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Covid-19 Policy Watch: How 26 nations are responding to the crisis, in one place

Policy responses around the world are massive in scale and constantly changing. Covid-19 Policy Watch captures it in simple, easy-to-compare form.

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Yesterday New Zealand recorded zero new cases of Covid-19 for the second consecutive day. As almost everyone agrees, that is a tremendous achievement – albeit one that has meant great sacrifice and setback for many people.

The New Zealand government, as with governments everywhere, took the decisions it did after looking to the world. Politicians and health experts and phalanxes of amateurs looked at what had happened and was happening around the globe and designed the response drawing on all that evidence, much of it perplexing and apparently contradictory.

The Covid-19 crisis is the most dramatic and sudden example of what has been called “synchronous failure” in a generation at least. The pace at which we can collect and absorb what is happening across the planet is unprecedented – and government measures, unimaginable just months ago, cascade. Lockdowns, border closures, quarantines, social distancing: almost overnight these otherworldly concepts have become staples of discussion both in policymaking and at the virtual watercooler.

To capture some of this extraordinary moment in policymaking – both in terms of the health measures and the economic rescue packages – the Policy team, who many will be familiar with for their comparison tool at the last general and local elections, have combined with journalists and researchers from around the world to create Covid-19 Policy Watch. This time Policy reinvents the system from those elections to track government responses to the virus the world.

It lays out a chronology of government actions dating back to February. “We hope this can function as a kind of first draft of the history, when analysed in light of the varying pace of the virus’s spread in different countries,” says Policy’s Asher Emanuel.

Covid-19 Policy Watch encompasses 26 countries, which together account for three-quarters of all reported cases. You can look at each country’s actions individually, or compare the decisions side by side across five categories: economy; households; healthcare; movement of people; and government.

It’s a brilliant way, too, to review a timeline of the measures undertaken, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere.

To date the three countries most explored by users are all places widely thought to be “success stories”. They are, in order, Vietnam, New Zealand, and Australia.

The most explored topics are Economy, Movement of People, and Healthcare.

What did these countries do about schools, and when? What lockdowns, if any, were instituted? How strict were they and how and when might they end? What was done to cushion the economic hammer blow?

Explore Covid-19 Policy Watch here.

The countries in full:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Pakistan
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Vietnam

The Spinoff is proud to be the New Zealand partner for Covid-19 Policy Watch



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