Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield has spoken candidly about how he juggles his public and private lives as he leads the fight against coronavirus.

And the doctor who goes for a run each morning confesses his family - like much of New Zealand - immediately opted for takeaways to celebrate the country's move to alert level 3.

In a live chat with the middle school principal of Wellington's Scots College Matt Allen, Bloomfield talked about how the private school prepared him for his role handling the pandemic.

Malls, cafes, bars, barbers and schools can open under alert level 2, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. Kiwis can expand their bubbles to include friends and family and travel "safely" around the country, Ardern said.

The health chief was a star student at the school, playing first XV rugby and being named dux and head prefect.

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"One of things about my final year at school was that I had a lot of balls I was juggling, so I had to manage my time well and also be able to shift focus really quickly," he says in the video interview, which was recorded at the weekend.

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Speaking from his home in Wellington, he told Allen that his years at Scots were good training for his current routine, having to focus on multiple tasks within a day, as he leads the country's Covid-19 pandemic response.

Ashley Bloomfield described his routine and revealed his level 3 takeaway of choice. Photo / Facebook
Ashley Bloomfield described his routine and revealed his level 3 takeaway of choice. Photo / Facebook

He was at Scots College from year 7 to year 13 and, in his time, took part in a wide range of activities, including being part of the first XV rugby team. He was also in a band and the pipe band, was part of the school production and was the Head Prefect in 1983.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield arrives at a press conference at Parliament. Photo / Getty Images
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield arrives at a press conference at Parliament. Photo / Getty Images

That's where he learnt that "the more you do, the more you can fit into your day".

"That's served me really well in my current role."

Current workload leading Covid response

Bloomfield revealed his days now are "not very typical" but tries to keep some semblance of a routine by getting up around 5:30am and starting his day with a quick run and a "good solid bowl of porridge" before going to work.

He starts work around 7am and spends the first hour checking emails and answering queries before going into a few hours of meetings, which usually take place at the Beehive.

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Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has revealed how he structures his work days. Photo / Getty Images
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has revealed how he structures his work days. Photo / Getty Images

At 11:45am, he meets with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers to prepare for the daily 1pm press conferences.

Most days, around 5:30pm, he has a meeting with the district health board chiefs, then heads home with a pile of work documents which he reads in the evening.

Inside his family bubble

Despite his full on work schedule, he makes sure he takes time to relax with his family bubble.

"I always like to get home for dinner with the family, in my family bubble and finish the day is usually a spa with at least the boys and maybe the whole family just to debrief and connect again," he told the principal.

Bloomfield and his wife Libby have three children, all currently in their bubble. The eldest had just recently started a new engineering job when she was sent to work from home in lockdown. Their middle son studies at Canterbury University and is currently in the family bubble until classes return. The youngest is a Scots College pupil himself.

"It's been a real pleasure to have the whole family back in the bubble," Bloomfield told the school principal.

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He also admitted that, once lockdown lifted, the family got a takeaway curry from their local Indian restaurant.

Bloomfield says he has been in awe of how New Zealanders have handled the pandemic and says it is testament of the Kiwi spirit.

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One of the episodes that stuck in his mind, that showed him how compassionate Kiwis can be, happened early on.

"We had some Kiwis stuck in Wuhan in China where this thing had first started, and with our Foreign Affair colleagues we organised a repatriation flight," he recalled.

Bloomfield's current working day starts at 5.30am and with a run.
Bloomfield's current working day starts at 5.30am and with a run.

At the time, there was less knowledge about how Covid-19 worked and a lot less fear around it. Despite that, Bloomfield says the operations at the airport were "like a work of art".

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He then boarded the bus that took the Kiwis to quarantine at the campground in Whangaparaoa.

"We didn't know much about Covid-19, there was a lot of fear. Some people were very reluctant to have these people near where they were living.

"These people, I talked to some on the bus, they were exhausted, travelling for 16 or 17 hours. There were three or four young guys who had waited for them for til 11 o'clock at night outside the camp with signs saying 'Kia ora, welcome home'. Gosh that just said it all. It set the tone."

"A team of 5 million is what's made it happen," he added.

Up close and personal with Dr Bloomfield

Bloomfield revealed more about himself in the 15-minute video than he has divulged during almost daily media appearances.

The interview ended with a series of rapid fire questions to the director general:

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Summer or winter? "Summer"

Tea or coffee? "Coffee"

Beer or wine? "Beer"

Hurricanes or Phoenix? "What sort of question is that? Hurricanes"

Bagpipes or snare drum? "Bagpipes"

McDonald's or KFC? "Yeah it's probably KFC actually"

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Michael Buble or Guns N' Roses? "Oh dear jeepers… ah… it'll probably be Guns N' Roses but it's only by a whisker"

Mountains or beaches? "Actually mountains for me"

Cats or dogs? "Dogs, we've always had a dog. Love it."

Curve crusher T-shirt or tote bag? "I think the tote bag looks like the thing to have."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website