New Zealand is reopening — how did it handle coronavirus differently than Canada?

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New Zealand is set to reopen its economy next week, following a complete lockdown in late March due to the novel coronavirus.

As of April 27, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the country will move to ease its strict work restrictions that saw severely limited travel and all mass gatherings cancelled. By next week, businesses, kindergarten and elementary schools that teach ages 1 to 10 will reopen.

In March, the New Zealand prime minister made the decision to “go hard and go early,” locking down the country after around 100 residents tested positive for COVID-19.

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“We have the opportunity to do something no other country has achieved: elimination of the virus,” she told reporters last week. “But it will continue to need a team of five million behind it.”

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Experts believe the Canadian government could learn a thing or two from Ardern’s leadership.

Craig Janes, director of the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo, said New Zealand’s quick implementation of travel restrictions and bringing the country to an essential halt “stopped the transmission in its tracks.”

“They acted very quickly before they had too many infections in that country,” Janes said.


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