Another student at Papatoetoe High School has tested positive for Covid-19.

The student, who was not a close contact of the original set of Covid-19 cases identified last week, had not been at school since Auckland entered Level 3. As with all other members of the Papatoetoe High School community, she and her family were instructed to isolate and get tested at the outset of the outbreak, but Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said it was unclear if they had in fact remained at home over the period.

Case interviews were underway with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service and any potential locations of interest would be publicised as quickly as possible, Bloomfield said.

The discovery of the new case prompted the Government to instruct all members of the Papatoetoe High School to be re-tested for Covid-19. It was a requirement for all teachers, students and staff to be tested before returning to school on Monday and all but 11 (including the new case) had done so. None of the 11 who had yet to get a test had turned up at school, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

However, Bloomfield said the re-testing was needed because some people would have been tested soon after exposure to the virus – about five days after, in the earliest cases – and may have since developed symptoms or infectiousness if they had been incubating Covid-19 in the meantime. That the case identified in Tuesday was likely someone with a long incubation period – likely infected on February 10 but only developing symptoms on February 22 – indicated some others could still be incubating the virus.

Hipkins said there was no need for an alert level change and that he wasn’t too worried about the new case, but the extra testing would give the Government and the school community reassurance that the outbreak was under control.

Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers climate change, health, energy and violent extremism. Twitter/Bluesky: @marcdaalder

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