How have some countries beaten coronavirus?

New Zealand has got the virus under control but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned of pain ahead, with unemployment rising and the economy contracting. POOL/AFP/Mark Mitchell

New Zealand has now pushed down the curve, although some residents fear global isolation as border restrictions remain firmly in place.

As nations around the world struggle to flatten the coronavirus curve, some have been able to keep numbers of new infections down and health services running, allowing themselves to gradually open up.

New Zealand

In March the government decided to go for a full elimination strategy.

At the time New Zealand had only 205 cases of Covid-19 and no deaths, but the government implemented one of the strictest lockdowns in the world – fully closing the country’s borders to non nationals, while only permitting residents to leave their homes for essential reasons. All returning nationals faced mandatory quarantine. While that has put isolation centers under stress, there have not been any new, locally acquired cases since the end of May. In June New Zealand lifted all domestic restrictions, except for the border closure.

New Zealand has now pushed down the curve, although some residents fear global isolation as border restrictions remain firmly in place.

Vietnam

At the start of the pandemic, an assumption of Vietnam’s extreme vulnerability to the coronavirus would not have been misplaced. It shares a long border with China, a key trading partner, and Vietnam’s infrastructure and healthcare are limited. But as of June 29, Vietnam has recorded only around 352 cases of Covid-19 and zero deaths among its population of 96 million. And the government expects the economy to grow by 5%.

In January, Vietnamese authorities implemented drastic measures to thwart expected coronavirus outbreaks, months before other countries acted. The borders were closed, schools were shuttered, and robust health checks were undertaken in vulnerable places. Contract tracing and testing were rolled out for people not showing symptoms. This all went hand in hand with multimedia public service campaigns.

Iceland

Iceland started with one of the highest infection rates in Europe – 513 cases per 100,000 people. But by March, while other countries were struggling to roll out accurate, widespread coronavirus tests, Iceland had the highest ratio of tests per capita in the world. A fact no doubt helped by its small population.

Iceland’s screening and contact tracing system has been so efficient that it now boasts one of the lowest virus death rates in the world: 3 per 100,000 people.

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