A man allegedly cut through a fence to escape a coronavirus isolation facility Friday in New Zealand. Officials say the man, only described as being in his 50s, apparently went to a liquor store before returning on his own to the facility.
The man is now in police custody and is expected to appear in court, according to a statement from New Zealand Air Commodore Darryn Webb, Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine.
He said investigators believe the man cut through fence ties to break out of the facility around 6:30 p.m. Thursday night, then returned about 30 minutes later. Authorities are checking CCTV footage to confirm the man’s movements during that time. It happened in the town of Hamilton, on the North Island of New Zealand.
It appears the man visited a liquor store. Police have talked to the store, and no one entered it this morning until health officials confirmed it was safe to do so.
“Managed isolation is a critical part in our defence against COVID-19, and it is up to each and every person entering this country to play their part and abide by the law,” Webb said.
The man who escaped arrived from Sydney on July 1, and their first coronavirus test came back negative, according to Webb. However, he still must remain in isolation. Webb believes the health risk from this incident is very low.
“We take any breach of the COVID-19 rules very seriously. Wilfully leaving our facilities will not be tolerated, and the appropriate action will be taken,” Webb said.
This comes just two days after another man escaped from a separate isolation facility in Auckland. This man, age 32, has tested positive for coronavirus. He was reportedly outside smoking a cigarette when he left the facility and visited a supermarket before returning.
After that incident, Webb said fencing at all isolation facilities will be replaced with 6-foot-high fences.
Travelers are being asked to isolate for at least 14 days in New Zealand, some must go to isolation facilities.