New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shaken off the effects of Covid-19 and on Monday announced details of an altered trade mission to the United States.
The trip, which will take in five cities, was placed in doubt when Ardern contracted the virus a week ago, midway through a two-week isolation period which began when her partner Clarke Gayford tested positive.
Her departure late on Monday will come two days after completing isolation and is delayed because of US Covid-19 travel regulations.
Ardern is scheduled to meet senior members of the US Senate when she visits Washington but a hoped-for meeting with President Joe Biden may now not happen because of health protocols.
“In these times you roll with the Covid curveballs you’re thrown,” she told journalists.
“That’s just part and parcel of the world we live in.
“The issue we have at play here is simply Covid protocols, it does not diminish our relationships at all.”
The trip will have a trade and tourism focus but Ardern also wants to address Pacific security issues.
“I can’t imagine a more important time for political engagement with the US,” she said.
“With the Pacific we’ve called for a return. The US has been a present force for a number of years but what we’ve seen in recent years was a focus to other domestic matters or other regions, slightly less than ours. So we’ve asked for that return.”
Other engagements include a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York and delivery of the high-profile Harvard University commencement speech.
The United States is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner, with two-way trade valued at $NZ18.5 billion ($11.8 billion), and also accounted for the country’s third-largest pre-Covid tourist market.