Defence Force official to take charge of Covid-19 quarantine procedure after system failure allows cases through

Source: 1News

A senior Defence Force official is taking charge of New Zealand's Covid-19 quarantine procedure after it was yesterday announced a system failure allowed two cases slip through.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined the changes at a press conference today, announcing that Assistant Chief of Defence Air Commodore Digby Webb will now be in charge of isolation facilities for Kiwis returning from overseas.

"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 said before outlining what Air Commodore Webb's role will be.

"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."

He will also undertake an audit of isolation facilities and processes and make any changes needed, Ms Ardern said.

As stated yesterday all compassionate exemptions for people to leave isolation early have been suspended until further notice.

The Prime Minister's statements come as two new Covid-19 cases were recorded in New Zealand yesterday. They were two women, one in her 30s and one in her 40s who arrived from the UK earlier this month.

Both women arrived in New Zealand together on June 7 and stayed in managed isolation in a hotel in Auckland.

They were permitted on compassionate grounds to travel to Wellington in a private vehicle on June 13 to visit a dying relative.

"They had no contact with anyone else. They did not use any public facilities and were with a single family member," Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.

Dr Bloomfield said potential contacts of the two women were 320 people on the same Air New Zealand flight from Brisbane and those in the same isolation facility in Auckland.

Prior to testing one was experiencing mild symptoms, he said.

Both women were tested in Wellington.

Dr Bloomfield says he is adding a rule that any person leaving an isolation facility needs to have returned a negative Covid-19 test.

He said the only person at risk from the pair was the family member who was in close contact with them.

The two new cases breaks a 24-day streak without any new cases, and a seven-day streak without any active cases in the country.