New Zealand delays election process as it plunges back into coronavirus lockdown
By Praveen Menon WELLINGTON (Reuters) - 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 Sept
By Praveen Menon
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - 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 Sept. 19, until Monday. No decision had yet been made on delaying the actual poll, she added.
"It's too early to make decisions but there is a bit of flexibility to move the election date if required," Ardern told a televised media conference, adding any date before Nov 21 can be chosen for the election.
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.
The cluster, the first cases reported in the country for 102 days, led Ardern to announce the reimposition of lockdown measures late on Tuesday.
Auckland shifted to level 3 restrictions at midday (2400 GMT) on Wednesday, requiring people to stay at home unless for essential trips. The rest of the country was placed back into slightly looser level 2 restrictions. The restrictions will initially remain in place until Friday.
"Stay kind, looking after one another," Ardern said, adding that the search for the source of the infection was ongoing. The family had not travelled overseas.
"We know that although we are primarily look for human to human transmission we do need to check whether or not it had something to do with freight," she said.
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.
Health officials were urgently tracing her activities and were prepared to test tens of thousands of people in the coming days, Bloomfield said.
Ardern said aged care facilities would close their doors to everyone but staff and essential deliveries from midday.
(Reporting By Praveen Menon; Writing by Jane Wardell; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.