Updated: Sep 1, 2020
My name is David Strachan. I am the Director of N to Z International Student Programme Limited (N to Z), Kiwiland High School's partner organisation in New Zealand.
This blog is written from my point of view. It is written to inform, not to provide advice or guidance.
In this blog, I will bring to your attention many of the ways COVID-19 has affected New Zealand over the last couple of months, and I will add updates and stories of interest as things change. I will look into the New Zealand timeline, how international students in New Zealand were affected, how things changed for those living in New Zealand, and I will provide updates on developments in areas such as visa applications and border restrictions.
The first entry will focus on the timeline up to 8 June when the New Zealand government removed the last of the restrictions on its citizens.
In December 2019, perhaps earlier, COVID-19 surfaced in Wuhan City, central China. It wasn't identified as a novel strain of the coronavirus until early January 2020. By then the virus had started to spread.
On 24 January the New Zealand Government set up a team to monitor the developing world situation. The next day 3 cases were confirmed in Australia.
On 3 February the New Zealand government placed entry restrictions on foreign nationals travelling from or transiting through China. Those who were allowed to enter were required to self isolate for 14 days.
On 11 February the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the virus COVID-19.
On 28 February New Zealand reported its first case of COVID-19.
Early March saw the number of COVID-19 cases in New Zealand steadily beginning to grow.
11 March 2020 the WHO declared a global pandemic.
Until 14 March only those entering from known COVID-19 hot spots were required to self isolate for 14 days on arrival in New Zealand. 15 March saw all arrivals to New Zealand required to self isolate for 14 days on arrival - except arrivals from the Pacific Islands.
19 March New Zealand closed its borders to all but New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. Soon after this the New Zealand government introduced a 4 level COVID-19 alert system https://uniteforrecovery.govt.nz/covid-19/covid-19-alert-system/alert-system-overview/ and told the country it was now at alert level 2.
23 March New Zealand moved to level 3, schools closed on 24 March, 11.59pm 25 March the whole of New Zealand went into self-isolation. The idea: to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.
26 March New Zealand streets are deserted and there are 283 active cases of COVID-19. The following day the total jumps to 368.
29 March was a very sad day for New Zealand as it reported its first COVID-19 related death.
By 5 April New Zealand had more than 1,000 reported cases.
By 7 April New Zealand had completed more than 40,000 tests. 2 days later New Zealand recorded its lowest number of newly reported cases since early March, 29. By 19 April reported cases had dropped into the single digits - 9 on both 19 and 20 April.
With new case numbers staying in the single digits for just over a week, New Zealand moved to level 3 at 11.59pm on 27 April. With cases staying in the low single digits New Zealand moved to level 2 at 11.59pm 13 May. After 18 days of no new cases, New Zealand moved to level 1 at 11.59pm 8 June.
To date, New Zealand's total case numbers have reached 1433. 22 people have died and as of 9 June, there are no active cases.
We know that this is just the beginning. Case numbers continue to increase worldwide and we expect to see further cases in New Zealand in the future, although we hope we will remain COVID-19 free.
9 June: Our borders remain closed.
Compared to many countries in the world we have been very lucky. We hope that in the coming weeks and months COVID-19 is brought under control worldwide. Right now it is hard to imagine what the world will look like in the coming months. However, when our borders open to international students again, we will continue to provide care and support on the ground in New Zealand to all our partners' students.
The next entry will focus on the period as we moved into lockdown, especially how it affected international students; those who returned home, those who stayed and the challenges faced during the lockdown.