Government failed to alert public alleged COVID-positive escapee was in community twice

A man with the deadly Delta strain of COVID-19 has been arrested after allegedly breaking out of a quarantine facility, putting Aucklanders and Auckland's lift out of lockdown at risk.

Newshub understands this is allegedly not his first escape. Initially, after the man tested positive, he was allowed by the Ministry of Health to isolate at home

Newshub has been told he breached that isolation order on Wednesday, left the house, and when he came back police busted him.

The Ministry of Health then sent him to quarantine on Wednesday night and he allegedly broke out. His family have been very cooperative. 

It was the man who breached the rules, but it was the Government that breached the public trust - the magnitude of that cannot be understated.

Not only did it neglect to tell the public a Delta case was in the community overnight, but it also hid the fact he'd been out in the community during the day yesterday as well

After allegedly making a break for it from quarantine, the man with the deadly Delta strain was arrested by police on Thursday. Police brandished tasers and wore full protective equipment (PPE). 

The man was taken into custody in Mt Eden and appeared via video link to court and was bailed back to quarantine. 

"There is some CCTV of someone hiding in a bush while a security guard walked past them," COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told reporters. 

The man hid in the bushes at the Novotel Ellerslie facility and then, it seems, somehow broke out of what is supposed to be a fortress, making his way to a private residence.

It was only discovered he'd escaped after a family member in quarantine with him reported it - not because managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) staff figured it out.

"The MIQ facilities are very secure," Hipkins insisted.

But clearly not. There have been several escapes from isolation but never quarantine and Delta makes this the worst.

"This is deeply troubling and we urgently need to get to the bottom of exactly what's happened and what we need to do to make sure it doesn't happen again," says National's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop. 

The person had only entered quarantine on Wednesday night. At around 1am it's thought they escaped. At 10.30am police were notified by MIQ. Just before 2.30pm he was arrested.

A Delta case on the run in the community for more than 12 hours has experts concerned. 

"It's very irresponsible and selfish to expose people in Auckland to this infection," says Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker. 

Hipkins described it as "utterly unacceptable". 

Just not utterly unacceptable enough to urgently alert the public, because while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took the stage at her regular 1pm show, she failed to mention the case.

"I do understand that some preliminary information was provided to the Prime Minister," Hipkins said. 

He wouldn't be drawn on why Ardern didn't bring it up. 

"I'm not going to get into that particular conversation with you."