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Asia Today: Australia lets woman travel to see dying sister

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Delegates wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus leave after the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Thursday, May 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool)

BANGKOK – 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 490 kilometers (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. in an interview aired Thursday: "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.”

Australia 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.

Both countries have had success in controlling the spread of the virus.