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New Zealand delays national elections by four weeks amid COVID-19 outbreak

New Zealand will delay its national elections by four weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday amid a growing coronavirus outbreak in the country’s largest city.

Opposition parties had sought a delay in the election since an outbreak in Auckland was reported last week, prompting a city lockdown and a halt to campaigning.

“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,” Ardern said.

The election, which was scheduled for Sept. 19, will now take place on Oct. 17.

Under New Zealand law, Ardern could have postponed the elections for up to roughly two months. The prime minister said the elections will not be further delayed.

The outbreak in Auckland was reported last Tuesday from a single household in the city. The cluster grew to 49 infections and authorities believe they are all linked.

Before Auckland’s cases, New Zealand went 102 days without reporting a new infection.

The country, which had largely returned to normal, was praised globally for its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

With Post wires

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