Unexpected humour in the face of Delta variant
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, while holding her daily press conference along with the nation’s director general of health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, maintained her usual grace under pressure when asked by a member of the media about hospital visitor numbers. But her face told a different story.
The question referred to one visitor in particular — who was said to have had sex with their COVID-hit partner in an Auckland hospital.
The journalist had queried whether this type of behaviour was considered a “high-risk activity, in the current climate” as the city experiences an upturn in Delta case counts and tries to manage the movement of people in and out of the wards during its strict lockdown.
A complaint to the district health board over the hospital’s lax oversight in allowing hundreds of visitors a day spurred the question.
Ardern, having displayed a variety of facial expressions after the journalist’s question about the hospital visitor, quipped: “I would say, generally, regardless of the COVID status, that kind of thing shouldn’t generally be part of visiting hours, I would have thought.”
It wasn’t the first issue to bring levity to the pandemic-focused briefings. Two weeks ago, the country’s COVID response minister slipped up when he urged social distancing practices, but rather than saying people should get outside and “stretch their legs,” he said it would be difficult for people in populous areas to maintain physical distancing when they go outside to “spread their legs.” And, naturally, Twitter lit up with some new hashtags.