New Zealand Reports Fresh COVID-19 Cases Eight Days After Declaring Coronavirus Eliminated

New cases of the novel coronavirus in New Zealand were reported Tuesday, the country's Ministry of Health confirmed, marking the end of the country's 24-day streak of no new infections.

Two new cases were reported about a week after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the country was virus-free on June 8.

"We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort," Ardern said at a news conference at the time.

The new cases, one woman in her 30s and another in her 40s, were reported in the Hutt Valley area of the Wellington region.

The women visited a dying parent in the New Zealand capital of Wellington after traveling to the country from the U.K., via Doha (the capital of Qatar) and Brisbane, Australia, on June 7.

The pair were in an isolation facility in Auckland upon arriving in the country but were given special permission to visit the dying parent. Both are now self-isolating, New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed at a news conference Tuesday.

The latest cases bring the country's total confirmed infections to 1,506, including 22 deaths, while 1,482 were reported to have recovered, as of Tuesday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Earlier this week, Ardern warned new cases were likely to emerge among residents returning home and others allowed to enter the country under special conditions as the pandemic continues across the globe.

"I don't want New Zealanders to believe that the battle is over when it is not," she said.

New Zealand is among the first countries to have restored some level of normality. Last week, all social and economic restrictions in the country were lifted, while border restrictions remained after the country declared it had no new infections and no new active cases (patients in hospital or recovering at home).

Public and private events, retailers, hospitality services as well as all public transport were allowed to resume without social distancing requirements.

Rugby, Blues, the Hurricanes Auckland, New Zealand
Fans during a rugby match between the Blues and the Hurricanes at Eden Park on June 14, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. Getty Images

On Saturday, for the first time since the outbreak began, thousands of fans packed into the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin to watch the rugby match between the Highlanders and the Chiefs. No face masks or social distancing were required among the more than 20,000 who attended the game.

New Zealand managed to contain the virus following a strict 75-day lockdown implemented back in March, which saw the closure of most businesses. Everyone, except essential workers, was required to remain at home for around seven weeks.

This week new cases of the outbreak in China, where the virus was previously reported to have been mostly contained, surpassed 100. A record 36 new cases were reported Sunday in the Chinese capital Beijing, sparking fears over a potential second wave of the virus in the country. The new cluster of cases is linked to Beijing's Xinfadi wholesale food market.

The novel coronavirus, which was first reported in Wuhan, China, has infected over eight million people across the globe. Over 3.8 million have reportedly recovered from infection, while more than 437,100 have died, as of Tuesday, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The graphics below, provided by Statista, illustrate the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the worst-affected countries.

1 of 3