Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has thanked Aucklanders and indirectly chided Donald Trump as she considers whether to ease restrictions in New Zealand’s biggest city.
Health officials reported nine new cases of COVID-19 in Auckland on Friday, an upswing from five on Thursday.
There were also two new positive tests from international arrivals staying in the country’s managed isolation regime.
To the American president, speaking at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania, that handful of cases constituted another “big surge”.
“They had a massive breakout yesterday,” he said.
“New Zealand, New Zealand it’s over for New Zealand! Everything’s gone. It’s all over. They’re beautiful.”
The diplomatic Ms Ardern, who hails from the other side of politics to Mr Trump’s right-wing Republican Party, has avoided criticising the American president during her overlapping three years as PM.
In a briefing on Friday, she compared New Zealand’s case numbers to one country’s – the US – to make her point.
“New Zealand is among a small number of countries that still has a low rate of COVID-19 cases and one of the lowest death rates in the world,” she said.
“For example, the United States has 16,563 cases per million people. We have 269 cases per million people.
“Today in New Zealand we’re talking 11 cases whereas the United States is dealing with over 40,000 cases.
“Our approach has been different to other countries but it’s an approach I think we can all feel very proud of”.
The Auckland outbreak now numbers 87 people, includes six schools and four churches.
Ms Ardern said the city’s lockdown effectively “circled” the virus.
“We have made good progress,” she said.
“We are where we are because of the efforts of everyone but especially Auckland and especially those who have been tested.
“We would not have got in front of this cluster without them … so thank you, Auckland. You have made a huge difference.”
The NZ cabinet will meet on Monday to decide whether to extend the city’s lockdown beyond a fortnight.