A man with Covid-19 allegedly escaped his isolation facility in Auckland yesterday and went to a nearby supermarket, which has now been closed.
The New Zealand citizen, 32, arrived in New Zealand on July 3 from New Delhi, India, and was isolating at the Stamford Plaza hotel.
The supermarket he visited was Countdown on Victoria Street West in the city's CBD, between 7 and 8pm.
It was open until 10pm last night and for a time this morning, but has now been closed as a precaution and 18 staff working during this time have been asked to self isolate and will be tested for Covid-19.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins said public health services have conducted a thorough interview with the man, as well as viewed CCTV footage of his movements, and concluded that the risk of him having passed the virus to anyone is low, as there was no close contact with any customers or staff.
"Whilst we are reviewing all of our systems, I want to be clear that the obligations and responsibilities on the individuals in these facilities is to follow the rules which will keep our team of five million safe," Mr Hipkins said.
"It is completely unacceptable that we have now had two people let everybody else down by breaking the rules, leaving facilities and putting everyone at risk.
"These are acts of selfishness that we intend to use the full weight of the law to stop."
Air Commodore Darryn Webb confirmed the man is now facing criminal charges under the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.
If convicted, he faces up to six months in prison or a large fine.
Mr Webb said the man climbed a fence about 6.50pm while outside smoking, as a section of fencing was being replaced.
Security staff tried to follow him, but couldn't catch up, and police were called, but he then returned to the facility after visiting the supermarket.
"The actions of this man are completely unacceptable," Mr Webb said.
"Returnees are given clear instructions and information about what their responsibilities are.
"Managed isolation is a critical part in our defence against Covid-19, and it is up to each and every person entering this country to play their part."
Mr Webb said fencing at all isolation facilities is now being replaced with fencing which is six feet high.
The man was the only new confirmed case of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, bringing the total number of cases to 1187, and active cases to 23.
The total number of tests carried out since yesterday's update was 2131, bringing the total number of tests done in New Zealand to date up to 419,055.
Minister of Health Chris Hipkins said yesterday that he had instructed health authorities to increase the number of tests being done after a dip was noticed following a change in clinical advice being given to health professionals.