All five Hamilton isolation escapees caught

UPDATE: Four of the group have now been charged by police. See Newshub's new story here. The previous story is below.


The last of a group of five who escaped a managed isolation facility in Hamilton on Friday night has been detained, Air Commodore Darryn Webb said on Saturday morning. 

The facility is in Te Rapa, in the city's north. All five tested negative for COVID-19 on their third day of isolation, but were yet to undergo a second test.

"A person was seen exiting over the facility fence by a routine police patrol, and efforts to find and return the group to the facility started immediately," Webb said on Friday evening.

Four were found quickly and returned to the facility, believed to be the same one - the Distinction Hotel - from which a man absconded earlier this month to buy some liquor.

The fifth, a 17-year-old, wasn't found until sometime early Saturday morning.

Charges are yet to be confirmed, but the previous Hamilton escapee faces a charge of intentionally failing to comply with an order under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.

"The speedy apprehension of four of the absconders highlights the importance of the police presence at our facilities. This is incredibly irresponsible behaviour by this group," said Megan Woods, the minister responsible for running the isolation facilities.

"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."

There have been no cases of community transmission of the virus behind COVID-19 in New Zealand for months. Elsewhere in the world, the rate of infection is accelerating.