New Zealand defers parliament dissolution as it rushes to contain COVID-19 outbreak

WION Web Team
New Zealand Published: Aug 12, 2020, 03:29 PM(IST)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (File photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Parliament was due to be dissolved on Wednesday to allow the election to take place, but the centre-left leader held off the move until Monday to monitor how the crisis evolves.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday delayed a key step toward next month's general election, as the country was plunged back into lockdown after the discovery of the first COVID-19 cases in more than three months.

Ardern said she was suspending the dissolution of parliament, which was due to make way for an election scheduled to take place on September 19, until Monday. No decision had yet been made on delaying the actual poll, she added.

New Zealand health officials are urgently tracing the source of four new cases of COVID-19, all within one family in Auckland, the country's largest city. They are investigating the possibility that its first virus cases in more than three months were imported by freight.

Also read: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern puts Auckland on lockdown after four coronavirus cases detected

The cluster, the first cases reported in the country for 102 days, led Ardern to announce the reimposition of lockdown measures late on Tuesday.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the infected family was in strict isolation at home, but one woman had travelled to tourist spots in Rotorua while she was symptomatic.

Parliament was due to be dissolved on Wednesday to allow the election to take place, but the centre-left leader held off the move until Monday to monitor how the crisis evolves.

"At this stage, it's too early to make any decision but this means there is some flexibility if required," said Ardern, who is well ahead in opinion polls and expected to win a second term.

Leader of the opposition National Party Judith Collins called for a delay until late November, or even next year.

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