New Zealand authorities said Thursday that a man who tested positive for COVID-19 could face a fine or jail time after he escaped a quarantine hotel to return home.
Police dressed in full protective gear arrested the man about six miles away from the hotel in the northern city of Auckland, where New Zealand is currently facing an outbreak of the delta variant, according to The Associated Press.
Authorities said that the man had been on the run for about 12 hours before he was detained, and The Guardian reported that he appeared virtually in Auckland district court before being returned to a managed quarantine center.
The person was charged with failing to comply with New Zealand’s coronavirus health order. Under a new law passed last year, he could face a fine or up to six months in jail if convicted, according to the AP.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said it was not immediately clear how the man escaped, though security footage in the area showed a man hiding in bushes away from security guards.
Hipkins told the New Zealand Herald that the quarantine facilities are heavily managed and secured, adding, “I am very concerned that someone made it out.”
Auckland is currently in a level-four lockdown, the nation's highest, to combat a recent outbreak of the delta variant.
Last month, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a nationwide lockdown after a single coronavirus infection was reported in Auckland.
Shortly after the shutdown, authorities recorded several additional coronavirus cases, including one individual who had worked four shifts at Auckland City Hospital while they were infectious.
Days later, New Zealand’s government said it would extend the nationwide lockdown to the end of August, ordering residents to only leave their homes for grocery shopping and other essential activities.