A man who tested positive for Covid-19 before escaping from a quarantine facility in Auckland on Thursday had tried to escape three times before being successful, health authorities report.
New Zealand police arrested the man in an address south of Auckland on Thursday afternoon, approximately 10 km from the Novotel. Ibis hotel in Ellerslie, where he was in quarantine. He had been in the community for at least 12 hours at the time of his arrest.
The man has been accused of not complying with the Covid-19 health order. He is now in the Jet Park quarantine facility with a permanent guard outside his room.
RNZ reports that it was their first night at the Ellerslie Hotel and MIQ officials said CCTV footage showed him leaving his room three times between 11:40 p.m. and shortly after 1 a.m.
On the last attempt, he lowered a fire escape to a fence before hiding in a bush and exiting.
MIQ joint chief Brig Rose King told RNZ that MIQ was working on an investigation to find out what happened.
“As part of our procedures, we have CCTV and all of our facilities, but again, I’m trying to … confirm what happened in this case.”
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told RNZ: “Everyone is disappointed by what happened here, but there are strict security arrangements in place at all quarantine facilities, and I am confident that the person will be well cared for.”
It is not yet clear how many people the man came into contact with.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has come under fire from opposition politicians for failing to disclose in her daily Covid-19 update Thursday afternoon that the man had escaped from quarantine.
Robertson said: “The prime minister received a series of sketchy details of an incident that was taking place; note that this was a live police operation at the point where the prime minister was briefed just before the 1pm press conference. And I think it would have been irresponsible, while a live police operation was taking place, to go down and speculate on that. “
Talking to TVNZ, the 23-year-old man’s mother said she and her husband had called the police when they realized their son was no longer on the premises.
“It is difficult for us parents to speak up and report our own son. We want to protect it, but when we think about the community, that’s what makes us change our minds. “
The woman apologized for her son’s behavior and said she believed he was homesick and anxious when he made the trip home.
He also called the police about his son on Wednesday morning, when he left home after receiving a positive Covid-19 test result. He came back after 10 minutes, before the police arrived. The family was transferred to the quarantine facility that night.
At least nine family members have tested positive for the virus, including the woman’s 75-year-old mother, who is being treated at Middlemore hospital.
National Party Covid-19 response spokesperson Chris Bishop told RNZ that 24-hour people monitoring, such as leakage, should be considered.
“The evidence shows that this particular person had escaped from the isolation of their home, for example, beforehand, and had some very, shall we say, extreme opinions regarding vaccines.
“So I think reasonable people would say this is something the authorities should have known about and maybe they should have taken some additional steps for him when he was in quarantine.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism