EDIT: New Zealand has identified 320 close contacts of the two women, reported The Guardian. Meanwhile, at a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the release of the two women without being tested was an "unacceptable failure of the system."
New Zealand made headlines around the world for being COVID-19-free last week. Unfortunately, it took just eight days for the country to lose that status as two women tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities revealed on Tuesday according to Reuters.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that a review would take place but that it was clear adequate checks were not made.
“Vigorous testing is now taking place across those who were in the quarantine facility at the same time, and those who may have had any, even the remotest chance of contact (with the women),” Ardern said in a Facebook Live post.
New Zealand had successfully rid itself of the pandemic last week and had even gone so far as to lift all social and economic restrictions except border controls.
The two new coronavirus cases break a 24-day streak of no new infections for the country. The cases are rather odd as the country has strict measures for all those entering that see individuals quarantined for 14 days.
The two new cases were two women aged in their 30s and 40s that had traveled from Britain to visit a dying parent, the director general of health said in a news conference.
Both were quarantined in Auckland after arriving in New Zealand. However, they were given special permission to leave on compassionate grounds due to their special circumstances that involved a dying parent.
Once they returned to quarantine, they tested positive.
Health Minister David Clark revealed that he was putting an end to all exemptions to the quarantine rules.
“Compassionate exemptions should be rare and rigorous and it appears that this case did not include the checks that we expected to be happening. That’s not acceptable," said Clark.
All those who have come in contact with the two infected women, including staff at a hotel where they stayed and co-passengers on the plane, are now being tested.