New Zealand authorities say they will press charges against a coronavirus patient. The man escaped a required quarantine in Auckland on Tuesday—and then went shopping at a supermarket.
New Zealand has enforced strict border controls to contain the novel coronavirus. All arrivals to the Pacific island must stay in quarantine for at least 14 days, unless they receive an exemption. Experts say people aren’t likely to remain infectious after 14 days without symptoms.
Because of this and other measures, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared in late April that there was “no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand”—meaning officials know where each new case is coming from.
Air Commodore Darryn Webb heads Auckland’s managed isolation and quarantine unit. He says an unnamed 32-year-old man escaped through a fence at Auckland’s Stamford Plaza hotel where he was staying in quarantine. The man was gone for just over an hour before returning to the hotel.
The escapee was in an area on Tuesday near where the hotel was installing new fences. Security footage reveals that the man seemed to make split-second decision to dart through a gap. A nearby guard saw the escape but thought the man was a construction worker.
The man later tested positive for the virus.
Webb says the man was a New Zealand citizen who had recently returned from a trip to India. Health Minister Chris Hipkins calls the man’s actions “selfish”—hardly the kind of behavior encouraged in 1 Corinthians 10:24: “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
The Stamford Plaza incident comes just days after a quarantined woman scaled two fences and fled the Pullman Hotel. She was missing for about 80 minutes.
Depending on the charges, the man could face a fine or a maximum of six months in jail if found guilty. Webb says that closed-circuit television footage indicates the man did not come into close contact with others at a supermarket near the hotel. He also used a self-checkout. Nevertheless, workers closed the entire supermarket for a deep clean. Plus, those working that evening must now quarantine, proving that one person’s actions can have wide-ranging effects.
(San Francisco Police Auxiliary Law Enforcement Response Team volunteer David Flynn offers face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus at Dolores Park in San Francisco. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)