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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has tested positive for Covid-19 but said she still plans to travel to the U.S. later this month for a trade trip and to give the commencement speech at Harvard University, as per AP report.

This comes following New Zealand this year experiencing its first major outbreak as the omicron variant has rapidly spread. Jacinda Ardern on Saturday took to Instagram to post a photo of her positive test result on Instagram and said she was disappointed to miss several important political announcements over the coming week, including the release of the government's annual budget and a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I’m gutted to miss being there in person, but will be staying in close touch with the team and sharing some reckons from here," she wrote.

Ardern, who is fully vaccinated, had been isolating at her Wellington residence since Sunday after her fiancé Clarke Gayford tested positive for the virus. Under New Zealand's health rules, people must isolate for seven days if somebody in their household tests positive.

Ardern said she returned a weak positive rapid antigen test on Friday night and then a strong positive test on Saturday morning.

She also disclosed that the couple's 3-year-old daughter, Neve, had tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.

“Despite best efforts, unfortunately I’ve joined the rest of my family and have tested positive for Covid 19," Ardern wrote.

She said that “To anyone else out there, isolating or dealing with Covid, I hope you take good care of yourselves!"

In her post, Ardern didn't describe her symptoms, although her office said in a statement she began experiencing symptoms on Friday.

Notably, Ardern is the latest in a long list of world leaders to contract the virus. Among the first and most serious cases was British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized for a week in April 2020 before vaccines were available.

When the pandemic began, New Zealand closed its borders and imposed strict lockdowns that enabled it to entirely eliminate several outbreaks of the virus and continue life much as normal. But as outbreaks proved harder to contain and most of the population got vaccinated, the country eventually abandoned its Covid-zero policy.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, New Zealand had announced that it will reopen its borders to tourists from all countries by July, allow back cruise ships and make it easier for skilled workers to immigrate as it looks outward to the world again following the Covid-19 pandemic, the government said.

New Zealand imposed some of the world’s strictest border controls when Covid-19 first hit more than two years ago. That allowed the nation of 5 million to eliminate several virus outbreaks and get vaccination rates up before the omicron variant swept through this year.

New Zealand's coronavirus death toll has remained far below that of almost every other developed nation. But as the pandemic has dragged on, New Zealand's border measures have increasingly appeared outdated as other countries have reopened.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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