– We know how happy we are when we can go out, hang out with our friends and go to live concerts, explains the indie-rock band Beth’s Elizabeth Stokes.
The band is currently touring in western New Zealand and right now in Raglan’s surf town. The tour began in early October. The situation is exceptional, as a similar situation is not possible at present in very many countries due to the worsening corona situation.
New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to have almost completely eradicated COVID-19 infections. Strict and rapid response and diligent testing have been at the heart of the corona policy of a small country the size of Finland since the first infections.
To date, less than 2,000 coronary infections and 25 deaths have been registered in New Zealand, which has a population of five million, significantly less than in Finland, where there are 355 deaths and more than 14,000 infections.
Since the end of May, there have been only three deaths in New Zealand, all in early September.
There are now 56 active COVID-19 cases in the country. Of these, 53 are quarantined in government-run isolation facilities. There are currently no patients with COVID-19 in hospital. So the situation seems good.
At the heart of New Zealand’s corona policy has been to eliminate the virus from the outset by preventing it from entering the border. Indeed, the majority of infections in the island state, 65 per cent, have been so-called imported goods, ie imported or related.
As early as March, the island state closed its borders to virtually all foreign tourists – with the exception of socially essential workers – and forced its citizens to return home for two weeks to quarantine state-controlled facilities. This has still not changed.
More than a hundred days without infections
By mid-June, the country’s coronary situation had been brought under control and life began to return to normal. Live concerts were already allowed, but for audiences of up to 100 people. Everyone had to have their own place and serving to the tables was a must.
– We had no reported infections for a hundred days. Everything looked really good. Then in mid-August COVID-19 struck Auckland, and New Zealand went into closure again, Reuben Bonner tells the Washington Post about the Banished Music company, which is posting events.
When the second closing began, the Beth’s band tour was scheduled to begin in a few weeks. The band postponed the start until early October and hoped the situation would improve.
– Nothing is certain. Any show can be canceled at any time by the band’s tour manager Metcalf said in the Washington Post.
The lock was lifted for the most part on September 21, with the exception of Auckland, and Beth’s got to start his tour.
In New Zealand, gatherings of up to 100 people were again allowed, but the mask was still recommended for use in places where safety distances are difficult to maintain.
– Through our joint actions, we have brought the virus under control, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern said in September.
The prime minister also urged residents to go for the test with very small symptoms, albeit “just because of a sneezing and coughing”. New Zealanders have already been advised in the past to keep a record of their appointments and to use the exposure report.
The use of the app has now downright collapsed since the last lockdown ended. There have been only 620,000 downloads, compared to 2.5 million in August. More and more people have also missed the mask.
“The system works”
However, 25 new coronavirus infections were reported in New Zealand on Wednesday, the highest daily rate since March-April.
The infections were found at the border when 23 Russian and Ukrainian fishing vessel crew members had arrived on the charter days earlier.
Two other infections were found in locals who had been in contact with an infected dock worker. These are the first new domestic infections since September 25th.
– The fact that we found these infections shows that the system works, New Zealand’s director of health Ashley Bloomfield said.
Wednesday’s 25 infections underscore the pressure accumulated on the shoulders of border guards to keep the virus at bay when life is back to normal again.
– Spain reported 48,000 new infections today, in New Zealand [väkilukuun suhteutettuna] that would mean 4,000 new cases, Bloomfield said.
– However, we must not be too complacent, and all New Zealanders must also make sure that they do not blame this in their own communities either.
Sources: Washington Post, Guardian, Ministry of Health.nz, npr.com