Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister who has guided the island nation through the pandemic, has tested positive for the coronavirus, her office said on Saturday.
Ms Ardern has had moderate symptoms since Friday night, her office said, adding that she has been in isolation since her partner Clarke Gayford tested positive last Sunday.
Ms Ardern must isolate herself until the morning of May 21 and will not be in Parliament this week to publish an emissions reduction plan on Monday or the budget on Thursday, her office said.
“This is a milestone week for Government and I am disappointed not to be able to be there,” Ms Ardern said in the statement. “Our emissions reduction plan provides the path to achieve our zero carbon target and the budget addresses the long-term future and security of New Zealand’s healthcare system.”
The positive test will not affect a trade mission to the United States “at this point in time,” which is scheduled later this month, her office said. Ms. Ardern is also scheduled to deliver an inaugural address at Harvard on May 26, according to the university.
New Zealand maintained some of the world’s toughest coronavirus restrictions, particularly on international travel, to contain the pandemic that was sweeping the rest of the world. And it was largely successful until this spring when there was an outbreak of the highly infectious Omicron variant.
But when Omicron arrived, the land was well protected. New Zealand’s vaccination coverage is high: 83 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated. Coronavirus cases have been flat for the past two weeks, and the population of five million is averaging about 7,600 new cases a day and fewer than 14 deaths a day.
With New Zealanders increasingly unhappy with the pandemic restrictions, the country recently eased its Covid-19 rules. Earlier this month, travelers from around the world flocked to the island nation after it welcomed 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.
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