, when we closed the border to foreign nationals. There has always been urgency around this matter, but simply put, we could not have done if from the ‘beginning’, but we can and are doing it now, said the Prime Minister
While New Zealand’s lockdown is scheduled to last for another two weeks, the Prime Minister and officials will meet in April 20 to decide whether the extends it. If community transmission is detected across the country then the strict restrictions may remain in place nationwide. However, there is also the option to lift the lockdown in some regions and keep it in others.
Yesterday, Good Friday news a Lufthansa plane taking Germans home during the Covid-19 pandemic flew low over Auckland in a tribute to New Zealanders. The flight is one of the 12 taking tourists back to Germany, Austria and Switzerland who have been stuck here in Auckland and Christchurch.
Some of the Doctors have signed up for a crash course in a skill they hope they never will have to use – how to put a Covid-19 patient on a ventilator. A ventilator set up at the Intensive Care Unit in one of the hospitals. The head of the unit said that staff from across all disciplines had volunteered for the basic ICU skills training. The one-day course was designed to prepare the hospital for a worst case scenarios. The theory was that if we were suddenly overwhelmed with cases then doctors could come in and look after patients one on one.
Covid-19 has heightened the risks those most vulnerable to family violence especially women, children, disabled, rainbow people and ethnic minority groups. People are feeling stressed anxious, or even angry, Losing a job, a business, hours of work, sleep, connections with friends and families are reasons to lose control and abuse. There is absolutely no excuse for violence.
Yesterday, Good Friday, the Prime Minister announced that all new international arrivals in NZ will now be placed into quarantine or managed isolation. Before this, arrivals with no covid-19 symptoms and with adequate self-isolation plans weren’t put in quarantine. Now the new measures will see people displaying symptoms put into quarantine, and travellers who aren’t will be put in managed isolation. Both groups will be staying in Government funded hotels for a minimum of 14 days, but will have a different set of conditions and they cannot go home for 14 days.
There could have been hundreds more cases of Covid-19 in NZ already if a lockdown had not gone ahead. Instead the country now has a high chance of eliminating the virus, the research says – but only if the level 4 restrictions are extended. A researcher from the University of Auckland has been working for more than a month on modelling the spread of the virus here in New Zealand.
The total number of active Covid-19 cases in NZ has stalled over the past four days. There were 29 cases on last Thursday and the lowest number of new cases over a 24 hour period in a fortnight. We’re on track – if we stay the course – then we will get a very high chance of eliminating the virus.
Planning for future of tourism – Government and business are working together to develop a plan for how tourism will operate in post-Covid-19 world. Distance – learning education package for students and preparations are well underway to support schools and students with distance-learning when term 2 begins on 15 April. Mental health campaign launched –‘Getting through together campaign shares ways that New Zealanders can cope with the stress of covid-19. More help for all ethnic groups as they face the pandemic.
Current cases in New Zealand: 1283 confirmed, 373 recovered and 2 deaths
In New Zealand the Bishops conference have agreed to suspend all Masses including Sunday Mass until further notice. It is at this exact moment that our faith is most needed. In an effort to continue the practice of our faith in these trying time, the Bishop invites people to join in with others online celebrating the Masses.
A reflection on Holy Week from one of the Marist Fathers in Auckland….he said, “this year’s Holy Week has afforded us a close-up look at the Passion and death of Jesus that as a whole community , we haven’t experienced quite this way before and involves a certain suffering . As Jesus stands before his accusers, is condemned, tortured and taken to his place of execution, we too have been subject to a new way of life that requires creativity, courage and good grace for us. For many among us there is no work anymore. Those who run businesses in so many sections of the community have been in the unenviable position of having to lay off staff, close their doors and cease trading. Some have been able to maintain an online presence which, according to reports, does not replace face-to-face trading.
The resulting economic and personal burdens this creates, forces people back onto other personal resources which is time themselves will be in need of replenishment. The Government is doing its best to offset this economic loss but at the moment such relief remains in the future. Parents are finding are finding they have more time than normally to spend with their children. For some this is a delight and for some a challenge and for many it is both!
Then the over-riding concern about the spread of the virus which is holding us all captive. The artificial and somewhat unnatural way of distancing ourselves from each other takes its toll on us emotionally. We long for and imagine a time is a long way off still. Loneliness can accompany us as we keep our distance and can wreak its own damage on our spirits and health.
This Holy Week concludes with Jesus rising from the dead an occasion of triumph that no tragedy can withstand. In the same way, the human spirit of our community has risen in a wonderful display of care, awareness and compassion. Neighbours are discovery each other, shopping for each other in ways not seen during ‘normal’ times.
Jesus’ Resurrection was born of his suffering and death. Likewise, the new awakening in our own community are being born of restrictions, shared health concerns, unfamiliar disciplines and the call to behave with the whole community in mind rather than just our own little patch. These sufferings are already providing fruitful and so many are delighting in the new spirit that is rising among us. The pattern of suffering, death and resurrection is always part of our lives. In this Easter time, and for the foreseeable future, this pattern is drawn for us in sharper relief and giving birth to who knows what wonderful transformation within among us.
This Easter we will miss the normal family and friendship gatherings, the holiday time, the chance to catch up with so many that we love. Along with this disappointment may the new spirit we are sensing continue to grow among us and bring, comfort and hope along with it.
May your Easter this year be especially thoughtful, renewing and in its own way a source of joy for you and those you love. It will certainly be an Easter time we will remember more than many others. May the risen Jesus be your inspiration and strength, whatever the sufferings that weigh on you during this time? May your spirit rise with him and be well nourished by the love of those keeping watch over you.
Eleni Tapueluelu, lsa
Photo by Bryn Parish on Unsplash