COVID escapees prompt NZ police presence

New Zealand police will now keep watch over quarantine hotels after two escapes in a week.
New Zealand police will now keep watch over quarantine hotels after two escapes in a week.

The New Zealand government will put police outside hotels used to isolate returning Kiwis after a second escapee in a week.

On Tuesday night, a man skipped out of his Auckland hotel and headed to an inner-city supermarket, browsing the aisles and taking selfies in contravention of New Zealand's strict health orders.

The 32-year-old man, who returned to New Zealand from India and like all international arrivals had been ordered to isolate for a fortnight, subsequently tested positive to coronavirus.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says the man faces charges from his actions, which also threatens the country's COVID-free status.

Store workers and shoppers in the supermarket on Tuesday night - including a prominent television journalist - are now self-isolating in the hope of containing the virus.

The government has responded by ensuring a police officer will be at each of New Zealand's hotels used for isolating returning Kiwis.

New Zealand has not had a case of COVID-19 outside of its border regime for two months.

On Thursday, health authorities announced three new cases of COVID-19, who will be moved from a 'managed isolation' hotel to a 'quarantine' hotel.

New Zealand has 24 active cases, none of which require hospital-level care.

Australian Associated Press