Covid puts the mockers on plans for Ardern and Twyford



Stuff NZ Newspapers


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s much anticipated US trip, to give a commencement address at Harvard, could be in jeopardy after she confirmed she had tested positive to Covid yesterday morning. She had been in isolation since May 8 when her partner Clarke Gayford tested positive. The couple’s daughter, Neve, had also tested positive earlier in the week. Ardern will not be in Parliament this week for the release of the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan tomorrow or for the Budget on Thursday. While Ardern’s office said travel arrangements for her trade mission to the United States are unaffected at this stage, US travel information suggests she could be cutting it fine to deliver the highprofile commencement address at Harvard University on May 26. The trade-focused trip to the United States had been planned for May for some time. The itinerary has not yet been released. Travel recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that non-US citizens should not travel to the US for a full 10 days after symptoms started or the date of a positive test. That would mean Ardern could not travel until May 24. A press statement from Ardern’s office yesterday said she had been symptomatic since Friday evening, returning a weak positive Friday night and a clear positive Saturday using a RAT. At this stage her symptoms are moderate, the statement said, however she will have to isolate until the morning of May 21. Ardern would ‘‘undertake what duties she can remotely’’ but deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will take the post-cabinet press conference on May 16. ‘‘This is a milestone week for the Government and I’m gutted I can’t be there for it,’’ she said. Meanwhile, Labour MP Phil Twyford has also tested positive, forcing him out of a trip to TimorLeste. In a statement, he said he started having symptoms on Friday evening and tested positive on yesterday morning. He was due to travel to Timor-Leste tomorrow, as the minister of state for trade and export growth, to represent New Zealand at Timor-Leste’s 20th anniversary of independence and the inauguration of Dr Jose Ramos-Horta as the country’s next president. New Zealand’s ambassador to Timor-Leste, Philip Hewitt, will attend instead.