New Zealand has become a benchmark in the fight against the pandemic and allowed its citizens to resume normal habits in 2019, but a survey published by Massey University released this month showed that the country does not has still failed to escape the negative impacts of the health crisis.
The Pacific island nation has experienced increasing inequality, job losses, especially among ethnic minorities, and deteriorating mental health of its people.
The country of 5 million people has imposed rigid blocs and social detachment rules that have virtually eliminated the virus, totaling around 2,200 cases and 26 deaths. Since June of last year, for example, only four deaths have been recorded.
The survey, which interviewed 1,083 New Zealanders between February 15 and March 6, found that 46% said they or a family member had trouble sleeping because of the pandemic – in June and July of last year, that figure was 43%. About 40% continue to say they feel depressed.
“As one of the few countries in the world that has returned to ‘normal’, we expected mental health to improve,” said Jagadish Thaker, professor at the School of Communication, Journalism and marketing from Massey University of Wellington, which published the report.
“But our research shows that a substantial proportion of the public still struggle with economic and mental health issues.”
Today, the country is going through what economists call a “K” recovery, in which inequalities increase with the richest and largest companies winning and workers and small businesses getting poorer. In New Zealand, the situation is made worse by rising house prices and the scarcity of housing.
One in five people who took part in the survey said that they or a family member had lost income from a job or business, while almost one in nine said they or a family member lost their job or applied for unemployment insurance.
The survey also found that the poorest ethnic minorities were disproportionately affected, with Asian, Maori and Pasifika groups two to three times more likely to lose their jobs.
“These results suggest that the government [da primeira-ministra Jacinda Ardern] it should strengthen policies aimed at supporting the individuals and communities most affected by Covid-19, “Thaker said. The findings not only underscore the long-term impact of the pandemic on people’s lives, but raise concerns concerning other countries suffering from a more serious crisis.
New Zealand will present its annual budget on May 20, which is expected to focus on the fight against Covid-19 and its impact on people and the economy.