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The Corona Lessons: Learning from New Zealand's Fight Against Coronavirus
New Zealand, with a population some five million, has only had 1,499 coronavirus infections and 21 deaths. That makes it a global standout performer in combatting the virus. It owes its success to early and strict intervention. On 15 May, with no new infections in the past 72 hours, New Zealand’s government further eased restriction, allowing the country to return to a situation resembling normality. In this Corona Lesson, two of New Zealand’s top officials in the fight against coronavirus will discuss the country’s approach.
- Sarah Stuart-Black, Deputy Chief Executive and Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, New Zealand National Emergency Management Agency
- John Walsh, Director, Communications Director – COVID-19 Response, Government of New Zealand
Sarah Stuart-Black is the Deputy Chief Executive and holds the statutory role of Director Civil Defence Emergency Management in New Zealand’s new National Emergency Management Agency, which was established on 1 December 2019. Sarah was appointed the Executive Director of the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management in December 2014. She joined the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management in 2003 and has held a number of different roles during her time with the Ministry. Sarah has had a diverse range of experience within New Zealand and England, as well as Ethiopia, Niue and the Solomon Islands. She was a member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination Team for nine years and has represented New Zealand at a variety of international forums, bilateral, regional and global meetings, exercises and forums. Sarah has published a number of papers in international journals and has co-edited three books.
John Walsh is Director, Readiness and Response Services at New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries. He is responsible for overseeing the preparedness for and operational management of biosecurity responses in New Zealand (unwanted pests and diseases impacting agricultural and horticultural industries, the natural environment and human health), as well as food safety responses and responses to adverse natural events as they impact on rural communities. Prior to that John was Communications Director for the Ministry of Primary Industries, taking on that role in 2014. He was previously General Manager of one of New Zealand’s largest public relations agencies. Since mid-March 2020, John has been the Communications Director for the New Zealand All of Government response to COVID-19.