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New Zealand's winning virus tactics spell election risks for Ardern

Popular PM vulnerable to attacks over lockdown's economic damage

SINGAPORE -- New Zealand says it has effectively eliminated the coronavirus. Now comes the challenge of managing the political fallout.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern enjoyed near-universal support as she shut the country's borders, kept residents home and ordered nearly all physical stores to close in late March. The measures worked and as of Thursday, New Zealand had confirmed just 1,139 COVID-19 infections and 21 deaths. On Monday and Tuesday -- a week after the government relaxed measures, allowing construction to resume and restaurants to offer takeout -- the country went two 24-hour periods without a new case.

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