New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern fired back at President Donald Trump on Tuesday after he said her country is experiencing a “big surge” in coronavirus cases and compared the situation there to that of the United States.
During a campaign rally in Mankato, Minnesota, on Monday the president said that despite claiming to have succeeded in wiping out the disease, the South Pacific country of 5 million people was in fact in the grip of a “terrible” upsurge in COVID-19 cases.
“You see what’s going on in New Zealand?” Trump said at the rally. “They beat it, they beat it, it was like front page they beat it … because they wanted to show me something. The problem is … big surge in New Zealand, you know, it’s terrible. We don’t want that.”
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Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Ardern called Trump’s remarks “patently wrong.”
“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,” she said.
Authorities in New Zealand confirmed 13 new infections on Tuesday, taking its total number of cases since the pandemic began earlier this year to about 1,300, with 22 deaths. This compares to more than 5.4 million cases and 170,000 deaths in the USA, according to John Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard.
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New Zealand has a case fatality rate of 1.7%, according to Our World In Data, a statistical website affiliated with researchers at the University of Oxford. The case fatality rate is the number of confirmed deaths divided by the number of confirmed cases. By comparison, the USA has a case fatality rate of 3.1%, according to Our World In Data.
Until last week, New Zealand had passed 100 days without any new coronavirus cases.
The discovery of a cluster of new cases linked to several members of the same family prompted the government to extend a lockdown in Auckland, a city with 1.7 million residents, until Aug. 26. Social distancing rules are in place in other towns and cities.
Ardern has also postponed New Zealand’s general election, scheduled for Sept, 9, for about a month to give authorities time to fight the new outbreak and so that campaigning by political parties is not impacted. That move followed calls from leaders of other parties, including the deputy leader of Ardern’s ruling coalition, to delay the vote.
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