‘High-risk activity’: Ardern advises hospital visitors against sex with patients during Covid

New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern may have kept her cool through a global pandemic, but a question about a patient and a visitor having sex at an Auckland hospital had the typically unflappable leader struggling to contain her expressions.

Ardern and the director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield were giving their daily Covid-19 press conference, when a reporter asked them whether an allegation involving a patient and visitor who had “sexual relations” at Auckland hospital was considered a “high-risk activity, in the current climate”.

As the question was asked, Ardern’s face rapidly shifted through expressions, from disturbed, to exasperated, to bemused.

Dr Bloomfield responded to the question first with a smile: “I think it is a high-risk activity, potentially, however I don’t know any of the details about that interaction.”

Ardern followed up with: “I would say, generalmente, regardless of the Covid status, that kind of thing shouldn’t generally be part of visiting hours, I would have thought.”

The allegation comes as the Auckland district health board faced criticism for allowing hundreds of visitors to see patients a day, despite a strict city-wide lockdown in place to help stamp out an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.

The daily Covid-19 updates have provided New Zealand with news of case numbers, vaccines and more, but has also proved fertile ground for the occasional gaffe. The Covid-19 minister, Chris Hipkins, made headlines last month, after he encouraged the public to socially distance when they “spread their legs”.

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