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Dissolution of Parliament delayed as Govt hunts source of new covid infections and possible spread

The dissolution of Parliament has been deferred by at a least a few days due to the new covid-19 cases, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

This was in case Parliament had to be reconvened as more information came to light, Ardern said at a briefing on the three-day level 3 lockdown in Auckland and level 2 alert for the rest of the country.

A decision about the dissolution of Parliament and any flow on effects for the timing of the election would be considered on Monday, Ardern said.

The government last night announced that four covid-19 cases of unknown origin had been found in a family in South Auckland. This prompted a move to alert level 3 for all of Auckland from noon today and level 2 restrictions for the rest of the country.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said today one of the cases travelled to Rotorua on Saturday. More details were being sought, but people there and around the country must be vigilant.

Pop up testing sites were being opened in Rotorua and elsewhere, Bloomfield said the virus did not discriminate and there was no shame from contracting it. All people would be supported and should be treated with compassion.

It was still being worked out how the family contracted the virus. All close contacts in workplaces – one a finance company - were being tested. There were more than a hundred people involved.

Testing and contact tracing resources were being ramped up.

“The best thing we can do is face this altogether,” Bloomfield said.

Ardern said it was important people tracked their movements to aid contact tracing. It was also important to ramp up testing, but it had to be targeted at those with symptoms or who had connections with possible infection, she said.

All people should maintain social distancing. People who had been in Auckland in recent days should be vigilant, but self-isolation was not necessary at this point.

Ardern said face masks should be used if possible in Auckland. “We are strongly encouraging their use in Auckland”, the rest of the country should also consider their use. Masks on flights out of Auckland were mandated.

Restrictions will last until at least midnight on Friday, but most are warning people to prepare themselves for the possibility they will remain in place longer.

RNZ video of the press conference

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