PM prepares for "COVID election" as NZ marks 100 days of no community spread
AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand has now gone 100 days with no detected community spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health confirmed in an emailed statement Sunday.
Why It Matters: New Zealanders are going to the polls on Sept. 19. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been widely praised for her leadership that saw NZ lock down hard for several weeks before all domestic restrictions were lifted in June. She sees her government's response to and recovery from the coronavirus outbreak as key to her Labour Party being re-elected.
"When people ask, is this a Covid election, my answer is yes, it is."— Ardern's news briefing remarks
- Ardern announced at a briefing Saturday that Labour's re-election campaign that is heavily focused on continuing with the economic recovery, pledging NZ$311 million ($205.32m) for a "Flexi-wage" subsidy scheme to help businesses give jobs to some 40,000 Kiwis.
The big picture: Labour is well ahead in the polls of its nearest rival, the National Party, led by Judith Collins. But conservative Collins told RNZ Saturday she's still confident of winning under her party's platform "Strong team, More Jobs, Better Economy."
- Collins is the third leader to be appointed by the National Party this year.
By the numbers: New Zealand has 23 active coronavirus cases. All are NZ residents newly returned from abroad, who are staying in managed isolation facilities.
Of note: The border remains closed to non-residents and all newly returned Kiwis must undergo a two-week isolation program managed by the country's defense force. All travelers tested three times before they leave.
- Police are stationed outside hotels where travelers are in quarantine. Officers have taken prosecutorial action against several returned travelers who've breached these rules by fleeing the facilities under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act.
By the numbers: "Of the 36,000 people who have stayed in managed isolation facilities since they were opened, eight are before the court in relation to absconding," a New Zealand Police spokesperson told Axios.
Flashback: New Zealand beats coronavirus
Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from police.