3 Covid-positive cases escape MIQ in Auckland

Source: 1News

Three Covid-19 positive community cases staying at an Auckland MIQ facility have escaped with one still on the run.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND: A woman walks past the barriers outside the Grand Mercure Hotel in Britomart, Auckland, New Zealand, on 29 October 2020. The hotel is one of those being used by the New Zealand Government as an official Covid-19 managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) centre housing returning New Zealanders (and some essential migrant workers) who all must complete a mandatory period of quarantine. (Photo by Lynn Grieveson - Newsroom via Getty Images)

In a statement, Joint Head of MIQ Brigadier Rose King said on Wednesday morning the trio were staying at the Holiday Inn Auckland Airport Hotel managed isolation and quarantine facility when they absconded on Tuesday evening.

In the first incident, two community cases allegedly absconded at approximately 5.40pm on Tuesday evening.

The individuals were apprehended by police and taken into custody at approximately 5.45pm. They were observed by police and MIQ Security the entire time.

One was on day 6 of their stay and the other on day 7.

King said a 26-year-old man has been charged with failing to comply with a health order [Covid-19] and appeared in Auckland District Court via AVL today.

A 33-year-old man will be summonsed to appear in Court at a later date.

Ministry of Health officials believe, based on information provided by MIQ, that there is likely to be a low risk to the public from the short period that the two cases were out of the quarantine facility.

However, in a second incident at approximately 9.55pm, King said a Covid-19 community case who had arrived directly from hospital, requested to return home briefly to retrieve personal items, care for a pet and lock their house from a residence in South East Auckland.

"A security escort was set up to allow this to occur," King said.

"They were given 10 minutes to do what they needed to. At the 10 minute mark the security detail went to retrieve them and found the individual had disappeared from the address.

"Police were immediately notified and this individual has yet to be found."

The Holiday Inn Auckland Airport Hotel is operating as a dual managed isolation and quarantine facility. It has 168 quarantine rooms. There are currently 142 community cases there, 131 of them are in quarantine.

"These incidents are really disappointing and unacceptable to me," King said.

"These facilities are not prisons and these individuals have willfully absconded.

"There are rules in place for every single returnee from overseas and now the positive community cases, and we expect people to follow these during their stay in managed isolation or quarantine.

"This is so they can return to the community safely, while ensuring the safety of all New Zealanders. Deliberate breaches like this can put the wider community at risk.

"Our role is to protect New Zealanders from Covid. We have had more than 180,000 people come through our facilities and when an incident like this happens I can assure you I take it very seriously."

Police and the Ministry of Health are leading the work on gaining an understanding the movements of these individuals since they left the facility. 

An investigation has also been launched into how the case escaped.