Second Covid-19 death in home isolation in Auckland

(RNZ Photo by Marika Khabazi)

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Wellington, November 5, 2021

Another person with Covid-19 who was isolating at home has died in Auckland.

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said in a statement that there were 163 new community cases of Covid-19 today and that St John Ambulance attended an emergency call to an address in the suburb of Mount Eden and found a person deceased on arrival.

The man in his fifties is understood to have been recently treated in hospital.

“Health authorities in Auckland are working with the Police and the ambulance crew to review the circumstances around the death,” Dr McElnay said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Grant Robertson said that it was his understanding that the deceased man was admitted to hospital on Monday (November 1, 2021) and discharged himself from the hospital on Wednesday (November 3, 2021).

He said that there had been phone contact with him the past two days.

Confidence in the system

“I am confident in the system. Obviously, when we introduce a new system like self-isolation, we need to continuously monitor it and that is happening. Between the Ministry of Health and the Auckland Regional Public Health, they are looking at both these specific incidents, but also at the wider system. It is important to note that enquiries are being on the cause of death,” Mr Robertson said.

He said that before it was decided that a person can self-isolate, there was a public health assessment of issues like the circumstances of someone’s accommodation. A medical assessment also determined the person’s suitability as a candidate for self-isolation.

“We are not in a position at the moment to be able to say what the cause of death was for either patient,” Mr Robertson said.

Dr McElnay said that the Coroner would look at both deaths.

Two attempts to escape from MIQ

In a related development, a Covid-19 case fled a Hamilton MIQ facility this morning by removing a section of fencing and jumping into a waiting car but was stopped by Police a few minutes later. It was one of two attempts to flee a MIQ facility in the past day, with another Covid-19 case running away from the entrance to the Holiday Inn at Auckland Airport last night. They were also caught within five minutes.

Joint Head of MIQ Brigadier Rose King said that every single event like this was “extremely disappointing.”

In the Hamilton incident, a person with Covid-19 fled from the Amohia Community Isolation Quarantine facility by removing a section of perimeter fencing at about 11.45 am today.

Ms King said that the person was observed by MIQ Security during this time, and when they absconded in a waiting car, they were soon apprehended a short distance away by Police and are now in custody.

The person arrived at the facility on October 27, 2021 and was on day eight of their stay.

The Amohia is being used as a quarantine facility for positive Waikato cases. It has 110 rooms and there are currently 17 community cases there, occupying 16 rooms.

The second incident in Auckland

In the second incident in Auckland last night, a positive community case was arriving by shuttle at the Holiday Inn Managed Isolation facility at about 5 pm when they fled on foot out of the open gate.

Ms King said that the fleeing person was observed by the Police and MIQ security the entire time and did not come in contact with anyone.

They were soon apprehended by Police about 100 metres and were immediately returned to the facility.

A security guard has now been stationed outside their room.

Facilities are not prisons

Ms King said that while the cases were disappointing, the facilities were not prisons and staff were not prison guards.

“People do not come into our facilities because they have broken the law, they come in because unfortunately, they are community cases that have tested positive. It is hard to keep people in a facility if they are determined to leave. MIQ staff work really hard to ensure the safety and comfort of all members of our community currently staying at our facilities. Most recent absconders were caught quickly thanks to our staff and security measures,” she said.

Ms King said that an overwhelming majority going through the MIQ system was doing their part to keep New Zealand safe, but deliberate breaches like this “can put the wider community at risk.”

There have now been 18 absconding attempts involving 24 people, with more than 186,000 people passing through managed isolation and quarantine.

-Published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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