N. Zealand PM contracts Covid during election campaign
WELLINGTON, Oct 1, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on Sunday that he had contracted Covid-19, testing positive at a key point in his flailing campaign for re-election.
Hipkins said on his official social media feed that he would need to isolate for up to five days -- less than two weeks before his country's general election.
The leader of the centre-left Labour Party said he started to experience cold symptoms on Saturday and had cancelled most of his weekend engagements.
"Bugger! After a rough night I woke up this morning feeling pretty unwell and just got this test result," he said in an Instagram post, accompanied by a photograph of a rapid antigen test.
"I'm in close contact with New Zealanders on the campaign trail and I don't want to pass it on to anyone, so I'll be following the guidance and isolating for a few days or until I get a negative test.
"I'll try to keep up as many campaign engagements remotely as I can."
Hipkins succeeded former leader Jacinda Ardern in January, and his grounding comes as Labour lags in political polling.
Just 27 percent of respondents in a poll this week said they would vote for Labour, while the centre-right National Party, led by Christopher Luxon, had 37 percent support.
Polling numbers ahead of the October 14 election are increasingly showing National is on track to form a coalition government with minor parties.