Covid-positive woman accused of escaping MIQ enters no plea in court

Source: 1News

A woman with Covid-19 accused of going on the run when she was supposed to be back in quarantine has entered no plea in court.

Pedestrians walk past a Managed Isolation facility in Auckland.

The woman, 46, was granted interim name suppression as her case was heard by Judge Josephine Bouchier in the Auckland District Court.

The accused woman joined the hearing by phone to face a charge of intentionally failing to comply with the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act.

That came after police launched a hunt for her after she allegedly disappeared on Tuesday.

She had been taken straight from hospital to the Holiday Inn quarantine facility near Auckland Airport.

But she was granted permission to return home to collect personal belongings, attend to her pet, and lock the home up.

MBIE, which is in charge of MIQ facilities, said she was given 10 minutes to do this and was accompanied by a security guard.

The Ministry said the woman then couldn’t be found by the guard when the 10 minutes was up.

She remained still at large the next day until she handed herself in and put back into quarantine by police officers wearing full PPE.

In court today her lawyer argued for interim name suppression on extreme hardship and health and safety grounds.

The court was told the accused woman has had “quite a severe case” of Covid-19, and couldn’t breathe while in hospital and required a blood transfusion.

“It’s only been a week and we don’t know what kind of stress that can have on someone quite ill, so just to let her recover,” her lawyer said.

The woman has been remanded without plea and bailed to stay in quarantine, and has another hearing set for next month.

She is to remain at the facility unless given permission to leave.

Her alleged escape was one of three from the same quarantine facility on the same night over just a few hours.

Two men, aged 26 and 33, are also facing charges after leaving the facility for about five minutes.

They are said to have been in full view of police and security staff the entire time, and the public health risk has been deemed low.

MBIE has called the alleged absconding “really disappointing and unacceptable”.