New Zealand’s health minister resigns after coronavirus criticism

New Zealand ‘s troubled Health Minister resigned Thursday after security slip-ups at quarantine facilities where the coronavirus was identified just days after officials announced it had been eliminated from the country. David Clark was also under fire for violating strict lockdown laws just a year ago, taking his family on a beach trip and driving on a mountain bike track.

“It has become increasingly clear to me that my continuation in the role is distracting from the government’s overall response to COVID-19 and the global pandemic,” Clark said at a news conference in Wellington. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who had previously dismissed demands for Clark to be sacked, citing his critical position in the country’s response to the pandemic, said she accepted.

The country still has no known cases of community transmission, but there are 22 active cases at the border through returning New Zealanders. Ardern appointed Education Minister Chris Hipkins as interim health minister until the September election, after which she said she would consider a permanent replacement.