No need for Kiwis to worry after man with COVID-19 escaped isolation - medical expert

There is no cause for widespread concern after a man with COVID-19 escaped from an Auckland quarantine facility and visited a supermarket, a medical expert says. 

A man in his 30s, who later tested positive for COVID-19, escaped Auckland's Stamford Plaza on Wednesday.

He got out through a fenced area at the hotel when he was out smoking, taking advantage of a section of fencing that was being replaced. 

The man then visited the Countdown supermarket on Victoria St West on foot and purchased items at a self-service checkout, before returning to the hotel about 8pm. 

He will be charged under section 26(1) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.

University of Auckland professor Shaun Hendy said the risk of community transmission from the escape is fairly low. 

"This particular incident doesn't sound like it was extremely high-risk and authorities have found out about it relatively quickly," Hendy told Newshub on Wednesday.

"We're in a good position to contact people who might have been present [at the supermarket]."

While there is no need for Kiwis to worry, Hendy is urging anyone in managed isolation to follow the rules to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading.  

"You shouldn't be overly alarmed. Nonetheless, the risks are not zero so it is something that we want to bring home to people in isolation that it is really important that they stick to the rules." 

"We want to minimise the number of these types of incidents because we have to keep up this control of the border for a very long time.

"We're in a good position to contact people who might have been present [at the supermarket]."

It's the second time in the space of a week someone has escaped an isolation facility. On Saturday, a woman escaped from a managed isolation facility in Auckland. 

The 43-year-old, who was staying at the Pullman Hotel, scaled two fences to breakout around 6pm. She was apprehended by police a few hours later nearby Anzac Avenue. 

She could face a six-month jail term or a $4000 fine if she's charged under the Government's COVID-19 legislation.

She travelled alone to New Zealand from Brisbane on June 27 and a COVID-19 test came back negative while she was in isolation.