New Zealand on Wednesday called in military to oversee the quarantine measures after new cases of the coronavirus were reported.
Addressing a news conference in Auckland, aired live, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “I cannot allow the gains [on stemming COVID-19]we have all made to be squandered by processes that are not followed.”
Announcing new measures to halt any further spread of the deadly infection, Ardern appointed Assistant Chief of Defense Air Commodore Digby Webb to oversee all quarantine measures, including entry at the borders and to manage isolation facilities.
New Zealand had successfully suppressed spread of the infection until Monday before it found two more cases on Tuesday after 24-day streak with no new infections.
Two women, both from the same family, contracted the virus after arriving from the UK via Australia on June 7. They were given special permission to attend the funeral of a parent without testing for the coronavirus.
The island country has 1,506 confirmed cases and the number of recoveries remains at 1,482. The infection has killed 22 people so far.
“We need the rigor, we need the confidence, and we need the discipline that the military can provide,” Ardern said.
“It is totally unacceptable that procedures we were advised were in place were not. Our job is to fix that. There is no room for error,” she added.
Ardern said: “My job is to keep New Zealanders safe.” “This a is a growing pandemic not a slowing one. We should be extra-ordinarily careful…”
Last week the island country of nearly five million people lifted all restrictions, declaring that the country was virus-free. This was largely due to strict lockdown restrictions in which most businesses except essential services were shut, and people were ordered to stay indoors.