New Zealand to charge coronavirus patient who escaped hotel quarantine

| 08.07,20. 04:16 PM |


New Zealand to charge coronavirus patient who escaped hotel quarantine


Commuters wait for transport at a bus interchange in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, June 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Baker) (AP/AAP)

New Zealand authorities say they will press charges against a coronavirus patient who escaped quarantine in Auckland and went shopping at a supermarket.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the head of managed isolation and quarantine, said the 32-year-old man escaped through a fence at the Stamford Plaza hotel and was gone for just over an hour before returning. The man later tested positive for the virus.

Webb said the man was a New Zealand citizen who'd recently returned from India and his actions were "completely unacceptable."

New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of the virus and is trying to contain cases at the border by placing new arrivals into a 14-day quarantine at various hotels.

Depending on exactly what charges are brought, the man could face a fine or a maximum of six months in jail if found guilty.

Webb said that CCTV footage indicated the man had not been in close contact with others at the Countdown supermarket and had used a self-service checkout. Nevertheless, the supermarket has been closed for a deep clean.

NZ's health minister resigns after personal pandemic blunders
While the country's health response has been praised around the world, New Zealand's health minister resigned last week following a series of personal blunders during the coronavirus pandemic.

David Clark had earlier described himself as an "idiot" for breaking the nation's lockdown measures and then last week appeared to blame a beloved health official for border lapses, generating an angry response from the public.

Announcing his resignation, Dr Clark said he'd put all his energy into the job.

"But it has become increasingly clear to me that my continuation in the role is distracting from the government's overall response to COVID-19," he said.

In April, he was stripped of some of his responsibilities after defying the country's strict lockdown measures. He drove 19 kilometers to the beach to take a walk with his family as the government was asking people to make historic sacrifices by staying at home

Dr Clark said he intended to remain in the parliament as a lower-ranking lawmaker.

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