New Zealand COVID-19 haunts Jacinda Ardern’s US trip

COVID-19 haunts Jacinda Ardern’s US trip

jacinda ardern white house
Jacinda Ardern met US Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer last week. Photo: Getty
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Jacinda Ardern’s team say their trip to the White House remains on track despite two senior members of the New Zealand Prime Minister’s staff catching COVID-19 in the US.

Top diplomat Chris Seed and Ms Ardern’s chief press secretary Andrew Campbell have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

The pair are isolating in San Francisco while Ms Ardern and her travelling entourage head back to Washington DC.

“The rest of the delegation is currently in air and en route to Washington DC. They produced negative RATs prior to leaving this morning. No one else in the delegation is currently symptomatic,” a spokesperson for Ms Ardern said.

“The New Zealand embassy in Washington DC is in contact with the White House, but there is no change to meeting arrangements at this stage.”

Ms Ardern’s bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden, and a separate meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, are scheduled for Wednesday (AEDT).

The US trip – Ms Ardern’s second in as many months following the re-opening of New Zealand’s borders – has been revised several times due to COVID-19.

Ms Ardern caught the virus earlier this month, which required her to wait in Wellington while the rest of the travelling party headed over without her.

The tortured itinerary has run thus; Los Angeles – New York – Washington DC – Cambridge – San Francisco – Seattle – San Francisco – Washington DC.

On Ms Ardern’s prior trip last month, to Singapore and Japan, three members of a travelling business delegation caught COVID-19 and also had to isolate in place.