N.Zealand PM contracts Covid during election campaign

01 Oct 2023 10:00am


Wellington - 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. - AFP

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