New Zealand delays election after Auckland coronavirus outbreak

17 August 2020, 09:56

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the election, scheduled for September 19, will now be held on October 17
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the election, scheduled for September 19, will now be held on October 17. Picture: PA

By Megan White

New Zealand’s national elections have been delayed by a month as Auckland, its largest city, deals with a new coronavirus outbreak of almost 50 infections.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the election, scheduled for September 19, will now be held on October 17.

Under New Zealand law, Ms Ardern had the option of delaying the election for up to two months.

Read more: Croatia, Greece and Turkey could be next countries to join France on UK quarantine list

Opposition parties had been requesting a delay after a virus outbreak in Auckland last week prompted the government to put the city into a two-week lockdown and halted election campaigning.

Ms Ardern, whose Labour Party is expected to win a second term, said: "Ultimately I want to ensure we have a well-run election that gives all voters the best chance to receive all the information they need about parties and candidates, and delivers certainty for the future.”

The Auckland outbreak has grown to 49 infections, with authorities saying they believe all cases are connected, raising hope the virus is not spreading beyond the cluster.

On Friday, the city’s lockdown was extended by 12 days as it tried to stamp out the outbreak.

Several of those infected work at an Americold food storage facility in the Auckland suburb of Mount Wellington.

Officials are looking at the possibility that workers on a freight ship or at the port may have spread the infections, despite physical distancing requirements at those sites and orders preventing ship workers coming ashore.

Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said rigorous testing is being carried out "as part of our investigation just to follow that chain of the Americold goods that might have come in through the port and been transported to that Mount Wellington depot".

Officials are also investigating the possibility that the virus could have survived from abroad on chilled or frozen food boxes and then infected workers in New Zealand, a scenario they consider unlikely.

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

Mr Bloomfield said they completed a record of more than 15,000 tests on Thursday and they were getting a clearer picture of the outbreak's contours.

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 were going to restaurants, sports stadiums and schools without fear of being infected.

The only known cases during that time were returning travellers who were quarantined at the border.

Officials believe the virus was reintroduced to New Zealand from abroad but have not determined how.

The only known infections outside Auckland are two people in the central North Island town of Tokoroa who were visited by infected family members from Auckland.

Officials said they thought the chances were low that the virus would spread further there.

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Millionaire Robert Durst is believed to have killed three people.

Millionaire murderer on ventilator with Covid days after sentencing

Former PM Gordon Brown wants to send over a billion vaccines to low-income countries

Gordon Brown calls for emergency vaccine airlift to poorer nations

The US has "no idea" how the Chinese managed to make such progress on hypersonic missiles

China fires hypersonic missile around globe before striking target

A British Airways plane takes off as the resumption of UK – US flights was confirmed

UK – US flights to resume from 8 November after 19-month ban

Officers arrested the suspect after 30 minutes

Norway bow and arrow attack 'appears to be act of terror' as five killed

Police in Florida arrested the man on Tuesday

Man arrested after toddler found gun and shot mother dead during work Zoom call

Police officers cordon off the scene in Kongsberg

Five people killed after man goes on bow and arrow rampage in Norwegian town

Billy Hood has been jailed for 25 years

London football coach jailed for 25 years in Dubai over cannabis oil found in car

Blue Origin Launch.

Lift off! William Shatner soars into orbit on Blue Origin rocket

William Shatner take part in New Shepard spacecraft crew

Watch: William Shatner blasts off into space

Pen Farthing had staff and animals from his charity Nowzad evacuated from Afghanistan

Pen Farthing talks of 'total relief' as charity staff are flown into UK

Superman comes out as bisexual in DC's latest comic book.

Superman comes out as bisexual in DC's new comic book series

The northern flank of the volcano collapsed over the weekend, triggering new lava flows.

La Palma volcano partially collapses, spewing 'explosive bombs' of molten rock

Fuel stations and power plants in Lebanon have been forced to close.

Energy crisis: Warnings of blackouts in India and China and gas prices soar in Europe

Gerald Darmanin said "not one euro has been paid" of the promised £54m the UK promised to France to help prevent migrant crossings

'Not one euro paid' of money promised to France to tackle migrant crossings - minister

On September 22 Lebanon's newly formed Government raised prices of gasoline, diesel and gas cylinders by about 20 per cent

Lebanon’s electricity supply shuts off as power stations run out of fuel