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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sour grapes

New Zealand is Covid-free and celebrating. But must it show off?

By: Editorial | New Delhi | June 11, 2020 3:36:34 am
coronavirus free country, New Zealand restrictions, physical distancing, Indian express editorial The fact that it’s showing off now to a comity of nations still struggling to achieve what it has — a Covid-free country, where things have gone back to normal — isn’t helping matters.

There’s always one kid in every class. You know the type: The perfect all-rounder who’s likeable, social, good at sports and aces every exam. Well, New Zealand has taken being the annoying (for the rest) front-bencher to a new level. And the fact that it’s showing off now to a comity of nations still struggling to achieve what it has — a Covid-free country, where things have gone back to normal — isn’t helping matters.

Earlier this week, New Zealand lifted all restrictions, including advisories for physical distancing, as the country has achieved the target of zero active coronavirus cases. What has followed seems almost unbelievable. People are crowding — yes, crowding — into restaurants, bars and shops. There are couples holding hands, the possibility of a date, or hugging a friend you have only seen on a screen for months. And there is a political leadership the people can thank for handling the crisis in a competent manner because it listened to scientists, managed expectations and communicated constantly with the people.

The least people who have it so good can do is not show off. A quiet dinner with friends is acceptable. Parading their victory over the pandemic is too much. After all, Indians have suffered as much — in fact, more — from a strict lockdown. They participated in a 21-day battle to defeat the evil of the virus, a la the Mahabharat. Yet, here, the curve steepens. None of this, of course, is New Zealand’s fault. In fact, its people could turn around and say that their leaders and policymakers should serve as an example. Or they may suggest a zoom call with the extremely accessible and forthright Jacinda Ardern. Or, quite simply, the rest of the world could be told off for having the first truly global case of sour grapes.

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