Health boss full of praise for Dunedin nurses

Logan Park High School in Dunedin was closed yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Logan Park High School in Dunedin was closed yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
The Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has hailed the quick response of Dunedin nurses in getting close to 150 Logan Park High School pupils and staff quickly tested.

Dr Bloomfield said this afternoon most of test results, from those identified by the Ministry of Health as having had contact with the Logan Park High School pupil who tested positive for Covid-19, had come back and all were negative so far.

Some results were due back this afternoon.

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Dr Bloomfield was full of praise for Dunedin medical staff at today's update.

"I also just want to do a shout out to primary care in Dunedin, who when the call went out a number of primary care nurses made themselves available to do all that testing.

"They set it all up at [Forsyth Barr Stadium] there in Dunedin, processed all the students, so they could get the swabs done quickly.

"They all went into the lab yesterday and we have got most of them back."

School co-principal Kristan Mouat said last night all 137 pupils and eight teachers identified through the ministry’s contact tracing were tested by a team of more than 20 medical officers at Forsyth Barr Stadium, who ‘‘calmly, reassuringly’’ swabbed the children and their teachers.

‘‘It is unprecedented and it was precautionary,’’ she said.

‘‘So everyone who had had casual contact was able to be tested. It’s really just to put their minds at ease.

‘‘There was a much smaller group of ‘close contacts’ — but we decided to go with all the contacts.’’

Parents who spoke with the Otago Daily Times yesterday were typically pleased with the information sharing from the school, but some expressed anxiety about not knowing the year stream the pupil was in.

One parent, who asked not to be named, said she had a year 11 daughter at the school who was identified as requiring yesterday’s test, but she brought her year 9 son, who was coughing and had a mild fever, who was also tested.

‘‘We don’t know who the child is,’’ she said.

‘‘For the privacy of the family, I don’t actually mind not knowing.

‘‘I just think it would have been nice if they released an age, or the year the child was in.’’

The pupil became symptomatic at the weekend, and attended school on Monday.

When his father’s test result came back that day, he contacted his son, who then went home.

His father developed symptoms of the virus five days after returning from a trip to Germany.

Another parent who asked not to be named said he dropped his year 11 son at the stadium and picked him up afterwards.

‘‘It looked very well organised; cars queued up and drove into the stadium, dropped the kids off and they went and got tested and then we just formed an orderly queue and picked them up on the way out.

‘‘It definitely ramped up the anxiety, to get that letter, but both the school and the [Southern District Health Board] have handled this professionally and calmly. So, we personally just moved into another stage of management of the situation.

‘‘I think they’re taking a very scientific approach to it and listening to the experts, which is obviously not the case in all countries around the world.’’

Ms Mouat herself was not tested yesterday.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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