Updated: Jul 13
New Zealand And Seven Other Nations Beating COVID-19 Odds
New Zealand And Seven Other Nations Beating COVID-19 Odds
New Zealand isn't alone in limiting the toll of the virus. Here are some of the countries that have stood out — whether thanks to public policy, good fortune or some combination of the two — as relative success stories during the global outbreak: VIETNAM: Despite its long and porous shared border with China, where the virus emerged, Vietnam has no recorded COVID-19 deaths.
Numbers: According to the Hanoi Times, the current rate of people cured compared to infected is 95.2% with 332 people infected, 316 people recovered. The country has now gone 53 days without a domestically transmitted infection.
Factors: According to a top Vietnamese envoy, the country was able to keep its national numbers low because of early awareness and public adherence to social distancing.
SOUTH KOREA: In a matter of months, South Korea was able to go from the nation second hardest-hit by the virus after China, to lifting some social distancing restrictions as early as April.
Numbers: The country has seen a slight uptick in the number of cases in the past few weeks, with a new national total of 11,852 infected and 274 virus-related deaths, though some 1,000 of these infections are attributed to South Korean nationals returning from abroad.
Factors: South Korea has been hailed as a successful example of how acting quickly to implement mass testing and contact tracing nationwide can effectively flatten the curve of the coronavirus.
JORDAN: The government of Jordan ended its restrictive curfew to suppress the spread of coronavirus last Saturday and a number of sectors are set to resume.
Numbers: Health Minister Saad Jaber reported 23 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, bringing the total number of cases in the kingdom to 831.
Factors: Jordan's low numbers throughout the virus' spread have been attributed to its early and systemic action. The country formed and mobilized an Epidemics Committee by late January, right as the virus was taking hold in China, at least five weeks before the first coronavirus case was reported in Jordan at the beginning of March.
SLOVAKIA: Slovakia has seen one of the lowest death rates in Europe and, as of mid-May, citizens have been able to move about freely, with many public and commercial spaces now open, and even across shared borders with Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Switzerland and Slovenia.
Factors: Since the beginning of the pandemic's spread, Slovakia was able to go from one of the least prepared countries in the EU to one of the most fortunate after imposing one the earliest and harshest lockdowns. Some attributing factors to their success were the Slovak public's trust and adherence to the government's restrictions and the country's media.
LUXEMBOURG: Despite neighboring EU countries being hit hard by the coronavirus, the tiny land-locked nation of Luxembourg has fared relatively well by comparison, even accepting infected patients from France in their hospitals.
Numbers: As of Monday, only one new case of the virus was recorded and no new deaths in over 15 days. At least 935 patients who were infected have recovered and roughly 26 of the people currently infected remain in the hospital.
Factors: Since the onset of the virus, the country has carried out over 88,300 coronavirus tests and kept the reproduction rate of the virus around 0.5%.
ICELAND: Iceland seems to have weathered the storm of coronavirus, with some of the lowest numbers recorded anywhere. Life has nearly returned to normal, with social distancing mandates lifted and most businesses reopened. The country is also hoping to open back up to tourism as early as June 15.
Numbers: Throughout the month of May, only six new coronavirus cases were detected and so far, there have only been three new cases reported this month, bringing the national total of people infected up to 1,807 with 10 deaths.
Factors: In part due to its relatively small population as well as the early action at the end of February taken to curb the spread, Iceland was able to successfully employ contact tracing and track each coronavirus case as it appeared on the island.
URUGUAY: Despite neighboring Latin American countries, like Brazil, being hard hit by the coronavirus, Uruguay has managed to keep their numbers relatively low.
Numbers: As of Sunday, the country has recorded only 845 cases of coronavirus and 23 deaths.
Factors: Surprisingly enough, the small country and its citizens never went into lockdown, according to the director of the Institut Pasteur in Montevideo. Instead, it chose to close borders and unnecessary activities as soon as the first few coronavirus cases were confirmed in the country on March 13, well before other Latin American countries did so.
Covid 19 coronavirus: The 8 other countries that beat the virus
New Zealand joins an exclusive club of nations that have successfully stamped out Covid-19.
According to Johns Hopkins University, just eight other states which registered infections today report zero active cases – most of them small island nations with tiny populations and vastly smaller tallies than New Zealand's 1504 confirmed or probable cases.
Montenegro was the last European country to report a case of Covid-19 – and the first to declare itself free of the virus. Its first case was reported on March 17, and its total numbers reached 324. Sixty-eight days later, on May 24, Montenegro reported no active cases. The country – population 622,359 - implemented a mix of measures to stop the virus, including the closure of many businesses, mandatory masks, limits on public gatherings and travel bans. As at this week, the country's land borders with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania were open. Although no testing was required at the border, a 14-day quarantine was in place for anyone coming from a country with more than 25 cases per 100,000 population.
The state in East Africa – population 6 million and area 117,600 sq km – reported on May 15 that its 39th and final case had fully recovered. Its first case – a resident returning from Norway - was reported on March 21 and in April, the country went into lockdown.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Covid-19 came to the remote Pacific state on March 20 – and that initial case was followed by seven more over the next four weeks. By May 4, all those cases were reported to have recovered, with 2,400 tests having been carried out, mostly in Port Moresby. The country – population 8.9 million - responded to the crisis swiftly, banning travellers from Asia and closing its border with Indonesia. The Government also introduced tough restrictions over the country's National Capital District, including a night-time curfew and bans on public gatherings and public transport.
The archipelagic state in the Indian Ocean recorded just 11 cases of Covid-19, and all have since recovered. The country - population 97,096 – reported its first two cases on March 14, which grew to four within days. By that stage, Seychelles had already announced a temporary ban on cruise ships, along with any travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. It later clamped down restrictions tighter with a travel ban that came into effect on April 8.
The Holy See reported just 12 cases, including 10 employees and one resident of the Vatican City. As at June 6, all had tested negative. The tiny jurisdiction within Rome acted swiftly, closing its tourist attractions, along with regular public appearances of its most famous resident, Pope Francis, who opted for live-streams over the internet instead. Residents of Casa Santa Marta were reportedly working from their rooms and meals were now served in two shifts to allow for social distancing.
SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS
The West Indies nation became free of Covid-19 on May 19, when all of its 15 confirmed cases had recovered. With a population of just 52,441, the federation recorded its first cases on March 24, when a 21-year-old man and a 57-year-old woman arrived from New York. The state took a raft of measures, including closing airports, schools and non-essential businesses, and ordering a curfew and the wearing of masks.
The Pacific state reported its first case on March 19 – and by April 20, all of the 18 cases it since confirmed on the islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu had recovered. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama oversaw a response that included a staged ban on flights from certain countries, a 15-day mandatory quarantine for people arriving and closures of schools and non-essential businesses. The pandemic has hit the tourist destination hard – and its reserve bank has forecast the domestic economy will tip into a recession after a decade of economic growth.
East Timor also acted quickly against Covid-19, putting in place travel restrictions for non-nationals who had visited China as early as February 10, banning anyone who had visited the outbreak's ground zero of Hubei, and closing the border with Indonesia. The island country in south-east Asia nonetheless reported its first case on March 21, which prompted school closures, public gatherings limited to five and all international arrivals to be quarantined for 14 days. On May 15, the country reported the recovery of its 24th and final confirmed case.
• The countries listed were those that had registered infections but had no active cases at the time of reporting. It didn't include those that have reported lengthy periods with no community transmission - such as Vietnam - or those that had kept Covid-19 out completely, such as Vanuatu.
New Zealand hits zero active coronavirus cases. Here are 5 measures to keep it that way
Today is also the 17th day since the last new case was reported. New Zealand has a total of 1,154 confirmed cases (combined total of confirmed and probable cases is 1,504) and 22 people have died.
This is an important milestone and a time to celebrate. But as we continue to rebuild the economy, there are several challenges ahead if New Zealand wants to retain its COVID-19-free status while the pandemic continues elsewhere.
It remains important that good science supports the government’s risk assessment and management. Below, we recommend several ways people can protect themselves. But we also argue New Zealand needs an urgent overhaul of the health system, including the establishment of a new national public health agency for disease prevention and control.
What elimination means
Elimination is defined as the absence of a disease at a national or regional level. Eradication refers to its global extinction (as with smallpox).
Elimination requires a high-performing surveillance system to provide assurance that, should border control fail, any new cases would be quickly found. Agreed definitions are important for public reassurance and as a basis for expanding travel links with other countries that have also achieved elimination.
It is important to remind ourselves that active cases are not the ones we need to worry about. By definition, they have all been identified and placed in isolation and are very unlikely to infect others. The real target of elimination is to stop the unseen cases silently spreading in the community. This is why we need mathematical modelling to tell us that elimination is likely.
Avoiding complacency – and new outbreaks
New Zealand’s decisive elimination strategy appears to have succeeded, but it is easy to become complacent. Many other countries pursuing a containment approach have had new outbreaks, notably Singapore, Korea and Australia.
New Zealand has spent months expanding its capacities to eliminate COVID-19. But maintaining elimination will be challenging. Airports, seaports and quarantine facilities remain potential sites of transmission from overseas, particularly given the pressure to increase numbers of arrivals.
New Zealand’s move to alert level 1 will end all physical distancing restrictions. If the virus is reintroduced, this creates the potential for outbreaks arising from indoor social gatherings. New Zealand is also moving into winter when respiratory viruses can spread more easily, as is seen with the highly seasonal coronaviruses which cause the common cold.
5 key ways to protect New Zealand’s long-term health
Just as New Zealand prepared for the pandemic, the post-elimination period requires “maximum proactivity”. Here are five key risk management approaches to achieve lasting protection for New Zealand against COVID-19 and other serious public health threats.
1. Establish public use of fabric face masks in specific settings
Health protection relies on multiple barriers to infection or contamination. This is the cornerstone of protecting drinking water, food safety and borders from incursions by biological agents.
With the end of physical distancing, we recommend the government seriously considers making mask wearing mandatory on public transport, on aircraft and at border control and quarantine facilities. Other personal hygiene measures (staying home if sick, washing hands, coughing into elbows) are insufficient when transmission is often from people who appear well and can spread the virus simply by breathing and talking.
The evidence base for the effectiveness of even simple fabric face masks is now strong, according to a recent systematic review published in the Lancet. The World Health Organization has also updated its guidelines to recommend that everyone wear fabric face masks in public areas where there is a risk of transmission. Establishing a culture of using face masks in specific settings in New Zealand will make it easier to expand their use if required in future outbreaks.
2. Improve contact tracing effectiveness with suitable digital tools
New Zealand’s national system for contact tracing remains a critical back-stop measure to control outbreaks, should border controls fail. But there is significant potential for new digital tools to enhance current processes, albeit with appropriate privacy safeguards built in. To be effective, such digital solutions must have high uptake and support very rapid contact tracing. Downloadable apps appear insufficient and both New Zealand and Singapore are investigating bluetooth-enabled devices which appear to perform better and could be distributed to all residents.
3. Apply a science-based approach to border management
A cautious return to higher levels of inbound and outbound travel is important for economic and humanitarian reasons, but we need to assess the risk carefully. This opening up includes two very different processes. One is a broadening of the current categories of people permitted to enter New Zealand beyond residents, their families and a small number of others. This will typically require the continuation of routine 14-day quarantine, until improved methods are developed.
The other potential expansion is quarantine-free entry, which will be safest from countries that meet similar elimination targets. This process could begin with Pacific Island nations free of COVID-19, notably Samoa and Tonga. It should be possible to extend this arrangement to various Australian states and other jurisdictions such as Fiji and Taiwan when they confirm their elimination status.
4. Establish a dedicated national public health agency
Even before COVID-19 hit New Zealand, it was clear our national public health infrastructure was failing after decades of neglect, fragmentation and erosion. Prominent examples of system failure include the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak in 2016 and the prolonged measles epidemic in 2019. The comprehensive health and disability system review report was delivered to the Minister of Health in March and was widely expected to recommend significant upgrading of public health capacity. This report and its recommendations should now be released.
We also recommend an interim evaluation of the public health response to COVID-19 now, rather than after the pandemic. These reviews would inform the needed upgrade of New Zealand’s public health capacity to manage the ongoing pandemic response and to prepare the country for other serious health threats. A key improvement would be a dedicated national public health agency to lead disease control and prevention. Such an agency could help avoid the need for lockdowns by early detection and action in response to emerging infectious disease threats, as achieved by Taiwan during the current pandemic.
5. Commit to transformational change to avoid major global threats
COVID-19 is having devastating health and social impacts globally. Even if it is brought under control with a vaccine or antivirals, other major health threats remain, including climate change, loss of biological diversity and existential threats (for example, pandemics arising from developments in synthetic biology). These threats need urgent attention. The recovery from lockdown provides an opportunity for a sustained transformation of our economy that addresses wider health, environmental and social goals.
More than 330,000 people have recovered from coronavirus-CNN International
What is 'flatten the curve'? The chart that shows how critical it is for everyone to fight coronavirus spread.-NBC News
The phrase refers to a so-called epidemic curve that is commonly used to visualize why public and individual efforts to contain the spread of the virus are crucial.
A mantra has emerged among health professionals calling for aggressive action on the coronavirus outbreak: "Flatten the curve."
The catchy phrase refers to a so-called epidemic curve that is commonly used to visualize responses to disease outbreaks — and illustrates why public and individual efforts to contain the spread of the virus are crucial.
It's all about speed.
The Countries That Are Succeeding at Flattening the Curve-Insider
Lessons from Taiwan, Canada, South Korea, Georgia, and Iceland show that the coronavirus can be stopped.
Taiwan recorded its first case of the coronavirus on Jan. 21, but it has managed to keep its number of confirmed cases to just 329 with five deaths as of April 1. The country is effectively locked out of the World Health Organization (WHO), since membership is usually only accorded to countries that are members of the United Nations, which does not recognize Taiwan. But as Hilton Yip wrote on March 16, the government sprang into action as soon as news broke about a mysterious illness in Wuhan. Taiwan, which sits just 100 miles from mainland China, began inspecting travelers coming from the city on Dec. 31, set up a system to track those in self-quarantine, and ramped up production of medical equipment in January. (Taiwan has not yet resumed exports of the supplies, including surgical face masks.)
Yip attributed Taiwan’s early and effective response to past experience. “Given that Taiwan has faced everything from its giant neighbor—the spreading of fake news, military threats, the withholding of vital medical information during the SARS outbreak in 2003—the country knows it must be on its fullest guard whenever any major problem emerges in China,” he wrote.
[Mapping the Coronavirus Outbreak: Get daily updates on the pandemic and learn how it’s affecting countries around the world.]
South Korea, which had one of the largest initial outbreaks outside China, also managed to slow the spread of new coronavirus cases without instituting any lockdowns. Devi Sridhar argued on March 23 that the country’s exemplary model for mass diagnostic testing was the only way to contain the outbreak—and that other countries should look to East Asia for lessons. South Korea, which has a population of 51 million, tests more than 20,000 people daily at designated testing sites and uses isolation and widespread contact tracing to break chains of transmission—as recommended by WHO. “South Korea is showing how this model ultimately pays off in reducing spread, taking pressure off health services, and keeping its death rate one of the lowest in the world,” Sridhar wrote.
In the West, Canada managed to roll out more expansive testing than the neighboring United States, as Justin Ling wrote on March 13. In January and February, Canada began setting up the infrastructure to conduct tests and contact tracing. The early response in part came from the country’s experience during the SARS outbreak in 2003. (Then, Canada was the only country outside Asia to report deaths from the virus.) Canada has a well-funded public health care system, and its criteria for who can be tested for COVID-19 is not as limited as in the United States. “Canada has spent the past two decades preparing for this moment,” Ling wrote. “By catching cases early, and investigating their origins, Canada has blunted the impact of the virus thus far.”
Some success stories are unexpected. On the Don’t Touch Your Face podcast, Foreign Policy’s Amy Mackinnon singled out the early response of the country of Georgia. Despite its small size and struggling economy, the country began taking serious measures at the end of February, including closing schools and conducting widespread diagnostic tests. Georgia has so far confirmed 117 cases and no deaths from COVID-19. “I think the fact that the government took it seriously from the very start has helped,” the Georgian journalist Natalia Antelava told Mackinnon. So has Georgia’s mindset. “This is a country that is used to crisis, and it is a country that has lived through civil wars and the Russian invasion in 2008 and a very dark period through the ’90s after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Antelava said.
Mackinnon also interviewed Jelena Ciric, a journalist in Iceland, which has one of the highest per capita rates of confirmed coronavirus cases. That’s because it has also tested more people per capita than anywhere else in the world—an effort led by a private medical research company based in Reykjavik. The research will be used to inform the global response to the pandemic. “What that gives us in Iceland is somewhat of a clearer picture of how the virus is spreading through the general population,” Ciric said. “Our growth has not actually become exponential due to these early measures of quarantining people who have likely been exposed to the virus.”
Throughout Europe, many countries are under lockdown—but not Sweden, which has remained stoic amid its high-risk outbreak. The country has reported 4,947 cases, but its government is betting that its distinctive high trust culture means that individuals will act responsibly without being ordered to do so, wrote Nathalie Rothschild on March 24, reporting from Stockholm. “[T]here is an expectation that citizens will conform, that they will take personal responsibility and avoid crowds, work from home, keep a distance on public transport, and so on, without being strong-armed into doing so,” she wrote. The next two weeks could reveal whether that is a precarious calculation.
Elsewhere, citizens are not so trusting of their governments’ expertise. In Russia, daily life continued as normal until mid-March, when medical experts began questioning official statistics showing a low rate of COVID-19 infection. The government moved quickly to close the borders and announce a large economic stimulus plan, wrote Foreign Policy’s Reid Standish, reporting from Moscow. “Should the true scope of the virus prove to be higher than shown in official statistics, it would mean that the Russian government has missed its chance to slow the pandemic,” he wrote. Two weeks later, it appears that the coronavirus could present a serious political challenge for President Vladimir Putin, as Standish reported on March 30.
More than 330,000 people have recovered from coronavirus-CNN International
While the number of coronavirus cases, and deaths, continues to rise, so does the number of people who have been infected and gone on to make a full recovery.
As of Thursday, more than 330,000 people have recovered from coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center.
In reality this number is likely to be far higher given that many people do not know whether they have had the virus.
China leads the way in terms of recovered patients, with more than 77,000, according to Johns Hopkins, followed by Spain with more than 48,000; Germany with more than 46,000; and Iran with more than 29,000.