New Zealand's coronavirus-free streak ends after eight days

New Zealand's coronavirus-free streak ends after eight days
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New Zealand has reported its first new cases of coronavirus in more than a week after two women who traveled abroad tested positive after being released from their quarantine early.

The pair of cases break the country's eight-day streak of being COVID-19 free, Reuters reports.

Like most countries during the pandemic, New Zealand requires incoming travelers to quarantine for 14 days. However, the two women were given compassionate exemptions, as they were traveling from the U.K. to visit a dying parent in Wellington. 

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One of the women exhibited symptoms consistent with COVID-19 before being released early but attributed them to a pre-existing condition. When they returned to quarantine, they both tested positive.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been widely praised for her handling of the virus, said Tuesday that officials would investigate what happened.

“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 reportedly said in a Facebook Live post.

New Zealand is one of the few places that has been able to return to relative normalcy, with all social and economic restrictions except border control being lifted last week.

Before the pair of new cases, the country had gone 24 days without a new case of COVID-19.

New Zealand's Health Minister David Clark said that compassionate exemptions to the quarantine rule would be prohibited until his confidence in the system has been restored.

“Compassionate exemptions should be rare and rigorous and it appears that this case did not include the checks that we expected to be happening," Clark reportedly said. "That’s not acceptable.”