Across the world, more than ever people are looking for strong, inspiring leadership. Three incredible Prime Ministers are demonstrating particularly heartening excellent resolve during this pandemic. Oh, and they just happen to be women.
Erna Solberg, PM of Norway
Who’d have thought to throw a press conference for kids? Only in Norway it appears. Earlier this week, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg decided to hold a press conference on the coronavirus just for kids and children’s media.
“It has been special days … Many children think it is scary, but it is OK to be scared when so many things happen at the same time,” Solberg reassured her audience.
Her office released a statement prior to the conference, explaining that, “…many children have questions about the coronavirus. This is why the government is organising a separate press conference for children.”
What a great idea. ‘It’s okay to be scared’: Norway PM holds children-only COVID-19 press conference. Answered questions like: ‘can I have a birthday party?’, ‘can I visit my grandparents after I went to a shopping centre?’, and ’what can I do to help?’.https://t.co/ePjMafCWcl
— Julia Baird (@bairdjulia) March 17, 2020
As well as those children present, questions also came in through children’s television program NRK Super and children’s newspaper Aftenposten Junior. Here are some of questions asked by the kids:
‘Can I have a birthday party?’ (To which the Prime Minister replied “If somebody has a birthday in the class, everybody should ring them and sing happy birthday!”)
‘Can I visit my grandparents after I went to a shopping centre?’
‘How long does it take to make a vaccine?’
‘What can I do to help?’ (The Prime Minster responded: ““By being home, you are helping other people not to be contaminated and get sick. It is important for those who already have a disease or who are very old,”)
On Monday, Norway shut its ports and airports as reported cases rose beyond 1,077.
Great initiative by @ErnaSolberg, Prime Minister of #Norway! Educating children and responding to their questions on #COVID19 can help reduce their anxiety and address their uncertainty during this difficult time. #coronavirus https://t.co/QjgziauJmX
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 16, 2020
As global economies press their hands on the open wound that’s hurting business and the financial security or citizens New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern announced a special COVID 19 financial plan package on Tuesday to reduce the forthcoming recession caused by the pandemic.
Arden spoke to media after the announcement, saying they had ‘gone hard with our health response. Now we’re going hard with our financial assistance.”
“Be strong. But be kind. We will be OK.” That was @jacindaardern's message to New Zealanders, as her Government announced a $12.1b relief package. Read more: https://t.co/Q12beF5UXa pic.twitter.com/4lt7KwUquA
— 1 NEWS (@1NewsNZ) March 17, 2020
The package includes wage guarantees, tax relief, welfare provisions and aviation bailouts and totals $NZ12.1 billion ($11.98 billion).
Sharing the stage at the press conference post-announcement was Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who said a recession in his country is now “almost certain.”
“We are receiving advice that the shock will be ever larger than that seen during the global financial crisis,” he said. “This will affect every part of our economy, now and for some time to come.”
$500 million will be dedicated to supporting the health care system, $8.9 billion will be directed towards businesses and jobs, and up to $100 million for worker redeployment support.
Forward-planning. Quick action.
On Wednesday morning Ardern followed Norway’s lead and held a press conference just for kids, along with two medical doctors. The video is to be shared soon.
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Kids ask a lot of questions most of the time, and right now they understandably have plenty about COVID-19. That’s why we put on a press conference just for children and their questions. I had Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Dr Michelle Dickinson along to help. We’ll pop the video up soon – I hope it will be a useful resource to help answer some of the questions from the young people in your life.
Sanna Marin, PM of Finland
Drastic action has also been called by the world’s youngest head of state, Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland, who said in a press conference that borders are expected to be closed from Thursday onwards. Her government also took immediate control of the country’s reserves of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, thereby using a fast track option of the Emergency Powers Act to make such decisions.
Finland have land borders with Russia, Sweden and Norway and has a population of just under 5.6 million. It was announced that passenger railway traffic between Finland and Russia (the most common route being between Helsinki and St Petersburg) will end on Wednesday.
Marin’s Interior Minister, Maria Ohisalo, used the press conference to also announce that the country will begin restricting traffic over its borders on Thursday in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
“Goods and cargo transports will continue across all borders. Indispensable work-related travelling will still be possible and continues within EU borders,” Minister Ohisalo said.
The country has so far totalled 319 coronavirus cases, and zero deaths.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Marin told reporters, “The emergency powers act won’t be discussed by the government on Monday. But we’re prepared for everything.”
“Even though more difficult times lie ahead, Finland and Finns will overcome this,” she said. “Our health care professionals are highly skilled and our authorities reliable. The society is working. Now every one of us must think about our fellow citizens and their well-being even more than usual.”