US president’s discordant comments fail to reflect that 22 people have died from coronavirus in New Zealand, versus 170,000 in US.

Donald Trump has called out New Zealand for its recent Covid-19 outbreak, saying the places the world hailed as a success story is now facing a “big surge” in cases.

“The places they were using to hold up now they’re having a big surge … they were holding up names of countries and now they’re saying ‘whoops!.

“Do you see what’s happening in New Zealand? They beat it, they beat it, it was like front-page news because they wanted to show me something,” the US president said at a campaign rally in Mankato, Minnesota.

“Big surge in New Zealand, you know it’s terrible, we don’t want that, but this is an invisible enemy that should never have been let to come to Europe and the rest of the world by China.”

On Monday Auckland recorded nine new cases of the virus, and 13 on Tuesday, while the US’s Monday figure was just under 42,000.

It is the first time Trump has mentioned New Zealand in a campaign speech. On Tuesday, prime minister Jacinda Ardern responded, saying there was “no comparison” between the situation in the US and her country.

New Zealand’s government has described the outbreak as contained and manageable, and has chosen not to place the country or even Auckland in full, level 4 lockdown. The outbreak is currently limited to a single cluster of related cases, which as of Tuesday numbered 69.

Overall 22 people have died from Covid-19 in New Zealand, compared with more than 170,000 in the US, the highest death toll in the world. It accounts for nearly 22% of deaths globally.

In June, New Zealand declared it had eliminated the virus, and went 102 days without any infection in the community.

Last week four people tested positive for the virus, and dozens more in Auckland were been infected, prompting the prime minister to place the city of 1.5 million into a two-week, stage 3 lockdown.

It is still unclear how the virus got into the community, but health officials continue to test workers at the international borders, ports and a cool store factory that handles international freight.

President Trump has been criticised for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic – from labelling it a “hoax” in the early part of the year, to wrongly suggesting that injecting disinfectant could be a potential way to fight Covid-19. Until the past few weeks Trump has refused to wear a mask.

Cases began to rise for a second time after the Memorial Day holiday weekend at the end of May. Los Angeles county is the worst affected in the country, with more than 220,000 cases, followed by Miami-Dade in Florida, with 145,000 cases. This compares with Queens in New York, which has recorded the most deaths in the country (5,977), and 68,000 infections.