Absconding incident at managed isolation facility, 28 September

Published: 28 September 2020

An investigation is underway following an absconding incident at a managed isolation facility in Auckland.

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

This morning at approximately 8.20am, on-site security staff at the managed isolation facility at the Ramada Federal Street, located a number of sheets tied together hanging from a window of a fourth floor room at the rear of the building.

At approximately 8.24am as the matter was being investigated, the occupant of the room presented himself at the front gate.

He was immediately taken into custody by Police and he currently remains at the facility under questioning. So far, we have been unable to establish what time the man absconded the facility.

Police enquiries are underway, including a review of CCTV to establish the man’s movements in the time he was outside the facility.

Security at the facility has been reviewed and immediate improvements have been made following this incident.

Low public health risk

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

The man returned from Australia on a deportation flight on 16 September, and tested negative following his day three and day 12 tests. He is on day 12 of his stay.

He has been asymptomatic throughout his stay.

Among deportees returning from Australia there have not been any positive COVID-19 cases confirmed.

Public health is our paramount focus, and we are urgently working to determine the movements of this person while they were outside of the facility and how they were able to abscond.

While this person’s exact movements are still being determined, immediate enquiries were conducted in the vicinity, which have not established any particular businesses or properties entered by the abscondee at this point.

The Police investigation is at an early stage, and initial indications are that this person has absconded by exiting via a fourth story window and climbing down a makeshift rope, which is clearly an extremely dangerous act.

This person has put themselves and others at potential risk and their actions were unacceptable. Wilfully leaving our facilities will not be tolerated, and the appropriate action will be taken.

There are rules in place for every single returnee and we expect people to follow these during their 14 day stay in managed isolation. This is so they can return to the community safely, while ensuring the safety of all New Zealanders.

There have been over 55,000 people through managed isolation and quarantine and only nine incidents involving 13 people absconding from managed isolation. These incidents are rare and we treat them extremely seriously.

Again, the public health risk of this incident has been assessed by health officials as low, but anyone who has concerns about their health should call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.