New Zealand’s election has been delayed by four weeks, to October 17, because of concern over the spread of coronavirus in the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced.
“Clearly as a government our current priority is getting the Covid outbreak under control and removing restrictions on New Zealanders as soon as possible,” Ardern said, speaking on Facebook Live post.
The Prime Minister said the country’s “resurgence plan is in full swing” with high levels of testing and contact tracing, alongside restrictions on the community.
“However, it is clear that the reemergence of Covid in Auckland at the beginning of the formal campaign period has been cause for concern,” Ardern said.
New Zealand reported 12 locally transmitted cases on Friday as the country tackles a fresh outbreak that ended an enviable run of more than 100 days without any locally transmitted infections. The new cluster has prompted the country to extend a lockdown on its most populous city, Auckland, as authorities scramble to trace the source of the outbreak.
The country had already spent five weeks under one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, which closed most businesses and schools, and saw people stay at home. Ardern has warned she expects to see more cases. New Zealand has reported a total of 1,271 coronavirus cases and 22 deaths.
Ardern said Parliament will reconvene Tuesday and will be dissolved on September 6. She added that she does not intend to change the election date again.