Samoa's early response praised in N.Z. Parliament

A New Zealand National Party politician has used Samoa’s early response to the coronavirus [COVID-19] global pandemic to criticise her government, saying it didn’t act fast enough to prevent the virus entering the country.

National Party M.P., Judith Collins, speaking during general debate in the New Zealand Parliament recently, said the Jacinda Ardern-led government was slow to react to the threat of the COVID-19 unlike Samoa.

“We went so hard and fast as a country, did we, that we let in all these cases of COVID-19? So this is not a home-grown issue; it was allowed into the country," she said. 

"We closed the borders as a country weeks after Samoa closed its borders and stopped all COVID-19. They tested people coming into the country, into Samoa.

"They did not let them in if they showed any symptoms of COVID-19. How come little Samoa, with 200,000 people, could react far better around border security than New Zealand with five million people how come?

“We didn't go hard and fast. We went slow, and then we went hard as soon as it became apparent that the borders had been well and truly breached and that the Government had allowed this to happen.”

She added that the global pandemic is now a crisis of confidence and not just a public health issue.

“It's not a crisis of health in this country anymore; it's a crisis of confidence. A crisis of confidence in the business community and in people who are employed.”

Ms. Collins then acknowledged the contribution of New Zealand’s private sector to the overall COVID-19 effort, and made specific mention of firms that kept their staff on the payroll and did not lay off workers.

“I would like to acknowledge all the people in business who have kept paying the wages, who have kept paying their rent, who have kept their employees employed, and who are not sacking their staff or making them redundant when it is no fault of the business and no fault of the employee that they are in this situation,” she said.

The recording of over 1,000 new applicants who have applied for jobseeker benefit was also not lost on Ms Collins.

“And we recall that not all people who are made redundant or unemployed can receive that benefit or even apply if they have a partner who is earning and they're over the limits for it,” she said.

According to America's Johns Hopkins University, New Zealand has 1,515 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths with two new cases recorded in the last 48 hours.

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