NEW Zealand is often held up among those countries that successfully beat back Covid-19, and its ambassador in Manila shared some of the reasons why this is so.
“Probably some of you are wondering, so how did we get there? Our response was science-based,” New Zealand Ambassador Peter Kell said at the BusinessMirror Coffee Club on Friday.
Kell stressed that their Covid-19 response has been effective because it was “grounded with the advice of scientists and health professionals.”
Another key aspect, he added, is that their Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had decided early on, at the start of the pandemic, what approach to take and communicated that national strategy to the people.
He also recalled Ardern telling the people that the pandemic is, “A tough time for all. Be kind, be compassionate, be understanding.”
A well-known Māori proverb – He waka eke noa — or “We are in this together” also became their inspiration to rally behind their government as they fought against the virus, Kell shared.
He appeared taken aback when asked for any suggestion he could give to the Philippine government – often criticized in the past for its overreliance on lockdown measures that resulted in record-law economic growth — to help combat Covid-19.
“To be honest . . . humbly . . . I am not an expert, [not] in a position to tell [you] how to manage [this pandemic]. All I can [say] is how we [were able to ] manage ours,” he said.
Meanwhile, he also gave recognition to the national government, local government units, front-liners, and those who continue to keep the Philippines safe.
“Lessons can be useful. I would probably say health-, science-based approaches are extremely important particularly as the virus evolves,” Kell pointed out, while stressing that each country is different. So there is no one solution. Each country should develop their own solution.”
Despite their relative success, Kell said, they still also observe and learn from the lessons of other countries.
“We are very lucky that we have a small population and we got the virus relatively late,” he added.
As of May 13, he said, there were 2,644 cases with 26 deaths in New Zealand.
New Zealand, he added, is averaging 89 cases per day. At its peak, New Zealand had 929 active cases. The largest increase in a day was 89 cases.
“We remain vigilant against the potential next wave [or ] outbreak,” he added.