A right-wing television host in the US has spread misinformation about New Zealand's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, sharing an old clip of Jacinda Ardern and claiming the Government is "throwing people into quarantine camps".
Laura Ingraham, host of Fox News' The Ingraham Angle, made the claims on her show yesterday, joining a growing number of right-wing pundits overseas who are casting New Zealand's response as a threat to freedom.
"The American left and their media poodles have long held up New Zealand as the model for how to properly deal with a lot of things, including Covid, but anyone who loves freedom should take note because the Kiwis have a terrifying new response to rising Covid case numbers," Ingraham said.
"They're throwing people into quarantine camps."
"No leaving the camp until you're negative," Ingraham adds, putting on a faux New Zealand accent.
To support her claims, Ingraham shared an old Facebook live clip from Jacinda Ardern, originally posted over four months ago.
In that clip, Ardern answers questions from viewers and details the Government's policy of demanding that those in quarantine remain until they return a negative result and enforcing their continued stay if they refuse a test.
What Ingraham calls "quarantine camps" are in fact our managed isolation hotels.
The clip was shared by Ardern in June, after New Zealand had beaten community transmission for the first time on June 8.
It was used by Ingraham to suggest that the policy was new and in response to "rising Covid case numbers".
Covid case numbers in New Zealand have remained low by global standards and our cases of community transmission have been well contained since we successfully fought our first wave earlier this year.
Yesterday, a right-wing British politician has outraged Kiwis online after she likened New Zealand to Nazi Germany in a series of tweets taking aim at Jacinda Ardern and the Government's Covid response.
Suzanne Evans, a former journalist who hopped from the Conservative Party to the UK Independence Party before ditching politics, regularly shares posts critical of using lockdowns to tackle Covid-19.
Yesterday Evans said that "New Zealand now has a fascist government under @jacindaardern. Are you going to act, @amnesty?".
The comment came above a retweet from fellow lockdown critic Bernie Spofforth, who had shared an edited video containing messages from Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Ardern about the policy of moving all positive cases to quarantine facilities and enforcing testing.
That video contained the same Facebook live video as the one shared by Ingraham
The video spliced together a press briefing from Bloomfield and a Facebook live video from Ardern and added graphics and memes.
Kiwis who saw the tweet poured scorn on Evans' critical take, with one mockingly tweeting: "Amnesty, please help us, Jacinda is forcing us to go to Shapeshifter gigs in stunning vineyards".
"It's called quarantine," wrote another.
"You may have heard of it. People have used it for thousands of years to quell the spread of disease."
Another pointed out that, unlike in many countries, Kiwi kids are able to go to school despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Did you also know, in New Zealand under Comrade Jacinda Ardern they send ALL children, even those UNDER FIVE YEARS OLD, to government mandated education camps instead of keeping them at home to be educated via Zoom while their parents work from home? It's horrific."
Kiwi journalist Giovanni Tiso skewered Evans' jab at our democracy, writing: "A fascist government that was re-elected in a landslide".
Others went further.
"Giovanni is lying. Jacinda overthrew the existing government in the great "Battle of Mission Bay" (look it up) she single-handedly killed the opposition leader who was riding a Yak. They had to find two other leaders to battle her but even they couldn't withstand her sorcery."
Dr Jin Russell, a developmental paediatrician and PhD candidate in life course epidemiology at the University of Auckland, took up arms against Spofford's original tweet, dissecting the "misinformation" in a thread of tweets.
Faced with the backlash, Evans doubled down and compared New Zealand to 1930s Nazi Germany.
Kiwis were quick to shrug this nonsense off with some hard-case replies and others criticised Evans' linking our Covid response to the horrors of the Holocaust.
New Zealand's efforts in fighting Covid-19 have been widely praised, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently highlighting the steps New Zealand took to eliminate Covid-19 within the community.
In a four-minute video posted on social media, the WHO details how the country went from its first case of coronavirus, on February 28, to the peak of daily new cases at 89, to successfully eliminating the virus within a matter of months.
The video singles out New Zealand's plan, including the strict lockdown measures, the isolation of any positive cases and close contacts, as well as the country's contact tracing method.
It features footage from the Prime Minister's addresses to the nation, including the level 4 lockdown announcement, as well as interviews with some of the country's top experts, including Bloomfield.
According to the WHO, New Zealand acted quickly and followed the organisation's guidance around isolation and contact tracing, all of which were key in eliminating the virus.
While Covid-19 numbers continue to rise across the world, with many countries seeing big resurgences and recording thousands of daily new cases, breaking grim new records every day, New Zealand continues to tackle small numbers of the virus, with mandatory quarantine for anyone who arrives in the country.