'COVID-free' New Zealand allows two women from UK to exit quarantine early

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jun 17, 2020, 11:13 AM(IST)

Jacinda Ardern Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Ardern said the infected person should never have been allowed to leave. "We require not one but two tests to be undertaken at those facilities. ..it did not, and there are no excuses," she said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has described as an “unacceptable failure” after a slip up allowed two people with coronavirus to move around the country.

Ardern said the infected person should never have been allowed to leave. "We require not one but two tests to be undertaken at those facilities. ..it did not, and there are no excuses," she said.

She further said the defence force will now oversee the country's quarantine facilities and strengthen border requirements.

New Zealand on Tuesday 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.

Also read: New Zealand's last active patient of coronavirus recovers, country now has zero cases

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.

Ardern said Webb can seek access to military logistics, its operational expertise and, if needed, personnel, for running of the quarantine 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.

Also read: New Zealand lifts lockdown; goes back to new normal

"I cannot allow the gains we have all made to be squandered by processes that are not followed," Ardern said at a news conference in parliament.

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.

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