Cartoon by marshall ramsey
New Zealand Vs. the UK: How these Countries Measure up During COVID-19
It’s been almost a year since COVID-19 appeared and sent the world into mass chaos, but now that vaccines are rolling out, it almost seems like we’re out of the woods. In retrospect, it’s easy to critique how worldwide governments have handled the coronavirus from the beginning until now. It’s common knowledge that the United States was one of the worst countries to deal with the coronavirus, clocking in at around 31.4 million cases and about 563,000 deaths. But what might not be so common is the fact that countries like Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, and Singapore were some of the best countries to combat COVID-19, while the US, the UK, Brazil, and Mexico were the worst.
Right now, life in New Zealand is mask-free and as normal as it can get with the coronavirus still running amok through the rest of the world. New Zealand sits at a total of 2,201 cases and a whopping 26 deaths from COVID-19. These numbers may be due to its smaller population size, but despite their numbers, we can still admire how New Zealand locked down hard after COVID cases started appearing in the country. Instead of just “flattening the curve,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern administered a “disease elimination” approach to the coronavirus by announcing a full national lockdown on March 26, 2020 after 102 cases were reported. By swiftly reporting COVID cases, imposing flight restrictions and locking down the country in the beginning of 2020, New Zealand managed to almost eliminate the curve and efficiently succeeded in bringing their country back from the brink of COVID chaos.
On the other hand, the United Kingdom’s response to the coronavirus was less than stellar, with 4.36 million cases and around 126,955 deaths. COVID guidelines from the government were ambiguous at best, with the Prime Minister Boris Johnson encouraging citizens to go about their business as COVID cases in the UK were confirmed. Like New Zealand, the UK entered nation-wide lockdown around the same time on March 23, 2020, but unlike New Zealand, the UK had over 6,500 cases and 330 deaths at this time. Similar to the US in the early days of COVID-19, the UK struggled with overcapacity in hospitals, failed to lockdown in time to curb COVID, and didn’t establish an efficient COVID testing system early on.
From a surface level, there’s not much different between the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Both European countries have universal health care and similarly structured governments. We can’t place the blame definitively on one thing or another, but we do know that the reaction of our world leaders and how our communities support each other directly influence how we handle panic in this pandemic.
By Callum Lee