The University of Auckland has confirmed that two of its students have been tested positive for COVID-19.
In an email to staff last week, both students, with one from the Business School, were on exchange overseas before returning to New Zealand. The two students had not been on any of the University’s campuses since returning to the country.
They are now in self-isolation with their family, and those who are considered ‘close contacts’ of both students have been identified and contacted.
The University will be closed for the next four weeks as part of New Zealand’s national lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last Monday the national response level for COVID-19 was raised to level 3, then to level 4 after 48 hours. A state of emergency had been declared last Wednesday afternoon, and as of last Thursday, New Zealand had 283 positive and probable cases.
While most cases were directly related to overseas travel, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said there had been cases of community transmission already identified and more being investigated. These cases include connections to Marist College in Mount Albert, Auckland, and a Hereford cattle conference in Queenstown.
Under the national lockdown, only essential services, such as supermarkets, banks, GPs and service stations will remain open. Police will patrol the country’s streets to ensure compliance with public health measures
Auckland University Vice Chancellor Dawn Freshwater said in an email last week that teaching for Semester One has been moved online, while tests and examinations are replaced by off-site assessments. This will apply to students who have been studying on campus and those who are in China who have been now covered by a pre-discussed study plan.
Semester One will also finish on the 6th July, instead of the 29th June, while Semester Two will start on the 27th July.
During the next four weeks, all students and staff are required to stay away from campus, except authorized staff who are required to support essential services. Students can only go into campus to access health and counselling, or getting food or medical supplies.
All university facilities will be closed, except University Health & Counselling Services (UHCS), the Pharmacy and Munchy Mart, which are all located at the Kate Edgar Building. UHCS clinics at Grafton and Epsom campuses will also remain open.
While Health and Counselling will continue to operate, those who want to visit the clinic must call ahead of time to be triaged by a nurse before coming onto campus.
All non-essential appointments will be cancelled, but consultations for essential appointments will be conducted by phone, Zoom, or face-to-face if deemed appropriate. Counselling services will also be delivered by phone or Zoom unless it is determined that a face-to-face meeting is required.
Staff and students who are over 70, have compromised immune systems, or with carer responsibilities in a household whose members have COVID-19 symptoms or a compromised immune system, should stay at home.
Access for residents of university accommodation will continue during the lockdown. The University said meal times in catered accommodation will be extended for social distancing, while communal areas of all residences will be cleaned more regularly. An alcohol ban has also been issued indefinitely.
However, it is unknown if residents will be given rent holidays or reductions during the lockdown.
The University library has said its digital collection will be accessible online, and all fines occurred during the lockdown will be waived.
If you believe you could have the coronavirus, stay at home and contact Healthline’s dedicated Covid-19 hotline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 on an international SIM).