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.”

New Zealand PM hits out after women released from quarantine before Covid test

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

Jessica Lawson drowned on a school trip in 2015

French lifeguard and local council found guilty of manslaughter after Brit girl, 12, drowned in lake on school trip

Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid

Biden tests positive for Covid and cancels Vegas campaign event after saying he would only quit race on doctors' orders

Joe Biden has hinted he could step aside from the race against Donald Trump for the White House

Biden hints he could quit election race against Trump on medical advice, as top Democrat calls for him to stand down

Two British travel agents are believed to be the pair found shot dead and their bodies burned in a car in Malmo.

British travel agents thought to be pair shot dead and burned in car in Malmo

Enzo Fernandez filmed himself and his Argentina teammates singing an offensive song

Chelsea star Enzo Fernandez apologises to teammates after starting ‘racist’ chant with Argentina players

Jay Slater's family will fly back with his body

Jay Slater's family to return to UK with his body as his heartbroken mum begins funeral plans

Six people were found dead at a luxury hotel in Bangkok died from cyanide

Six people who died 'foaming at the mouth' in five-star luxury Thai hotel were poisoned by drinks laced with cyanide

Joe Biden has vowed to outlaw the gun used to shoot at Donald Trump

Joe Biden vows to outlaw assault rifle gunman used to shoot at Donald Trump, as he says 'politics has got too heated'

Enzo Fernandez filmed himself and his Argentina teammates singing an offensive song

Chelsea star Enzo Fernandez slammed by teammate Fofana for 'uninhibited racism' after offensive chant

Snipers weren't placed on the "sloping roof" used by the shooter who attempted to assassinate Presidential nominee Donald Trump over "safety concerns", the head of the US Secret Service has admitted.

Snipers weren't placed on 'sloping roof' used by would-be Trump assassin over 'safety' concerns

Two Brits have been shot dead in Sweden - their bodies were found in a burnt out car in  Fosie, Malmo

Two Brits shot dead and set on fire in double murder in Sweden with attacker ‘prepared to strike again’

Jack Black has cancelled the rest of his Tenacious D tour after his bandmate Kyle Gass made a comment on the assassination attempt on Donald Trump on stage on Sunday night.

Jack Black cancels tour over Tenacious D bandmate's Trump assassination comment

Six people have died at the Grand Hyatt Erwan Hotel in downtown Bangkok

Mystery as six found dead 'foaming at the mouth at luxury Bangkok hotel 'after being poisoned with cyanide'

The Spanish Civil Guard said Jay Slater, from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, could have fallen in a steep and inaccessible area

Jay Slater's best friend Lucy Law pays heartbreaking tribute to 'happiest' person after his ‘deteriorated’ body found

A 25-year-old Brit is missing in Sardinia

Urgent hunt for missing Brit, 25, in Sardinia as desperate mum issues plea after he 'undressed and vanished'

Exclusive
Labour Treasury Secretary says he 'doesn't know' what JD Vance meant when he joked the UK could be 'first Islamist country to have nuclear weapons'

Treasury Sec 'doesn't know' what JD Vance meant by joke UK could be 'first Islamist country to have nuclear weapons'