5 politicians praised for their Covid-19 response: Jacinda Ardern to Katrín Jakobsdóttir, here are top picks
The top picks of world leaders in terms of handling the crisis prove that the pandemic's consequences were dealt with significantly and systematically better in nations led by women
The global pandemic has been hard on everyone across the globe – even on world leaders. While we are still dealing with the uncertainties of it, there are certain lessons that we can learn from this crisis. One of the important lessons to be learnt is the response of a leader to a largely unknown crisis. For some, difficult situations bring out the best in them. Here are our pick of five politicians who rose to the occasion and have been lauded for their Covid-19 responses. The top picks of the world leaders in terms of handling the crisis prove that the pandemic's consequences were dealt with significantly and systematically better in nations led by women as no male politician feature in the list.
1. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, New Zealand
Recently, Jacinda Arden won a second term as New Zealand's Prime Minister. Her successful handling of the country's coronavirus crisis is being credited for her landslide victory. In her speech, reports CNN, she said, “Tonight, New Zealand has shown the Labour Party its greatest support in at least 50 years. And I can promise you: we will be a party that governs for every New Zealander.” The CNN report also notes that her “go hard and go early” approach has helped New Zealand avoid the overwhelming outbreaks which were noticed in other parts of the world. It was one of the first countries to close its borders, and Ardern announced a nationwide lockdown in March when it only had 102 cases. The country has reported fewer than 2,000 total cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic began. Also, New Zealand achieved another milestone in August; it was reported that no cases had developed via community transmission in 100 days.
2. Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Germany
As reported by Vox, Chancellor Angela Merkel in her March 18 speech to the German people said, “The coronavirus is currently dramatically changing our lives. Our understanding of normality, of public life, of social togetherness — all this is being tested as never before.” She urged people to work together to keep each other safe. She said, “I firmly believe that we will manage this task if all citizens see it as their task. This is serious. Take it seriously.”
In May, Merkel announced plans of gradual opening, reported CNN. That time, the report noted, Germany had around 167,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and about 6,993 deaths. The report also stated that the country was believed to have responded efficiently to the pandemic, supposedly due to its large-scale coronavirus testing capacity. That time she had said, “The first phase of the pandemic is behind us but we are still at the beginning and it will be with us for a long time.” Merkel also added, “We can afford a bit of courage,” but cautioned, “we have to watch that this thing does not slip out of our hands”. But, recently, it was reported that a second wave may have started in Europe. Merkel said that she and leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed on tougher restrictions. “We are already in a phase of exponential growth, the daily numbers show that,” she said, according to Reuters.
3. Tsai Ing-wen, President, Taiwan
Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen fast response in starting the country’s central epidemic command centre in early January and introducing travel restrictions and quarantine measures were reasons for the country to handle the pandemic well as compared to others. The introduction of mass public hygiene measures, including disinfecting public areas and buildings, also helped, reports The Guardian. According to The Guardian, Tsai’s warm, authoritative style has won her plaudits, even from political opponents. Currently, according to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, Taiwan has around 548 confirmed cases and has reported about seven deaths.
Tsai had written an article on how they handled Covid-19 for Time magazine in April 2020. There she mentions, “Upon the discovery of the first infected person in Taiwan on Jan 21, we undertook rigorous investigative efforts to track travel and contact history for every patient, helping to isolate and contain the contagion before a mass community outbreak was possible.” She added, “In addition to the tireless efforts of our public-health professionals, spearheaded by Health Minister Chen Shih-chung, our informed citizens have done their part. Private businesses, franchises and apartment communities have initiated body-temperature monitoring and disinfection steps that have supplemented government efforts in public spaces.”
4. Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister, Denmark
One of Denmark’s youngest Prime Minister, Mette was appreciated for her clear and realistic approach to the crisis. As reported by Marie Claire, she closed the borders in early March. Following that, she closed kindergartens, schools and universities and banned gatherings of more than 10 people. The August report stated, at that time, the country's death toll stood at less than 250, with the number of patients being treated declining daily. She even posted a video of her washing dishes while singing along to 80's pop group Dodo and the Dodos during the nation's weekly TV lockdown singalong. However, with a sudden surge in cases again, she introduced new restrictions. She made wearing mask mandatory and limited gatherings to maximum 10 people. She appealed to people and said, “I'm asking you — once again — for us to get through this crisis, this time during the autumn.” She also stated that the government will “initiate further compensation packages for business and extend existing ones".
5. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister, Iceland
The Iceland PM recently spoke to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius about the handling of Covid-19. According to the article, Iceland has been widely applauded for its effective response to the pandemic. It continues to have some of the lowest deaths per capita. During her when asked what she was doing to address the surge that is happening, she said they have introduced harsher restrictions, not a lockdown – 20 person limit and two meters between every person. They have also closed bars. She said cases are going down slowly.
“We are using the same methods as this spring, hoping to be able to go down again and take control of the virus,” she said. When asked what she did and how were they successful, she said, “We have been testing a lot. So, we have a pretty good overview, of how the virus is spreading.” She also spoke about collaborating with a company that has been using sequencing and that “they have been able to trace a lot of the infections.” The PM added that people in the police force has also been working tracing infections. She credits the “mutual trust” in her country – as learning as well as something that helped them in this crisis.
During this interview, earthquake tremors were felt, she said, “Oh my God, there’s an earthquake", before gaining her composer and said: “Well, this is Iceland. Sorry about that." When asked to explain the earthquake she said you often get those in the country but don’t feel them, however, this was big and she was waiting for the news. CNN reported it was a 5.6 magnitude earthquake, 10 kilometers southwest of Hafnarfjordur, a coastal town near the capital of Reykjavík, according to the United States Geological Survey, which measures quakes worldwide. She even tweeted about it. She wrote: “Spoke with @IgnatiusPost about COVID-19 and how we are dealing with the situation here in Iceland. We also spoke about the heart and soul of the Icelandic people. And then we had an earthquake. I hope everyone is feeling good and steady.”
Spoke with @IgnatiusPost about COVID-19 and how we are dealing with the situation here in Iceland. We also spoke about the heart and soul of the Icelandic people. And then we had an earthquake. I hope everyone is feeling good and steady. https://t.co/4JlGEWcQ3T— Katrín Jakobsdóttir (@katrinjak) October 20, 2020