Jacinda Ardern Slams Trump's 'Patently Wrong' Claim About NZ COVID Cases

by Leah Groth

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern defends her country against Trump’s “patently wrong” claims that they are experiencing a “big surge” of coronavirus cases

In the international battle against COVID-19, New Zealand is one of the countries that effectively controlled the highly infectious and potentially deadly virus. America, on the other hand, has been struggling, with soaring infection rates in some parts of the country. However, at a campaign rally on Monday, President Donald Trump called out New Zealand, claiming they are experiencing a “big surge” of COVID-19 cases, using the South Pacific nation as an example of something “we don’t want.” On Tuesday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promptly responded to Trump’s claims, describing them as being “patently wrong.”

During his rally in Mankato, Minnesota — a day when the island nation reported just nine new infections compared to almost 42,000 in the United States — Trump attempted to tell his supporters that New Zealand may have effectively kept infections down early in the pandemic, but are seriously struggling now.

“The places that they were using to hold up, they’re having a big surge. And I don’t want that, I don’t want that. But they were holding up names of countries, and now they’re saying, ‘Whoops!’ ” Trump told his voters.

“In fact, even New Zealand, do you see what’s going on in New Zealand? 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. So you know, it’s terrible.”

Ardern didn’t waste any time responding to Trump’s claims. “Obviously it’s patently wrong,” she told journalists on Tuesday, per NPR. “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.”

She continued, “I don’t think there’s any comparison between New Zealand’s current cluster and the tens of thousands of cases that are being seen daily in the United States. Obviously, every country is experiencing its own fight with COVID-19. It is a tricky virus, but not one where I would compare New Zealand’s current status to the United States.”

She isn’t wrong. While 170,00 people in the United States have died as a result of the virus — around 52 deaths per 100,000 according to Johns Hopkins University — just 22 lives have been lost in New Zealand, averaging 0.45 deaths per 100,00 residents.

USA Today also points out that at least 407 American counties reported at least 14 new cases Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University data, with five counties reporting more than 14 deaths. Three of those — Florida’s Miami-Dade and Broward, and Missouri’s St. Louis counties — reported more deaths Monday alone than New Zealand has reported in its entire encounter with coronavirus.

According to a recent study, countries led by women — including Germany and New Zealand — are faring better in the war against coronavirus than those led by men. Researchers found that these countries with women at the helm suffered half as many COVID-19 deaths on average as those headed by men, which may be attributed to proactive policies, including earlier lockdown measures.

“Our results clearly indicate that women leaders reacted more quickly and decisively in the face of potential fatalities”, said Professor Supriya Garikipati, one of the authors of the research, explained. “While this may have longer-term economic implications, it has certainly helped these countries to save lives, as evidenced by the significantly lower number of deaths in these countries.”