New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins struck down with Covid
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins struck with Covid
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has tested positive for Covid-19 and has been forced into virtual campaigning just two weeks before the October 14 election.
He has been the country’s leader since replacing former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who resigned last January.
Hipkins’ campaign team canceled its Sunday morning plans after the Labor leader woke up unwell in Auckland.
A test subsequently revealed he had caught Covid and thrown his plans into disarray at a critical stage of the campaign.
“He has cold and flu symptoms that started yesterday. He will remain in isolation for five days or until he receives a negative test return,” a Prime Minister’s spokesperson said.
Chris Hipkins (right) is pictured with Jacinda Ardern, his predecessor as Prime Minister of New Zealand
“He continues with assignments that he can undertake via Zoom.”
New Zealand no longer has mandatory Covid isolation periods, although Mr Hipkins chooses to do so under recommended health advice.
He summed up his dilemma with the first word of a post on Instagram.
“Bugger!” he said, next to a photo of his Covid test.
‘After a rough night I woke up this morning feeling quite unwell and just got this test result.
‘I am in close contact with New Zealanders on this campaign trail and don’t want to pass it on to anyone, so I will follow the guidance and isolate.
“There is a lot at stake this election and I will work twice as hard if I can go out and make sure Labor is re-elected.”
The 45-year-old’s illness mirrors his Australian Labor counterpart, Anthony Albanese, who caught Covid during his election campaign last year and sat on the sidelines.
The timing could hardly be worse for Mr Hipkins and Labour, which is on average ten points behind the centre-right National Party, led by Chris Luxon.
Labor looked likely to be an election loser for much of the year, but Mr Hipkins was judged a clear winner of last week’s leaders’ debate and campaigned with renewed vigor following that boost.
“The campaign may have started slowly, but I’ve decided I’m going to enjoy it over the last two and a half weeks and so this is the energy level you’ll see from me,” he said. Wednesday after that debate.
‘It’s been a challenging year and it’s probably taken a while for our campaign to get going, but I’m really enjoying it now and I’m going to enjoy the next two and a half weeks to the fullest.’
Hipkins’ momentum will now come to a halt, with deputy leader Carmel Sepuloni set to act in his place for Sunday’s party manifesto launch in Auckland.
Advance voting begins in New Zealand on Monday, with the third leaders’ debate – hosted by Christchurch newspaper The Press – scheduled for Tuesday evening.
Hipkins’ campaign team canceled its Sunday morning plans after the Labor leader woke up unwell in Auckland. He tested positive for Covid-19
Mr Luxon offered kind thoughts to his rival in a social media post on the campaign trail in Auckland.
‘Get well soon Chris Hipkins. I’ll see you on the campaign trail again soon,” Mr. Luxon said.
It is unclear whether the virus has spread far into Labour’s ranks.
One of Hipkins’ press secretaries has also tested positive, as has Rachel Brooking, a Labor MP from Dunedin.