Trump Slams 'Terrible' Virus Surge in NZ, PM Pushes Back

Jacinda Ardern takes US president to task for his description of her country's recent outbreak
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2020 9:19 AM CDT
NZ Prime Minister on Trump's Virus Slam: 'Patently Wrong'
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces a new date for national elections during a news conference in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday.   (Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald via AP)

President Trump called out New Zealand this week for its sudden mysterious uptick in COVID-19 cases, and now the country's prime minister is pushing back on his wording. At a Monday rally in Minnesota, Trump pointed out the country's recent outbreak, noting that nations held up globally as models for getting the coronavirus under control are now "having a big surge ... they were holding up names of countries and now they’re saying 'whoops!'" He called the New Zealand outbreak "terrible" and continued: "Do you see what's happening in New Zealand? They beat it, they beat it, it was like front-page news because they wanted to show me something." Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who on Monday postponed her country's election by a month after Auckland recorded nine new cases—the nation now has 90 active cases, per the Sydney Morning Herald—took Trump to task Tuesday.

"Obviously it's patently wrong," she said of Trump's description, calling New Zealand "one of the best-performing countries in the world" in how it's managed the virus, per Reuters. "I think anyone who's following COVID and its transmission globally will quite easily see that New Zealand's nine cases in a day does not compare to the United States' tens of thousands, and in fact does not compare to most countries in the world." New Zealand, with a population of 5 million, has had just 22 deaths from the virus, with about 1,650 cases overall and a death rate of 0.44 per 100,000 people. The US, on the other hand, with its 328 million residents, has passed 170,000 deaths and has had more than 5.4 million cases, with a death rate of 5.21 per 100,000. It's not yet clear what brought about the latest New Zealand outbreak. (Read more Jacinda Ardern stories.)

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