25 Jul 2020

Fifth person who escaped from managed isolation in Hamilton detained

10:47 am on 25 July 2020

Four of the five people who absconded from a managed isolation facility in Hamilton last night will appear in court today - charged with breaching the Health Act.

A 37-year-old woman and three young people were detained in Hamilton just before 8pm last night, however, the teenager remained at large.

The 17-year-old was found at a house in Waitemata in Auckland early this morning.

Police said an Eagle helicopter was used to look for the teen. They said they committed considerable resources to the search.

He will appear in the Youth Court in Auckland today.

The woman and two young people will appear in the District and Youth Courts in Hamilton today.

A short statement from Air Commodore Darryn Webb who manages the country's 32 isolation and quarantine facilities confirmed the teenager was located after a major manhunt.

The group escaped by climbing over a wall at the hotel, which is the same facility that a man fled from two weeks ago.

All five had returned negative tests on the third day of their isolation.

The Distinction Hotel in Te Rapa, Hamilton.

The Distinction Hotel in Hamilton. Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Last night the Minister in charge of Managed Isolation and Quarantine facilities, Megan Woods, condemned those who absconded saying they were putting New Zealanders at risk.

In a statement, she said the speedy apprehension of four of them highlighted the importance of the police presence at isolation facilities.

"This is incredibly irresponsible behaviour by this group. Our only chance of stopping community transmission of Covid-19 is by containing all potential cases at the border, and we are doing this successfully through our managed isolation system.

"People absconding from facilities before they have completed their isolation and returned negative day 12 tests are endangering the health of other New Zealanders and our Covid-free status in the community," Woods said.

She said the group who absconded would be re-tested along with anyone they came into contact with.

"These people knew the rules and chose to break them and will now face the consequences ... we constantly review these cases to see if there are any further improvements we can make to ensure people are not breaking out."

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