New Zealand’s top health official stepped down today following a relatively minor scandal that shows the enormous difference in how the UK and other wealthy countries are dealing with the covid-19 pandemic.
New Zealand’s health minister, Dr David Clark (pictured above next to Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern), announced his resignation after he mistakenly allowed two visitors from Britain – women who later tested positive for covid-19 – to travel within the country to attend a funeral last month. It's a stark contrast to, say, Dominic Cummings getting off scot-free for endangering numerous people with his London-Durham trip.
“It has become increasingly clear to me that my continuation in the role is distracting from the government’s overall response to covid-19 and the global pandemic,” Clark said at a press conference in Wellington that was livestreamed on YouTube.
Two British sisters in their 30s and 40s landed in New Zealand in early June to visit a sick parent and were in the country’s 14-day quarantine – now required for all international visitors – when that parent died. The travellers applied for a special exemption to get out of quarantine and attend the funeral, which was granted by the Health Department before they could be tested for covid-19. When they eventually got sick and tested positive after the funeral, the lack of proper oversight turned into a national scandal in New Zealand.
New Zealand has identified just 1,530 cases and 22 deaths from covid-19 and has now eradicated the disease, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, while the UK has seen almost 315,000 cases and nearly 44,000 deaths.
Featured image: Phil Walter (Getty Images)