New Zealand is no longer coronavirus free, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is employing the military in an effort to prevent that from happening again. Two sisters who flew from London to New Zealand to see a dying parent were allowed to leave quarantine early—without being tested for the coronavirus, which they were subsequently found to have. "This case represents an unacceptable failure of the system. It should never have happened and it cannot be repeated,” Ardern said Wednesday, explaining that the country's assistant chief of defense had been put in charge of all quarantine and isolation facilities and the procedures involved in people leaving them, and can leverage military resources and personnel if needed.
The country on Tuesday said it would no longer allow people to exit quarantine early on compassionate grounds. Bloomberg reports the Ministry of Health is in the process of isolating and testing 320 people who it says were in the vicinity of the women, including those on their flight. While initial reports said the two had no contact with anyone or any public facility on their 375-mile drive from Auckland to Wellington, it has since emerged that wasn't the case. A member of the opposition party claimed the women needed help with directions as they left the city and called people they knew who came to their aid—and that a "cuddle and a kiss" were exchanged. The health ministry subsequently admitted the women did have about five minutes of "limited physical contact" with the two friends who had lent them the car after they become lost, reports the Guardian. (Read more New Zealand stories.)