Quarantine breach ‘appears intentional’

Tuesday September 15, 2020 Written by Published in Health
Dr Josephine Aumea Herman. Dr Josephine Aumea Herman.

Charges are likely to be laid against the returning Cook Islander who breached supervised quarantine only a few hours after arriving in Rarotonga last Friday.

A Rarotonga woman has been ordered into compulsory supervised quarantine after receiving two packets of cigarettes from her nephew – one of 33 returnees on last Friday’s flight.

At this stage no charges will be laid against the woman.

Yesterday, a couple who arrived back in Rarotonga on September 4 breached their quarantine order by inviting Vodafone technicians into their property at Nikao.

Te Marae Ora spokesperson Jaewynn McKay said last Friday’s breach appears to have been intentional.

Health secretary Dr Josephine Aumea Herman said prior to travel, every passenger receives documents regarding the rules of supervised quarantine as well as the Category Quarantine Order.

“He (the returnee) received information before leaving New Zealand and even on route to his accommodation,” McKay said.

“People just need to behave.”

This follows an “unfortunate” breach last week when a well-known local man and his whole family were ordered into compulsory quarantine, after the man had close contact with a person who returned from New Zealand.

No further action is being taken in this case.

The breaches are helping inform Te Marae Ora’s supervised quarantine processes. The focus should be on the public health risk which is small and for most – zero, McKay said.

“We know more about the virus and its behaviour, this is why Te Marae Ora placed people in the community,” she said.

However, there needs to be clear consequences for those who breach supervised quarantine.

Penalties for any breach of quarantine can result in a maximum of 12 months’ imprisonment or a $10,000 fine.

McKay said one of the bigger issues is if the Auckland Covid-19 community cluster is not contained and shuts down the possibility of travel to Rarotonga. 

“The next two weeks will be telling,” she said.

In other news, reports of an elderly man leaving his quarantine residence in Tupapa to get food and other supplies have been confirmed as a case of mistaken identity by Te Marae Ora. 

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