Coronavirus: Mystery surrounds hour New Zealand COVID-19 escapee spent on the loose in Auckland CBD

The movements of New Zealand's newest coronavirus case remain shrouded in mystery, with uncertainty lingering over just what he got up to for the 70 minutes he was on the loose in Auckland CBD.

On Wednesday afternoon, Health Minister Chris Hipkins revealed a person in their 30s deliberately broke out of their managed isolation facility on Tuesday night.

The man, a New Zealand citizen, arrived in the country on July 3 from New Delhi, India. He returned a positive COVID-19 test on Wednesday morning, the day after his escapade.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb said he escaped through a fenced area at the Stamford Plaza hotel while in a smoking area, taking advantage of a section of fencing that was being replaced.

The escape took place at around 6:50pm, he said.

But while it's known that he used his time out on the town to visit a Countdown supermarket on Victoria St West, the rest of his 70-minute escapade remains a mystery.

According to Google Maps, his route from the hotel to Countdown along the quickest route should've taken just six minutes. Leaving a generous 20 minutes of shopping time, the time taken to go to the supermarket and return to the hotel would've been just a tick over 30 minutes.

The walk to Countdown on Victoria St West from Stamford Plaza should've taken just six minutes.
The walk to Countdown on Victoria St West from Stamford Plaza should've taken just six minutes. Photo credit: Google Maps

But he was on central Auckland's busy streets for more than double that period - about 70 minutes - returning to the hotel at around 8pm after police searches proved unsuccessful.

Police say they're now "reviewing CCTV footage and undertaking substantial area searches" to determine the man's movements in the CBD.

Hipkins says the man "deliberately and willfully" broke the law, exhibiting behaviour that is "completely unacceptable".

"It is completely unacceptable that we have now had two people let everybody else down by breaking the rules," he told media from a press conference at the Beehive.

"Leaving facilities and putting New Zealanders at risk - these are acts of selfishness that we intend to use the full weight of the law to stop."

The fencing in place at managed isolation facilities is being replaced with six-feet-high fences following the incident, and the Government's security framework is being assessed to determine other improvements that need to be made.

The offender will also be summonsed to appear in court, charged under section 26(1) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.

"There will be a charge following the successful completion of the period of isolation... Either a six-month imprisonment or $4000 fine is the potential charge," Air Commodore Webb said.