Absconding incident at managed isolation facility, 16 September

Published: 17 September 2020

Yesterday at 11pm a returnee staying at the managed isolation facility at the Sudima Rotorua was reported missing from their room.

Statement from Air Commodore Darryn Webb, Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine

An immediate search began and the person was located by NZDF staff near the facility around 11:30pm.

Police enquiries are underway, including a review of CCTV to establish the man’s movements in the time he was outside the facility. However, indications are that he did not move beyond the immediate area.

Initial information is that the man exited through a fenced area.

There is no information to suggest the man came into contact with any other person while he was outside the facility.

Due to concerns for the man’s wellbeing he was taken to hospital where he is receiving support and assessment.

Low public health risk

Public Health advise the COVID-19 health risk has been assessed as low.

The individual tested negative for his day 3 test, after arriving in New Zealand from Brisbane on 8 September.

He is on day 9 of his stay and his next scheduled test is due around day 12. He is symptom-free.

Standard COVID-19 procedures are being followed for staff who were in contact with the individual.

Events of this nature are extremely rare, with eight incidents involving 12 people absconding from managed isolation. Around 50,000 people have been through managed isolation and returned safely to their families and communities without incident.

I would like to reassure people, particularly those in Rotorua who have concerns, that the health risk as a result of this incident has been assessed as low.

Investigations at this point indicate there were no close contacts outside the facility.

Security has been bolstered at this facility following this incident, and we will review whether any additional measures are required.

Anyone who has concerns about their health should call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.