Covid-19 test staff prepare for influx after new cases

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Exhausted Covid-19 testers in South Auckland are bracing for a surge after three new cases of infection were confirmed in the cluster around Papatoetoe High School.

(File photo) A test station in Ōtara last week.
Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

Yesterday a student considered to be more casual contact was confirmed to have the coronavirus and last night two siblings, a teenager and a baby, also tested positive.

The teenager recently graduated from school and was working at Kmart Botany. They were at work on Friday February 19 and Saturday February 20 between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. People who have visited the store during these times are encouraged to self-isolate and call Healthline.

Parents and a third older brother have returned negative tests so far, the ministry said in a statement. The family has been transferred to the Auckland Quarantine Center.

Papatoetoe High School opened Monday and Tuesday this week, having been closed all last week and now the school remains closed until further notice.

Principal Vaughan Couillault said it was difficult, but they just had to keep going.

“We are probably feeling a little discouraged, but once you got over yourself, because it’s not about you, the team came back to action,” he said. declared.

The school re-tests all staff and students.

When asked if the school should have remained closed this week, Couillault said he followed the advice of authorities.

“I’m not one to guess at Dr Bloomfield and Minister Hipkins. They have done a very good job of keeping New Zealand safe so far, as has the Prime Minister, and only ‘a set of unfortunate circumstances.

“I don’t believe these are the wrong decisions, it’s the virus that hurts,” Couillault said.

On Wednesday morning, some 1,500 students were invited to stay home and complete their courses online.

Yash, a 13th grade student, said the situation was difficult.

“Our schoolwork is messed up, it’s like we’re supposed to do things for our class that we can’t do, it’s running late, so it’s stressful,” he says.

“A closed school week was fine and all, but then having another closed week is just too much,” Yash said.

Joseph, 17, hopes things will get back to normal as soon as possible.

“To be honest it’s pretty stupid, because I come to school to have fun and come and learn too. Since it’s my last year, I was hoping to end it in a good year, but I guess I can’t, ”Joseph mentioned.

Faazio, also in his final year of high school, said he was coping but finding things difficult.

“Right now it’s a little tough because we’re getting the assignments slowly and the lockdown has come in, and yes it’s a little tough for me right now, but the support from the teachers is really helping me.” , Faazio said.

Ata, 16, also feels stressed.

“It’s not easy to learn from home. If we get confused with the questions, there is no one to ask. Everyone is a little sad too, because we are going to be stuck again,” Ata said.

The health ministry said everyone in a Papatoetoe High School hostel should stay home until further notice.

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Nearly 700 students were tested at the school on Tuesday.

Family contacts are urged to get dabbed at a different testing station, and many are heading to Ōtara.

South Seas Healthcare chief executive Silao Vaisola-Sefo, who runs the testing station, said he has doubled the number of workers to cope with the influx expected today – and the staff is exhausted.

“It’s more a matter of the mind than anything, to be honest. It’s tiring, it’s long hours, but yeah, it’s just getting as many samples as possible,” he said. said, adding that it was hard on the community.

“You can just feel the tension. But I think what’s really nice is that people just know what to do right away. I think when we go to levels two and three people just know what to do. – and I’m not just talking about the workers, I’m talking about the public.

“As soon as this announcement came in, I saw masked people already in the city center,” he said.

Anyone who is not feeling well should stay home and call Healthline for advice.

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