Tue. Aug 11th, 2020

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Coronavirus: New Zealand’s health minister resigns after series of COVID-19 lockdown blunders

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New Zealand’s health minister has resigned after criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and making a series of personal blunders.

David Clark had previously described himself as an “idiot” for flouting the country’s strict lockdown measures.

He twice broke the rules, once by going mountain biking near his home in Dunedin, and again when he drove around 12 miles to the coast to take a walk with his family.

Last week he appeared to blame a top health official for errors on the border where some returning New Zealanders were allowed to leave quarantine without being tested for COVID-19.

Announcing his resignation, he said continuing in the role was “distracting” from the government’s fight against coronavirus, but he would remain in parliament as a backbencher.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern accepted his decision, saying it was “essential our health leadership has the confidence of the New Zealand public”.

She had in April refused calls to sack Mr Clark, citing his critical role in the country’s response to the crisis, and instead demoted him to the bottom of the cabinet rankings.

The PM has been widely praised for her leadership and frankness during the pandemic, which has seen 22 deaths in the country and more than 1,500 cases by Thursday evening.

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