New Zealand demotes minister for coronavirus lockdown breach, extends emergency 1

New Zealand demotes minister for coronavirus lockdown breach, extends emergency


New Zealand Prime Minister Yacinda Arden said on Tuesday that she had rejected the health minister ’s proposal to resign because of violations of the national blockade rules, because doing so would jeopardize plans to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

The Prime Minister said that Minister of Health David Clark drove his family to the beach early in the blockade, ignoring social alienation regulations.

“Under normal conditions I would sack the minister of health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses,” Ardern said in Wellington.

Instead, Ardern said she had demoted Clark to the bottom of cabinet rankings and stripped him of his role as associate finance minister.

“I expect better, and so does New Zealand,” she said.

Clark said in a statement that he used to be “an idiot, and I understand why people are angry with me.”

With a population of nearly 5 million, New Zealand closed schools, restaurants, cafes and gyms in late March, and closed the border with most foreigners, beginning a four-week national blockade.

On Tuesday, it also extended the national emergency for another seven days.

Ashley Bloomfield, director-general of health, at a routine briefing, new daily COVID-19 cases in Pacific countries fell to 54 on Tuesday, the lowest level in nearly two weeks, and the total reached 1,160 cases.

Bloomfield said he expects the number of new coronavirus infections to remain “at the same level” before falling.

New Zealand has reported a new coronavirus-related death.

A total of 65 people recovered from the disease overnight, which is more than the total number of cases reported on Tuesday.

Despite these encouraging signs, officials still urge increased vigilance, especially during the Easter holiday.

“Now is not the time to change any of our behaviours,” Ardern said.

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