New Zealand is no longer coronavirus-free - after two UK visitors tested positive

New Zealand has reported two new imported cases of coronavirus from the UK, after a 24 day long streak of no new infections.

The cases were confirmed after two women from the same family arrived from London. The incident has prompted a new round of testing in the previously coronavirus-free country.

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The women had received a compassionate exemption from New Zealand’s travel ban, allowing them to visit a dying parent before they had been tested for the virus. They were tested on Monday 15 June, and the results were confirmed on Tuesday 16 June.

What were the pair's movements in the country?

The women arrived into the country on 7 June before quarantining at a hotel in Auckland for just under a week. They then received permission to drive to Wellington on Saturday 13 June.

During their car journey, the sisters did not stop to use public facilities in service stations, nor did they come into close contact with anyone. On arrival in the capital, the pair then stayed with a single family member, who has since been asked to self-isolate.

The funeral of their parent has now been delayed as the women recover in isolation in Wellington.

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During a press conference at the Ministry of Health in Wellington, on 16 June, the Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, clarified that the women had “done everything right”, had not put other people at risk, and were not at fault. He then called for “anyone granted compassionate exemption [to be] tested and [have] a negative result” before they are released.

Health officials are currently tracking down anybody who may have been close to the two women during their time in the country before testing positive.

Such people at risk may include fellow passengers and staff on their flights to the country, as well as people who stayed at the same Auckland hotel as the duo when they first arrived.

Back to normal

On Monday 8 June, New Zealand lifted all of its restrictions put in place due to the virus, giving its residents the go-ahead to return to life as normal, following no active cases and no new reported cases for a streak of 17 days.

All forms of public events are now allowed to take place without any limitations or social distancing guidelines. However, those arriving into the country will still have to quarantine for 14 days.

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