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Jacinda Ardern from New Zealand tests positive for coronavirus


Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister who has led the island nation through the pandemic, has tested positive for coronavirus, her office said on Saturday.

Ms Ardern has had moderate symptoms since Friday evening, her office said, adding that she has been in isolation since her partner, Clarke Gayford, tested positive last Sunday.

Ms Ardern will be required to self-isolate until the morning of May 21 and will not be in Parliament this week for the publication of an emissions reduction plan on Monday or the budget on Thursday, according to her cabinet.

“This is a landmark week for the government and I am disgusted that I cannot be here for it,” Ms Ardern said in the statement. “Our emissions reduction plan charts the course to achieve our zero carbon goal and the budget addresses the long-term future and security of New Zealand’s healthcare system.”

The positive test will not “at this stage” affect a trade mission to the United States scheduled for later this month, his office said. Ms Ardern is also due to deliver a commencement address at Harvard on May 26, according to the university.

New Zealand maintained some of the toughest coronavirus restrictions in the world, particularly on international travel, in a bid to keep the pandemic that was sweeping the rest of the world at bay. And it was largely successful, until an outbreak of the highly infectious Omicron variant took hold this spring.

But by the time Omicron arrived, the country was well protected. The vaccination rate in New Zealand is high: 83% of the total population is fully vaccinated. Coronavirus cases have remained stable for the past two weeks, and the population of five million averages around 7,600 daily new cases and less than 14 daily deaths.

With New Zealanders growing unhappy with pandemic restrictions, the country recently relaxed its Covid-19 rules. Earlier this month, travelers from around the world flocked to the island nation after it began admitting visitors from more than 60 countries for the first time in two years. New Zealand reopened to tourists from its nearest neighbor Australia in April.

nytimes Gt

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