New Zealand Reports Two New Cases of Covid-19, Both Imported

(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand reported two new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, bringing an end to its brief period of being virus-free.

Two women from the same family recently arrived from the U.K. have tested positive for the virus, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told a media briefing in Wellington. Authorities are now tracing, isolating and testing all people who came into contact with the women, including on the flight from Brisbane that brought them to Auckland, he said.

“A new case is something that we hoped we wouldn’t get but it is also something that we expected and we have planned for,” Bloomfield said. “That’s why we have geared up our contact tracing and testing capability to be able to respond rapidly.”

New Zealand became virus-free on June 8, when the last of its previous patients recovered, and lifted the last remaining restrictions on people and businesses that day. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the time there would almost certainly be further cases given the spread of the virus overseas, but as long as they came from outside the country and were quickly identified and isolated, restrictions would not need to be reimposed.

New Zealand’s border is closed, with only citizens and residents -- and some government-sanctioned exemptions -- allowed into the country. Every arrival must enter a two-week period of isolation.

The two women, aged in their 30s and 40s, arrived in Auckland on June 7 and were permitted on compassionate grounds to leave isolation and travel to Wellington on June 13 after the death of a relative. There were strict conditions placed on their travel and they had no contact with anyone during the Auckland-to-Wellington road trip, Bloomfield said.

As part of their agreed self-isolation plan, a test was completed in Wellington, which delivered the positive results.

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