What other countries can learn from New Zealand’s coronavirus response

A lot, i suppose !

There is no rulebook for leadership during a crisis that threatens the lives of humans all over the world. “But, Jacinda Ardern the New Zealand prime minister has been fabulous, very proactive, very confident in what she’s doing”, Quoting the words of Laney McLean who is an Australian citizen. Ardern’s combination of steel and compassion instills confidence in many New Zealanders. All the strengths and weaknesses of a culture and its leaders, appear in great relief at a time when transparency and information are critical.

Criticism and debate, both of them are the lifeblood of democracy, but there seems to be little point in point-scoring politics. The New Zealand government, just like many others, was criticized for responding slowly at the start of the pandemic outbreak– “Kiwi complacency” as it was called – and for practically doing too little testing. 

But Ardern’s address to the nation right on Monday announcing a four-week shutdown of New Zealand– “Kiwis, go home,” she said – was utmost clear and unequivocal. The four-stage alert system in New Zealand – rising to level three immediately and level four by next week is simple to understand and is as effective as it could get.

Under the New Zealand government’s strategy to hold up against all odds, the model was offered as a response of empathy, clarity, and trust in science.

Health before the economy

As a lesser populated country with its population smaller than that of New York City’s and remote with easily sealable borders, all of these played in its favor when the virus broke out. But its relative success, it has the lowest cases per capita in the world and it has mainly been due to the clarity of the message coming from the government and on the trust built by people on their prime minister.

‘Be Strong, Be kind’

Just similar to the time of the mass shootings held in Christchurch, it’s her leadership style that has caught particular global attention this time too. While articulating in detail the rules of the lockdown and the trajectory of the new cases Ms. Ardern was also focused on kindness. She was ending almost all her public appearances with the same wise message: “Be Strong. Be Kind”.

She was regularly seen on Facebook, casually dressed, always smiling, and sharing silvers of her personal life, but not even once was underplaying the seriousness of the situation while answering people’s questions.

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