New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Wednesday assigned the military to oversee the country’s coronavirus quarantine process after two women who were allowed to leave their quarantine early tested positive for the virus this week.
The women, who had came from the United Kingdom to visit a dying parent, were told by health officials they could leave quarantine even though they hadn’t been tested yet for the virus.
Ardern called the incident an “unacceptable failure” that "should never have happened and it cannot be repeated." She said she’s temporarily removing the compassionate exemption clause that allowed them to leave the mandatory 14-day quarantine early.
Before the women tested positive, the country had been coronavirus-free since June 8 and the country hadn’t reported any new cases for three weeks before Tuesday.
The women, who are New Zealand citizens, drove from Auckland to Wellington where they tested positive Tuesday.
Anyone the women may have come into contact with on their flight, at their hotel in Auckland where they quarantined or a family member they met in Wellington will now be tested.
The women plan to isolate in Wellington and have delayed their parent's funeral until they have recovered.
The border is closed to everyone except for returning New Zealanders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.