July 9, 2020 / 12:06 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-New Zealand deputy PM takes medical leave after food poisoning

(Changes sourcing, adds deputy PM comments, background)

July 9 (Reuters) - New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said on Thursday he would take medical leave this week to undergo surgery after suffering from a bout of food poisoning.

“This is an unexpected medical event and of course unexpected timing. However the doctor’s advice on having surgery needs to be followed,” Peters, who is also the foreign minister, said in a statement.

Peters said he visited his doctor earlier in the week after experiencing food poisoning symptoms and was advised to undergo surgery.

He said he would have a post-operative period of recuperation at home.

“I remain confident of a quick return to work - as well as being fighting fit for the election campaign, which is typically physically gruelling,” said Peters.

New Zealand goes to the polls in September in what is expected to be a pandemic-dominated campaign.

Peters’ New Zealand First party currently governs as a junior partner along with the Greens in an alliance with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Party.

Recent opinion polls have predicted that Labour could govern on its own, without needing a coalition, helped by the soaring popularity of Ardern.

New Zealand First will combine its election campaign launch with its annual meeting on July 19 due to Peters’ medical leave. (Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast.)

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