New Zealand has recorded two new coronavirus cases – the country’s first in 24 days. And tonight (Tuesday, 16 June) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is not happy about it, saying health protocols had failed.
“This case is clear; our expectations … have not been met in this instance,” the PM said in a Facebook Live post. “The two cases that came in from overseas that were announced today were not announced under the circumstances that we would have expected at our border.”
Pair arrived in NZ from Qatar
The two new infections are women, one said to be aged in her 30s and the other in her 40s, arrived in Auckland on 7 June after apparently travelling from Qatar via Brisbane and London.
They were quarantined in Auckland for 14 days as per the usual protocols, but allowed to leave early on compassionate grounds to travel to Wellington, which is around 650km away, in order to visit a dying parent.
Not tested or diagnosed prior to leaving
Apparently they were not tested or diagnosed prior to their departure from Auckland.
According to the New Zealand Herald, one of the women had mild symptoms before being tested, but this was put down to a pre-existing condition. Only later was it confirmed that they were both infected.
In her Facebook post, Ardern said the pair should not have been granted compassionate leave. All such leave had now been halted.
“That is something that we have taken incredibly seriously,” the PM stated. “Ultimately, after taking a look at what has happened here, there is already an expectation that no one leaves quarantine until they have completed their two weeks and have been tested.”
“Of course that was our expectation already, so that is where there is a failure in this case.”
Safety plan was agreed with the women
Earlier in the day the Director General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, had said the women travelled to Wellington in a private vehicle and had agreed a safety plan with officials.
As part of this plan, they made the drive of approximately eight hours without refuelling their vehicle or disembarking for any reason, including avoiding using public toilets, he said.