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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks during a news conference at Parliament in Wellington on Wednesday. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

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.

Go deeper

Sep 25, 2020 - Health

Florida fully lifts coronavirus restrictions on restaurants

Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Friday the state will completely reopen its economy, allowing restaurants to operate at full capacity and barring localities from ordering businesses to close.

Why it matters: The state became one of the world's epicenters for the virus in July, forcing DeSantis to pause its first round of reopening.

1 hour ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in U.K.

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 65.5% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.