More cases as Papatoetoe High School students retest for Covid

updated By Te Ao - Māori News

Two more cases were confirmed today as health officials concentrated on contacts of the Papatoetoe cluster of Covid-19. 

After a Papatoetoe High School student was confirmed today as a case, the ministry set up a testing centre at the school and 672 students and staff were tested today and more will be tested tomorrow.

The two new cases are members of the same household as the student who was identified today. They are her siblings, a teenager and an infant. The parents and another sibling have returned negative tests today and the family has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine hotel.

The ministry is advising everyone in a Papatoetoe High School household must stay away from work or any other school, educational facility or community setting (for example, the supermarket or any other place outside the home).

Kmart Botany

The school remains closed and no students or staff will be able to return until advised by a medical officer of Health.

At this point, household members who are not students or staff do not need to be retested, unless they have symptoms or are asked to do so.

The health ministry says the teenager identified today recently finished school and has been working at Kmart Botany. The teenager was at work on Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20 between 4pm and 10pm. The ministry is asking anyone who was at Kmart Botany, 500 Ti Rakau Drive, Botany Downs, is considered a casual contact. Such people are advised to immediately isolate at home and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice.

Thirty-one staff at Kmart have already been identified as close contacts and are isolating and being provided with public health advice.
Other locations of interest for the three cases are continuing to be investigated and will be notified when available.

Earlier today Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the staff and students were being tested again "out of an abundance of caution." He praised Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughan Couillault for his assistance.

"No principal wants to see his or her school in this situation and he has responded proactively."

'Be kind'

Family members of the staff and students have been asked to attend community clinics for retesting so the unit at the school can be dedicated to the staff and students.

Hipkins warned people to be kind on social media about the latest cases: "Don't pass judgment on others."

An 0800 number had been made available to support people affected by the pandemic.

He also said wastewater testing in the Papatoetoe area had been negative.

Health director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield said catching this case proved the system was working. He noted that the virus had a long tail.

He said the casual contacts of the earlier case had been tested on Day 5 but it was possible those people tested might have been early in symptoms, which is why the re-testing was happening.

He said 10 students tested in the first batch had still not been contacted.

Yesterday there were five other cases in managed isolation hotels,

Facebook Updates

In a Facebook post, the school announced the news as Hipkins and Dr Bloomfield went live at a media conference at 1pm today. 

The school says the student has not been at school this week and retesting of staff and students is underway and will be completed before they leave school this afternoon.

More information around additional testing of households is expected to be emailed from the school this afternoon.

Students will be released at 3:15 pm today, or after they got tested.

If you or your whānau have symptoms, please refer to the Covid-19 website on where to get tested and how to keep safe.

Click here for further details