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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.

3 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

3 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."