New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned there will be more cases of coronavirus in the country despite its successful eradication strategy.
After previously declaring the country was coronavirus-free, New Zealand has now recorded seven new cases within the last week.
All of those cases were imported from abroad, with Ms Ardern on Monday predicting more cases in the coming weeks.
She said as the pandemic continues to grow globally, it was inevitable more and more cases would arrive on New Zealand’s shores.
"One of the reasons we will keep seeing more cases is because we have had a doubling of the number of people in the last month coming back to New Zealand,” she told TVNZ1's Breakfast, noting the number of arrivals in quarantine had doubled within a month.
“When New Zealanders return home, the likelihood of cases amongst those returning New Zealanders was very, very high.”
She stressed however New Zealand would continue to be in control of the pandemic as long as arriving cases were contained to mandatory quarantine facilities.
Ms Ardern said the nation had an obligation to allow New Zealand citizens to return to the country and it wasn’t an option to close its borders.
She said despite having seven active cases, there were no signs of community transmission in the country.
Release of quarantined pair ‘should never have happened’
However two of the seven cases were allowed into the community after arriving from the UK on compassionate grounds. They were released from isolation early without a test to see a dying relative.
On Monday Ms Ardern admitted it was a mistake and the Defence Force had now taken measures to avoid a repeat.
"That should never have happened, it was wrong. It was completely against the protocols that existed around compassionate leave,” she said.
"Since then, we have doubled the Defence Force staffing across our facilities.”
Since the incident, New Zealand has also ramped up testing across the country, on Friday recording its second highest daily testing total since the outbreak began with 7,707 tests.
The two cases have not resulted in any community transmission.
New Zealand has now had 1511 cases of coronavirus, with 22 deaths.
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