New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the military will now oversee the nation’s borders and quarantine after a blunder resulted in two new COVID-19 cases.
The two new cases were from overseas travellers returning home and broke the country’s 24 day run of no new infections.
“”Our borders and the controls at our borders must be rigorous, they must be disciplined and they must have the confidence of ministers and all of you, New Zealanders who got us here,” Ms Ardern told reporters today.
She also confirmed that compassionate exemptions for people to leave isolation early have been suspended until further notice.
“I know this will be upsetting to some New Zealanders seeking to return home, to visit dying relatives and loved ones.
“But this case has proven our need for caution.”
Ms Ardern has appointed Assistant Chief of Defence Digby Webb, who will now be in charge of isolation facilities for Kiwis returning from overseas.
“Air Commodore Webb will regularly report to ministers. As the Assistant Chief of Defence he can also seek access to our military logistics operational expertise, and if needed personnel to assist in the running of the facility,” Ms Ardern said.
Air Commodore Webb will also undertake an audit of current isolation facilities and processes and make any changes needed.
New Zealand Health Minister David Clark expressed his frustration over the two new cases, saying he couldn’t understand how the blunder occurred.
“It’s pretty clear I’m unhappy with the situation and I want this fixed,” Mr Clark told media today.
“I have expressed my frustration – the director-general is absolutely committed to putting this right.”
The two cases are women from the same family who had travelled to New Zealand from the UK and through Australia.
They arrived in New Zealand on June 7 and stayed in managed isolation in a hotel in Auckland.