Family-of-six fled after NZ virus exemption

Six people in managed isolation at the Pullman Auckland were granted special exemption to attend a funeral in Hamilton on June 10 and return that same day.

But New Zealand Police were notified after they absconded.

“Four of them were tracked down quite quickly and the other two, the eight and the 18-year-old, took some time,” former police commissioner Mike Bush told Newstalk ZB.

The Ministry of Health NZ said four members of the family returned but “a teenager and child did not”.

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“The child was returned to the hotel-managed isolation and quarantine facility in Auckland,” the ministry told the New Zealand Herald.

“The teenager remains in self-isolation at a family property. The teenager in self-isolation in Hamilton has had a COVID-19 test and tested negative.

“The five family members’ request to join the teenager has been declined and they will complete their isolation at the managed isolation and quarantine facility in Auckland.”

Those five will be tested again on Thursday – day 12 of their stay.

Earlier, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered the military to oversee the country’s border controls after a bungle that allowed two people with the coronavirus to leave quarantine.

A 24-day run with no new cases was broken yesterday when it emerged two women who recently arrived from Britain were allowed out of quarantine early without being tested for the virus, even though one had mild symptoms.

The pair were eventually swabbed and proved to be infected, but only after they made a 650-kilometre road trip from Auckland to Wellington to see a dying relative.

All compassionate exemptions from managed isolation in New Zealand have been suspended.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed the women, diagnosed with COVID-19 after leaving a managed isolation facility in Auckland, didn’t drive non-stop as previously reported.

The new information was gathered in a second interview conducted by the local public health unit Tuesday night and subsequent interviews on Wednesday.

“Upon leaving the Novotel in a private vehicle provided by friends, the women got lost on the Auckland motorway system,” the ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday night.

“On realising this they phoned the same friends who supplied the vehicle, who met and guided them to the correct motorway so they could go in the right direction.

“As part of this the pair were in limited physical contact with the two friends for approximately five minutes.

“These two people have been contacted by local health authorities for a health check. Both had already had a test for COVID-19 once they heard of the positive results and are in self isolation.”

The Ministry of Health said it was “important to remember that the two women were distressed at the time by the sudden death of their family member”.

National MP Michael Woodhouse earlier claimed that the pair, who travelled from London to New Zealand, borrowed a car from a friend for a 640km road trip to Wellington, but had to meet someone for help with directions after getting lost.

Woodhouse told parliament that after getting assistance while lost, the two women gave their helpers a “kiss and a cuddle”.

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