Police catch septuagenarian leaving quarantine hotel

2021-04-12 03:59     Comment:0

A 77-year-old local man under quarantine at the Pousada Marina Infante hotel in Cotai – one of the local government’s “quarantine hotels” – on Friday left his guestroom without permission and managed to walk out of the hotel undetected, but was caught by the police later that night, the government’s Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Centre has announced.

According to a statement by the centre on Saturday, the Health Bureau (SSM) called the man’s guestroom on Friday afternoon but despite calling him twice was unable to contact him. Consequently, a hotel security guard went to knock on the door of the guestroom, but there was no answer, because of which he opened the door and discovered that the quarantinee was not in the room, the statement said, adding that the hotel then informed the Macau Customs Service of the situation at around 4:50 p.m. that day.

After scrutinising the hotel’s CCTV surveillance system, customs officers discovered that when the patrolling security guards deployed to the floor where the man’s guestroom is located were not near his room the man took advantage of the opportunity to leave the room at 1:14 p.m., the statement said, adding that the man then walked down the fire escape and left the hotel via an emergency exit.

According to the statement, the CCTV system showed that the man was outside the hotel at 1:22 p.m. and walking towards Galaxy’s Broadway Macau complex.

The Macau Customs Service notified the Judiciary Police (PJ) and the Public Security Police (PSP) of the case for a joint operation to catch the man who had left the room without permission, the statement said, adding that the Customs Service had meanwhile also reported the case to the Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) and the Health Bureau.

According to the statement, PJ officers discovered the man at around 11 p.m. on the same day when he was taken to the public Conde de São Januário Hospital Centre for a nucleic acid test (NAT). After testing negative for COVID-19, the man was taken back to the Pousada Marina Infante hotel at 1:43 a.m. on Saturday to continue his quarantine, the statement said.

The statement did not reveal where the man was caught.

The man, a permanent Macau ID card holder, travelled to Hong Kong via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB) on Tuesday last week, but then returned to Macau as he “did not accept” the neighbouring special administrative region’s quarantine measure, because of which he was taken to the Pousada Marina Infante hotel for his 14-day quarantine and medical observation upon his return to Macau, according to the statement.

The statement said that the Health Bureau has meanwhile imposed “mandatory quarantine” on the man, because of which the authorities have taken special measures to keep a close eye on him.

The man will be transferred to the court for his offence after completing his quarantine at the hotel.

According to the statement, the guestroom where the man is staying is on an upper floor of the hotel, where security guards are deployed 24/7. The authorities have preliminarily concluded that the man managed to leave the room during a “moment of inattention” by the guards, the statement said.

In response to the case, the Macau Customs Service has discussed with SSM and MGTO officials the implementation of stricter measures at the government’s “quarantine hotels” with the aim of closing any possible security loopholes.

This photo taken yesterday shows the Pousada Marina Infante hotel in Cotai. Photo: Tony Wong

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