Coronavirus: New Zealand minister resigns after lockdown blunders
New Zealand's health minister has resigned after criticism of the government's response to coronavirus and his own breaches of lockdown rules.
David Clark had already been demoted after breaking rules to take his family to the beach.
He said continuing in his role was distracting from the government's overall response to the pandemic.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed on Thursday that she had accepted his resignation.
New Zealand has been hailed as a success story when it comes to tackling the coronavirus.
The country has recorded 1,528 confirmed or probable coronavirus cases and 22 people have died. Last month, all Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and the nation was declared virus free.
However the country's handling of border and isolation facilities has recently come under fire. In one case, two people were allowed to leave isolation early to visit a dying parent without being tested for the virus. They were later confirmed to have Covid-19.
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Mr Clark said: "I take full responsibility for decisions made and taken during my time as Minister of Health."
He said that now was the appropriate time to move on, with no evidence of community transmission in the country.
Mr Clark was already under pressure following several breaches of lockdown rules. In April, he was demoted after driving his family 20km (12 miles) to the beach during the first weekend of lockdown.
He also went mountain biking during the lockdown, however this was not as clear a breach of the rules as driving to the beach, the New Zealand Herald said.
He previously offered his resignation but was kept in his role because of the ongoing crisis.
Ms Ardern agreed with Mr Clark's decision to resign and said it was "essential our health leadership has the confidence of the New Zealand public".
Education Minister Chris Hipkins will take charge of the health department until the country's election in September.
Coronavirus: Australian minister resigns after visiting holiday home during lockdown
n Australian minister has resigned after breaching the country’s ban on non-essential travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
Don Harwin, the New South Wales arts minister, was caught relocating to his holiday home on the Central Coast and subsequently fined 1000 Australian dollars (£508), with NSW Police commissioner Mick Fuller saying that no-one was above the law.
The politician argued he had travelled to his second home before the imposition of the nationwide travel ban, but has since announced his resignation.
“Today I have offered my resignation to the Premier as a Minister in her government,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“There is nothing more important than the work of the Government in fighting the coronavirus crisis.
“I know however that perception is just as important during these times,” he added.
“The Premier and her team are doing an outstanding job during the biggest crisis our state and nation have faced during our lifetimes.
“It is absolutely vital they should be able to focus entirely on the health and economic issues facing our community.”
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian later announced that she had accepted the resignation, while praising the public for their “sacrifices” amid the nationwide lockdown.
Irish Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary resigns for attending golf dinner
Irish Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary has resigned after attending a golf dinner with more than 80 people.
Wednesday's Irish parliamentary golf society event at a County Galway hotel came a day after Dublin announced a tightening of lockdown restrictions.
Dara Calleary had been in post for a month; he replaced Barry Cowen who was sacked after a drink-driving scandal.
The Irish PM accepted the resignation, saying Mr Calleary's behaviour "was wrong and an error of judgement".
Gardaí (Irish police) are now investigating the event for possible breaches of Covid-19 regulations.
Others present at the event included the former Fine Gael minister and EU Commissioner, Phil Hogan, the Supreme Court judge Séamus Woulfe, Fine Gael senator Jerry Buttimer and the Independent TD (MP) Noel Grealish.
Mr Buttimer, also resigned as Leas-Chathaoirleach (deputy chairman of the Irish senate) on Friday morning and apologised unreservedly for attending the event, which he said was "an unintended but serious lapse of judgement".
Neil Ferguson: UK coronavirus adviser resigns after breaking lockdown rules
Key expert in coronavirus response resigns from Sage after admitting ‘error of judgment’
Prof Neil Ferguson, the epidemiologist whose modelling helped shape Britain’s coronavirus lockdown strategy, has quit as a government adviser after flouting the rules by receiving visits from his lover at his home.
Ferguson runs the group of scientists at Imperial College London whose projections helped persuade ministers of the need to impose stringent physical distancing rules, or risk the NHS being overwhelmed.
In a statement on Tuesday, he said he was resigning his post on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), over an “error of judgment”.
The Daily Telegraph revealed that Antonia Staats had crossed London from her family home to visit him on at least two occasions since lockdown measures were imposed, on 30 March and 8 April. Friends told the newspaper that Staats did not believe their actions to be hypocritical because she considered the households to be one.
The visits clearly contravene the government’s “stay at home, save lives” message, which urges people to remain within their family groups and not mix with members of other households.
“I accept I made an error of judgment and took the wrong course of action. I have therefore stepped back from my involvement in Sage,” Ferguson said. “I acted in the belief that I was immune, having tested positive for coronavirus, and completely isolated myself for almost two weeks after developing symptoms.
“I deeply regret any undermining of the clear messages around the continued need for social distancing to control this devastating epidemic. The government guidance is unequivocal, and is there to protect all of us.”
Government advisers have repeatedly warned the public against meetings with members of other households. The deputy chief medical officer for England, Jenny Harries, when asked whether partners living separately could visit each other, said on 24 March: “If the two halves of a couple are currently in separate households, ideally they should stay in those households.”
She added: “The alternative might be that, for quite a significant period going forwards, they should test the strength of their relationship and decide whether one wishes to be permanently resident in another household.”
Ferguson had become a familiar figure in media interviews during the lockdown, helping to explain the scientific rationale for government decision-making. He contracted the virus in mid-March, apparently after attending meetings in Westminster.
“Sigh. Developed a slight dry but persistent cough yesterday and self-isolated even though I felt fine. Then developed high fever at 4am today. There is a lot of Covid-19 in Westminster,” he tweeted on 18 March.