Jacinda Ardern says she’s lost all sense of taste after contracting Covid and misses flavour of cheese rolls

As a tradition Ardern shares cheese rolls with the finance minister for breakfast on Budget day

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 19 May 2022 16:18
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Jacinda Ardern says she's lost all sense of taste after contracting Covid

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said she’s lost her sense of taste after contracting Covid.

Mr Ardern comments came during a virtual Budget day breakfast session on Thursday with finance minister Grant Robertson.

As a tradition on this day, Ms Ardern usually gifts minister Grant Robertson a tie and they eat cheese rolls for breakfast, something done remotely via Instagram livestream this time.

The prime minister on Saturday announced she had tested positive for Covid and said she was disappointed to miss important political announcements over the coming week, including the release of the government’s annual Budget.

“I wasn’t going to let Covid get in the way of this tradition,” she said.

Ms Ardern said her cheese rolls – a South Island delicacy made with cheddar cheese and powdered soup rolled inside a slice of bread – were delivered to her house but she had forgotten them in the oven and they had become “a little on the beige side”.

“They are going to taste just as good, but you know what – I am not gonna know, because I have lost all my taste,” she could be heard telling the finance minister.

Mr Robertson encouraged her by saying: “Enjoy your cheese roll, think about the texture rather than the taste on this occasion.”

Ms Ardern, who is fully vaccinated, has been isolating at her Wellington residence and addressed the parliament via a video link.

“My virtual presence in the debating chamber is obviously not to my preference on such a significant day,” she said.

Under the country’s Covid rules, a person must isolate for seven days if somebody in their household tests positive. Ms Ardern earlier said she returned a weak positive rapid antigen test on Friday night and then a strong positive test on Saturday morning.

The prime minister’s three-year-old daughter Neve had tested positive for the virus on Wednesday. “Despite best efforts, unfortunately, I’ve joined the rest of my family and have tested positive for Covid-19,” Ms Ardern wrote.

“To anyone else out there, isolating or dealing with Covid, I hope you take good care of yourselves!”

The Pacific nation shut its borders for nearly two years and imposed one of the strictest lockdowns globally to contain the spread of Covid. Although the tough restrictions initially worked in successfully halting the spread of the virus, the Omicron variant wreaked havoc this year.

With a rise in cases and a high vaccination rate, the county eventually abandoned its Covid-zero policy and reopened its international borders.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the government said it would hand out 350 New Zealand dollars (£179) over three months starting from August to more than 2 million lower-income adults to help them overcome the “the peak of the global inflation storm”.

The cash handout was announced as a part of a $1bn set of temporary measures, which included reductions to petrol taxes and half-price public transport.

According to a treasury report, unemployment would hit a low of 3.1 per cent in 2022 before rising to 4.7 per cent by 2026. The inflation rate, which is at a 30-year-high of 6.9 per cent would fall to 2.2 per cent in the next four years, the forecast suggested.

“Our economy has come through the Covid-19 shock better than almost anywhere else in the world,” the prime minister said in a statement.

“But as the pandemic subsides, other challenges both long-term and more immediate have come to the fore.”

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