Coronavirus returns to New Zealand after nearly a month’s absence

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said earlier in June she was confident New Zealand had halted the spread of the coronavirus but must remain prepared.
(Associated Press)

New Zealand is no longer free from the new coronavirus after health officials say two women who flew in from London to see a dying parent had tested positive.

But before they were tested, the women had been given an exemption to leave quarantine on compassionate grounds and had traveled from Auckland to Wellington by car.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said that, as part of their travel plan, the women had no contact with any people or any public facilities on their road trip.


Nevertheless, the new cases have sparked a round of testing in New Zealand for anybody who might have been close to the women. That includes passengers and staff on their flights, which arrived via Brisbane in Australia; other people at the Auckland hotel where they initially stayed in quarantine; and a family member they met in Wellington.

The women remain in isolation in Wellington and have delayed the funeral of their parent until they have recovered.

Before Tuesday, New Zealand had gone more than three weeks without any new cases and had declared that 22 people had died from the virus but everyone else who had contracted the virus had recovered.