New Zealand Health Minister David Clark has resigned after being at the center of criticism since the confinement by COVID-19 was skipped last April and despite his successful management against the pandemic, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern.
“Unfortunately, it was still a distraction to our response (against the virus) and it was something that could not be sustained,” Ardern told journalists in Wellington, referring to the minister’s resignation.
Clark, who has admitted to violating confinement twice and suspected a third, had already resigned three months ago after publicly acknowledging a family outing 20 kilometers from his home on April 7 to visit a beach and which coincided with the highest level of alertness in the nation and under strict mandatory isolation.
However, at that time, when the most critical stage of the pandemic was being fought, the Prime Minister rejected Clark’s resignation to continue the fight.
The resigning minister, who during confinement also admitted to having taken a bike ride and is accused of moving from home during the weeks of high alert, will be replaced by Chris Hipkin, hitherto Minister of Education.
New Zealand, whose government has been applauded globally for its prompt response to the pandemic, currently records only 22 active COVID-19 cases, after confirming a total of 1,178 infected, including 22 deceased.
In his resignation statement, Clark says the time is now “right” for his resignation as the country is in “a stable stage with no evidence of community transmission” of the virus, the latest positives of which have been identified in arriving people from abroad.