New Zealand is no longer free of COVID-19 after health officials say two women who flew from London to see a dying parent had tested positive for the coronavirus
The two New Zealand visitors from the UK drove nearly 650km to visit a dying parent after being released early from quarantine, but officials claim public were not at risk.
New Zealand has now recorded its first new cases of the coronavirus for 24 days after two women who flew into the country from the United Kingdom were found to be infected with COVID-19.
This comes after the New Zealand Ministry of Health confirmed that they no longer had any active cases and no new cases of COVID-19, that is before these two imported cases from the UK.
The two women from the UK were released early from government quarantine and were allowed to drive from the capital city of Wellington to the city of Auckland, a distance of nearly 650km, this is before they had been diagnosed or even tested for the coronavirus, according to health officials.
Their journey was a government approved exemption from the mandatory isolation period for new arrivals into New Zealand in order to visit their dying parent. The women had reportedly “done everything right” in order to not put other members of the public at risk of infection, said Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s director-general of health, on Tuesday.
But the news of the journey of the women from Britain forced the government to end up suspending its policy of granting compassionate exemptions to the nation’s quarantine rules.
David Clark, the health minister, said in a statement:
“It will only be reinstated once the government has confidence in the system,”.
Officials have already announced that no one in future would be permitted to leave the country’s quarantine facilities without receiving a negative test for COVID-19 as the women from the UK had.
After both of the women tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, one reported that in hindsight that she had previously been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, but she had attributed these symptoms to a pre-existing medical condition that she suffered with.
The pair of women marked New Zealand’s first new cases of COVID-19 for over three weeks, and were diagnosed one week after the recovery of person who was the last known case in the country.
This comes after New Zealand reportedly stopped the spread of COVID-19 back in late April, meaning the virus is ‘effectively eliminated’ within the country.
The discovery of these two new cases came one week after all domestic restrictions on the country were lifted, with Ashley Bloomfield warning that more cases of the coronavirus would inevitably arise as people infected with the coronavirus crossed the border.
Bloomfield said that the two women, one aged in her 30s and the other in her 40s, had arrived in Auckland on a flight from the UK via Brisbane, Australia, on the 7th of June. All new arrivals to the country are required to spend two weeks in managed isolation at a hotel, and only New Zealanders, their families, and essential workers are currently permitted to cross the border.