Jacinda Ardern under fire for criticising worker for failing to isolate as Auckland enters lockdown


Jacinda Ardern has come under fire after publicly calling out a KFC worker for heading into work instead of self-isolating after coming into contact with Covid-19.

The New Zealand prime minister has been praised for her handling of the pandemic, with the island nation suffering few cases, but there are now fears of a new outbreak.

Auckland has re-entered a Level Three lockdown after a new cluster of 11 cases was identified and Ardern said ‘everyone is angry’ with rule-breakers.

She said: ‘Even with the full understanding of human fallibility, it is not appropriate, and it is not okay for members of a team of five million to let the rest of us down.

‘If there is any question mark right now over there being consequences, you know, those individuals are facing the full judgment of the entire nation. There are consequences, undoubtedly.’ 

Ardern’s criticisms have led to the KFC worker and her family being trolled online.

The government says the family was contacted 15 times telling them to self isolate, but the family dispute that account.  

Jacinda Ardern has come under fire after publicly calling out the sister of a student infected with Covid-19 for going to work at a KFC instead of self-isolating

Average number of new infections in New Zealand over a seven-day period

Average number of new infections in New Zealand over a seven-day period

Her sister tested positive on February 23 after being considered a casual contact of a confirmed case at a high school which is the centre of a cluster of new cases. 

The KFC worker headed into work on February 22 and 23 then also tested positive days later. 

The family has been ridiculed online after Ms Ardern criticised the sister, who claimed she never received instructions to get tested.

Auckland on Sunday entered a week-long Level Three lockdown after the prime minister blamed rule-breakers for causing the city’s latest outbreak. 

‘It’s not fair on our end that we’re getting all this backlash for something that we haven’t actually done,’ the sister – known only as Case L – told Newshub.

‘If they tried to contact us multiple times and send us letters and stuff, where is this evidence.’ 

Case L said Ms Ardern should apologise as her comments were ‘upsetting’.

The under-fire KFC worker was the sister of a student at Papatoetoe High School (pictured), where the south Auckland cluster originated. The family have claimed they never received the order to get tested

The under-fire KFC worker was the sister of a student at Papatoetoe High School (pictured), where the south Auckland cluster originated. The family have claimed they never received the order to get tested

Vehicles wait to enter a temporary testing center for Covid-19 at Papatoetoe High School in Auckland

Vehicles wait to enter a temporary testing center for Covid-19 at Papatoetoe High School in Auckland

Ms Ardern said the family was told via letters on February 17 and 19 they needed to get tested.

On Tuesday, she defended how the government communicated with them – saying the student’s family were contacted 15 times through texts and phone calls telling them to get tested. 

‘I cannot answer whether or not those were received, but certainly you can see attempts were made,’ she said. 

‘I’ll go back to look at what we could have done in addition to that message.

‘In my mind everyone at Papatoetoe High School getting a test felt really clear to me.’ 

MPs have now called on Ms Ardern to release the complete correspondence between the government and the family. 

Authorities are meanwhile searching for Aucklanders who went to a gym on February 26 between 3.25pm and 4.30pm – at the same time an infected 21-year-old visited.

Pictured: A Covid-19 testing station at Papatoetoe High School on February 15. Ms Ardern said the student's family were contacted 15 times by health officials about the need to get tested

Pictured: A Covid-19 testing station at Papatoetoe High School on February 15. Ms Ardern said the student’s family were contacted 15 times by health officials about the need to get tested

Motorists wait to enter a temporary testing center for COVID-19 at Papatoetoe High School in Auckland on February 15

Motorists wait to enter a temporary testing center for COVID-19 at Papatoetoe High School in Auckland on February 15

Checkpoints have been set up along major highways leading into the city which were packed with motorists who spent hours in their cars on Sunday trying to enter Auckland. 

Police told residents to be patient and prepare for ‘significant delays’, but Kiwis described the situation as a ‘mess’ – with some claiming they saw drivers squatting on the side of the road due to a lack of facilities.  

Police had warned motorists they would be stopped and questioned about why they were travelling once they reached a checkpoint.

Pictured: Lines of traffic on a motorway heading in to Auckland in New Zealand after the city was plunged in to Stage Three lockdowns

Pictured: Lines of traffic on a motorway heading in to Auckland in New Zealand after the city was plunged in to Stage Three lockdowns

Pictured: A Google Maps image showing heavy traffic on highways leading in to Auckland on Sunday

Pictured: A Google Maps image showing heavy traffic on highways leading in to Auckland on Sunday

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern (pictured) has announced Auckland will go into lockdown for one week, after just one new local case of Covid-19

The rest of New Zealand faced Level two restrictions from Sunday at 6am. Pictured: Testing station in Auckland on February 15

The rest of New Zealand faced Level two restrictions from Sunday at 6am. Pictured: Testing station in Auckland on February 15

Level Three restrictions mean people are confined to their household bubble or an exclusive extended bubble – which may include close relatives or isolated people. 

People must work from home if possible and businesses must not offer services requiring close personal contact, unless it is an essential service or emergency. 

Public venues are closed but low-risk recreation activities are allowed within bubbles, such as bike riding, swimming or going on a picnic with other household members.  

For the rest of New Zealand under Level Two restrictions, people can socialise in groups of up to 100, shop and travel domestically. 

The cluster is centred around Papatoetoe High School, and the new case, a 21-year-old male, is reportedly the older brother of a student at that school. Pictured: A Covid-19 station set up outside the high school on February 15

The cluster is centred around Papatoetoe High School, and the new case, a 21-year-old male, is reportedly the older brother of a student at that school. Pictured: A Covid-19 station set up outside the high school on February 15

Schools will remain open and groups over 100 are allowed in cinemas, casinos and stadiums as long as groups of 100 and less do not mix with each other. 

Ms Ardern said she was disappointed in those who have not followed the rules and put the community at risk.

‘We do have the ability to take enforcement action if we need to,’ she said adding that people needed to feel comfortable coming forward. 

‘We still need an environment where people will speak up and come forward and be tested.’  

The latest restrictions come after the city of 2million people entered a three-day lockdown on February 15 when three people from one family – a Papatoetoe High School student and her parents – tested positive for Covid-19. 



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