Australian to Be Fitted With GPS Ankle Bracelet for Allegedly Breaking COVID-19 Quarantine

A 53-year-old man who caused a COVID-19 scare after absconding from hospital is reportedly set to be fitted with a GPS bracelet.

A top official from Western Australia Police Force has confirmed that the suspect will be charged with breaking the state's self-quarantine requirements. He was found at a hotel in Northbridge on Friday night after ignoring orders to remain at a hospital.

The suspect, who has not been identified by name, had complained of "non-COVID-19 related symptoms" after flying to Perth on Friday following a visit to Queensland.

He was allowed to enter, then brought to a hospital by ambulance. After treatment, he was asked to wait for transport to take him to a state quarantine hotel but allegedly failed to do so, leaving on foot and later checking into a Northbridge lodge.

WA Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Paul Steel said in a media briefing yesterday the man was traced to the hotel by officers within 20 minutes of checking in. The hotel has since voluntarily closed its doors in order to conduct a deep clean.

Steel said the suspect has been determined to be "low risk" of COVID-19 infection and an initial test suggests that he does not have the infectious respiratory disease. But he is now under 24/7 police guard and should expect charges, the official added.

WA Police Minister Michelle Roberts said the suspect would be fitted with a GPS ankle bracelet for the rest of his time under state quarantine, which could become the first of its kind in the country under the Emergency Management Act.

Roberts explained today: "It's something that we contemplated as a government earlier in the year, we put the legislation through in April."

"These are GPS ankle bracelets. We purchased 200 of them for this exact purpose and, as I understand it, the state emergency coordinator is progressing a direction so we can do just that. We're not about putting ankle bracelets on people that don't need them or having additional requirements where they're not required," she said.

"It will be assessed on a case by case basis [and] this person has proven themselves to be someone that can't be trusted, and that's why this action will be taken."

WA Today reported Roberts said she hoped that the location-tracking bracelet could be fitted within 24 hours, noting the suspect had "clearly done the wrong thing."

In Western Australia, requirements say the majority of people who enter the state must complete 14 full days of self-quarantine inside a designated hotel room.

Police have stressed there are no requirements for anyone else who was in the hotel to self-isolate, undertake a period of quarantine or take a test for the coronavirus because the man was deemed by health experts to have been at low risk of transmission.

Northbridge Hotel Quarantine Breach IncidentTo clarify some misinformation that appears to be circulating online in...

Posted by Western Australia Police Force on Saturday, August 29, 2020

Steel said police were treating it as a "serious matter," noting that COVID-19 restrictions are in place to protect local communities against fresh outbreaks.

He said: "People who disregard their quarantine requirements disrespect the community of Western Australia and we take a strong stance toward that. If you breach quarantine requirements you should expect to be dealt with in accordance with the law."

According to the official, breaching self-quarantine rules carries a financial penalty of up to 50,000 dollars ($37,000) and/or a penalty of up to 12 months imprisonment.

Australia police officer
A police officer keeps watch on crowd numbers at Cottesloe Beach on April 10, 2020 in Perth, Australia. Australians have been urged to avoid all unnecessary travel over the Easter long weekend as the nation continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Paul Kane/Getty