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New Zealand cancels mosque massacre remembrance over virus fears
[WELLINGTON] New Zealand has cancelled a national remembrance service to mark Sunday's first anniversary of the Christchurch mosque attacks because of coronavirus fears, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
"This is a pragmatic decision. We're very saddened to cancel, but in remembering such a terrible tragedy, we shouldn't create the risk of further harm being done," Ms Ardern said Saturday.
The service to mark the March 15 mass shooting, when a self-avowed white supremacist opened fire at two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 51, had been expected to attract several thousand people, with many travelling from overseas.
Ms Ardern said New Zealand needed to take a precautionary approach.
"The advice we received for this event is that based on people travelling from different parts of the country and from overseas, if there was a case, it could be difficult to trace those who had come into contact with that person, so we are taking a cautious approach," she said.
"March 15 now becomes an opportunity for every New Zealander to reflect in their own way on the events of a year ago."
Six people have so far tested positive for the new coronavirus in New Zealand.