New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media during a press conference at the Justice Precinct in Christchurch on March 28, 2019. / AFP / Marty MELVILLE Image Credit: AFP

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern shut down a television presenter Duncan Garner after he questioned her cautious approach to lifting coronavirus restrictions in a heated interview on air, yesterday, May 4. The clip with Ardern’s “savage” response went viral on Twitter and other social media channels.

The 39-year-old was a guest on The AM Show where she was interviewed by host Duncan Garner. Garner argued while the alert levels worked going into lockdown, “they’re now irrelevant”. Challenging the PM's approach, citing expert advice and low figures on coronavirus cases, he asked “What’s the figure you’re looking for to move us to level two … all the international experts are saying that this is going to be the new normal for months and months…. what are we waiting for?” Duncan asked her.

Ardern replied: “I didn't realise you were an epidemiologist - congratulations on your new qualification.”

A clip of the conversation was shared on TikTok and then went viral on Twitter, even Facebook users were seen sharing it.

Garner, seemingly unimpressed with the tongue-in-cheek response, fired back: “If you wanna get personal then that's fine, but I'm just asking a question.”

Netizens loved her reply so much, that the heated moment was turned into a meme with footage of the interview being combined with a clip of hecklers cheering on PM Ardern. Someone even edited Duncan Garner’s Wikipedia page, to reflect her comments.

Tweep @DailyGrail posted a screenshot of the edit, which was later removed on Wikipedia.

Social media users are of the opinion that Ardern has done a pretty great job of shutting down the virus, by working with professionals and ignoring armchair experts.

The country was successful in stopping undetected community transmission, due to their strict lockdown measures and celebrated its first day without new COVID-19 cases on May 4.

According to a May 1 article on theguardian.com, Jacinda Ardern’s approval rating has gone up during the Covid-19 crisis. Ardern and her government soared in popularity during coronavirus crisis.

Last week, the country moved from a level 4 down to a level 3 alert. That’s allowed them to reopen businesses that can safely operate, effectively reopening the economy and sending 400,000 Kiwis back to work. But, there are plenty of people who have criticised Ardern for not relaxing the lockdown even further.

However, news website newshub.co.nz reported: “Over the weekend, police busted hundreds of parties throughout the country as Kiwis exploited the first weekend of relaxed restrictions.”

Ardern has said if people don't take the social distancing seriously then there is a chance the move to level 2 could be put off longer. “It does put people at risk. So if people aren't following those guidelines then, yes, we could see more cases and we could be here longer," she said, according to the report.

The Cabinet will next consider moving to level 2 on May 11. And though there were just two new cases of COVID-19 reported on Sunday and none on Monday, there is no talk of an earlier shift to level 2.

As of now, country's COVID-19 death toll stands at 20, with 1137 confirmed nationwide cases.