Dr Ashley Bloomfield has spoken out about the personal toll that the pandemic has taken on him, revealing his "moments of great self-doubt and of anxiety".
Bloomfield made the confession during a webinar last week with the Graeme Dingle Foundation, detailing how he copes with the pressure around the daily updates on NZ's fight against Covid-19.
"I know when I have [an upcoming press conference] because by 10 in the morning, I can just feel my cortisol levels rising and I'm focused. I'm probably not that much fun to be around at work, only because I'm focused and thinking about what's coming ahead," he said.
"In this role – and I'm quite open about it with my staff – I have moments of great self-doubt and of anxiety, and I love the days when I don't have a stand-up to do."
Bloomfield credited his staff for helping him prepare for facing the media, but said that being honest with himself was key.
"We all have limitations. None of us can keep going. We've got to be able to accept the things that we can't control, and I think about this 15 per cent rule."
Bloomfield explained the theory as that people only have control over 15 per cent of what happens to them.
"Of course, the best thing you can do is maximise that 15 per cent and also work with others, and collectively you'll be able to get a much greater degree of control over a situation and of a good outcome," he said.
Before the threat of the global coronavirus pandemic, most New Zealanders hadn't heard of Dr Ashley Bloomfield, director general of health.
Since he was thrust to prominence by his daily 1pm appearances, Bloomfield acquired legions of fans for his cool and collected delivery.
They call themselves "Bloomers" and run the gamut from tame, chaste admirers of his press conference prowess to hot-blooded groupies just itching for those social distancing rules to be relaxed.
But it hasn't all been plain sailing. The health chief came in for sharp criticism for providing incorrect details about Covid patients and repeatedly clashing with media.
Last month, Bloomfield said a positive case visited Pak'nSave Glen Innes multiple times between July 31 and August 8, sometimes for up to an hour.
However, it was later revealed that the case attended the Glen Innes supermarket once on August 12for about an hour.
Bloomfield apologised to Foodstuffs for his error.