Because countries face different challenges from each other, their priorities are also different. If a country lies within a tsunami zone, for example, its government would likely make tsunami preparedness a priority. Similarly, if a country is in the middle of a violent region, the government might work hard to protect its borders. But the COVID-19 pandemic is different—all countries are facing the same challenge, a dangerous virus that spreads quickly. No one has solved this worldwide problem yet, but many countries are testing out new and different approaches. So how are different parts of the world dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic? Let’s take a look at a small country in the southern hemisphere: New Zealand.Polynesian settlers first discovered the island of New Zealand and were followed much later by Europeans in the 1700s. The country was the first in the world to grant all women the right to vote and recently elected, for the first time, a woman to lead the country. When COVID-19 concerns increased, New Zealand began imposing travel restrictions on those coming from mainland China and Iran as early as February to help reduce the spread of the virus. Additionally, starting in mid-March, anyone traveling into New Zealand was required to self-isolate for fourteen days. The small nation, with a population the size of New York City, has been relying on three things to help protect its people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic: a shutdown that began on March 25th, a population that is following governmental guidelines, and extensive testing. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s mantra of “Be Kind” has encouraged New Zealanders to look out for one another and stay indoors during the shutdown. Ardern, along with other ministers and leaders in the public services, have decided to take a pay-cut as people around the country are being adversely affected by financial losses and business closures. New Zealand is expected to come out of lockdown mode on April 28th. Will this result in a new wave of COVID-19 illnesses? Only time will tell.
What do you think countries need to do in order to better fight COVID-19? If you were the president of a country, how would you respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? Share your thoughts with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.