Hundreds of churchgoers told to get Covid tested

A usual Sunday service at the church usually saw up to 300 people attend. Photo: Facebook
A usual Sunday service at the church usually saw up to 300 people attend. Photo: Facebook
Up to 300 people who attended church on Sunday have been urged to get tested for Covid-19 urgently after a family at the congregation tested positive.

Everyone who was at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Māngere East Puaseisei on Sunday and anyone who has been in contact with those who were there are being told to get a test as a precaution.

It comes after health officials confirmed late last night that a preschooler had tested positive for the virus.

The youngster is a pupil at the Taeaofou i Puaseisei Preschool on Winthrop Way, in Māngere East, which is on the church grounds. Many of the church's youngest members attend the preschool also.

Reverend Victor Pouesi said the church was rallying to support the family involved after several members - including the preschooler's parents and at least one other child in the family had tested positive to Covid-19.

"It's unfortunate this has come up and we don't really know who's [possibly] got the virus.

"We're all working together to solve this problem. It's really hard to track and trace, so we've told everyone to get tested."

The church is made up of 90 families - up to 500 to 600 people. But a usual Sunday service usually saw up to 300 people attend.

Speaking to the Herald this morning, Pouesi said he understood that one of the preschooler's parents works with a family member of one of the initial family-of-four confirmed to have Covid-19 earlier this week.

He confirmed the preschooler and their family had been at church on Sunday and that he himself had come into contact with at least one of them.

"After church, I always greet and shake people's hands - and I think I shook the mother's hand. We - my own family - are booked to go get tested today."

The church has two preschools - the other on nearby Raglan St - and both centres have been shut down as a result of the confirmed case.

Health officials have advised the church and staff that the child involved, a pupil at the Winthrop centre, did not go to school when they had symptoms.

As a result, it was considered a "low risk" that other children and staff had become infected.

It was still, however, worth shutting down and getting everyone tested.

Pouesi said their administrator tasked to contact all the children's families had reported that no one connected to either preschool centre had shown any symptoms so far.

The church minister said he had spent the past few hours offering pastoral care to the family involved and members of his congregation; calling for calm and support for each other.

"This is not the time for blaming. We have to pray for everyone and remember there is something more precious at stake - the lives of our people we need to protect.

"I believe there's always God watching over us. We are dealing with an invisible enemy."






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