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PM arrives in Antarctica, feeling 'fine'

Published: 8:34AM Friday January 18, 2013 Source: ONE News

Prime Minister John Key has landed in Antarctica and says he is feeling fine after fainting in a Christchurch restaurant last night.

Key told ONE News Political Editor Corin Dann he believes the fainting episode was a fluke and people shouldn't be concerned.

Key was dining with 10 others when he stood up and passed out for about two minutes after finishing his meal of spaghetti bolognaise at Tutto Bene in Christchurch.

He was helped into a chair where he rested for a few minutes before being taken to hospital where he was examined and discharged after about two hours.

His staff suggest Key may have been suffering the effects of jet lag, having just returned from a holiday in Hawaii.

Speaking from the Hercules aircraft before take off from Christchurch for Antarctica this morning, Dann said the Antarctic New Zealand team and the doctors certainly would not let the Prime Minister go to Antarctica if there was any major concern.

"So a minor health scare at this stage, but of course any health scare with a Prime Minister must be taken seriously," said Dann, who will be covering Key's visit to the ice for a briefing on the Antarctic Research Institute's activities.

Rigorous health checks are required for flying to Antarctica, Dann pointed out.

"I, for example, had to undergo numerous blood tests, have a number of shots, have a full medical that lasted a good hour with my doctor," he said.

"So there's no way the Prime Minister would be allowed to fly to Antarctica unless those doctors and Antarctic New Zealand were confident that he is certainly healthy enough to do so, obviously because if he was to be stuck there that would cause potentially some problems if he had a health scare down there."

"He had no prior health problems as far as we know. So it came right out of the blue. So there's no indication that there's any long standing health concern there at all.

"He certainly seemed fine at the press conference yesterday. We spoke to him just prior to that press conference and afterwards and he seemed in good spirits and in good health."

Key has headed from the US Antarctic Research Centre at McMurdo station to New Zealand's permanent installation at Scott Base.