New Zealand’s most senior public health official has refused to respond to questions on using bleach injections to fight Covid-19, deploying silence and slow blinks to communicate his feelings instead.
Public health officials around the world have rejected Donald Trump’s musings last week on whether injecting disinfectant could help fight the virus, as highly dangerous.
New Zealand’s director general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, has been widely lauded for his cool, calm leadership during the crisis, with the country now moving into an “elimination” phase of response to Covid-19. So far 1,400 people have been infected with the virus and 19 have died.
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Asked for his opinion on Trump’s bleach suggestion, Bloomfield – usually quick to respond and articulate – fell silent, blinking slowly at the reporter three before turning to prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
“I don’t think I need to comment on that prime minister,” Bloomfield said, sighing slightly.
“No,” Ardern responded. “I think we’ll let your silence speak for itself”
Pressed again for a clear message warning Kiwis not to inject bleach, Dr Bloomfield found his voice: “Absolutely under no circumstances should they [New Zealanders] think of doing that,” he said.
Ardern added that there had been no reports of New Zealanders injecting themselves with bleach.
“So that suggests to me that no New Zealander has listened to or given any credence to that suggestion.”
Bloomfield has won many fans throughout the month-long lockdown for his fact-heavy, no-nonsense approach to the crisis. On Monday the prime minister publicly thanked him for his efforts, saying he had offered clear guidance and reassurance for Kiwis at their time of greatest need.