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Monday, April 27, 2020

Stern measures help New Zealand contain Covid and reduce one level

White Fern Suzie Bates has challenged cricketers around the country to get out their bat and ball while in isolation.  The veteran international all-rounder challenged other White Ferns and Black Caps to see how many times they could bounce a cricket ball on the side of their bat. "If you've got a cricket bat and a tennis ball at home, you can give it a crack too," she said.

During the Covid-19 induced stay at home norms, the 2020 New Zealand Cricket Awards will be for the first time will be given electronically . The Award ceremony has been broken into parts and will start from Tuesday and continue till Friday with a number of awards will be given everyday.  New Zealand Cricket in a break from the long standing traditional way, will be trying something very unique to outbeat the COVID-19 constraints and felicitate their cricketers with the 2020 New Zealand Cricket Awards.  The Bert Sutcliffe Medal for outstanding services to cricket will be given on Tuesday. Former Kiwi fast bowler Ewen Chatfield had won it last year. The Redpath Cup for first class batting will be given the next day. Last year's recipient of the award was none other than Kane Williamson. The Winsor Cup for the first class bowling will be presented on Wednesday as well which was won by Trent Boult in the season 2018-19.  Awards for limited overs cricket will be presented on the 30th April. International Men's T20 player and ODI player of the season awards went to Colin Munro and Ross Taylor respectively  last year.  International Test player award and the Richard Hadlee Medal will be presented the last day that is on May 1. Last year Kane Williamson had won both these awards .

The coronavirus pandemic may be the largest test of political leadership the world has ever witnessed. Every leader on the planet is facing the same potential threat. Every leader is reacting differently, in his or her own style. And every leader will be judged by the results. German Chancellor Angela Merkel embraces science. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rejects it. U.S. President Donald Trump’s daily briefings are a circuslike spectacle, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken great measures and is guiding the Nation in the best manner, facing challenge of keeping healthy  1.3 billion people.

Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand, is forging a path of her own. Her leadership style is one of empathy in a crisis that tempts people to fend for themselves. Her messages are clear, consistent, and somehow simultaneously sobering and soothing. And her approach isn’t just resonating with her people on an emotional level. It is also working remarkably well.  The good news is that  New Zealand has 'achieved elimination' of coronavirus as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claimed the country has scored a significant victory against the spread of Covid-19.

The country has been following an elimination strategy with the goal of completely ending the transmission of coronavirus within its borders.  'There is no widespread, undetected community transmission in New Zealand,' Ardern declared on Monday. 'We have won that battle.'  Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand's Director General of Health, said the low number 'does give us confidence that we've achieved our goal of elimination. That never meant zero but it does mean we know where our cases are coming from.  'Our goal is elimination. And again, that doesn't mean eradication but it means we get down to a small number of cases so that we are able to stamp out any cases and any outbreak that might come out.'

The nation of five million people, reported only one new case of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,122 with 19 deaths. After nearly five weeks at the maximum Level Four restrictions - with only essential services operating - the country will move to Level Three late on Monday. New Zealand's efforts to flatten the curve have been very successful, leading to the country relaxing coronavirus restrictions from tonight.   New Zealand's 5 million residents were subjected to one of the strictest lockdowns in the world in response to the pandemic, with Ardern closing offices, schools, bars and restaurants, including take away and delivery services, on March 26.  Beaches, waterfronts and playgrounds were also shut, effectively restricting people to their homes and short walks around their neighbourhood. As part of elimination measures, the country also closed its borders and enforced quarantine of all arrivals into the country. 

Experts said New Zealand's remote geographical location as well as its easily sealable borders enabled the country to aim for elimination of the virus. The downgrade from Alert Level 4 to Level 3 will allow some businesses, takeaway food outlets and schools to reopen. New Zealanders will now  be able to go fishing, surfing, hunting and hiking this week for the first time in more than a month as the country begins to ease its way out of a strict lockdown that successfully slowed the spread of the coronavirus. Around 400,000 people will return to work after the country shifts its alert level down a notch at midnight on Monday, but shops and restaurants will remain closed as several social restrictions remain in place.

The Nation as a whole remained disciplined with people appreciating and following their leader.  Eateries announced contactless delivery plans, retail stores showcased their latest collections online for home delivery and office towers posted social distancing rules in elevators and public areas.  'We must make sure that we do not let the virus run away on us again and cause a new wave of cases and deaths,' Ardern said at a news conference on Monday. 'To succeed we need to hunt down the last few cases of the virus.' 'I will not risk the gains we've made in the health of New Zealanders. So if we need to remain at Level Three, we will.' She insisted at the daily government briefing: 'We are opening up the economy, but we're not opening up people's social lives.' 
Trust in governments in Australia and New Zealand has risen since the start of the pandemic, opinion polls show, with their idealogically opposite leaders hailed for their management of the crisis.  The shift to level 3 would mean that New Zealanders will have some restrictions lifted including:
·         Fishers will be permitted to cast a line from a wharf but not a boat
·         People will  be allowed to exercise at their local parks or beaches but keep a good 2 metre distance from others
·         Driving will be permitted for going to school or work for essential workers
·         Ardern warned people should still work from home where possible  and when at work – staff  have to make sure they keep 1m between each other and practice good hygiene
·         Parents can choose whether to send their children to school or continue lessons at home, Ardern wants the majority to learn from home.
·         Still sharing a  meal, food or a wedding reception is not permitted   

Some might jump and speak of economy – but New Zealand practiced much harder lockdown and has successfully been able to contain – India’s strategy was right but people cooperation has not been.

Hope saner minds prevail, people remain at home, and India too comes out of the clutches of the dreaded virus

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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