WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s health minister, David Clark, resigned on Thursday (Jul 2) following recent slip-ups in the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and personal mistakes.
“It has become increasingly clear to me that my continuation in the role is distracting for the government’s overall response to COVID-19 and the global pandemic,” he said in a news conference in parliament.
“I take full responsibility for decisions made and taken during my time as Minister of Health,” the New Zealand Herald also reported Clark as saying.
Clark said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had accepted his resignation.
“David has come to the conclusion his presence in the role is creating an unhelpful distraction from the government’s ongoing response to COVID-19 and wider health reforms,” Ardern was reported as saying by the New Zealand Herald.
New Zealand earlier lifted all COVID-19 measures on Jun 8, after its one remaining COVID-19 patient at the time was regarded as recovered and released from isolation.
But a 24-day run with no new COVID-19 infections was broken on Jun 16 when it emerged two women who recently arrived from Britain were allowed out of quarantine early without being tested for the virus, even though one had mild symptoms.
Ardern said then that the infected persons should never have been allowed to leave quarantine.
“This represents an unacceptable failure of the system,” she said. “We require not one but two tests to be undertaken at those facilities … it did not, and there are no excuses.”
The New Zealand Herald reported that Clark was demoted in April after driving his family 20km to a beach to go for a walk in the first weekend of New Zealand’s lockdown.