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Strong Government Leadership During Early Onset of COVID-19

Here in New Zealand we experienced great Govt vision with a clear message of a new alert level communication and early decisive action.

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New Zealand (NZ) moved from normal commercial and life activities to a complete lock down within a very short time frame, however in a disciplined and orderly manner with excellent engagement from the general public. 

As at March 30 2020, we have had 1 reported death from COVID-19 in New Zealand, a total of 589 cases, with 12 in hospital and 63 have recovered. 

The NZ Government declared a National State of Emergency early and took swift, decisive action to shut down the spread of COVID-19. The country is currently operating at Alert Level Four of a newly created COVID-19 alert system, ie. Eliminate. 

This simple, clear and concise set of Alert Levels: One to Four were developed and communicated to the entire country. The NZ Government developed COVID-19 focused digital platforms and then allowed a lead time to move through the Alert Levels in a rapid, but managed manner. This allowed the country to understand what was happening, why it was important, the support mechanisms put in place and the consequences of not adhering to the requirements of each Alert Level. 

The NZ Govt made it clear that they were looking to control the transition through each Alert Level to ensure the Level One compulsory 2 weeks self-isolation for returning international travelers was adhered to through to the Alert Level Four (4 weeks) complete lock down of NZ, with all our borders closed, all businesses closed (with the exception of the specified essential services) and all of the people in self-isolation and maintaining a 2 metre (8 ft) distance from any person not in your self-isolation "bubble". 

The term bubble was used to effectively communicate to everyone that they should not come closer than 2m (8ft) for any reason. This was to ensure that each group of people in their own bubble (eg a family of four self-isolating in the family home) did not risk the transference of the virus to another bubble.

As my wife and I recently returned from a ski holiday in Canada we will be effectively self isolating for a total of 6 weeks. 

Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, was very good at communicating effectively that by self-isolating quickly and properly we could stop the spread, thereby flattening the curve and our hospitals would cope. By not self-isolating our infection rates would soar exponentially and rapidly, thereby placing our national healthcare system under enormous strain and resulting in a far higher death toll, as has occurred in other countries around the world. Because we are such a small country, this would have been catastrophic. 

To gain compliance as a nation, a large part of this plan had to address how people would survive this total lockdown financially. The NZ govt released a decisive and future focused economic package for businesses and individuals for a 12 week period. This had the effect of removing the largest stress factor for businesses and families of how to put food on the table and pay their essentials bills for this period. Its not the perfect package for many people and many will struggle through this time. However, done is better than perfect, and some help is better than none. As a nation, it is Survival first. Rebuild later.

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Did this resource motivate you to change your behaviors?

  • Yes

In what ways did you change your behaviors as a result of this resource?

Yes. In the early stages of the outbreaks around the world, New Zealand was implementing measures to reduce the spread on the virus nationally. As the death toll and infected people rose around the world, the initial criticism at the perceived 'over the top' restrictions were quickly replaced with ultimate respect for the vision of our leaders to act decisively to shut down our borders and the spread of COVID-19. 

Most of us became very focused on reducing the risk of infecting others and we clearly understood that we had a very narrow window of opportunity to save lives. 

Did you share this information with your network?

  • Yes

In what ways did you share this information?

With all friends, family and other contacts to ensure they understood what they needed to do and they could help save lives. 

Where are you getting information around COVID-19?

  • Local Government
  • National Government
  • News: Television
  • News: Digital
  • Social Media
  • WHO (World Health Organization)

What information do you feel you are missing about COVID-19?

We felt very informed and did not feel we were missing any key information. When the NZ Govt did not know the answer to a question asked, they were very open and transparent by saying "we don't know but we will find out and report back as soon as possible". 

What populations or personas are not currently being addressed with today’s COVID-19 information?

Multiple messages including digital platforms and TV adverts have targeted all key demographics and generations. 

What is your current profession?

CEO and Founder of a NZ Specialized Innovation Agency.

In what city are you located?

Tauranga, Bay of Plenty

In what country are you located?

New Zealand


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