Woman Who Tested Positive for Coronavirus Jailed in New Zealand After Refusing Examination When Arriving From U.S.

A woman who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus, was jailed for ten days in New Zealand after she is alleged to have unlawfully refused to be examined upon arrival from the U.S.

The woman in her 20s agreed to be tested for infection when she appeared in court last week, Radio New Zealand reported, and was bailed out after her test was confirmed. However, she was released from custody before the test's result was known.

The woman was quarantined and had no contact with other prisoners at Auckland Women's Prison, according to Stuff.co.nz, which cited comments by corrections regional commissioner Lynette Cave.

She also had her own exercise yard and given a phone to use in her cell, which was sanitized after each use.

An audio-visual link booth for the woman's court appearances was also cleaned after each time she used it. Prisoners who used the booth will also be tested for COVID-19 and kept separate from other inmates until the results come in.

Staff in the prison are required to wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) including eye protection, gloves, and masks when dealing with someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

Cave told Stuff.co.nz that six staff members who had contact with the infected woman while wearing PPE would be tested and are isolating at home.

Fewer than 1,500 people were recorded as infected with COVID-19 in New Zealand after the government imposed a strict elimination strategy, shutting its borders on March 15 and entering a country-wide lockdown on March 25.

So far, 21 people are recorded as having died in the country as a result of contracting COVID-19.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the country would downgrade from Level 3 to Level 2 restrictions.

Schools will reopen, workers can return to offices, and restaurants and stores will resume trade from Thursday. Libraries, playgrounds, and museums will also open and sports can be resumed.

Ardern has also called for gatherings to be kept small during Level 2. She said bars and restaurants, when they open, will not be able to take group bookings larger than 10 people.

"Parties, big social events or anything designed to be for mixing and mingling won't be allowed to happen for groups larger than 10 people," she said.

"Gatherings at home need to be capped at 10. Church and religious events, weddings, funerals, stag dos–all must be limited to 10 for now.

"And if you're wanting to head to a restaurant, or a bar, they won't be able to take group bookings larger than 10. This, alongside social distancing, is our insurance policy."

Ardern thanked her "team of five million" for the sacrifices they had made to protect the country's most vulnerable from coronavirus.

"Kiwis from all walks of life were resolute and determined–determined that this was a war we could eventually win, but only if we acted together. The battle is won, but the war is not over," she said.

Auckland Women Prison
The woman was quarantined and had no contact with other prisoners at Auckland Women’s Prison Sandra Mu/Getty Images