An unvaccinated Auckland woman who escaped from MIQ security while she visited her home to tend to a pet failed to appear in court today because she had cold and flu symptoms.
The woman, who has name suppression, became infected in October and was scheduled to be transferred to the Holiday Inn MIQ facility.
But she was allowed to briefly visit her southeast Auckland home first, accompanied by security, to collect her personal items and tend to her pet.
The visit only took around 10 minutes, but during that time she allegedly managed to escape while security waited outside.
The 46-year-old handed herself into a police station two days later.
She was scheduled to appear in Auckland District Court this morning facing one charge of failing to comply with the Covid-19 Public Health Response Act.
But her lawyer Olivia Skelton said the woman was experiencing "significant" cold and flu symptoms and was not vaccinated against Covid-19.
Judge Fraser decided against having the woman phone into court, and the matter was adjourned to February.
If convicted of the single charge, she could face up to six months' jail and a $4000 fine.
The woman is one of three people who escaped an MIQ facility on October 20 last year.
Two other men absconded from the Holiday Inn after they allegedly walked to a nearby dairy to purchase cigarettes.
They were arrested by police within five minutes. The pair were community cases.
"The absconding appears to be spontaneous, neither were fully dressed," a report into absconding incidents said.
Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) documents revealed 25 people successfully escaped from an MIQ facility, and another 27 tried to, in the past two years.
Fourteen of those incidents happened during October, the same month in which more than 150 complaints were laid about things such as food, cleanliness and exercise.
The data, obtained under the Official Information Act (OIA), shows October was the worst month for absconders and complaints since MIQ was established in 2020.
"Recently, MIQ has played a greater role in caring for community cases and we have seen an increase in absconders or attempted absconding," a recent report into the string of absconding incidents stated.
"Community cases can be reluctant to stay in MIQ and there are a greater percentage of persons presenting with higher needs and a large number of high-risk individuals."