|By Zachary Ducharme, MBA
CEO at Pipeline Medical
By now, you’ve ogled at and interpreted several charts, graphs, all relating to COVID-19, especially those talking about flattening the curve.
In simple terms to flatten the curve of a disease means trying to ensure that there is a delay in contagion from one person to another – and slow down the spread of a virus to tackle it patient to patient. If all people get sick at the same time there will not be enough hospital beds to save them.
By wearing masks and other PPE, practicing social distancing, the virus has a lower chance of succeeding and infecting others. Hence the curve starts to flatten.
Several states across the U.S. have started reopening the economy, which means in order to truly follow the guidelines given by the CDC on flattening the curve – everyone should be wearing a mask and practicing social distancing to avoid spread of the coronavirus.
If a society fails to flatten the curve the amount of cases will increasing again, despite their best efforts. The curve starts looking like a roller coaster, and that’s how the individuals in the society likely feel about the whole experience.
While states open across the United States and cases continue to rise, on the other side of the world, New Zealand has another story. They got to zero Covid cases back in May.
How Did New Zealand Get Zero Cases of the Coronavirus?
On June 7th New Zealand had a wonderful news story – zero new cases of COVID-19. A smart and unified effort by the country’s leadership and adherence to its rules by citizens have essentially made the country entirely Coronavirus-free.
So what did they do, which could help other countries?
Mandatory Quarantines & Complete Lockdown
Shutting down all tourism and flights coming into the country was the first step. The country made this drastic decision despite tourism being a $1.8 billion year industry and one of the largest sources of revenue for the island nation. New Zealand tourism also employs 8% of the country’s population.
With the lockdown, thousands of passengers were stranded, but with constant communication by scientists, the public outrage was little to none. Initially citizens were allowed to return back to the country after a 14-day self-isolation when they landed. Stricter restrictions were put on tourists and other travellers.
Find out about the latest travel restrictions for New Zealand here
They were looking not just to flatten the curve, but to get rid of the disease altogether.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in an effort to beat coronavirus said, “We must fight by going hard and going early.” The Level 4 restrictions across New Zealand meant that only essential businesses remained open – such as grocery stores, hospitals, gas stations, and pharmacies. People did not leave their homes for any other reason.
After 2 days of publishing this article, New Zealand reported 100 days without community spread. So, it only made sense to approach Twitter and get additional insights from health professional in NZ. Here’s one of them.
Why Did it Work?
All citizens listened to the country’s leadership, led by scientific research and backing.
In late March, there were 146 cases within the total population of 4.9 million, which were reduced to only a few cases by mid-April.
The country continued following its societal rules, focused on their goal of eradicating Covid-19 from the island.
In May, the country seems to have achieved what it set out to do, which is eradicate the virus altogether instead of just slowing it down.
A whopping 87% of all New Zealanders approved of the total shutdown of tourism, even though it accounts for the highest amount of revenue for the breathtakingly beautiful island.
How is this different than the USA?
Everyone has his or her own theory. But the data suggests that a premature opening in some cities and states has had a negative effect, along with the following:
· Inconsistent mask wearing across the country.
· Social distancing not being followed.
· Differing opinions on safety from non-medical leaders.
· Major institutions holding public gatherings.
· Opening schools and businesses without proper safety protocols or ability to practice social distancing.
· Non-medical personnel making their own rules.
· Politicization of a medical issue
How You Can Flatten the Curve
If you’re going to go out, wear a mask. Wash your hands with soap when you return. Sanitize any outdoor material that may have come into contact with another pair of hands. Stay cheerful, but safe!
If all Americans wear a mask, and social distance for 2 months, we could beat the virus. It’s in our hands to once again come together and flatten the curve.