Man escapes Rotorua managed isolation facility

A returnee staying at the Sudima Rotorua hotel escaped the managed isolation facility on Wednesday night.

The man was reported missing from his room on Wednesday afternoon before being found by Defence Force personnel about 11:30pm.

Head of managed isolation and quarantine Air Commodore Darryn Webb said a police investigation is underway.

"Indications are that he did not move beyond the immediate area," he said. "Initial information is that the man exited through a fenced area.

"There is no information to suggest the man came into contact with any other person while he was outside the facility."

The man arrived on a flight from Brisbane on September 8 and returned a negative COVID-19 test on day three of his stay. He remains symptom-free.

Darryn Webb.
Darryn Webb. Photo credit: Newshub.

He's been taken to hospital due to concerns for his wellbeing.

Webb said the COVID-19 health risk to the public has been assessed as low.

"Standard COVID-19 procedures are being followed for staff who were in contact with the individual," he said, adding these incidents are extremely rare.

Under section 26(1) of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act of 2020, escapees can face a maximum penalty of six months in prison or a $4000 fine.

Twelve people have absconded from New Zealand's managed isolation facilities since they were put in place.

"Around 50,000 people have been through managed isolation and returned safely to their families and communities without incident," Webb said.

"I would like to reassure people, particularly those in Rotorua who have concerns, that the health risk as a result of this incident has been assessed as low.

"Investigations at this point indicate there were no close contacts outside the facility."

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