Absconding incidents at Auckland MIQ facility

Published: 20 October 2021

MIQ can confirm that 3 COVID-19 positive community cases staying at the Holiday Inn Auckland Airport Hotel managed isolation and quarantine facility allegedly absconded last night. One is still at large.

Statement from Joint Head of MIQ Brigadier Rose King

In the first incident, 2 community cases allegedly absconded at approximately 5.40pm, Tuesday 19 October 2021. The individuals were apprehended by Police and taken into custody at approximately 5.45pm. They were observed by Police and MIQ Security the entire time.

One was on day 6 of their stay and the other on day 7.  

A 26 year old man has been charged with failing to comply with a health order (COVID19) and will appear in Auckland District Court via AVL today. A 33 year old man will be summonsed to appear in Court at a later date. 

Ministry of Health public health believes, based on information provided by MIQ, that there is likely to be a low risk to the public from the short period that the 2 cases were out of the quarantine facility. 

In a second incident, at approximately 9.55pm, a COVID-19 community case, who had arrived directly from hospital, requested to return home briefly to retrieve personal items, care for a pet, lock their house from a residence in South East Auckland. A security escort was set up to allow this to occur. They were given 10 minutes to do what they needed to. At the 10 minute mark the security detail went to retrieve them and found the individual had disappeared from the address. Police were immediately notified and this individual has yet to be found. 

The Holiday Inn Auckland Airport Hotel is operating as a dual managed isolation and quarantine facility. It has 168 quarantine rooms. There are currently 142 community cases there, 131 of them are in quarantine. 

These incidents are really disappointing and unacceptable to me. 

These facilities are not prisons and these individuals have wilfully absconded. There are rules in place for every single returnee from overseas and now the positive community cases, and we expect people to follow these during their stay in managed isolation or quarantine. This is so they can return to the community safely, while ensuring the safety of all New Zealanders. Deliberate breaches like this can put the wider community at risk.

Our role is to protect New Zealanders from Covid. We have had more than 180,000 people come through our facilities and when an incident like this happens I can assure you I take it very seriously. 

Police and the Ministry of Health are leading the work on gaining an understanding the movements of these individuals since they left the facility. We are investigating how this happened.