- China reported 40 more coronavirus infection on Tuesday, with 27 in Beijing as parts of the city lockdown
- One scientist has warned the new strain of the virus could be more infectious, believing it came from Europe
- Officials have been fencing off parts of the city with some in total lockdown while mass testing has resumed
- The outbreak has been linked with a food wholesale market called Xinfadi which sees thousands of visitors
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
PUBLISHED: 01:20 EDT, 16 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:54 EDT, 16 June 2020
China is rounding up Beijing residents and forcing them into quarantine as the capital goes back into lockdown amid an ‘extremely severe’ coronavirus outbreak, an activist claims.
Footage shows officials in hazmat suits barking orders through a megaphone while people line up in queues and pack into buses amid fears that a second wave of virus cases is about to hit the country. Activist Jennifer Zeng, who posted the footage, claims that seven hotels were requisitioned as quarantine sites with people rounded up in an all-day operation after an outbreak linked to the Xinfadi wholesale market
Beijing has today reported 27 new infections from the Xinfadi cluster and cases have spiked in recent days after mass testing and draconian lockdowns appeared to have brought China’s outbreak to a virtual standstill.
Today’s new cases took the number of confirmed infections in Beijing over the past five days to 106, as authorities locked down almost 30 communities in the city and tested tens of thousands of people.
Those at most risk of having come in contact with the virus were also banned from leaving the city, in measures echoing the drastic lockdown in Wuhan where the disease was first detected late last year.
China now faces a dilemma on how drastically to deal with new outbreaks while keeping the momentum in its economic recovery – a situation shared by other countries such as New Zealand that have beaten the virus.
Beijing has not set an GDP growth target for this year for the first time in decades, but analysts say it will have to grow GDP by three per cent to steady its economy.
There remains a sense of unease on Asian and global markets about signs of a COVID-19 resurgence, just as the city was getting back on track and after months of no new cases. ‘A cluster like this is a concern and it needs to be investigated and controlled – and that is exactly what the Chinese authorities are doing,’ WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said. Beijing residents rounded up $ sent to quarantine as city locks down.
These pictures purport to show Beijing residents being rounded up and forced into quarantine as the capital goes back into lockdown amid an ‘extremely severe’ coronavirus outbreak+29
Pictured: A Chinese epidemic control worker wears a protective suit and mask as he directs people at a site where authorities were performing nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 on citizens who have had contact with the the Xinfadi Wholesale Market, June 15, 2020 in Beijing, China+29
Officials in hazmat suits were seen shouting orders at Beijing citizens as parts of the city were plunged into quarantine measures after an outbreak of Covid-19+29
Pictured: People get tested for the coronavirus at a temporary testing facility in Beijing at an outdoor sports center June 15, 2020+29
Pictured: Paramilitary police officers and security staff wearing protective face masks stand guard next to the closed Xinfadi market, in Fengtai district, Beijing, China, 14 June 2020
China had eased much of its anti-coronavirus measures in recent months as the government all but declared victory against the disease that emerged in Wuhan late last year.
‘The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe,’ Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned at a press conference.
The country’s Vice Premier Sun Chunlan urged the city’s officials to impose ‘the strictest’ virus control measures to contain the spread of the virus, which has been linked to a massive food wholesale market called Xinfadi.
The World Health Organization had already expressed concern about the cluster, pointing to Beijing’s size and connectivity.
Officials in the city said they would test stall owners and managers at all of its food markets, restaurants and government canteens.
Zhao Honglei, manager of grocery chain store Shuguoyan, told AFP his 13 staff members had all tested negative.
Customers seemed reassured by the testing, he said, but online orders had increased tenfold in recent days.
‘People are concerned that it might be crowded at shops or they might get infected,’ he said.
Beijing’s testing capacity has been expanded to 90,000 a day, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Retiree Wu Yaling, 57, was in a long queue of masked people waiting in the scorching heat for tests at a park opposite one city-centre hospital.
‘I try not to go out as much as possible,’ she said, adding that her home is near one of the closed markets.
On Tuesday, the capital’s transport commission banned taxi- and ride-hailing services from carrying passengers out of the city, Xinhua said.+29
After new daily cases of the coronavirus had leveled out in the last couple of months, the last few days have seen a spike following the new outbreak of the virus in Beijing, with 106 new cases being reported over the last five days+29
Beijing citizens who came into contact with the Xinfadi Wholesale Market, either directly or indirectly, were tested in the Chinese capital on Tuesday+29
Queues stretched far back in Beijing on Tuesday as citizens who have come into contact with the Xinfadi wholesale market were tested for Covid-19+29
The Xinfadi wholesale market in Beijing has been closed after a new coronavirus cluster was traced back there+29
Security is out guarding entrances to the Xinfadi market in Beijing as the city reports a sudden increase in the number of Covid-19 casesMore Beijing markets closed for fear of second wave of Covid 19.
Hospital workers were at a public testing center as Beijing tries to establish how many people have been infected in a recent coronavirus outbreak
All indoor sports and entertainment venues in Beijing were ordered to shut on Monday, while some other cities across China warned they would quarantine arrivals from the capital. Players and coaches from the Beijing Super League football team were all tested and given the week off as their training camp is in the same area of the city as the outbreak.
The National Health Commission also reported four new domestic infections in Hebei province, which surrounds the capital, and a case reported in Sichuan province was linked to the Beijing cluster.
Authorities were racing to track people from Beijing who had travelled to other parts of China, and encouraging those who visited the capital to get tested.
Meanwhile, deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University – Yang Zhanqiu – told state media that he believed the latest outbreak in Beijing involved a more infectious strain of the virus than the one which hit Wuhan at the start of the pandemic.
Virologist Yang believes that the new strain could be more infectious based on the high number of new cases in a short period of time, according to China’s state-run global times.
The Times reported that Yang believed that if the virus spreading in Beijing ‘matches the type of virus sampled in the Xinfadi market and from Europe’, then it was likely that it had been ‘imported’ into China by food or people from Europe.
Yang did warn that new strains of the virus make finding a vaccination more challenging, explaining: ‘No doubt different genotypes of the virus can cause the vaccine to be less effective, or even ineffective.
‘That means the vaccine would have to be effective against both viruses circulating in China and those in Europe, adding difficulty to developing a vaccine,’ he said.
Authorities have been testing market workers, anyone who visited the market in the past two weeks and anyone who came into contact with either group.
The Chinese capital, with a population of 21.5million, has locked down at least 11 neighbourhoods close to Xinfadi, with some areas being fenced off, and launched a mass-testing programme to screen all 46,000 people who have visited the market or live nearby.
On Saturday, the Fengtai district, where the market is based, announced a ‘wartime mechanism’ and will establish a command center from which to manage the spread of the new outbreak.
Fresh meat and seafood in the city and elsewhere in China was also being inspected on the unlikely chance that was how the virus spread.
Residential communities around the market have been put under lockdown, along with the area around a second market, where three cases were confirmed. In all, 90,000 people are affected in the two neighborhoods in the city of 20 million. Authorities are also barring residents of areas considered at high risk from leaving Beijing and those from such areas who have already left must report to local health bureaus as soon as possible. Sports complex fenced off for COVID testing amidst Beijing outbreak.
A woman waits for the delivery of goods she ordered online in the Yilanyuan residential area which is under lockdown after a new COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak near the closed Xinfadi Market, in Beijing on June 14, 2020+29
Residents were still out shopping in supermarkets in Beijing on Monday, but they wore face masks to prevent spreading Covid-19+29
Police have parked outside entrances to the Xinfadi wholesale market, which has been closed following cases of coronavirus infections in Beijing
Hundreds of households in Berlin are locked down after dozens of people test positive for coronavirus
Officials in the southern district of Neukoelln said the outbreak involved homes in seven different locations and in some cases with 10 people living together.
Berlin’s top health official, Dilek Kalayci, urged those residing in the German capital to use a new government-backed contact tracing app, rolled out today, to help limit the spread of the virus.+29
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Berlin today, where 369 households have been placed under quarantine
As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 7,368 cases of Covid-19 and 208 deaths since the outbreak began.
Nationwide, meanwhile, Germany has seen 188,044 positive cases and 8,885 deaths.
Officials say the new tracing app is so secure that even government ministers can use it – although developers acknowledge it is not perfect yet.
Smartphone apps have been touted as a hi-tech tool in the effort to track down potential Covid-19 infections.
Experts say finding new cases quickly is key to clamping down on fresh clusters, especially as countries slowly emerge from lockdowns and try to avoid a second wave of infections and deaths.
But governments in Europe have run into legal and cultural hurdles trying to reconcile the need for effective tracing with the continent’s strict data privacy standards.
Germany, where a person’s right to their own data even after death is rooted in the constitution, has proved a particular challenge.
Early government suggestions to use mobile phone tower information and GPS co-ordinates for the app prompted a swift backlash.
‘Tracking where a person is in real time, that does remind us of China and its surveillance system,’ said Frederick Richter, who heads the independent Foundation for Data Protection.
It also recalls Germany’s own history of dictatorships. Both the Nazis and East Germany’s communist regime amassed vast amounts of information to persecute dissidents and undesirables.
‘That’s why we have always been very sensitive in Germany when it comes to the state collecting information on its citizens,’ Mr Richter said.
Like many other European tracing apps, Germany’s system now relies on low-energy Bluetooth technology that is standard in modern smartphones. +29
As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 7,368 cases of Covid-19 and 188,044 nationwide, as shown in a graph, pictured+29
As of Monday, Berlin had recorded a cumulative total of 208 deaths, with 8,885 nationwide, as shown in a graph, pictured
The app scans the user’s surroundings and records which other smartphones with the app are nearby and for how long.
If someone using the Corona-Warn-App tests positive for Covid-19, they can inform others who were in close proximity for at least 15 minutes that they might be infected.
Developers say their most recent tests correctly identified 80 per cent of people’s contacts.
That still leaves 20 per cent who were either not recognised as having been close to an infected person or deemed exposed even though they were more than two meters away.
‘This app is no cure-all, it doesn’t give you a free ride,’ said health minister Jens Spahn, noting that face masks and manual tracing will still be required.
‘But it’s an important tool to contain the pandemic.’
He acknowledged there was likely to be an increase in people seeking to get tested because of the app. ‘I’d rather a test too many than a test too few,’ said Mr Spahn.
Concerns have also been raised about the hotline some users will need to call to get their positive test result recorded in the app.
This opens the door to trolls who could try to trick hotline staff, setting off a cascade of consequences for everyone they were close to in restaurants, supermarkets or public transport.
Opposition parties have called for a law to ensure private businesses do not try to push customers or employees into using the app, either through incentives or sanctions.+29
A phone showing the newly-released ‘Corona-Warn-App’ developed by the German government for tracking Covid-19 infections during the coronavirus pandemic, which was rolled out today
The German government insisted that ‘voluntary means voluntary’ and the app would be continually improved.
Asked whether the app meets security standards for top-tier officials, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the country’s IT security agency has been involved from the start.
‘I presume that from their side there can be an unreserved recommendation to members of the federal government to use this app,’ said the spokesman, Bjoern Gruenewaelder.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Buedenbender, a judge, announced they were using the app.
Sceptics are more likely to be reassured by Germany’s Chaos Computer Club, which bills itself as Europe’s largest hackers association. The group has a history of punching holes in government and corporate IT systems and of campaigning against surveillance technology.
Linus Neuman, a club spokesman, praised the German app developers’ transparency for using the coding site Github to let the public look over their shoulder and recommend improvements.
He also suggested that choosing to store data only on people’s phones, rather than on central servers the way France has done, would help minimise privacy risks.
‘We can’t guarantee that someone won’t find a weak spot in (the code) tomorrow,’ said Mr Neumann.
‘But we can say that these weak spots will have a lower overall risk than if the German government had pursued a centralised approach.’
The German government says its app cost 20 million euros (£18 million) to develop and will require 2.5 million to 3.5 million euros per month to operate. It is available in German and English, with Turkish and other languages to follow.
Taxis and car-hailing services have been banned from taking people out of the city and the number of passengers on buses, trains and subways will also be limited and all are required to wear masks.
China had relaxed many of its coronavirus controls after the ruling Communist Party in March declared victory over the virus, which was first detected the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
In response to the new outbreak Beijing suspended Monday’s planned restart of some primary schools and reversed the relaxation of some social isolation measures.
Several districts in Beijing reinstated security checkpoints, ordered residents be tested and closed schools on Monday in response to the unexpected resurgence of COVID-19.
The city reported 36 new domestic cases yesterday, all of which were linked to the Xinfadi trading hub.
The Huaxiang area of Fengtai District, where the Xinfadi market is, has been classified as a ‘high risk’ place for COVID-19 while another 22 areas in the city are at ‘medium risk’.
The boss of the Xinfadi market on Saturday told reporters that researchers had found traces of the novel coronavirus on a chopping board used to cut imported salmon. +29
People wore protective face masks as they queued outside a health checkup center to receive a Covid-19 test on Monday +29
Public transport routes heading toward Xinfadi wholesale market have been changed and approach roads closed after a coronavirus cluster emerged from the market
The market was shut in the early hours of Saturday to be disinfected. Officials said they were also rectifying relevant hygienic issues, and to government has ordered anyone who visited the market, and for their close contacts, to isolate at home for two weeks.
A spokesperson from the Beijing Municipal Health Commission said yesterday that health workers had given nucleic acid tests to 76,499 people and 59 of them had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Nucleic acid tests work by detecting the virus’ genetic code, and can be more effective than simply detecting an infection in the early stages of the virus, when compared to tests that examine the body’s immune response. The latter is easier to conduct, however.
The Fengtai district along collected 8,950 samples from people who had worked in the market, according to CNN, and so far more than 6,000 samples have been tested with zero positive results so far.
Authorities had also managed to track down and collect samples from almost 30,000 people who had visited the market in the 14 days before its closer, and so far the 12,000 tests conducted so far had come back negative.
The city’s health officials claimed that the virus was likely to have been brought into the city from Europe.
South Korea has also been battling to prevent a resurgence of the virus, reporting 34 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Half were found in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area where health officials have been scrambling to stem transmissions linked to leisure and religious activities and low-income workers who couldn’t afford to stay home.
Hundreds of recent cases have been linked to nightspots, church gatherings, a huge e-commerce warehouse and door-to-door salespeople amid an erosion of citizen vigilance.
Despite concerns, the Seoul government has so far resisted calls to reimpose stronger social distancing guidelines after they were eased in April, fearing further damage to the fragile economy.
In New Zealand, two cases were detected in people who had traveled to the United Kingdom. Until Tuesday, the country 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.
China slams Hong Kong scientist who suggests the number of coronavirus cases in Hubei could be 32 times what officials claim
Professor Yuen Kwok-yung and his team from the University of Hong Kong announced the finding after analysing samples from Hong Kong people returning from the province of Hubei.
But their study has been condemned by China’s state media, which questioned if Prof Yuen was helping the United States smear Beijing over the pandemic.
Prof Yuen, a microbiologist, and his team collected the blood samples of 452 Hong Kong resident after they returned to the city from Hubei in early March, according to their university.
Their research discovered that 17 of them, or 3.8 per cent, carried antibodies against COVID-19.+29
Professor Yuen Kwok-yung (pictured) and his team from the University of Hong Kong said that 2.2million Hubei residents could have contracted COVID-19 in a study this month. They analysed the blood samples of 452 Hong Kong resident who returned from Hubei in March
After applying the antibody rate to the entire population of Hubei, which stands at 58.1million, the team found out that some 2.2million residents should have caught the bug by early March.
Prof Yuen and his team published their study earlier this month on The Lancet Microbe, an open-access journal.
The official infection figure of Hubei, however, is significantly lower.
The provincial government said a total of 67,802 had tested positive for the virus as of March 31 while the latest infection figure is 68,135.
This means the Hong Kong team’s finding is 32 times higher than Hubei government’s number either from March or today.
The researchers’ scientific endeavour was criticised China’s state-run newspaper The Global Times yesterday.
The newspaper raised the question if Prof Yuen was ‘the most powerful foreign aid’ for the United States, suggesting that he conducted the study to assist Washington.
The Trump administration has accused Beijing of covering up the true scale of the coronavirus outbreak and the origins of the pathogen – allegations Beijing has firmly rejected.
The Global Times report challenged the motives of Prof Yuen’s study, citing a Facebook post written by Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a pro-Beijing politician in Hong Kong.
Mr Ng accused Prof Yuen of blackmailing authorities by ‘politicising science and public opinion’.
He slammed the scientist for using 400-odd samples to deduce the number of cases of the whole Hubei, instead of resorting to the official figure from the government.
‘If calculated like this, China has 1.4billion people, so shouldn’t there be 53million infections? If the mainland people can still be so calm and carry on returning to work with such a shocking number, then it is not to demonise but deify the Communist Party,’ Mr Ng wrote on his Facebook account last Friday.
On China’s state-controlled social media platform Weibo, some users have even called Prof Yuen ‘han jian’, a derogatory term for a race traitor to the Han Chinese.
The COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, which is the capital of Hubei province.
More than 433,000 people have died of the deadly disease worldwide, and over 7.9million have fallen ill.
The Chinese National Health Commission has reported a total of 83,181 coronavirus infections and 4,634 deaths as of today.
Philippine officials, meanwhile, have reimposed a strict lockdown on the central city of Cebu and retained quarantine restrictions in Manila for another two weeks as infections continued to spike.
‘The battle with COVID isn’t over,’ Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said.
In the United States, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged governors to highlight the ‘good news’ around efforts to fight the virus despite several states reporting a rise in infections, which could intensify as people return to work and venture out during the summer.
Pence said in a private call with governors that except for a few places, the U.S. is seeing strong drops in virus-related hospitalization and mortality rates. In audio of the call obtained by The Associated Press, Pence urged governors to make it clear to residents that ‘there´s a lot of really, really good news.’
White House officials have played down the severity of the virus surge in places like Arizona and Texas. On Monday, the nation´s second-most-populated state set a one-day high in hospitalizations of coronavirus patients for the seventh time in eight days. Arizona´s hospitals were at about 82% capacity.
Meanwhile, Germany and France dropped border checks nearly two weeks after Italy opened its frontiers. Greece welcomed visitors Monday with passengers on flights from other European countries not having to undergo compulsory coronavirus tests.
The European Union´s 27 nations and other European states aren’t expected to start reopening to visitors from outside the continent until at least the beginning of July and possibly later.
Spain allowed thousands of Germans to fly to its Balearic Islands without a 14-day quarantine in a pilot program designed to help authorities gauge what´s needed against possible virus flare-ups.
Two travellers from the UK take coronavirus back into New Zealand on trip to visit dying parent after the country’s 24 days with no infections
- The two women landed in New Zealand on June 7 after flying in from London
- They were permitted to leave isolation to see a relative after their parent’s death
- PM Jacinda Ardern said handling of their case was a lapse in strict border checks
- Checks have halted the virus but NZ faces deeper economic crash than Australia
The new cases are a setback for prime minister Jacinda Ardern who last week declared victory over the outbreak after imposing one of the West’s toughest lockdowns, at the expense of a greater economic hit than Australia is suffering.
Ardern today doubled down on New Zealand’s strict border controls which only let in citizens and residents, and blamed the handling of the two new cases on a lapse in the quarantine rules for new arrivals.
The new cases emerged as China – another country that announced it had defeated the virus – also battled a new outbreak in Beijing, highlighting the challenges many nations face as they move forward with easing virus restrictions to revive their economies.
The women landed in New Zealand on June 7 and were given special permission to leave quarantine six days later, to grieve with another relative when the parent died.
They were tested in Wellington yesterday ‘as part of their agreed self-isolation plan’ – although one of them realised ‘in retrospect’ that she had experienced symptoms earlier.
The positive results came back today, a week after New Zealand scrapped almost all its lockdown restrictions when the number of active cases dropped to zero.
Passengers on their connecting flight from Brisbane and staff at their Auckland isolation hotel are now being traced as officials try to prevent a new outbreak.
Ardern declared last week that New Zealand had ‘eliminated transmission’ of the virus within New Zealand, and the PM’s popularity has surged in recent weeks after the country emerged from lockdown with only 1,504 cases and 22 deaths.
However, today’s news shows that New Zealand is still vulnerable to cases from abroad despite the border controls, which are likely to remain in place ‘for an extended period’ to prevent a new surge in cases.
Tourism usually brings in $40billion per year and makes up around six per cent of New Zealand’s economy, which is expected to shrink by up to 8.9 per cent this year compared to a 5.0 per cent drop in Australia. +29
New Zealand had enjoyed a 24-day streak with no new virus cases before two new positive results came back today. Even at its peak there were never more than 100 cases per day +29
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) said the new cases were not a surprise but criticised the handling of the two women’s testing +29
New Zealand’s economy is expected to contract by more (8.9 per cent) than Australia’s (5.0 per cent) this year, according to the OECD. This graph shows the two countries’ projected GDP as a share of late 2019 levels
What are New Zealand’s coronavirus rules?
- New Zealand’s border is closed to foreign travellers
- Kiwis, permanent residents and their partners can return home
- There are only very limited exceptions for others, including for essential health workers
- Other ‘essential workers’ seeking to enter the country will have to justify why their job could not be done from abroad or by someone else in New Zealand
- Everyone who does enter the country is quarantined for 14 days in a hotel at government expense
- Self-isolation at home is only possible if an exemption is granted on compassionate grounds – and this procedure has now been suspended
- There are no restrictions on gatherings, movement or leaving the home
- Bars, shops, restaurants, schools and workplaces can all open as normal
- Weddings and funerals can take place with unlimited numbers of guests and crowds can attend sports events as normal
- Public transport is running as normal
- Masks are neither required nor even encouraged, though people may choose to wear one ‘for their own comfort’ if they wish
- People are encouraged to ‘maintain a record of where they have been’ and download a contact-tracing app. People must self-isolate if told to by health authorities
The two women, one in her 30s and one in her 40s, stayed in a ‘managed isolation hotel’ in Auckland after they landed in New Zealand on June 7.
They applied for permission to visit a dying relative in Wellington on June 12, but the parent died that evening.
The next day, the two women were exempted from isolation ‘on compassionate grounds’ and allowed to drive to Wellington to grieve with another relative.
The women were carrying a ‘supply of face masks’ with them but were not tested before they left the Auckland hotel.
New Zealand’s director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said they ‘had no contact with anyone else during that trip’ and ‘did everything that was asked of them’.
The two women did not use any ‘public facilities’ en route, he said – adding that there is ‘a lot of empty roadside’ on the way from Auckland to Wellington.
They were tested at a drive-through facility in Wellington yesterday and the results came back today, Bloomfield said.
One of the two women was showing mild coronavirus symptoms before being tested, which she initially put down to a pre-existing condition. The another is symptom-free.
They are now starting a new 14-day quarantine on the property of their relative, who is also being tested.
The parent’s funeral will be deferred until after their new 14-day quarantine is over, Bloomfield said.
Others potentially at risk of exposure include their fellow air passengers and staff at the isolation facility in Auckland.
Officials are also set to watch CCTV footage of the two women’s arrival at Auckland Airport to see if any border staff need to be isolated.
Passengers on the Air New Zealand flight will be moved to a ‘managed isolation facility’ and tested, Bloomfield said.
Australian health authorities are also on alert after the passengers flew from London to Brisbane via Qatar before connecting to New Zealand.
It is not believed that the women were tested before leaving London, but none of their relatives in the UK had been unwell.
Health officials do not know whether they were infected in Britain or alternatively at the airport or on one of the flights.
‘A new case is something we hoped we wouldn’t get but is also something we have expected and planned for,’ Bloomfield said.
‘That’s why we have geared up our contact tracing and testing capability to be able to respond rapidly. We know there are people continuing to come to New Zealand from countries where there is active community spread of COVID-19.’NZ PM on border controls after new Covid-19 cases confirmed.
Speaking later, Ardern criticised the handling of the case and said all compassionate leave for people in isolation had been suspended.
‘Compassionate leave was granted for those individuals, however the testing of those individuals was done outside of their isolation facility. That does not meet our expectations,’ she said.
‘While of course we are reviewing exactly what has happened in these circumstances because they cannot be repeated, we have also directed the director-general of health to suspend all compassionate leave.’
She also 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.’ +29
New Zealand’s director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield (pictured) speaks at a press conference about the two new cases today NZ Director-General of Health confirms two new cases of COVID-19
It is not known whether the two women are British citizens or returning Kiwis. The border is currently closed to almost all travellers except for citizens and residents.
In contrast to New Zealand, Britain has suffered one of the world’s worst outbreaks with 296,857 cases and 41,736 deaths.
Bloomfield said hundreds of returning Kiwis are still arriving in New Zealand every day and warned that ‘we’re not out of this yet’.
New Zealand’s n ministry warns that the restrictions are ‘likely to be in place for New Zealand for an extended period of time’ and that there is ‘no end date’ for the two-week quarantine policy.
A projection by the OECD says New Zealand’s economy will shrink by 8.9 per cent this year, compared to 5.0 per cent in Australia.
The same projection says that the size of New Zealand’s economy will not return to pre-coronavirus levels until the end of 2021.
In 2019, tourism contributed 5.8 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP and 20 per cent of its exports, and nearly 230,000 people were employed in the industry.
GDP figures for the first quarter of 2020 are due to be released later this week.
‘The swift and decisive response against Covid-19 successfully contained the virus outbreak, saving lives and allowing the economy to reopen faster. However, confinement brought a number of sectors to a sudden stop in the second quarter,’ the OECD says.
‘The economic recovery will be supported by substantial fiscal and monetary stimulus, but will remain sluggish, as high unemployment and weak business confidence hold back domestic demand and export growth is stymied by the collapse of international tourism.’
The two infections – the first newly identified cases since May 22 – take New Zealand’s total to 1,506. There have been 22 deaths.
Officials ended New Zealand’s strict lockdown rules from midnight on June 9, after the country’s last ‘active’ patient was declared free of the virus.
The final patient, a woman in her 50s, recorded no symptoms for 48 hours, before being announced as recovered at St Margaret’s Hospital and Rest Home in Auckland.
Speaking last week, Ardern said the country had ‘united in unprecedented ways to crush the virus’.
‘We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort,’ she said.
Asked about her reaction upon hearing the news, she replied: ‘I did a little dance’ with baby daughter Neve.
‘She was caught a little by surprise but she joined in, having absolutely no idea why I was dancing around the lounge.’
New Zealand goes to the polls in September, and Ardern’s re-election was seen as far from certain before the pandemic began.
However, her leadership during the health crisis has propelled her Labour Party to a record 57 per cent in a recent opinion poll.
60 per cent had Ardern as as their preferred choice for PM, up more than 20 points on the last poll and the highest score for any leader in the Reid Research poll’s history.
The survey also indicated an overwhelming 92 per cent backing for Ardern’s Covid-19 response.+29
Jacinda Ardern (pictured, centre) speaks to the media on June 10, with New Zealand now reporting its first two cases of coronavirus for 24 days+29
People eat at a restaurant in Auckland (pictured on May 16) after coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased
New Zealand only confirmed its first case on February 26, but had shut its borders by March 19.
Gatherings of more than 100 people were also banned New Zealand from March 19, and schools, bars and restaurants were ordered to close from March 24.
Ardern announced a total Level 4 lockdown from March 26, at which point there were 363 confirmed cases.
The first stage of the lockdown kept Kiwis inside their houses, except for trips for health reasons or the supermarket.
The four-tier alert system meant that restrictions were slowly eased as the infection rate began to slow to a trickle.
The country has since moved to its lowest Alert Level 1, with minimal restrictions on public life – but strict controls still in place at the border.
The move to Level 1 allowed weddings, funerals, hospitality and public transport to resume without any restrictions.
The government says that ‘everyone can return without restriction to work, school, sports and domestic travel, and you can get together with as many people as you want’.
New Zealand’s most recent death was announced on May 28, although that patient – a woman in her 90s – had tested negative for coronavirus by the time of her death.
Health officials said Covid-19 was ‘not recorded as the primary cause of her death’ but said they had included it in the figures ‘consistent with our inclusive approach’.