Saturday, December 4

Pretrial inmate probably infected on the way to the Firth of Thames residence

A prisoner who tested positive for Covid-19 was likely infected by someone who transported him to an address in Waikato, says the Director General of Health.

Mt Eden Prison.

The man was rescued from the Mt Eden Prison in Auckland, which was at alert level 4, to a house in the Firth of Thames, which was at alert level 2.
Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The remand prisoner was transferred to a residence on the Firth of Thames on September 8 on electronic bail.

He developed symptoms three days later, but the infection was only contracted when he was placed in pretrial detention on Friday, Dr. Bloomfield said. He tested positive the next day and last night it was confirmed that three of the nine people he lived with had also tested positive.

During today’s post-cabinet press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said they were aware of the prisoner’s every move as it was monitored by GPS.

“They had to be carried by a specific person,” he said.

“They needed, more or less, to take a direct route. Once they arrived, they did not leave their residence.”

Bloomfield said the prisoner likely contracted the virus from one of the people who transferred him to his bail address.

He said there were a small number of people who brought the person to his residence. The trip is prior to the infectious period of the person.

“We are still awaiting full genome sequencing of all the people involved, but it seems likely that the person who was in pretrial detention was infected by someone who had been to Auckland, probably one of the people who was transported … staying in in house with the other members of the whānau, he has infected the other members of the whānau “.

The chief judge of the district court, Heemi Taumaunu, has also provided more information about the prisoner’s movements.

He had been held in pre-trial detention and held at Mt Eden Correctional Facility since April 27, before being released on electronically monitored bail on September 8.

The judge imposed strict conditions on the case, which included being transported by a specific family member.

On September 16, the court was informed that his electronically supervised bail address was no longer available.

The bond was later revoked and an arrest warrant was issued. The next day, the man appeared in Manukau District Court.

Mangatangi School

Two of the prisoner’s three domestic contacts who tested positive attended Mangatangi School last week.
Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson said Control he was disappointed that the prisoner was being transferred to an address in Waikato and said that he had expressed this to the Prime Minister’s Department and the Cabinet.

“I thought the Department of Corrections would have applied a little common sense as well, knowing that they would potentially cross the border … I just can’t understand the justification at all,” he said.

“It just shows that some people seem to think it’s okay … we can move freely across the border. I’ve never heard so much garbage in my entire life.”

But Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu said it was within the law to release a person on bail from Auckland, via an alert level 4 cap.

In a statement, Taumaunu said that the Covid Public Health Order allowed a judge to release a person through an alert level cap.

“The judge will consider a number of factors set forth in the Bail Act 2000, including the severity of the charges and the time he has already spent in custody. In this case, the judge found that the posting of the electronically supervised bail and the direction of the proposed bond were appropriate, “he said.

Taumaunu said that in this case the judge imposed strict conditions, including that a specific family member was available to pick him up from Mt Eden prison and take him directly to the bail address without unnecessary stops.

The man was required to be electronically monitored and resided at the bail address 24/7, and could not move from that address without prior approval.

Ardern said the government was asking Corrections why several people detained the man.

They were also checking whether the person who was ordered to transport the person accompanied them throughout the trip to the bail address.

This afternoon, he announced that part of North Waikato had received a section 70 order, requiring people who live or work there to stay home.

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