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New Zealand delays elections after Auckland virus outbreak


WELLINGTON: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday decided to delay New Zealand’s national elections by four weeks as the country faces a new coronavirus outbreak in its largest city. Auckland.
Elections were scheduled for September 19, but will now be held on October 17. Under New Zealand law, Ardern had the option of delaying the elections for up to two months.
Opposition parties had been calling for a delay after a virus outbreak in Auckland last week led the government to put the city on a two-week lockdown and halted the election campaign.
Before the latest outbreak, New Zealand had gone 102 days without any known community transmission of the virus, and life had returned to normal for most people, who went to restaurants, sports stadiums and schools without fear of infection.
The only known cases during that time were travelers who returned and were quarantined at the border.
Officials believe the virus was reintroduced into New Zealand from abroad, but have not yet been able to find out how it happened. The Auckland outbreak has risen to 49 infections, and authorities say they believe all the cases are connected, giving them hope that the virus will not spread beyond the group.
Ardern said that in making his decision, he first called the leaders of all political parties represented in parliament to get their opinions.
“Ultimately, I want to make sure that we have a well-organized election that gives all voters the best opportunity to receive all the information they need about the parties and candidates, and provides certainty for the future,” Ardern said.
He said he would not consider delaying the election again, no matter what happened to the virus outbreaks. Opinion polls indicate that Ardern’s Labor Party is the favorite to win a second term.

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