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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.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

3 hours ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.