Tas quarantine escapee driven by friend

Premier Peter Gutwein says security processes are being reviewed.
Premier Peter Gutwein says security processes are being reviewed.

A coronavirus-infected NSW man who entered Tasmania illegally and escaped hotel quarantine in Hobart was driven away from the facility by a friend.

Authorities have identified 38 primary and 16 casual contacts of the 31-year-old, who flew into Hobart without a valid pass via Melbourne on Monday night.

He was arrested on Tuesday afternoon by police in Hobart's northern suburbs after security at the city's Travelodge hotel noticed he wasn't in his room.

He subsequently returned a positive test on Wednesday morning.

"We do know they were picked up by a friend and taken by private transport to the northern suburbs of Hobart," State Public Health Director Mark Veitch said.

"We know who that person is and they are in quarantine."

Premier Peter Gutwein said CCTV at the Travelodge had been reviewed but there was no footage of the man leaving.

"It's still to be established exactly how the 31-year-old absconded," he told state parliament.

"There are obviously a couple of theories ... but I'm not going to work through those because what I don't want to do is provide ideas in terms of an escape plan."

The 38 primary contacts include 11 people who were at two households the man visited, as well as people on the Jetstar flight and airport workers.

All are quarantining, as are the 16 casual contacts and a further 16 people who may have come into contact with the man.

Seven contacts have so far returned negative tests.

"There's a good chance one of the close contacts of this case will become a case themselves. We have to be aware of the possibility," Dr Veitch said.

Mr Gutwein said more CCTV cameras were being installed at the hotel and a review of security processes was being undertaken.

The man, who has since been fined $3000, was placed in hotel quarantine because there were no available flights on Monday night to send him back to NSW.

He was photographed without a mask while being transferred to a Hobart medi-hotel.

"This individual is not being co-operative and in fact has been very difficult to deal with," Mr Gutwein said.

"Police, very sensibly, determined it would not be in their best interests to have a physical altercation with the gentlemen to force him to wear a mask."

Police say the man twice had applications to enter Tasmania rejected because he didn't provide enough evidence to back up his claim he wanted to relocate to the state.

"He also advised as part of the application process that he'd been to high-risk level one areas in NSW and Victoria," Deputy Commissioner Donna Adams said.

Several exposure sites have been declared at Hobart Airport on Monday night.

Tasmania has one other active case, a 15-year-old boy who broke home quarantine in Launceston earlier this month before knowing his test result to visit a supermarket.

Australian Associated Press