Covid-19 patient who broke quarantine to go shopping to be charged in New Zealand

8 July 2020, 08:11

A cyclist passes mannequins in face masks in Christchurch
A cyclist passes mannequins in face masks in Christchurch. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Authorities in New Zealand have said they are going to press charges against a coronavirus patient who escaped from quarantine and went shopping at a supermarket.

A 32-year-old man escaped through a fence at the Stamford Plaza hotel in Auckland and was gone for just over an hour before returning. He later tested positive for the virus.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the head of managed isolation and quarantine, said the man is a New Zealand citizen who recently returned from India and his actions were "completely unacceptable".

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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.

Mr Webb said CCTV footage indicated that the man had not been in close contact with other people at the Countdown supermarket and had used a self-service checkout.

Nevertheless, the supermarket has been closed for a deep clean.