Lost hikers found alive after 18 days in New Zealand forest

UNTV News   •   May 27, 2020   •   143

Scenery at Kahurangi National Park

Two New Zealand hikers survived for more than 18 days in a densely-forested national park before being found alive on Wednesday (May 27), rescue officials said.

Jessica O’Connor and Dion Reynolds, both 23, hiked into Kahurangi National Park in the northwest of New Zealand’s South Island on May 9, and were expected to return in five days. They were reported missing by a friend on May 18.

A search helicopter located the pair on Wednesday afternoon, and they were taken to be medically assessed at a hospital, police said.

Police said initial indications were that the pair became lost in fog during the first few days of their hike. They decided to stay put and had run out of food by the time they were found.

At 452,002 hectares (1116921.27 acres), Kahurangi National Park is New Zealand’s second largest national park. It was also one of the locations for the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Reuters)

(Production: James Redmayne)

New Zealand’s health minister resigns after coronavirus criticism

UNTV News   •   July 2, 2020

New Zealand’s embattled Health Minister David Clark resigned on Thursday (July 2) after security slip-ups at quarantine facilities where the coronavirus was detected just days after officials declared it had been eliminated from the country.

Clark was also under fire for personally breaching strict lockdown rules twice earlier in the year, by taking his family on a beach trip and driving to a mountain biking track.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who had earlier refused calls to sack Clark, citing his critical role in the country’s response to the pandemic, said she agreed with his decision.

Recent opinion polls have Ardern’s Labour Party far ahead of its main rival National Party, putting it on track to win a Sept. 19 general election, but public confidence in her government has been undermined by a series of blunders.

Ardern had declared in early June that New Zealand had eliminated coronavirus, although she warned there would almost certainly be new cases, as she lifted social distancing restrictions.

Just days later it was revealed that two women who arrived from Britain who were allowed to leave quarantine early on compassionate grounds later tested positive for the virus.

Ardern appointed Education Minister Chris Hipkins as interim health minister until the September election, after which she said she would consider a permanent replacement. (Reuters)

(Production: James Redmayne)

New Zealand confirms two new cases of COVID-19

UNTV News   •   June 16, 2020

New Zealand confirmed on Tuesday (June 16) that it has two new cases of the coronavirus, both related to recent travel from the UK, ending a 24-day streak of no new infections in the country.

According to New Zealand Director-General of Health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, the two women, in their 30s and 40s, are from the same family, and were allowed out of their 14-day mandated quarantine due to “compassionate reasons”.

New Zealand lifted all social and economic restrictions except border controls last week, after declaring it had no new or active cases of the coronavirus, one of the first countries in the world to return to pre-pandemic normality.

However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned that new cases may come up in the future as New Zealanders return home, and some others were allowed in under special conditions. (Reuters)

(Production: Cordelia Hsu)

New Zealanders enjoy life back to normal after social distancing restrictions lifted

UNTV News   •   June 9, 2020

Life for New Zealanders returned to normal on Tuesday (June 9) as the government lifted all social distancing restrictions except for border controls, after declaring it was free of the coronavirus.

Cafes in New Zealand’s capital of Wellington were seen packed with customers, and public transportation also resumed at full capacity.

New Zealand is one of the first countries in the world to return to pre-pandemic normality, with public and private events, the retail and hospitality industries and all public transport allowed to resume without the distancing rules still in place across much of the world.

The reopening comes after months of restrictions, including about seven weeks of a strict lockdown in which most businesses were shut and everyone except essential workers had to stay home. (Reuters)

(Production: Cordelia hsu)

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