New Zealand’s Health Minister Calls Himself 'Idiot' for Breaking COVID-19 Lockdown

The development comes after Scotland’s chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood resigned on 5 April, after it transpired that she ignored self-isolation rules and twice went to her second home. Calderwood was the public face of the government campaign urging people to stay at home in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

New Zealand’s Health Minister set a "good" example for Kiwis by breaking national lockdown rules introduced by the government two weeks ago. Dr David Clark drove with his family to a beach, located 20 km from home. Under current lockdown rules car rides are allowed only to buy essential products – food and medications - and people can only leave home to take a stroll or exercise in adjacent areas.

The official called himself an "idiot" and offered his resignation. "At a time when we are asking New Zealanders to make historic sacrifices I’ve let the team down. I understand why people will be angry with me", Clark said in a statement.

The country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did not accept his resignation, but she stripped Clark of the role of associate minister of finance and demoted him to the bottom of the cabinet rankings.

"Under normal conditions, I would sack the minister of health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses. But right now, my priority is our collective fight against COVID-19. We cannot afford massive disruption in the health sector or to our response. For that reason, and that reason alone", Ardern said in a statement.

Local media report that Clark will be sacked after the coronavirus crisis ends. The situation has started to stabilise in recent weeks and the number of new cases has begun to decrease. At the moment, there are 1,160 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and only one person has died from the disease. Experts say that New Zealand may be the first western country to eradicate the infection.



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