Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has postponed the country’s general election by a month as the locally transmitted coronavirus cases surge in the country. Initially, the vote was scheduled for September 19. However, it will now be held on October 17 instead.
On Monday, Ardern said that the new date for the polls would allow the political parties to plan around the circumstances they will be continuing their election campaign under. Auckland, the country’s largest city, went under the lockdown this week.
Ardern added that the extension of nine weeks would give all the political parties to prepare for the upcoming election, and New Zealand’s electoral commission enough time to ensure an election can go ahead, keeping in view the public health concerns.
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Meanwhile, the opposition National Party has argued that the elections should be delayed as the restrictions on election campaign means that the incumbent premier has an unfair advantage over them. On Wednesday, social distancing restrictions were imposed in Auckland after a new number of coronavirus cases were confirmed across the city.
On Monday, the health authorities recorded nine new cases, bringing the total number of cases linked to the capital’s cluster at 58. Initially, the new outbreak was linked to one family in Auckland, although later, the Prime Minister said that subsequent contact-tracing by the authorities had found that an earlier case of a shopkeeper who started feeling sick on July 31.
BBC reported that the family from Auckland was shocked and embarrassed that it happened to them. The new confirmed cases shocked the health authorities as the country had recorded not a single case of the pandemic for more than three months.
In New Zealand, there are four alert levels, the country’s capital, Auckland has been on level 3 since Wednesday. Meanwhile, the rest of New Zealand is on level two. The government had lifted all the social distancing restrictions before the cluster of new cases were identified, which were first imposed in March.
According to the data compiled by John Hopkins University, the country has so far recorded a total of 1,600 infections and 22 fatalities since the outbreak began. Tough restrictions and early response to the outbreak, which included shutting down its borders in March along with aggressive testing, had all been credited internationally for eliminating the coronavirus across the country.
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