New Zealand delays general election as coronavirus cluster grows





Wellington - By Rebekah Lyell, - New Zealand will delay its general election by a month as the country reported nine new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday.
Health officials were able to link seven of the new cases to a family in Auckland who tested positive on Tuesday, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield told media.
The remaining two cases were still being investigated.



 
The new infections in Auckland came after 102 days of no community transmission were recorded in New Zealand.
The election was due to be held on September 19, but will now take place on October 17, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a press conference on Monday.
"Moving an election date is a significant decision," she said.
While the electoral commission had said voting could happen safely, Ardern said she factored in voter participation, fairness and certainty.
"Covid will be with us for some time to come. Continuously pushing out an election does not lessen the risk of disruption," she said.
The decision to set the election date normally rests solely with the prime minister, but Ardern had asked other political leaders for their opinions too.
"Moving the date by four weeks also gives all parties a fair shot to campaign and delivers New Zealanders certainty without unnecessarily long delays," Ardern said.
She said the election would not be delayed again.
Ardern said she had "absolute confidence" the election would be both fair and safe.
The 40-year-old leader is up for re-election in the upcoming polls.
Voters will also have their say on legalizing euthanasia and cannabis in referendums to be held during the election.
The country has reported a total of 1,280 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, with 22 deaths since the outbreak began.
The number of active cases in the country is 78, of which 58 are from the community outbreak and 20 were caught at the border. Five people are in hospital.

 


Monday, August 17th 2020
By Rebekah Lyell,
           


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