Coronavirus: Government tweaks rules after two new COVID-19 cases emerge in New Zealand

After just eight days, New Zealand has lost its COVID-free status after it was revealed two women who arrived from the UK have the disease.

They were allowed to drive from Auckland to Wellington under a special exemption on compassionate grounds.

Now the Government is cancelling all exemptions that have been granted and will require a negative test result before any new ones will be approved.

Masks and gloves are now a must for security, hotel staff and police entering the Novotel Ellerslie - PPE that's even more crucial than ever, as the hotel is the quarantine facility linked to our latest COVID-19 scare.

"We've had two cases," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield explained. "These are two women from the same family."

Both women were put in quarantine at the hotel on June 7 after they arrived from the UK via Brisbane.

On June 12, the pair applied for an exemption on compassionate grounds to grieve with family after a death. A day later, the exemption was approved. 

This was despite one of the women having symptoms, which she attributed to a pre-existing condition. 

"What I have asked for from today is that anyone released for a compassionate exemption is tested, and there is a negative test result received and confirmed before they are released," Dr Bloomfield said.

It is not clear if the women were actually thoroughly questioned by health teams prior to them being allowed to leave. 

"This is an opportunity to look back, and learn and fine-tune, so that we are even better prepared," Dr Bloomfield said.

Mark Dexter, who's under quarantine at the hotel, says there are strict rules in place. 

"I am checked daily. A nurse comes around on a daily basis and takes my temperature and asks me how I am feeling," he explained.

He's questioning if the women were subject to the same checks. 

"To be let out after a week means that perhaps they were showing symptoms before they left that I would have thought would have been picked up. Clearly that hasn't happened," Dexter said.

It was also established that two teenagers - granted an exemption to attend a funeral in Hamilton - ran away afterwards. 

"Both of them have been tracked and traced," Dr Bloomfield said.

Otago University public health expert Professor Nick Wilson says we should expect to get more COVID-19 cases arriving in the country from overseas.

"We are going to be facing travellers coming to New Zealand every few weeks or months who are infected, because there is so much infection around the world," he explained.

Prof Wiilson says he's surprised the Government's failed to take all possible precautions. 

"People in quarantine should be wearing masks and actually people on flights to New Zealand should also be wearing masks."

In Beijing, after 50 days with no new cases, lockdowns and mass testing have resumed. Dozens of new cases have been linked to a food market, where the virus was found on a chopping board used for filleting salmon.

The Prime Minister believes if there were to be another outbreak here, we're ready. 

"All of our systems are designed in preparation for that but of course our goal has to be those preventative measures," said Jacinda Ardern.

Health Minister David Clark says we're more organised at the border than we've been previously.

"Now everybody is to be tested as they come through. That is again done for a reason."

The problem is it's only after these latest two cases emerged that rules have been tweaked once more - and now the process of contact tracing begins, once again, in earnest.