New Zealand’s health minister, David Clark, announced his resignation on Thursday succeeding a series of personal blunders during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier, David Clark described himself as an “idiot” for breaking the nation’s lock-down measures and he also appeared to blame a beloved health official for border lapses last week, this resulted in anger among the public.
Clark said he’d put all his energy into the job. “But it has become increasingly clear to me that my continuation in the role is distracting from the government’s overall response to COVID-19,” he said.
Clark said he intended to remain in the parliament as a lower-ranking lawmaker.
New Zealand’s health response has been praised around the world after the country managed to eliminate community transmission of the virus. But Clark himself has been widely ridiculed.
His latest blunder came last week when he appeared to place the blame for allowing some returning travelers to leave quarantine without being tested with his top official, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.
Bloomfield, who was standing behind Clark while he spoke, seemed upset by the criticism as he was seen frowning and looked away in a video captured by News hub and viewed tens of thousands of times. Bloomfield has been the nation’s trusted medical expert and public face of the virus response.
Many people were angered by Clark’s words, and a Twitter campaign dubbed “Blooms for Bloomfield” was launched to buy flowers for Bloomfield. As hundreds of dollars poured in, Bloomfield asked that the money be donated instead to charities, which it was.
“I’ve been an idiot, and I understand why people will be angry with me,” Clark said at the time. He also earlier acknowledged driving to a park near his home to go mountain biking, also in defiance of the rules.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time she normally would have fired Clark but that the country couldn’t afford massive disruption in its health sector while it was fighting the virus. Clark was cut off from his role as associate finance minister and was demoted to the bottom of the Cabinet rankings by the Prime Minister.
New Zealand’s health minister resigned Thursday following a series of personal blunders during the Coronavirus pandemic.