PM calls in military after coronavirus returns to New Zealand
New Zealand's Defense Force will now oversee the isolation of new arrivals and audit the coronavirus quarantine process, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at a news conference on Wednesday.
Driving the news: The country's top health official told a briefing on Thursday afternoon local time that another traveler had tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving at the border, which is closed to all travelers but NZ citizens and residents. Two women returning from the U.K. tested positive on Tuesday — ending New Zealand's 24-day run of no new infections.
What she's saying: Ardern said an "unacceptable failure" led to two women being allowed to leave mandatory quarantine for travelers early to visit a dying parent in Wellington without being tested.
- "It should never have happened and it cannot be repeated," Ardern said, adding she would temporarily remove a compassionate exemption clause in response to the positive cases.
The big picture: The country lifted all domestic coronavirus restrictions after reporting on June 8 no active cases for the first time since Feb. 28. The Ministry of Health confirmed on Tuesday the two women had tested positive for the virus.
- Health officials said they're tracing 320 "close contacts" of the sisters, which could include other passengers on their plane and people who were isolating in the same Auckland hotel.
- New Zealand's border is closed to all travelers except for returning citizens and residents.