Absconding incident at managed isolation facility, 9 October 2020

Published: 09 October 2020

An investigation is underway and police charges are likely following an absconding incident at a managed isolation facility in Auckland.

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

COVID-19 status

The woman who absconded was swabbed this morning and tested negative.

The woman arrived from Dubai on 7 October 2020. She also tested negative on 1 October in a pre-flight test and was cleared to fly. Her next test is scheduled for tomorrow, which will coincide with her routine day 3 test.

Public health risk status

Public health assessment is ongoing while interviews and investigations are continuing in order to identify the nature of any contact with individuals outside the managed isolation facility.

However, it is reassuring that testing prior to arrival and also this morning is negative and that she is asymptomatic. Standard COVID-19 procedures were followed by police and staff who were in contact with the individual.

A permanent security presence has been established outside her room to ensure she remains at the facility.

What happened

This morning at approximately 1:00am, on-site security intercepted a woman attempting to abscond from the managed isolation facility at the Grand Millennium Hotel, Auckland through a fire exit.

As a result of Police speaking to the woman and making enquiries it was established that the woman had absconded the previous night on 8 October between 1:07am and returned at 3:09am.

Normally all fire exits that are not able to be monitored by CCTV or that are not alarmed are monitored by security guards stationed near them. Unfortunately a local decision was taken which meant that those guards were elsewhere on that evening.

Police are continuing to review CCTV footage to account for her movements during this time and charges are likely to be laid.

CCTV shows the woman has walked in and around the inner city.

This morning she was intercepted by security at the facility as she attempted to abscond for a second time.

Next steps

These incidents are rare but we treat them extremely seriously.

While I’m confident that we have strong security measures in place, these hotels are not prisons and this individual has wilfully absconded once, and then attempted to repeat this the following night when she was caught by security.

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 nearly 60,000 people through managed isolation and quarantine and only 10 incidents involving 14 people absconding from managed isolation.

ENDS

Media contact: 021 826 239
media@mbie.govt.nz

Last updated: 09 October 2020