Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, has delayed the dissolution of the country’s parliament, which is a key step towards the upcoming election. The move comes as the health authorities recorded locally transmitted coronavirus cases, forcing the country back into lockdown.
On Wednesday, health officials said that they recorded New Zealand’s first locally transmitted cases in more than three months and could be linked to items imported by freight. The recent outbreak prompted the local authorities in Auckland to reimpose strict social distancing restrictions and limit travel across the country.
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While speaking at a news conference, Ardern said she was delaying the dissolution of the legislature, which was intended to make way for the upcoming September elections, until Monday. She further added that no clear decision had been taken on postponing the polls.
The PM said that the government was continuously coordinating with the electoral commission. Ardern added it is too early to make such decisions, but there is the flexibility to move the election to a new date if necessary. She said any date before 21 November can be chosen for the election.
Moreover, Ardern urged the residents to take care of themselves and their loved ones and said that the authorities are searching for the source of the new infections. She said although the experts are primarily looking for the human-to-human transmission of the virus, they do need to check whether it had to do something with the freight.
The latest outbreak has baffled the health authorities, who earlier claimed that there had been no local transmission of the coronavirus in the country for the last three months. Among the new cases, four were within one family from Auckland, who authorities said had not traveled overseas.
Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general of health, said that the infected family was in strict isolation at home, however, one woman had traveled to tourist spots in Rotorua. Bloomfield added that the authorities were actively tracing her activities and were prepared to conduct tens of thousands of tests in the coming days.
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