University of Auckland believes online threat to spread Covid-19 at exams is not genuine

Police are investigating a threat made online of spreading Covid-19 at the University of Auckland.

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Police are looking into the claim that’s circulating on social media. Source: Breakfast

A screenshot is circulating on social media of an 8Chan user who says they were in the same restaurant as a confirmed case of Covid-19, are now symptomatic, and are now intending to deliberately spread the virus at exams, being held today and Friday.

The post asks for advice on how to be a "superspreader" and identifies ethnic, religious and rainbow communities as potential targets.

"Police is aware of information posted on an online forum and we are currently assessing this information," a police spokesperson told 1 NEWS.

A spokesperson from the University of Auckland told 1 NEWS the university is aware of the post and is aware of the post and the "Incident Management Team is investigating it".

However, this afternoon the university said it does not believe the threats to be credible.

"We want to reassure all students and staff that the University is taking this issue seriously, however we think the risk is very low, and there is no evidence to suggest the threat is real.

"It is unfortunate that someone should attempt to disrupt our examinations in this way.

"While staying vigilant about the safety of our students, the university believes it is important that we do not over-react to what is an unspecified and anonymous post of social media."

Their statement comes as students, using an anonymous platform, blasted the university for keeping them out of the loop, demanding to know why the university had not informed them of the threat.

"We can confirm that Semester Two examinations are continuing as normal and all necessary precautions are being taken to ensure student and staff safety - we have communicated with students and advised them of this," the university said.

However, a student who spoke to 1 NEWS on the condition of anonymity said no such message had been communicated with her.

Other students who attended the STATS108 exam this morning said there was no mention of a health risk, nor any precautions.

The exam was one of 20 which took place this morning, while a further 15 are scheduled for this afternoon.

The university says it began investigating the threat last night, and while the original post didn't directly mention the university, it was circulated on the r/UniversityofAuckland subreddit.

The Ministry of Health said it "supports the Auckland University and Police as being the appropriate agencies to look into this incident as they will be best placed to find out what’s happened and determine what further actions are required".

They say anyone concerned and wanting information about Covid-19 should contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453.