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Absconder's bubble told MIQ staff man wasn't in Auckland facility 10 hours after escape

MIQ staff were notified that a man had escaped an Auckland MIQ facility on Thursday by a member of the person’s bubble, 10 hours after his escape.

The Novotel in Ellerslie. Source: Supplied

MIQ joint head Brigadier Rose King says at approximately 11am on Thursday, facility staff were notified by someone in his bubble who is also quarantining at the Novotel & Ibis Ellerslie quarantine facility that he was not in his room.

The room was immediately checked by police and NZDF staff, before officers then began their search for the individual.

A review of CCTV footage showed the man had left his room three times between 11.40pm on Wednesday and 1.04am on Thursday, King said.

King said on the final occasion, he left down the fire stairwell and approached the fence line. After hiding in bushes as an MIQ staff member passed, he departed the facility at 1.07am.

“The man who allegedly absconded had tested positive for Covid-19 and was placed in the Novotel & Ibis Ellerslie quarantine facility,” King said.

He is a community case and arrived at the facility at 6.15pm on Wednesday 1, King said.

“These facilities are not prisons and this individual has wilfully absconded. There are rules in place for every single returnee from overseas and now the positive community cases, and we expect people to follow these during their stay in managed isolation or quarantine,” King said.

“This is so they can return to the community safely, while ensuring the safety of all New Zealanders. Deliberate breaches like this can put the wider community at risk.”

King said absconding incidents were rare, with 12 incidents involving 16 people coming from a system that 170,000 people have been through.