New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a press conference at parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, June 8, 2020. Ardern says she did a little dance when she found out that there was no longer any active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. (AAP Image/Daniel Hicks) NO ARCHIVING

NZ PM temple visit post misleads on COVID-19 claim

AAP FactCheck August 18, 2020

The Statement

A Facebook post claims that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared New Zealand COVID-19 free during a visit to a Hindu temple  in August.

The post, which features a video of Ms Ardern visiting the Radha Krishna Mandir in Auckland, carries a translated caption that states: “New Zealand’s PM went to Hindu temple after declaring the country Corona Covid 19 free”.

The post has been shared more than 300 times and generated more than 740 reactions.

A Facebook post
 A Facebook post claims PM Jacinda Ardern visited a Hindu temple after declaring NZ COVID-19 free. 

The Analysis

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did visit the Hindu temple Radha Krishna Mandir in Auckland on August 6, where she participated in prayers and enjoyed an Indian meal. The temple’s video of her visit has been viewed on Facebook more than 2.6 million times.

The visit was also attended by India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand, Muktesh Pardeshi, who posted pictures of the event on his Twitter account. However, the caption on the Facebook post is incorrect in stating Ms Ardern visited the temple after declaring New Zealand COVID-19 free.

On June 8, Ms Ardern announced (video mark 20min36sec) NZ had “no active cases” of COVID-19 for the first time since February 28. On August 6, the date of the prime minister’s visit, NZ’s Ministry of Health reported no new cases of COVID-19 and that it had been 97 days since the last one. Three days later, NZ marked 100 days “since the last case of COVID-19 was acquired locally”, a situation that held until August 11, when four new cases of community transmission were reported in South Auckland.

AAP FactCheck sought comment from the NZ prime minister’s office regarding the post’s claims but received no reply at the time of publication. However, a spokesperson for the Radha Krishna Mandir confirmed to AAP FactCheck that the NZ prime minister did visit the temple on August 6.

Versions of the Facebook post have been debunked here, here and here.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
┬áOn June 8, PM Jacinda Ardern announced NZ had “no active cases” of COVID-19.┬á

The Verdict

Based on the evidence, AAP FactCheck found the claims in the Facebook post to be false. The post’s caption incorrectly states Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared New Zealand free of COVID-19 during a visit to a temple in Auckland on August 6. Ms Ardern announced on June 8 there were no COVID-19 cases in NZ.

False – The primary claim of the content is factually inaccurate.

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