coronavirus in New Zealand and Sweden

New Zealand vs Sweden



flat (2) outbreak implement
ban shutdown measure (2)
interact record (3) quarantine
spread restriction place under
curve lockdown flatten the curve
vary follow (2) put in place
urge playbook downstream (2)
trust infection has a lot going
tend to compliant overcrowding
bunch reserved generation
lull hang out balance (3)
sense of extreme play it right (2)
a third announce shut/shut/shut
impose essential around the clock
strict model (3) epidemiology
security standard approach (2)
slightly aggressive opportunity
case (3) order (3) get away with it
achieve eliminate speak for themselves
gather orthodox speak/spoke/spoken
versus turn into move forward (2)
caution respond overwhelmed
assume situation matter of fact
layer announce meet/met/met
risk freak out follow their lead
in place compare consequence
end up relatively challenging
harm backlash highlight (2)
sort of pose (2) proportionately
avoid implement interest (3)
akin supportive put food on the table
freak force (2) catastrophic
pursue long-term only time will tell
pandemic lead/led/led






Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, countries around the world have implemented lockdown measures.

From quarantines, stay-at-home orders, school and business shutdowns to travel bans and border closures, more than a third of the world’s population was placed under some form of restriction to slow the spread of covid-19 and flatten the curve.

But what kind of restrictions were put in place varied by country. Two in particular followed very different approaches: Sweden and New Zealand.

Sweden took a much softer approach, keeping elementary schools, restaurants and most businesses open, but still urging citizens over the age of seventy to stay home while also banning gatherings of more than 50 people.

Colin Furness, Infection control epidemiology professor, University of Toronto: “Sweden has a lot going for this protective.

That is to say it’s a culture that they trust their government. They’re they’re fairly compliant. They’re a healthy population. They do not have overcrowding.

You don’t have multi-generations living together; they’re not there. They tend to be quiet reserved: they don’t tend to hang out in large bunches in the same way that other cultures might.

So they had all these things going for them, and I think they were lulled into a certain sense of security that says we’re okay; we don’t need to do those things. We’re okay.”

On the other extreme, New Zealand shut its borders and announced a state of national emergency, even before it recorded a coronavirus death. The country imposed strict lockdown measures, forcing the public to stay in their homes around the clock, unless shopping for essentials like food or medicine.

Colin Furness, Infection control epidemiology professor, University of Toronto: “New Zealand sort of used the standard playbook of a careful lockdown of responding quickly, responding aggressively and geographically. It was relatively easy for them to close their borders.

So they were able to really stop travel and to really lock everyone down. And that’s the orthodox approach. People aren’t interacting. The virus can’t spread. And they got away with it. They did a great job.”

And the numbers speak for themselves: as of May 4th this is what the number of cases in both countries look like: Sweden with over 22,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths, while New Zealand has under 1,500 cases and 20 deaths.

As of May 4th, there have been no new coronavirus cases in New Zealand for the first time since March 16th, going beyond flattening the curve.

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand: “We have the opportunity to do something no other country has achieved: elimination of the virus.”

But they are still moving forward cautiously.

Meantime, this is where Sweden sits compared to other countries.

Colin Furness, Infection control epidemiology professor, University of Toronto: “Whereas it hasn’t turned into a sort of a catastrophic Italy-type situation, their healthcare system hasn’t been overwhelmed. The fact of the matter is that they didn’t play it right.”

And compared to other Scandinavian countries, Sweden has had proportionately more cases and more deaths.

Steven Hoffman, Professor of Global Health, Law and Political Science: “Every country when implementing layers of protection has to balance the need to meet the risk posed by covid-19 today versus the longer-term risk of causing downstream consequences, that could end up having even greater harms than the virus itself. So every country chose a slightly different balance.”

Finding that balance is challenging when there’s no successful model in place. And at the same time, governments are looking to avoid situations like this.

Steven Hoffman, Professor of Global Health, Law and Political Science: “Really shocking backlash from people against the government action, which really does highlight that we can’t assume that all people are going to be supportive of these actions, even if they are in the best interest of public health, because people have to go to work and put food on the table.

And indeed in the UK when they tried something more akin to the Scandinavian model, citizens freaked out, forced the UK government to pursue a similar strategy as to what Canada had been doing.”

Only time will tell which countries approach worked best so that next time a pandemic hits, others can follow their lead.

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1. During the covid-19 pandemic, all nations of the world imposed strict lockdowns. True or false? What have these lockdowns consisted of?

2. Is Sweden inherently vulnerable to the coronavirus epidemic? Has everyday life there been completely normal?

3. New Zealand did the opposite of what Sweden had done. Is this right or wrong?

4. Was it easy or difficult for New Zealand to impose travel restrictions?

5. Do both countries have comparable rates of infections and mortality?

6. Is there a single, workable, perfect solution to the pandemic?

7. All people favor New Zealand’s approach. Is this correct or incorrect?


A. Has your region or country dealt with the covid-19 epidemic similarly to that of Sweden, New Zealand or in-between?

B. Have there been endless discussions, debates, arguments and controversy regarding the coronavirus?

C. What may be the best way to contain and eliminate covid-19?

D. What might happen in the future?

E. The coronavirus outbreak has been entirely, 100% negative for everyone. What do you think?

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