Auckland closed: person infected, locked city: this is Corona-free New Zealanders’ strategy
Monday March 1, 2021, 7:18 PM
After one new case of corona was reported in Auckland, New Zealand, a lockdown was imposed for at least one week. Procedures are tricky – but they make an impact. But is the price of a Corona-free city justified?
One new infection was enough to close swimming pools, museums, cinemas and stadiums in New Zealand’s largest city since Sunday morning (local time). Schools remain open, but only provide emergency care. Auckland residents are permitted to obtain Apartments Leave only to do urgent shopping or commute to work. In the rest of the country, gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Saturday that you know how frustrating the new lockdown is. The focus of the follow-up appears to be on a family who had been in contact with infected members of another family in disregard of isolation orders. The Auckland outbreak currently includes 15 cases.
Strict measures against Corona
This is not the first time that the government has taken drastic measures to combat fewer new infections. There was already a three-day lockdown in Auckland on February 14 after three new coronavirus cases in a family.
From a German point of view, the local measures and closures look ridiculous due to the small number of new infections. At the federal state conference on Wednesday, ministers want to discuss once again mitigation of an incidence of 35 – or even higher. It is in stark contrast to the New Zealanders’ anti-virus strategy.
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New Zealand is a role model – and it also takes a different approach when it comes to vaccination
But the numbers prove the government’s tough line around Ardern is correct: Pacific is a model country in the Coronavirus pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, cases were discovered in 2016 in the country of 4.8 million people, and 26 people died after a confirmed infection with Corona.
Events have been held repeatedly in the past few weeks. Pictures of a concert with 30,000 visitors in Wellington or people celebrating Chinese New Year don’t just make Germans look enviously at the other end of the world.
Most of the infected are discovered after entering during the mandatory quarantine. There are hardly any locally transmitted cases. It is understood that when vaccination began in mid-February, 12,000 employees at national borders, for example in airports and ports, as well as in quarantine facilities, received the first dose. In stark contrast to Germany and the many other countries that feed at-risk groups first.
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Sequencing and contact tracing
There is more to New Zealand’s success than just a regional shutdown of lightning strikes if new infections drop. Prime Minister Ardern also relies on hierarchy. The genome investigation is seen as part of the very close contact follow-up that New Zealand authorities initiate in cases of MERS-CoV. The same is the case with the current new infection, which requires a lot of testing.
The country also has a huge advantage in fighting the epidemic: As an island nation, New Zealand can control its borders more effectively. Unlike the tens of thousands of people who normally travel to the country every day, only a few hundred are currently coming. They must first go to so-called quarantine hotels for 14 days at their own expense. Only negative test is permission to travel to the country. This also has an impact on tourism in New Zealand, which is currently in red.
For a country like Germany – in central Europe and with a much higher population density than New Zealand – this is not possible.
But here, too, the procedure is discussed. The no-Covid initiative by 14 scientists considers the strategy particularly effective. At the beginning of February, it proposed to limit the number of cases of Corona with regional restrictions, movement controls, tests and quarantine
Researchers from many disciplines, from medicine to education and economics, are participating in this initiative. The authors include virologist Melanie Brinkmann and physicist Michael Mayer Hermann of the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research in Braunschweig, as well as economists Clemens Voest and Andreas Pichl of the Ifo Institute in Munich.
Success comes at a heavy price
The criticism comes, among other things, from the director of the German Institute of English Wirtschaft. Michael Heather considers the no-Covid strategy to be impractical: “The ideas in the paper about how the economy works have nothing to do with the real economy,” he told Anne Will in January. They will cut across value chains and innovation. Health Minister Jens Spahn also said at a press conference in early February that the price is too high for Germany and that it faces different challenges from island nations such as New Zealand and Australia.
The latest outbreaks show that New Zealand’s strategy and isolation frequently allow individual vulnerabilities to exist. However, the system works for the Pacific state – but at a high price for its residents.
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