Otago calls on students to self-isolate

The Otago University Students' Association has disaffiliated with the Elohim Bible Academy. Photo...
The university said yesterday it was calling students who arrived from South Auckland in the past 14 days, asking about their recent movements and general health status. Photo: ODT files
Some students in Dunedin are self-isolating and the University of Otago has issued an alert aimed at tracking down any recent arrivals with connections to the latest Auckland Covid-19 cluster.

Auckland’s active cluster, which emerged on February 14, expanded to 11 community cases on Tuesday.

It now includes Papatoetoe High School pupils and a sibling of a pupil who works at KMart and recently attended the high school.

The university said yesterday it was calling students who arrived from South Auckland in the past 14 days, asking about their recent movements and general health status.

On social media it told students with links to Papatoetoe High School, or anyone who had been to any of the places of interest identified by the Ministry of Health, to contact Public Health or HealthLine, and to stay in their college, flat, or homestay until they had done so.

Any students with symptoms consistent with Covid-19 should get a test, it said.

A university spokesman said the statement was issued after discussions with Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Susan Jack.

Dr Jack confirmed yesterday there was "a small number" of students who had been tested and were now self-isolating following ministry guidance.

Since students started arriving for the academic school year this month, neither the university nor the health board have been able to provide the total number of students who travelled from Auckland to start the year in the city.

"It is too early to say how many students may be affected by this," Dr Jack said yesterday.

The university earlier said about 650 first-year students from Auckland arrived in Dunedin for the start of the academic year.

Others returning from Auckland who were not living in university-owned residential halls were advised at the time to follow ministry guidelines for preventing the spread of Covid-19.

O Week, an orientation programme which features nightly sold out gatherings of students, is under way.



AAArgh! The University has spent all week holding super-spreader events, with joyous youngsters crammed in together, with apparently no regard for the ongoing risk of Covid. Was it really necessary to get every first year to an in-person Uni 101 lecture? Did the O-week events of scale have to happen. I sincerely hope no-one is infectious, but if we don't have a community outbreak based on the Uni, it will be good luck and not good management.

I also hope none is infectious and agree that it will be good luck if Dunedin is to avoid an outbreak. But i strongly disagree that there has been any failure of good management. This is a virus, it plays by its own rules that we still do not fully understand, it certainly doesn't give a toss about our rules for managing it. I'm wondering how many other tertiary institutions have accepted pupils from this high school?

Self isolating? At the age these young people are, this is an impossibility once away from home. They should have stayed in Auckland.

Flatplatypus is spot on. The community cases had already been identified before the students were allowed to travel. Contact tracing has been slow and inefficient, in fact it has been rather a shambles. There has been a real failure of good management since all that is happening now was very predictable. We can only hope that none of the students were infected, we won't really know for about 14 days, by which time it could well have been spread around Dunedin. Both the Ministry of Health and the university are culpable.