Shomporko Desk:-The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has delayed the country’s general election by a month in the midst of a spike in coronavirus cases.
The vote was due to take place on 19 September yet will now be held on 17 October instead.
Ms. Ardern said on Monday that the new date would allow parties “to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under
Prior this week, the country’s largest city returned into lockdown.
“This decision gives all parties time over the next nine weeks to campaign and the Electoral Commission enough time to ensure an election can go ahead,” Ms. Ardern said, adding that she had “absolutely no intention” of allowing any further delays to the vote.
The opposition National Party has argued the election should be delayed as restrictions on campaigning mean Ms. Ardern had an unfair advantage.
Restrictions were imposed on Auckland on Wednesday after a number of new infections were identified in the city.
Nine new coronavirus cases were confirmed on Monday, bringing the number of active cases linked to the Auckland cluster to 58.
The outbreak was initially traced back to members of one family, although Ms. Ardern later said that subsequent contact-tracing had found an earlier case involving a shop worker who became sick on 31 July.
The announcement that new cases had been discovered shocked the country, which had recorded no locally transmitted cases for more than three months.
Before the new cluster was identified, the government had lifted almost all of its lockdown restrictions, which were first imposed in March.
New Zealand has reported more than 1,600 infections and 22 deaths since the pandemic began, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
An early lockdown, tough border restrictions, effective health messaging and an aggressive test-and-trace programme had all been credited with virtually eliminating the virus in the country.
Photo credit: REUTERS
News source: BBC