Australia lets woman travel to see dying sister despite coronavirus restrictions

Gail Baker (left) and Christine Archer last saw each other in person in Sydney six years ago.
Gail Baker (left) and Christine Archer last saw each other in person in Sydney six years ago.

A New Zealand woman has been reunited with her dying sister in Australia after gaining an exemption from pandemic travel restrictions on compassionate grounds.
Australia had rejected Christine Archer's request for permission to fly from New Zealand four times before her story attracted media attention.
Her only sister Gail Baker was diagnosed with incurable ovarian cancer in late March after both countries stopped international travel.
Archer was eventually allowed to fly to Sydney and spent only a week in hotel quarantine before testing negative for the coronavirus. International travelers are usually quarantined for two weeks.
Family friends drove the retired nurse 300 miles from Sydney to the New South Wales state coastal town of Bowraville where her younger sibling greeted her with a hug on Wednesday.
Archer told Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Thursday: "Words can't explain how I feel, to be honest."
“I’m just so happy that I finally got to be here and be with her. The last two weeks have been the hardest or the longest two weeks of my life,” Archer said.
Australia's Department of Home Affairs relented on Archer's travel application after it allowed the New Zealand Warriors rugby league team to relocate from Auckland in preparation for the Australian football competition restarting next week.
New Zealand has largely succeeded in its goal of eliminating the virus. It has reported no new infections over the past four days and most of the people who contracted the virus have recovered. About 1,500 people have been reported as having the virus including 21 who died.
Australia has had similar success in slowing the virus spread although New South Wales remains the worst-affected state. Australia expects New Zealand will become the first international destination with which regular passenger travel will resume because of the low risk of infection.
Australia has recorded 7,079 virus cases and 100 deaths. Australia’s population is five times larger than New Zealand’s.

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