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Jacinda Ardern says Trump’s comments on coronavirus in New Zealand are ‘patently wrong’

Country's death rate per 100,000 people is one of the world's lowest

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 18 August 2020 09:14 BST
Coronavirus in numbers

Jacinda Ardern has hit out at Donald Trump‘s claim New Zealand is experiencing a “big surge” in coronavirus cases, calling it “patently wrong”.

Her comments came after the US president told a crowd in Minnesota that New Zealand was suffering a spike in the number of infections, which he called “terrible”.

The country reported 13 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday.

Ms Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister, said she did not think there was “any comparison” with her country's ”current cluster” and the US’s daily tally of infections.

“Obviously every country is experiencing its own fight with Covid-19, it is a tricky virus but not one where we would compare New Zealand’s current status to the US,” she said.

Mr Trump, whose country has seen more than 5.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and around 170,000 deaths, asked the Minnesota crowd: “You see what’s going on in New Zealand?”

“They beat it, they beat it, it was like front page they beat it... because they wanted to show me something,” the US president said. “The problem is... big surge in New Zealand, you know it’s terrible. We don’t want that.”

The total number of coronavirus cases in New Zealand stood at 1,293 on Tuesday, while the national death toll remained at 22.

The country, which has a population of around five million people, recently reported its first domestic coronavirus cases in more than 100 days.

“I think anyone who’s following Covid and its transmission globally will quite easily see that New Zealand’s nine cases in a day (figures for Monday) does not compare to the United States’ tens of thousands, and in fact does not compare to most countries in the world,” Ms Ardern said.

“I’m not concerned about people misinterpreting our status,” she added.

“Obviously it’s patently wrong,” she said of Trump’s comments.

“We are still one of the best-performing countries in the world when it comes to Covid... our workers are focused on keeping it that way.”

New Zealand’s death rate per 100,000 people, at about 0.44, is one of the lowest in the world thanks to strict lockdowns enforced early in the pandemic.

The US has a death rate of 5.21 per 100,000 - one of the highest globally.

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, was placed back into lockdown last week over the new coronavirus cases.

The measures – which included shutting public venues and tight restrictions on movement – have now been extended until late August.

On Monday, Ms Arden said national elections would be delayed by four weeks due to Auckland's outbreak.

Additional reporting by agencies

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