New Zealand has identified two new cases of coronavirus after going 24 days without a single active case, according to an announcement by New Zealand health officials on Tuesday. The two cases have been identified as two women from the UK who were granted exemptions to travel within New Zealand to attend a funeral during the global pandemic, which has sickened over 8 million people worldwide and killed at least 430,000.
“A new case is something we hoped we wouldn’t get, but it’s also something that we expected, and we have planned for,” Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s Director-General of Health, said at a news conference on Tuesday. “That is why we have geared up and continue to gear up our contact tracing at a local level and at a national capacity, as well as having our excellent testing capability so we can respond rapidly.”
The two unnamed British travellers reportedly landed in the city of Auckland on June 7 and were planning to spend 14 days in quarantine, as required of all international travellers visiting New Zealand. But the person they had arrived to see in New Zealand – a parent according to the NZ Herald – died more quickly than expected and the women applied for a so-called “compassionate dispensation” to be allowed to travel roughly 400 miles to Wellington for the funeral. That dispensation was granted.
The British women, reportedly in their 30s and 40s, drove a private car and didn’t take public transit from Auckland to Wellington. One woman told New Zealand health officials that, in retrospect, she did have mild symptoms, but the other woman was symptom-free. Both got tested for the coronavirus at a Wellington clinic.
The women flew through Brisbane, Australia and people on that flight are being notified of potential exposure to covid-19. The women are currently in a self-isolation in Wellington where they’ll be treated for the disease. New Zealand health authorities are currently reassessing their protocols for granting travel exemptions on compassionate grounds.
New Zealand effectively eradicated the new coronavirus for 24 days after experiencing 1,504 cases and 22 deaths. But today’s news shows that New Zealand must remain vigilant against the disease when people are travelling from places like the U.S. and UK, where dysfunctional governments have allowed covid-19 to ravage the population. The U.S. has identified over 2.1 million cases and more than 116,000 deaths, while the UK has found over 298,000 cases and at least 41,000 deaths.
Fans during the round 1 Super Rugby Aotearoa match between the Blues and the Hurricanes at Eden Park on June 14, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Getty Images
Disturbingly, the U.S. seems to have given up on trying to control the spread of the disease, the only wealthy country in the world that just said, “screw it, let people die.” There have been 157,229 new American cases and 4,953 new deaths in the last seven days alone, according to NBC News. And new cases continue to trend upward for over a dozen states, especially in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, and Florida.
President Donald Trump appears to have gotten bored with the coronavirus pandemic, and continues to spout some of the most ignorant shit any world leader has ever uttered on virtually any topic.
“If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” Trump said at the White House on Monday.
Trump previously said that the pandemic would go away “like magic” without any kind of intervention and at one point seemed to encourage Americans to drink bleach to get rid of the disease. The makers of Lysol had to issue a statement warning Americans that they shouldn’t drink cleaning products.
By contrast, New Zealand made international headlines recently for being the first country to fully open up without social distancing restrictions after successfully beating the pandemic. New Zealanders are now free to get their hair cut, go out to movies, dine in at restaurants, and even attend sporting events with thousands of other people, as you can see in the rugby stadium pictured above. The government has not announced that it will institute new restrictions as long as it’s able to trace all potential contacts of the two British visitors while they were in New Zealand.
The New Zealand government is looking at as many clues as possible, including security camera footage at the airport, in order to thoroughly determine every person the British tourists may have exposed to covid-19.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that they were prepared to see new cases like this, and expect to see more, especially as other citizens return home. But Ardern stressed that they’re still optimistic about being able to control the virus through proper testing and tracing.
“We still have New Zealanders returning home,” Ardern said earlier today when asked about the new cases. “What this does prove is the importance of a rigorous system at our border, of us continuing to be very, very cautious in our management.”
Featured image: Getty