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Genome sequencing shows new Auckland Covid-19 cases not a 'separate outbreak' - Bloomfield

Genome sequencing on the three new Covid-19 cases confirmed yesterday in Auckland show they are closely linked to cases A and B at Papatoetoe High School, the Director-General of Health confirmed.

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The Director-General of Health spoke to Breakfast following three new cases linked to Papatoetoe High School.

“The good thing is we’re not dealing with a separate outbreak, which is reassuring,” Bloomfield said.

“Essentially we’ve got our first case here in the school, the 13-year-old has infected one classmate, that was the second family involved, and another female student at the school who wasn’t a classmate, so a casual contact and that might have happened in the corridor or the bathroom,”

Yesterday’s first case, the Papatoetoe High School student who was a casual contact, was not tested last week, Bloomfield said.

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“She had had an onset of symptoms late last week, but this is the interesting thing and we have seen this now in the last few cases with this variant, not typical symptoms.”

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“I want to alert people to this that muscle aches and lethargy, not the typical respiratory symptoms and we saw this in the case in Northland, we’ve seen it out here and even our first case from this school, the young girl who thought her muscle aches were from walking around Mt Taranaki.”

“This is an unusual presentation and that maybe why she didn’t trigger but she hadn’t gone back to school, she did get tested on Monday and that’s why we’ve found the case quite early in its infection.”

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Bloomfield couldn’t explain why the student didn’t get a test last week in the initial wave of testing on the school community.

“There were significant and repeated attempts to get in touch with the family using the school to see if there were other phone numbers.

“One of the other things we have done is there is still a small number of students who haven’t had that first test, they haven’t been back to school, we’ve been using our providers to go out to these homes, find them and make sure that they’re isolating and we can get them in for a test.”

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Vaughan Couillault said 700 people had been tested by 530pm last night “without a single bit of complaint”. Source: Breakfast

Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughan Couillault offered a conflicting view on efforts to get yesterday's first case and the family tested.

The information he had received showed it was “not a no-test scenario, it’s an early-test scenario”, with the family getting tested on Sunday February, 14.

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“The second test didn’t happen quite as quickly as everyone else but there are all sorts of reasons in our community that that could happen,” he said.

Bloomfield said testing numbers in the school community was also providing with him reassurance after 700 people were tested over the last two days, with testing to continue on students and staff today.

“To make sure we haven’t got any cases there that might have had a long incubation period we might have missed with their first test,” he said.