Today marks two years since the first case of Covid-19 in New Zealand

On February 28, 2020, the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in New Zealand – a person in their 60s who had just returned from Iran.

Two years later, University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said the country had by far the lowest number of deaths from the virus in the OECD.

“In fact, life expectancy in New Zealand has actually increased by eight months during the pandemic, the biggest improvement in the world, and the reason for that is that we are so good now at preventing the transmission of these respiratory viruses.

Baker said the second anniversary is a time for Kiwis to reflect “how far we’ve come and how well New Zealand has managed in dealing with this pandemic”.

He said while it has been “really difficult” at times, people should also reflect on the positive aspects of New Zealand’s response.

While the number of cases will continue to rise, because the population has a high vaccination rate and achieves a high recall rate, the number of cases will not translate into such a large increase in hospitalizations, Professor Baker said. .

“This Omicron virus is not much less dangerous than the original strain we saw in the first year, if we didn’t have high vaccination coverage we would see many thousands of deaths in New Zealand over the next few months at because of this variant.

Baker also said that if everyone wore a high-quality mask for a fortnight, the outbreak would be over.

“It’s as simple as that because the virus would have nowhere to go.

“Unfortunately not all of us are able to do this all the time, I mean it would actually be very hard work, especially around the house, it’s just one of those theoretical things – masks are extremely effective and the problem is that we just don’t use them all in all of these social environments that we find ourselves in,” he said.

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