New Zealand went into lockdown 5 days ago after one community case in Auckland. Today, there are around 70 cases in the community, both in Auckland and in Wellington. The whole country is in lockdown and people should stay at home and in their bubble.
Lockdown in Denmark in 2020
Denmark went into lockdown on 14th March in 2020. When PM Mette Frederiksen announced this on 13th March, I was sick having corona together with our twins. I have no idea where I got it but I strongly suspect the gym – it was the time when Danish people got home from their skiing holidays in the Alps and brought the virus to Denmark. Of course the gym was full of active people, who took on skiing holidays – and I was training there at least 3 times a week. But who knows – maybe we got it from a super market. The Viking was in the US on business trip and was due to fly home on the 15th. Luckily he got on the plane and home before it became hard to fly home from overseas.
The beginning of the lockdown for me was easy as I was recovering from Covid-19 and did not feel like being too active or seeing anyone anyway. The twins were very quickly up and running after the infection in few days, for me it took several months before my lungs were back in shape again. However, I was well enough to work from home after 5 days´ sick leave.
Denmark started a slow opening strategy in May but my and Viking´s employers wanted people to work from home if it was possible. The twins had homeschool from mid March for about a month before the lower classes could start (new)normal school again.
Life during the lockdown and restrictions was pretty much working and staying at home, not seeing too many people, all gatherings, parties etc. cancelled, of course. We ended up working from home for 1.5yrs. Just before we moved to New Zealand Denmark was getting rid of the very last restrictions and life was getting back to normal – or new normal with the strategy of co-existing with Covid-19. Today, around 70% of the Danish people are fully vaccinated and despite the daily (close to 1000) infections, they only have around 100 people treated for Covid-19 in the hospital. It seems like they have managed to find a fine balance on how to handle the virus now. However, they have hundreds of daily infections and at the moment more people need hospital treatment. Prime minister has said though, that the Danes should not expect any vast lockdowns in the future.
Lockdown in New Zealand in 2021
We came out of the managed isolation hotel in Auckland at the end of July. On 18th of August New Zealand went on nationwide lockdown after having one infection in community. Now, after 5 days, there are already over 70 infections in the community. All of them are on North Island (Auckland and Wellington), at least so far. They do expect more infections and a longer lockdown at least for Auckland.
When I watched the press conference with Jacinda Ardern I got very vivid flashbacks from Danish press conferences with Mette Frederiksen back in the early 2020. They have similar style. They both are, of course, women, but their style is factual but also compassionate. They state the facts but appeal not only to common sense but also to humanity and ability of caring. We don´t do this only for ourselves but to save our loved ones. Neither of them take any bullshit – they can be tough. But when they speak to the nation, they are convincing and likeable. Denmark was one of the first (if not the very first) countries that went on nationwide lockdown and closed the borders. It worked and they could slowly open up (but it did take a long time).
The curve with the conferences evolved from this in Denmark. Mette Frederiksen started to highlight the importance of getting vaccines into the country. Then, when there were vaccines, she made it clear how important it was for everyone to get vaccinated. She did it well and today, more than 70% of the Danes eligible for the vaccine, is vaccinated. I think this is amazing and very much due to the government´s excellent communication and the Danish people´s trust on Mette Frederiksen and how her government has been and is handling the pandemic. I say this because in my opinion, Danes cannot be forced to do anything. If you want them (as a nation) to do something, the PM must be very good at communicating and appeal to each individual and their own choice. We can see that the majority of the people wants to get vaccinated, so I would say that Mette Frederiksen and her team have succeeded a big time.
I can see Jacinda Ardern having the same approach. She is highlighting the fact that more and more people are booking their vaccine appointments here in New Zealand and she is really making a big thing out of it. Because it is important. I am not a virologist but the vaccine changed the situation in Denmark and I think and/or hope it will do the same for New Zealand. No country can / wants to stay closed forever – do they? I don´t have any political insight to New Zealand but I know that I enjoy following Jacinda Ardern and her team´s press conferences. They (just like the Danish ones) are good communicators, compassionate and likeable. And they can laugh at themselves, too.
Now, they do write here in New Zealand, that at least Auckland will stay in lockdown for some time. I don´t know how many hospital beds and ICU beds they have here. I have read that Denmark increased the capacity for both during the pandemic and therefore can manage those who need hospital care with Covid-19. I don´t know the situation in New Zealand but according to this statistics, they have about the same amount of hospital beds as Denmark. Today they have 5 Covid-19 cases at the hospital, none in ICU. I don´t know if the people will obey the rules in case part of the country opens up (there have not been any cases here on the South Island) and Auckland remains in lockdown. Kiwis were good at holding the front the first time, maybe they are just as good this time? Or maybe the government just keeps the whole country under lockdown a bit longer – we will see. For me the situation feels the same as where we were in Denmark in the beginning of the pandemic. The approach (nationwide lockdown), regular press conferences, active communication from many officials etc. Denmark changed the approach when they got vaccine rates up – I hope New Zealand gets there soon, too. I am optimistic – although there is a long way to go (today, around 1 million kiwis are fully vaccinated. For reference, in Denmark they have 4 Million fully vaccinated today).
How do I feel?
The first lockdown – although a long one – was easy for me. We get along as a family and everybody participates when something has to be done at home. I am not “mom fixes everything” type and although the Viking is a bit like that, I try my best to make sure that we girls help him as much as possible. We had our projects with the garden, sauna and cleaning the house – 1.5yrs went pretty fast.
Now I feel a bit depressed sometimes. We are far away from home and just started our adventure here in New Zealand. Twins´ start at school went beyond expectations and it is such a shame that they needed to stop after only a couple of days at school and getting friends and learning the language. Now they are stuck at home with me and the Viking again. That eats me most. But as they seem to be fine here at home, I am trying to keep positive. And when the sun is shining and we can have our lunch on a balcony and enjoy watching the Pacific, I cannot feel but happy.
The Viking is working from home and he is occupied with that. I am homeschooling the twins and trying to find local places around that we can visit and explore. So far everything has gone fine and there are a lot of places around where we live to explore. But it is the uncertainty that is getting me on my weak moments. How long is this going to last – the delta variant is not the same as the alfa-one that Denmark was dealing with back in 2020. Maybe lockdown is not enough. NSW in Australia is not giving any promising example. The virus is still spreading in Australia despite their long lockdown. And that is why I do understand the NZ approach to act fast and broadly to stop the spread. Nobody wants the situation they have in Australia now, when not enough people are protected by the vaccine.
Well, one day at the time. And at the moment I am the only one in our family feeling a bit low because of the situation. The rest of the family seems to be doing fine – they are Danes, after all (by the way – a post that needs to be written: Danes vs. Finns). So – the Finn I am – I keep quiet, think about my forefathers, including my grandparents, in the war against the Russians and keep telling myself that things could be so much worse and I should just shut up and keep going. And it is true – and we are doing fine. And the big picture is: this lockdown saves lives. So shut up, woman. The biggest difference compared to the last lockdown is that this time I let myself both have and write these feelings – as they are also real.