While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Oct 17

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern (right) meets with locals on the final day of election campaigning in Auckland, on Oct 16, 2020.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern (right) meets with locals on the final day of election campaigning in Auckland, on Oct 16, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

Polls open as New Zealanders decide Ardern's fate in 'Covid election'

Polling booths opened in New Zealand’s general election Saturday, with voters queueing at schools and community halls across the South Pacific nation to cast their ballots.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is seeking another three-year term for her centre-left government, against an opposition led by the conservative National Party.

The popular leader is in striking distance of re-election with an unprecedented outright majority after campaigning on her success handling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pre-election opinion polls put support for Ardern's Labour Party at 46 per cent, 15 points ahead of the main opposition Nationals but just short of being able to govern alone.


France launches terrorism probe after teacher killed in knife attack

A man armed with a knife on Friday killed a middle school history teacher by slitting his throat in front of his school in a suburb of Paris, police said, in an attack that was being treated as terrorism.

The attacker was shot dead by a police patrol a few streets away.

The teacher had shown pupils in his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, which are considered by Muslims to be blasphemous, according to a police source.


1.1 million in Myanmar's Rakhine barred from voting

More than 1.1 million voters in Myanmar's western Rakhine state will be disenfranchised in upcoming national polls, according to data released by the election commission Friday, a move experts warned could fuel yet more conflict.

Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy is widely expected to be returned to power in the November 8 election - only the second since the country emerged from outright military rule.

But with virtually all Rohingya Muslims stripped of citizenship and voting rights, many observers had already dismissed the polls as lacking credibility.


Belgium shuts restaurants for four weeks to fight coronavirus surge

Belgium will close all cafes and restaurants for four weeks on Monday (Oct 19) as it seeks to tackle a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

The move was announced by deputy prime minister Georges Gilkinet following a meeting of the Belgian government's crisis unit.

The Brussels city region already imposed similar restrictions last week but Friday's announcement extends them nationwide.


Cristiano Ronaldo denies breaking coronavirus protocol after Italy return

Cristiano Ronaldo shot back at Italy's sports minister on Friday by denying that he broke the coronavirus protocol adopted for the country's football after returning from international duty while positive for the disease.

On Thursday Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora said that Portugal captain Ronaldo had broken protocol after he left isolation with his club Juventus to join up with his national team and then returned to Italy following his positive test.

He is currently quarantined at his home in Turin after travelling from Portugal in an air ambulance.