Coronavirus: First new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand for 24 days came from UK
New Zealand registered its first new coronavirus cases in 24 days after two women who had traveled from the UK tested positive for COVID-19.
The couple from the same family flew from London to Auckland to visit a dying parent, and then drove nearly 400 miles to Wellington.
They received an exceptional driving license before being tested for coronavirus.
The New Zealand authorities, who were celebrated for the Coronavirus eradication, insist that the women had no contact with anyone on their road trip, but their trip sparked a new round of testing for those who might be close to them.
Commuters at a bus stop in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week when the country loosened its coronavirus lock. (AP)
The women, one in their thirties and the other in their forties, came to New Zealand via Doha and Brisbane on June 7 and were quarantined.
They stayed in a managed isolation hotel in Auckland and applied for an exemption on June 12 to visit their dying parents, who died later that night.
The next day they were allowed to travel to Wellington. It is not known whether the women are citizens of New Zealand, Great Britain or elsewhere.
One of the women had “mild symptoms”, but these were due to an existing condition.
New Zealand lifted all domestic travel restrictions last week after the country was declared free of corona viruses, but only citizens and key workers are allowed into the country.
All arrivals must isolate themselves or be quarantined for 14 days.
Flight personnel and women fighting passengers are tested for coronavirus, as are people in their quarantined hotel in Auckland and a family member they met in Wellington.
The New Zealand Director General for Health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield confirms two women tested positive for coronavirus (Getty Images)
The women remain isolated and postponed their parents' funeral until they recover.
By Tuesday, New Zealand had spent more than three weeks without new COVID 19 cases and discharged its last hospital patient in late May.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there were 22 deaths and 1,506 cases in New Zealand.
After the new cases, the country has suspended its compassionate liberation policy.
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On Tuesday, the director general for health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield states that anyone requesting a compassionate quarantine exemption must return a negative test before traveling.
He said the women "did everything right" and did not endanger other members of the public.
He said the women did the eight-hour drive from Auckland to Wellington without refueling or getting out of their "private vehicle", not even to use the toilet.
Dr. Bloomfield said: "You had no contact with others during this trip."
Earlier this week, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was cautious about declaring the country “COVID free” and warned that new cases could arise when its citizens returned home.
"I don't want New Zealanders to believe that the fight is over if it isn't," she said.
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