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New Zealand has confirmed two new cases of coronavirus, ending a 24-day streak of no new infections in the country.

Both women, who are from the same family, had travelled from the UK and were given special permission to attend the funeral of a parent.

Last week New Zealand lifted all domestic restrictions, declaring that the country was virus-free.

However, strict border restrictions remained in place – with only citizens and essential workers allowed in.

But exemptions can be granted and Dr Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s director-general of health, said there was an “agreed plan in place as part of the approval process [including] the travel arrangements”.

It’s not know if the patients are citizens of the UK, New Zealand, or elsewhere.

The women – one in their 30s and one in their 40s – arrived in New Zealand from the UK on the 7 June, via Doha and Brisbane, and entered quarantine.

They stayed in a managed isolation hotel in Auckland and on 12 June applied for an exemption to visit their dying parent – who died later that night.

They were granted permission to travel to Wellington on 13 June.

One of the women had “mild symptoms”, but put this down to a pre-existing condition.

They travelled to Wellington in a private vehicle and did not use any public facilities during this journey, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, director-general of health, said on Tuesday,

They stayed with a single family member in Wellington. That family member has now been placed in self-isolation.

The women were tested on Monday and the results were confirmed on Tuesday.

Dr Bloomfield added that going forward, he asked for “anyone being released for compassionate exemption [to be] tested and [have] a negative result” before they are released.

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Since 8 June, all arrivals in New Zealand are tested for Covid-19 and have to go through a 14-day period of isolation or quarantine.

Late last Monday, New Zealand moved into the lowest tier of its four-tier alert system – making it one of the few countries in the world to return to pre-pandemic normality.

Under this, social distancing is not required and there are no limits on public gatherings.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern celebrated the move but warned the country would “certainly see cases again”, adding that “elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort”.

New Zealand has been lauded at a success story for its handling of the virus – it was quick to close its borders and implement a strict nationwide lockdown.

The newest cases bring New Zealand’s total number of cases since the outbreak began to 1,506. The death toll remains unchanged at 22.