New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called on Sunday for a delay to the planned September general election, given an abrupt reappearance of COVID-19 in the country.
Last week’s resurgence of the infections in Auckland — after the country had been free of infections of the new coronavirus for 102 days — was compromising the ability to hold a “free and fair election” on Sept. 19, Peters, the leader of the New Zealand First party, wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Peters, who delivered government to Ardern’s Labour party through a coalition deal after a 2017 election failed to result in a majority for the National or Labour parties, suggested Oct. 17 and Nov. 21 as alternative dates.
On Sunday, New Zealand recorded 13 confirmed infections, bringing the number of active cases to 69. Ardern put Auckland, the country’s largest city with a population of 1.7 million, under a two-week lockdown last week.
The opposition National Party also wants a delay, hoping that Ardern, who had garnered much praise for crushing the pandemic, would lose some of her lustre once hardships caused by the Auckland lockdown begin to bite.
Ardern, who has been seen as largely resisting the calls for a delay, is set to decide by Monday.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 121,889 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 108,217 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,062.
Ontario reported 106 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the latest numbers into the triple digits for the first time since last Monday.
The majority of the newly reported cases are concentrated in Peel, Chatham-Kent and Toronto regions, with 23, 19 and 16 cases, respectively.
Meanwhile, 27 of the province’s 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases, and 18 are reporting no new cases at all, according to Ontario’s health ministry.
There have been a total of 40,565 cases in Ontario since late January, with just under 91 per cent of those considered resolved.
Quebec added 80 new cases on Saturday for a total of 61,084.
In Nova Scotia, the province’s health authority is advising of “potential exposures” to COVID-19 on two flights arriving in Halifax from Toronto.
Meanwhile, health officials in Toronto say about 550 people may have been exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 at a downtown strip club earlier this month. Toronto Public Health says it is notifying people who visited the Brass Rail Tavern at 701 Yonge St. about a potential exposure.
WATCH | Hundreds possibly exposed to COVID-19 at Toronto strip club:
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 21.4 million. More than 771,000 people have died, while 13.4 million have recovered.
South Korea accused a conservative pastor on Sunday of violating self-isolation rules and obstructing contact tracing at a church where 240 infections have fuelled the country’s worst outbreak in over five months.
The focus on the Sarang Jeil Church, led by Rev. Jun Kwang-hoon, revived bad memories of the country’s biggest outbreak, among followers of a secretive Christian sect back in February.
The country’s health ministry said it had filed a complaint against Jun, an outspoken government critic, for violating self-isolation rules by participating in a rally on Saturday, and for “obstructing” a medical investigation into the outbreak by failing to provide a full list of church members for testing and tracing.
South Korea on Sunday reported 279 new cases, more than double the 103 reported on Friday, with most of the new infections found in and around Seoul.
Aside from the infections linked to the church, there were also smaller clusters, including some 30 cases linked to a Starbucks outlet in the city of Paju, north of Seoul.
The surge in COVID-19 cases prompted authorities on Sunday to reimpose tighter social distancing curbs in the Seoul metropolitan area.
In the United States, U.S. President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus adviser used a visit to Kansas to urge people to wear masks and take other precautions against COVID-19 regardless of where they live.
“What’s really important for every Kansan to understand is that this epidemic that we have been seeing this summer is both urban and rural,” Dr. Deborah Birx, co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force said on Saturday.
“So we are really asking all communities, whether you are urban or rural communities, to really wear a mask inside, outside, every day.” said Birx, who met with Gov. Laura Kellly as well as local and state health officials at KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.
“You can’t tell who’s infected,” Birx said. “Much of the spread is asymptomatic.”
In Europe, nightclubs in Barcelona are suffering heavy economic losses with coronavirus restrictions in the city meaning they will stay closed until at least Aug. 22.
About 60 per cent of this business sector remains closed since the start of the pandemic in Spain in early March with an estimated loss of 60 million euros (94 million Cdn).
Ramon Mas is the owner of Wolf, one of Barcelona’s best-known nightclubs and the head of both regional and national unions of nightlife businesses. Even after reaching an agreement with the owner of the venue and now paying half the monthly rent, he is losing over 15,000 euros each month since March.
“The summer season is lost. We are talking about a city like Barcelona which receives (yearly) 19 million tourists,” he said.
He said he believes it may take his business at least five years to recover from the pandemic.
Russia reported 4,969 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, bringing its nationwide tally to 922,853, the fourth highest caseload in the world.
Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre said 68 people had died over the past 24 hours, pushing its official coronavirus death toll to 15,685.
China reported 19 new cases of COVID-19 in the latest 24-hour period, bringing its official total to 84,827 since the pandemic started. Four cases were in the far west Xinjiang region, where a now-waning outbreak has infected more than 800 people over the past month. The other 15 were people who had arrived from overseas. China has seen a small uptick in such imported cases, reporting 144 in the past week.