Sunday, November 28

More details of MIQ escape of Novotel Ellerslie man revealed as authorities investigate


Managed isolation and quarantine officials revealed that the man who fled a quarantine hotel in Auckland early yesterday morning left his room three times before finally escaping.

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The Novotel Ellerslie MIQ facility from which the Covid-19 positive man escaped.
Photo: RNZ / Chen Liu

The man, who is infected with Covid-19, was arrested hours later at a home in Ōtāhuhu and has been accused of failing to comply with a health order.

It was his first night at the Ellerslie Hotel and MIQ officials said CCTV footage showed that he left his room three times between 11:40 p.m. and shortly after 1 a.m.

On the last occasion he descended the fire escape and made his way to a fence before hiding in a bush and then exiting.

It is not clear how many people he came into contact with, although the government says it is working to establish that so far it has indicated that there were “very few.”

The man is now in the Jet Park quarantine facility with a permanent guard outside his room.

Joint MIQ Chief Brigadier Rose King said Morning report MIQ was working on an investigation to find out what happened.

“The person arrived at our location at 6.15pm on the night of September 5 and, as part of our procedures, we conducted a risk assessment.

“This has had a number of agencies that have worked on this. Our focus is when someone comes to our facility and that’s what I’m focusing on: what actually happened at our facility? Did we follow our procedures and do the right thing? something or are there things we can do to improve this …

“So what I can say is regarding our CCTV footage, we have the moment when the individual left his room and moved out of his room and out of the fire escape and walked over to the fence.

“Then he hid from a member of the security staff and then left our premises. I have a schedule for that, which I’m happy to discuss with you. The other details about what happened, what our staff did at the time – still I have to wait for that investigation to come back.

“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 said Morning report “Everyone is disappointed in 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.

“Part of the rules about the way MIQ works is that there is a facility for people to exercise with very close supervision.

“If you are in a quarantine facility, individual decisions like that would be made in the particular case, but you know, we try to make sure that people can get some exercise and fresh air.

“There would, as with anyone who is going to exercise in quarantine facilities rather than the larger managed isolation facilities, they will only be carried out with close supervision with people wearing PPE, but individual decisions like that They will be made by those who are running the Jet Park, they have obviously had a lot of experience working with people who have Covid, so I would leave those decisions in their hands.

“I can confirm the timeline you just mentioned, which was identified by going back and looking at the CCTV footage and one of the issues that undoubtedly those who manage our managed isolation facilities will address as whether or not that CCTV is being. monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week “.

The man was identified as missing the next morning when other members of his family who were also at the facility raised the issue around 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Robertson said.

Soon after, police were notified and the person was found in the early afternoon, Robertson said.

Robertson said that of the nearly 170,000 people who had passed through MIQ, there were 16 fugitives.

Robertson said the facility had been operating for MIQ “for some time.”

“So it has the security arrangements that we would expect for that. We have very high security standards for all facilities, and that includes things like double fencing and cameras.”

“So, at this stage, it is considered to be relatively low risk, but work is being done to see what contact it may have had.

Regarding the timing of the information released to the public, Robertson said: “The prime minister received a number of sketchy details of an incident that was taking place; note that it was a live police operation at the point where the prime minister told me right before the 1:00 pm press conference, and I think it would have been irresponsible, while a live police operation was going on, to go down and speculate on that.

“Information is released as soon as possible … and it is important that while the police are doing their job we leave them to do it.”

National Covid-19 Party spokesman Chris Bishop said Morning report the escape was a “very concerted effort.”

“But I think it was concerning that you know, he left his three times, that it wasn’t picked up by CCTV and it wasn’t picked up for security and I suspect one of the underlying reasons is that the Novotel Ibis Hotel Ellerslie has only just become a quarantine facility, literally in the last few days.

“This man was in quarantine, so he was Covid-positive. Now, normally, people like him are sent to the Jet Park.

“That has been well used for a year or so because we have a lot of Covid positive people in the Auckland community at the time when they have to erect other facilities.

“We have the Holiday Inn online and then Novotel is turning into it and I suspect and I think the review will probably show us that the security protocols that are in the Jet Park are probably not in the Novotel.

“There is probably not enough security and there is not enough CCTV use on the night in question.”

He didn’t think twenty-four-hour surveillance for people like the fugitive was unreasonable.

“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, for example.

“So I think reasonable people would say that this is something that should have been known to the authorities and maybe some additional measures should have been taken for him when he was in quarantine and we need to know exactly what happened here.”


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