New Zealand records two new cases of coronavirus - and they came from UK

Pedestrians walk past a billboard featuring Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with the word Aroha, meaning love, in Christchurch, New Zealand. Credit: Mark Baker/AP

New Zealand is no longer free from the new coronavirus after health officials say two women who flew from London to see a dying parent had tested positive.

They had flown in New Zealand on June 7, via Doha and Brisbane and entered quarantine before applying for an exemption.

But before they were tested, the women had been given an exemption to leave quarantine on compassionate grounds and had travelled from Auckland to Wellington by car.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said that as part of their travel plan, the women had no contact with any people or any public facilities on their road trip.

Nevertheless, the new cases have sparked a round of testing in New Zealand for anybody who might have been close to the women.

That includes passengers and staff on their flights, which arrived via Brisbane in Australia, other people at the Auckland hotel they initially stayed at in quarantine, and a family member they met in Wellington.

The women remain in isolation in Wellington and have delayed the funeral of their parent until they have recovered.

Until Tuesday, New Zealand had gone more than three weeks without any new cases and had declared that everybody who had contracted the virus had recovered, aside from the 22 people who died.

The country reported earlier this month it had eradicated the virus domestically. Credit: AP

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been hailed for her handling of the coronavirus crisis - swiftly locking down the country and closing the borders.

She said: "We have continuously highlighted that New Zealand will have cases of COVID-19 particularly obviously at the border.

"There are eight million cases worldwide. We still have New Zealanders arriving home. 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 and taking the cautious approach that we have continued to take as a government."

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