Covid-19 positive Auckland Uni student at ball with 500 students, and 600-seat lecture hall often ‘packed’

A University of Auckland student with Covid-19 attended a ball with around 500 fellow students at Aotea Centre on Saturday.

The student also attended one of the university’s largest classes twice at a 600-seat auditorium which is regularly “packed”.

The student, who tested positive on Friday, ​​attended a first year ball for Waipārūrū Hall last Saturday.

University of Auckland (UoA) vice chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater today sent an email to all university staff highlighting nine new locations of interest which the infected student visited on UoA campuses and property.

Freshwater said in the email sent at 3.35pm today: “I need to stress that these have not yet been designated as formal ‘locations of interest’, although it is possible that some or all of them will be.”

The student was considered infectious at the below locations from August 13 to 19. The student then travelled to Wellington on August 19 and is now isolating at home.

The UoA locations include: Whitaker Block of UoA campus accommodation, Aotea Centre, an Optometry class in UoA’s Grafton campus, the Kate Edger Information Commons on the city campus, and the Engineering building on the city campus.

The student also attended a Stats 101 class which has been described as one of the universities largest classes – regularly with students “packed” into the 600-seat Fisher and Paykel Appliances Auditorium.

The student attended this class twice with students from many disciplines across the university.

“This is at least as big a deal as the 500 person ball that has already been reported,” someone connected to UoA said.

Freshwater did however want to stress that these locations in the staff email were only a “provisional list”.

A pop up testing centre for students in the locations of interest Whitaker Block and Waipārūrū Hall was also currently being arranged.

“We are working with Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) to establish a pop-up testing centre for our students currently in isolation in the Whitaker Block and Waipārūrū Hall,” Freshwater said.

“This will enable them to get a Covid-19 test without having to attend elsewhere in the city.”

Freshwater also said contract tracing of close contacts of the infected student was also underway.

“​​ARPHS is currently activating its contact-tracing process and preparing letters that will be sent directly to anyone identified as a ‘close contact’ based on these locations, with guidance on what steps to take. If you receive this letter, please follow the instructions carefully,” Freshwater said.

“If you do not receive the letter, you are not considered a ‘close contact’ and are deemed to be at low risk of contracting Covid-19.”

The university’s Craccum magazine published a list of the student’s movements this afternoon which included its city and Grafton campuses.

Attendees at two other two big events at Spark Arena – 1000 people at a Mitre 10 awards event last Thursday and 1000 people at a Bayleys Realty conference last Friday – have been told they are close contacts of a bar worker who later tested positive to Covid-19.

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