(CNN) – The impact of Covid-19 on global viability has been devastating.
Well over a year into the pandemic, ongoing health crises, border closures and lockdowns continue to affect millions of people worldwide.
But some destinations have fared much better than others in controlling the virus, meaning those living there were able to get back to some of normal life fairly early.
Auckland came out on top of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index over 140 cities around the world thanks to its success in quickly containing the pandemic, making it possible to lift restrictions early.
Down Under dominance
Perth was one of four Australian cities in the top 10.
Paul Kane / Getty Images
Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane came in third, sixth and 10th place respectively, while Melbourne teamed up with Switzerland’s Geneva at number eight.
“New Zealand’s hard lockdown allowed their communities to reopen and allowed citizens of cities like Auckland and Wellington to enjoy a lifestyle similar to pre-pandemic life.”
Meanwhile, Tokyo was not the only Japanese city near the top of the list. Osaka, which finished fourth in 2019, has moved up to second place.
Although cities in Asia and the Pacific seem to have excelled, Canada, which had three cities, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto close to the top two years ago, has completely dropped out of the top 10. As number 16, Vancouver is the highest Canadian city on the list.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the overall global average viability score has dropped by seven points compared to pre-pandemic figures.
The index takes into account more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors, spanning five broad categories: stability (25%), health care (20%), culture and environment (25%), education (10%) and infrastructure (20%). .
While the categories were not changed this year, a number of indicators, such as stress on health resources and limitations of local sporting events, were taken into account when calculating scores for the categories health, culture and environment and education.
However, the way each city handled the pandemic, how quickly vaccines were rolled out, and the level of border restrictions that were introduced have led to major changes in rankings.
The Japanese city of Osaka has sprung up in two places and is now ranked as the second most populous city in the world.
Buddhika Weerasinghe / Getty Images
“The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on global viability,” Dutt adds. “Cities around the world are now much less habitable than they were before the pandemic began, and we have seen regions like Europe have been hit particularly hard.”
In Europe, Germany saw the biggest falls in the rankings, especially the city of Hamburg, which dropped 34 places to 47th on the list.
Overall health results have also declined due to the pandemic, where the Czech Republic’s Prague, Greece’s Athens and Indonesia’s Jakarta, where the number of cases increased at the time the survey was conducted, scored significantly lower than in previous years.
By comparison, the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid performed well in the health category, gaining almost 25 points due to their health systems experiencing less strain compared to the early wave of Covid-19 in 2020.
Austria’s Vienna, which was number one for two years in a row, has dropped to 12th place.
JOE KLAMAR / AFP via Getty Images
But while there have been many significant differences towards the top, very little has changed at the bottom of the list.
While Damascus again sits in last place “as the effects of the civil war in Syria continue to take their toll”, it is closely followed by Nigeria’s Lagos, Papua New Guinea’s Port Moresby and Bangladesh’s Dhaka, all of which were in either similar or identical locations in 2019.
These cities have consistently performed poorly over the years due to instability caused by ongoing civil unrest and military conflicts, among other issues.
According to the report, conditions here have deteriorated further over the last 12 months, especially when it comes to healthcare due to Covid-19.
Although successful vaccination roll-out and easing of restrictions in various countries have created hope, the pandemic continues to rage, with India currently in the midst of a deadly outbreak.
“Conditions in the poorest cities are likely to worsen further if cities do not get the vaccines they need to prevent the spread of new Covid-19 variants,” the report reads. “Weak health systems can come under greater strain, as they have done in India.”
This ultimately means that we are likely to see more significant changes to the annual list in 2022, where some of the cities that have fallen may regain their previous positions.
“The pace of viability recovery in most regions will be determined by how effectively the pandemic’s health risks can be managed through a combination of vaccination, testing, tracing and quarantine,” the report continues.
“The exclusion of huge setbacks, such as the emergence of vaccine-resistant varieties, needs to improve the score for culture and the environment.”
The world’s most populous cities 2021
1. Auckland, New Zealand
2. Osaka, Japan
3. Adelaide, Australia
4. Wellington, New Zealand
4. Tokyo, Japan
6. Perth, Australia
7. Zurich, Switzerland
8. Geneva, Switzerland
8. Melbourne, Australia
10. Brisbane, Australia
The world’s least habitable cities 2021
1. Damascus, Syria
2. Lagos, Nigeria
3. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
4. Dhaka, Bangladesh
5. Algiers, Algeria
6. Tripoli, Libya
7. Karachi, Pakistan
8. Harare, Zimbabwe
9. Douala, Cameroon
10. Caracas, Venezuela