Schools in west Auckland are today urging parents to keep their children at home if they have another child attending a Catholic college at the centre of the latest Covid outbreak.
St Dominic's Catholic College in Auckland is closed for the rest of the week after a senior pupil tested positive for the infection. The sick pupil attended class on Friday before going home early.
At least two neighbouring schools, Liston College and Henderson North School, are connected to the latest case.
One young pupil at the primary school is now self-isolating.
As health and education officials move to identify close contacts, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service has confirmed a number of students from nearby Catholic boys' school Liston College attended classes at St Dominic's, but considers these students to be casual contacts only.
And a close contact of the infected teenage girl who attends nearby Henderson North School is self-isolating and has been tested, but remains well, with officials saying the child was "very unlikely" to have been infectious when last at school.
According to the Ministry of Health data the case is connected to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship Church mini-cluster. which currently stands at 37.
In the meantime schools that are within a block of each other and who either travel on buses into the area or share close family connections are telling parents to take a cautious approach to the unfolding Covid situation.
Waitakere College and Holy Cross Catholic School in Henderson last night posted a message to parents on its Facebook page telling parents that if they had other children at the Catholic college they should not come to class.
"Our school remains open for all students, but we expect anyone with a sibling at St Dominic's to stay home and contact us," read the post.
Parents were also asked to be overly cautious in a bid to keep ahead of the virus, keeping any students that felt unwell at home and ensure they had a test.
Holy Cross Catholic School principal Janice Borsos made a direct plea to parents to keep the children from class if they were in any way connected to the latest outbreak.
"I am requesting that you keep any children home who have a sibling at the College. Yes I am being very cautious but I am trying to keep all our children safe."
The public health service moved to allay fears saying at this stage there was a small risk to most of the schools.
"While there will be a great deal of concern among families and staff, there is a low risk to the vast majority of these school communities. At this stage, only people who have Covid-19 symptoms should seek to be tested," said a spokesperson.
The Catholic girls' school will be closed for the rest of the week for deep cleaning.
Both the regional health service and Ministry of Education were working with the college to identify close contacts of the case.
An ARPHS spokesperson said letters informing staff and families of the situation were issued on Tuesday afternoon.
Any close contacts who were identified would soon receive further advice on self-isolation and testing.
A spokesperson said the pupil last attended school on Friday but left early after starting to feel unwell. They praised the girl's family for doing all the right things in arranging for the student to get tested over the weekend.
"The whole school community has been asked to remain vigilant for the signs of Covid-19 and to call their doctor or Healthline for advice, and get tested, if they do become unwell," said the spokesperson.
There are now 35 teenagers who have contracted Covid-19 in Auckland's August outbreak.
It continues to be the highest age group band in confirmed infections across the city.
The Auckland August cluster now stands at 165.
Undisclosed cluster contact
Health Minister Chris Hipkins today said it was apparent some close contacts of the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship church sub-cluster were not previously disclosed, including a student that recently tested positive.
Hipkins said in this case it appeared that it was a close contact of the sub-cluster that had not been previously disclosed.
The authorities were now looking into whether that was on purpose.
"That's one of the things that the investigation is looking at now and it will include looking at whether there was a deliberate decision not to disclose, or whether it was simply an oversight," Hipkins said.
He said this sub-cluster has been a challenge to work with as some members do not understand the seriousness of the situation.
"There are certainly some within the cluster that perhaps don't accept or haven't previously accepted the science involved here."
They were now being educated on the gravity of the situation, he said.
"It would certainly appear that they were skeptical at the beginning," Hipkins said. "I think that a lot of work has been done with them since then."
- additional reporting RNZ