Efficient mass testing, contact tracing New Zealand’s secret in containing COVID-19, says Filipino-Kiwi parliamentarian

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 25) – The first Filipino-Kiwi member of the New Zealand Parliament disclosed that the island nation's success in curbing the spread of the coronavirus can be attributed to the government's efficient mass testing and contact tracing.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Final Word with Rico Hizon on Thursday, Paulo Garcia also underscored New Zealand’s geographical location and demography as contributing factors in keeping COVID-19 cases under control n a country located at the southern tip of the world.

Garcia said to win the battle against the invisible enemy, people have important responsibilities to follow isolation and physical distancing rules like what the Kiwis or the people of New Zealand have been doing.

“Our population density is very low," he said. "For example in Wellington (capital), 900 persons per square kilometer is our population density compared to Manila which is around 42,000 persons per square kilometer."

“It’s not easy because of the population density in the Philippines," he noted, "but there must be self-responsibility not to break the rules."

The Fil-Kiwi parliament member recalled how New Zealand immediately closed all of its borders in early March, and implemented a total lockdown for only four weeks to avert the spread of the disease.

“You can only go out to go to the grocery and everything was done very carefully with social distancing,” Garcia said.

He also lauded New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for convincing the five million Kiwis to unite in doing self-isolation during the pandemic.

“The Prime Minister would give daily accounts of what was happening which kept everyone informed, so everyone followed that strict isolation rule,” Garcia emphasized.

To date, New Zealand has 1,169 COVID-19 cases, with 22 deaths and 1,134 recoveries.