Ardern rebuffs Trump’s claim of ‘big surge’ of COVID-19 in New Zealand

Sydney, Australia, Aug 18 (efe-epa).- The prime minister of New Zealand and government coalition party leaders on Tuesday rebuffed her the United States’ president’s claim that the South Pacific country was experiencing a “big surge” of COVID-19 cases.

Donald Trump on Monday referred to New Zealand having more than 60 active COVID-19 cases since last week after going more than 100 days without local transmission.

“Now all of a sudden a lot of the places that (the Democrats) were using to hold up, they’re having a big surge, and I don’t want that, I don’t want that, but they were holding up names of countries and now they’re saying, ‘Whoops,’” Trump told a crowd in Mankato, Minnesota.

“Even New Zealand, you see what’s going on in New Zealand? They beat it, they beat it. It was like front page (news). They beat it because they wanted to show me something,” he added. “The problem is, big surge in New Zealand.”

The New Zealand prime minister responded Tuesday to her US counterpart.

“Obviously I don’t think there is any comparison between New Zealand’s current cluster and the tens of thousands of cases seen daily in the United States,” Ardern told reporters.

“New Zealand’s nine cases in a day (Monday) does not compare to the United States’ tens of thousands, and in fact does not compare to most countries in the world,” she added.

Leader of the coalition’s New Zealand First party and deputy prime minister Winston Peters said “the American people can work out that what we have for a whole day, they have every 22 seconds of the day. That speaks for itself.”

James Shaw, leader of the other coalition partner, the Green Party, said Trump’s comparison was “absurd.”

“We know by now to take everything that Donald Trump says with an enormous grain of salt,” he said.

New Zealand has been fighting a cluster outbreak of COVID-19 in the city of Auckland – the most populous in the country and whose 1.7 million residents are in lockdown until Aug. 26 – since last week after four members of the same family tested positive.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the country has recorded 1,293 cases, including 22 deaths, in contrast to the 5.44 million cases in the US, including some 170,000 deaths.

On Tuesday New Zealand reported an increase of 13 cases – 12 linked to the cluster and one case of a maintenance worker in a quarantine center – while the United States reported about 42,000 infections on Monday.

The Ardern government in March subjected all residents to one of the strictest lockdowns in the world when it had registered just 50 cases, which allowed it to return to normal practice in June, although the outbreak it has placed new a confinement on Auckland and social restrictions in the rest of the country. EFE-EPA


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