New Zealand Health Minister Resigns, Citing Distraction to Covid Fight
Jacinda Adern, New Zealand’s prime minister, left, speaks as Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s director general of health, listens during a news conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photographer: Mark Coote/Bloomberg)

New Zealand Health Minister Resigns, Citing Distraction to Covid Fight

New Zealand’s Health Minister David Clark has resigned, saying his remaining in the role would be a distraction from the government’s successful response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s essential our health leadership has the confidence of the New Zealand public,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement Thursday in Wellington. She named Education Minister Chris Hipkins to handle the health portfolio until September’s general election.

New Zealand Health Minister Resigns, Citing Distraction to Covid Fight

Clark came under pressure after twice breaching the nation’s strict lockdown rules by traveling outside his local area to exercise. He offered to resign at the time, but Ardern retained him, saying it wouldn’t be appropriate to change ministers while the pandemic was raging.

“The prime minister made it clear at the time that under normal circumstances she would have accepted that resignation, but she did not want significant disruption to the health system in the middle of the emergency response,” Clark told reporters today.

“It has become increasingly clear to me that my continuation in the role is detracting from the government’s overall response to the Covid-19 global pandemic,” he said. “We have now shifted to a more stable footing with no evidence of community transmission with the focus shifting to containing the virus at the border, it is appropriate for me to move on.”

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