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New Zealand PM Gets Eyebrow-Raising COVID Query

Jacinda Ardern doesn't think COVID patients, or any patients, should have sex in hospital
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2021 7:58 AM CDT

(Newser) – Jacinda Ardern is known for keeping her poker-faced composure in even the most stressful situations, but a question posed at a COVID news conference this week led the New Zealand prime minister through what the Guardian describes as a "full range of emotions." At the presser, a reporter brought up an unconfirmed allegation that a patient at an Auckland hospital had had "sexual relations" with a visitor, then asked Ardern if such relations would be considered a "high-risk activity," considering the pandemic.

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New Zealand's health chief, Ashley Bloomfield, who attended the presser with Ardern, jumped in first. "Well, I think it's a high-risk activity, potentially," Bloomfield noted, laughing. "However, I don't know any of the details about that interaction." Ardern, who was seen making a variety of grimaces and other facial expressions as the question was asked, then weighed in. "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," she said.

The Guardian notes the odd question came against the backdrop of criticism for Auckland's district health board, which has apparently allowed hundreds of people a day to visit loved ones in hospitals, despite the city being under a strict lockdown. It's not the first time New Zealand has found itself embroiled in provocative pandemic-related story: Last month, the nation's coronavirus response minister, Chris Hipkins, took some ribbing for a presser gaffe in which he noted the challenge of people adhering to social distancing and still being able to "spread their legs." (Read more New Zealand stories.)

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