Sunday, November 28

Couple accused of escaping MIQ facility, third person turns himself in

Three people with Covid-19 reportedly escaped from a managed isolation facility in Auckland in two separate incidents and one who was a fugitive turned himself in.

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Sign on the fence outside the isolation facility (file photo).
Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

The woman, who left her home in southeast Auckland last night while being escorted by MIQ security, turned herself in to police.

The woman is now being transported by the police in her full personal protective equipment back to the Auckland District Custody Unit at Mt Eden to appear in Manukau District Court tomorrow.

She has been accused of failing to comply with a health order (Covid-19) and will appear in court at a later date.

In the first incident, two men left the isolation and quarantine facility at the Holiday Inn Auckland Airport hotel around 5.40pm yesterday.

The couple, both community cases, were watched by the police and MIQ security the entire time and captured about five minutes later.

One was on day six of his stay and the other on day seven.

A 26-year-old man has been charged with failing to comply with a Covid-19 health order and will appear in Auckland District Court today via video link.

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

The Health Ministry believes that there is likely a low risk to the public due to the short period the couple was outside the quarantine facility.

In the second incident around 9.55pm, the escaped Covid-19 positive woman came straight from the hospital and requested to return home briefly to retrieve personal items, care for a pet, and lock up her home.

A security escort was installed and they were given 10 minutes to do whatever she needed, MIQ Brigade Chief Rose King said in a statement.

When the security team went looking for her within 10 minutes, they discovered that she had disappeared from the house.

In a statement, King said these incidents were disappointing and unacceptable.

“These facilities are not prisons and these people have intentionally escaped.

“Deliberate infractions like this can put the wider community at risk.”

The Holiday Inn Auckland Airport Hotel is a dual-managed isolation and quarantine facility with 168 quarantine rooms.

There are currently 142 community cases there, 131 of them are in quarantine.

At today’s press conference, where it was revealed that there were 60 new community cases, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that these rule-breaking acts do not raise him any concerns regarding allowing the people isolate themselves in their homes.

“My understanding is that two of the fugitives scaled the fences. They were seen doing it, in less than five minutes, they were watched the entire time they were out. So the system worked it should be there.

“I understand that with the third unrelated case it was a person who was giving permission to return home to collect some belongings to take care of a pet. During that time they were escorted to enter their house and after 10 minutes they did not return … We will continue to apply a risk-based approach to managing Covid-19 cases in the community.

“So in those higher risk cases, particularly when we are not sure they will follow the rules, we still have the ability to move them to MIQ. In other cases where it was low risk and people follow the rules and can isolate them from safely at home, that’s actually the best place to isolate them. “

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