Person who spread COVID-19 into Waikato by breaching Auckland border won't be charged

Leah Panapa 14/10/2021

LISTEN: The COVID-positive person who breached the Auckland border by crossing in and out of the region, returning to Waikato with the virus, may have escaped police charges because they don't know who it is.

It's been revealed the person would not be charged with any offence under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act, according to police, and that they have not received a referral for investigation.

University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis believes it might be down to a simple reason: no one has told police who this person is, so they couldn't charge them, even if they wanted to.

He believes the Ministry of Health won't pass information about the case on to the police because it might stop people with COVID-19 symptoms from coming forward as they will have to disclose where they've been and what they've been doing.

"The ideal would be that everybody follows the rules. Nobody crosses over the border unless they're absolutely allowed to so COVID doesn't spread - that would be the ideal," Geddis told Magic Talk.

"The problem is when you've got someone who has done that and has gone into an area they're not allowed to, and has gone to a bunch of different places with COVID, you then want to find out where they've gone and you want to find out where they've been so you can contact trace."

Geddis said if information gathered through the contact tracing process is then passed onto the police so they can use it to prosecute, there is a risk that the next time it happens the person might not tell the truth to contact tracing officials.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says information shared with health authorities for tracing was only used for that purpose and not passed to any other agency.

Listen to the full interview with Andrew Geddis above.

Magic Talk | Mornings with Leah Panapa, weekdays from 9am.

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