World

NZ PM hits back at Trump for 'patently wrong' claims about cases

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hit back yesterday against US President Donald Trump for saying her country is experiencing a "big surge" in Covid-19, calling the remarks "patently wrong".

Mr Trump sparked uproar in New Zealand when he told a crowd in Minnesota that the South Pacific country of five million people was in the grip of a "terrible" upsurge in Covid-19 cases, having earlier succeeded in eliminating the disease.

Thirteen new infections were confirmed in New Zealand yesterday, taking the country's total number of cases since the pandemic began to 1,293, with 22 deaths.

This compares with the US tally of more than 5.2 million cases and 170,000 deaths.

"You see what's going on in New Zealand?" Mr Trump said.

"They beat it, they beat it, it was like front page they beat it ... because they wanted to show me something.

"The problem is ... big surge in New Zealand, you know it's terrible. We don't want that."

Ms Ardern said there was no comparison between New Zealand's handful of new cases a day and the "tens of thousands" reported in the US.

"I think anyone who's following Covid and its transmission globally will quite easily see that New Zealand's nine cases in a day does not compare to the United States' tens of thousands, and in fact does not compare to most countries in the world," she told reporters.

"Obviously it's patently wrong," she said.

"We are still one of the best-performing countries in the world when it comes to Covid ... our workers are focused on keeping it that way."

The origin of the latest outbreak is still unknown, but authorities yesterday ruled out frozen food items or freight.

Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, with a population of 1.7 million, is on lockdown until Aug 26.

Meanwhile, Australia yesterday recorded its lowest one-day rise in infections in a month, buoying hopes that a stringent lockdown inVictoria state has prevented a fresh wave of cases nationally.

It said it has detected 226 new infections in 24 hours, the lowest since July 18 when 212 cases were recorded.

The national figure is well below the more than 700 infections detected in a single day earlier this month, almost all of which were in Victoria. - REUTERS

WORLD