ANKARA 

New Zealand confirmed on Tuesday two new cases of the novel coronavirus, ending a 24-day streak of no new infections.

Two women, both from the same family, contracted the virus after arriving from the UK via Australia on June 7. They were given special permission to attend the funeral of a parent, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The women, one in her 30s and the other in her 40s, did not have “any contact with anyone on the journey or using any public facilities.”

While “one of them experienced mild symptoms, the other was symptom-free.”

The communique added that “both women are self isolating in the Wellington region. We are confident this is the best place for them to be right now.”

Shortly after the cases were reported, Health Minister David Clark announced that the government is to suspend all compassionate exemptions at the border.

Death or illness in the family, childcare needs, fleeing domestic violence are considered to be compassionate exemptions.

“We have great sympathy for families dealing with bereavements, although today’s news underscores a recent decision to not grant exemptions to attend funerals,” the statement added.

New Zealand has 1,156 confirmed cases and the number of recoveries remains at 1,482.

Last week the island country of nearly five million people lifted all restrictions, declaring that the country was virus-free. This was largely due to strict lockdown restrictions in which most businesses except essential services were shut, and people were ordered to stay indoors.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has spread to 188 countries and regions, with the US, Brazil, Russia and India currently the worst hit.

The pandemic has killed nearly 437,000 people worldwide, with the total number of infections over 8.03 million, while some 3.85 million people have recovered from the disease, according to the figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

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