New Zealand on Tuesday (June 16) lost its COVID-free status when two women who had been given permission to leave quarantine early on compassionate grounds after arriving from Britain tested positive for the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was appointing the Assistant Chief of Defence, Air Commodore Digby Webb, to oversee all quarantine and to manage isolation facilities, including the processes of exiting people from these facilities.
She added that an audit would be done to make sure all processes in place are followed and any changes needed can be made to further strengthen the border facilities.
New Zealand had trumpeted its achievement last week of becoming one of the first countries in the world to eliminate COVID-19 and return to pre-pandemic normality, lifting all social and economic restrictions except border controls.
The two women who arrived from Britain on June 7 went into compulsory quarantine after landing, but had been given special permission to leave the facility early to see their dying parent, even though one had symptoms which she attributed to a pre-existing condition.