Coronavirus: One new case of COVID-19 at managed isolation facility visited supermarket

New Zealand's border has turned up one new case of coronavirus - but it's come with additional complications, after the person escaped a managed isolation facility and visited a supermarket.

The offender is a man in his 30s who arrived in New Zealand on July 3 from New Delhi, India.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says the man deliberately broke managed isolation protocol by leaving Auckland's Stamford Plaza to visit a Countdown in Auckland's CBD on Tuesday night.

He only returned a positive COVID-19 test on Wednesday, the morning after his escapade.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb said the man escaped through a fenced area at the hotel when he was out smoking, taking advantage of a section of fencing that was being replaced.

"Security attempted to follow the man but were unsuccessful in locating him," he explained.

"Police were called immediately, and enquiries were underway to locate the man including reviewing CCTV footage and undertaking substantial area searches.

"He returned to the facility where he was then interviewed by Police. Enquiries have established the man went to Countdown on Victoria St West on foot and purchased items at a self-service checkout, before returning to the hotel around 8pm."

Air Commodore Webb says once the man's movements had been established, police visited the supermarket to ensure the self-service checkouts and the areas the man went were cleaned.

It's understood he wore a mask during their time away from the facility, but removed it for short periods of time.

Webb said the man will be summonsed to appear in court at a later date, charged under section 26(1) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.

"There will be consequences to these actions," he said. "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."

Contact tracing and testing is now being undertaken by Auckland Regional Public Health in collaboration with Countdown, while police are reviewing CCTV footage to determine the man's movements in the CBD.

Countdown health and safety general manager Kiri Hannifin says the store will remain closed on Wednesday while a comprehensive deep clean is undertaken.

"We are incredibly disappointed that this has happened given the potential for an incident like this to put our team and customers at risk," she says.

"We have asked all of our team that were working last night, including the nightfill team, to self-isolate as a precautionary measure. They will get tested over the next few days and we are offering them any and all support they need."

At this stage, the store will reopen at 7am on Thursday.

Hipkins says the man's actions are "completely unacceptable".

"This person broke the law - they did so deliberately and willfully. That is not acceptable," he told reporters from a press conference at the Beehive.

"They are letting down our whole team of 5 million when they do that, and we have zero-tolerance... I understand the level of anxiety this causes to all of our team of 5 million, particularly those that may have been in that area at the time.

"It is completely unacceptable that we have now had two people let everybody else down by breaking the rules, 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."

Webb echoed these sentiments, and said wilful leaving of managed isolation and quarantine facilities before the 14-day period is finished would "not be tolerated".

"We take any breach of the COVID-19 rules very seriously," he said.

"The fencing in place at all managed isolation facilities is being replaced with six-feet-high fences. Our security framework is currently being assessed to determine what improvements may need to be made, and security requirements are being re-emphasised at all facilities.

"We are also reviewing the arrangements in place for smokers, and security in smoking areas."

An independent investigation has been launched into the incident, which is expected to continue over the next few days. Hipkins said he wants the probe concluded as soon as possible.