Aside from being utterly First World in their scientific approach to COVID control, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan are almost COVID free because of the tightest border closures possible, down to a “halt to international tourism” in New Zealand. Even backpackers and seasonal workers have been kept out.
They are tested on arrival and, if negative, can travel widely on the condition that they answer when called by health workers and diligently record any symptoms in an app. Taiwan is permitting some business visitors, too, subject to quarantine rules.
Reports the Economist on the luxury and gift of “contemplating life beyond the virus.” Yes, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan have got the governance the US and certainly the UK lack.
In New Zealand, a country of 5m people, new cases have been in the single digits for most of the past week. Australia reported just seven new infections on April 23rd. That puts the pair in the very small group of countries that seem to have vanquished covid-19, including South Korea and, barring a fresh wave of infections from a recent outbreak on a naval vessel, Taiwan. …
[The] strictest border controls [have been implemented]. At present, almost all foreigners are barred from entering New Zealand, while returning citizens are placed in quarantine for 14 days in monitored hotels. Arrivals have slowed to a trickle: on April 22nd not a single person entered the country.
Ports are tightly controlled, too. Stevedores at Auckland’s work in small, isolated teams, each with their own toilet, to reduce the risk of an infection spreading widely. The crews of arriving ships are not allowed to disembark and can interact with only three port workers, who are distinguished by pink high-visibility vests, not to mention face masks.
The government’s economic models assume New Zealand will have to stay closed to foreigners for a year. But some doubt it is feasible, or worthwhile, to keep the borders sealed. Steven Joyce, a former finance minister, says eliminating the virus is “pie in the sky”. Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, says that although elimination is desirable, “We’re pretty doubtful that could be maintained for the long term given the incredible border measures you would need to have.”
— ILANA Mercer (@IlanaMercer) May 19, 2020