Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern considered delaying the upcoming election of New Zealand on Wednesday, as experts investigated whether the coronavirus may have re-entered the country through freight shipments. Health officials scrambled to enforce a fast lockdown in the country’s largest city of Auckland, where four more possible infections were discovered taking the total outbreak to eight.
Ardern said she was seeking advice on delaying the September 19 referendum, with 1.5 million people under stay-at – home orders and millions more at risk of a broader outbreak. Parliament was due to be dissolved on Wednesday to allow the election to take place, but the leader of the center-left put off the change until Monday to track the progression of the crisis. “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.
New Zealand’s much-envied 102-day period without group transmission ended suddenly on Tuesday, when four individuals from one family — with no international travel background — tested positive. Officials were still trying to organize the infected people’s movements and the origins of the new infections remained unclear.