Kiwi Deputy PM Brings Virus Hoax Advocate Down to Flat Earth

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, left, and Prime Minister-designate Jacinda Ardern sign a coalition agreement on Oct. 24, 2017, in Wellington. (AP Photo/Nick Perry)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AFP) — A coronavirus sceptic who confronted New Zealand’s deputy leader on the campaign trail was met with a blunt response when the lawmaker called him a flat-Earther.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters was taking questions from a crowd at an election event in Tauranga this week when he was asked to prove that Covid-19 existed.

“We’ve got someone who obviously got an education in America,” Peters said, referring to the man’s apparent North American accent. 

Peters continued by citing the mounting U.S. death toll from the virus — over 215,000 — and the rising case numbers around the world.

“And here is someone who gets up and says:’the Earth is flat’,” he added.

“Sorry sunshine, wrong place.”

The nation’s vote on Saturday has been dubbed the “Covid” election with the country’s success in dealing with virus boosting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hopes of returning to office. 

New Zealand has recorded just 25 Covid-19 deaths in its population of five million, and the country’s response has been singled out for praise by the World Health Organization.

Not all parties in the race have rejected virus misinformation, with the Advance New Zealand Party’s promotion of Coronavirus conspiracies drawing action from Facebook on Thursday. 

The social media giant shut down the party’s page two days before the general election, citing repeated sharing of misinformation. 

© Agence France-Presse

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