New Zealand coronavirus spike forces PM Jacinda Ardern to delay general election as country battles 69 infections

NEW Zealand's general election has been pushed back by four weeks following 69 new coronavirus cases.

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement this morning, adding the pandemic had made it difficult for parties to campaign.

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The vote was originally supposed to take place on September 19.

Speaking at a news conference this morning, Ms Ardern said: "Having weighed up all these factors and taken wide soundings, I have decided on balance to move the election by four weeks to 17 October.

"Ultimately, 17 October… provides sufficient time for parties to plan around the range of circumstances we will be campaigning under."

It comes after the once Covid-free nation saw a spike of 69 cases in Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city.

The country currently has 1,631 confirmed and probable cases according to the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

New Zealand went 102 days without recording any locally transmitted cases, Ms Ardern said last week.

Residents in Auckland, whose population is 1.6million, were placed back under lockdown from midday last Wednesday.

Plans were in place to keep the city in lockdown for three days, but that was extended to 12 days on Friday.

The measures mean people will be told to remain at home, work from home if possible, and to limit their contact to their immediate "bubble".

Gatherings of more than ten people in the city are now banned, and all bars, restaurants, and public services have been told to close their doors by midday on Wednesday.

School will also be shut to all pupils except for the children of key workers.

At the time, Mrs Ardern said: "We have not yet been able to determine the source of these cases.

"One of the most important lessons we have learned from overseas is to go hard at this.

"In line with our precautionary approach, we will be asking Aucklanders to take swift lockdown.

"If you are in Auckland, we ask that you wear a mask when accessing essential services.

"You are asked to stay home in your bubble unless you are an essential worker."

Ms Arden had been under pressure to postpone the election following the announcement of the mini lockdown, with calls from both the country's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and the opposition party.

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