Ministry of Health backtracks on Dunedin location of interest after incorrectly listing boarded-up vacant campus property – Stuff.co.nz

Ministry of Health backtracks on Dunedin location of interest after incorrectly listing boarded-up vacant campus property – Stuff.co.nz

The Ministry of Health has backtracked on a location of interest in the Dunedin student quarter, after Stuff revealed it was a boarded-up University of Otago building on Castle St.
Students were sent a text alert by the university shortly after 11am on Thursday that if they attended a party on Castle St between Saturday, February 12 and Tuesday, February 15, to immediately self-isolate and get tested.
The university said it was alerted to a person with Covid-19 attending parties on those dates by Public Health South, but were not told of a specific address.
At 4pm the parties were added to the Ministry of Health’s register. One entry had the address 520 Castle St, which is a vacant building on campus.
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There were no visible signs of a party at the address, and the front door was boarded up.
The Ministry of Health was approached for comment.
Hours later the location of interest was changed from 520 Castle St to parties on Howe and Castle St.
‘’Self-isolate, test immediately and on day five after you were exposed at this location of interest,” the notice said.
Students also said they had gone to the city’s testing stations, but some were turned back because they showed no symptoms.
That advice differed to the advice from the university, which inturn was provided by Public Health South, which urged students to be tested.
Some students said an outbreak of Covid-19 would not affect party goers, as they would simply avoid getting tested.
By 1pm on Thursday there were 15 cases of Covid-19 in Dunedin, including nine new cases.
It comes as thousands of students return to the city for the start of Orientation Week.
One party goer said there were hundreds of people on Castle St and the surrounding area during that time.
“We are all packed in tightly,” said a female resident, who declined to be named.
Getting thousands of students to self-isolate when they had just arrived in Dunedin, many to flats lacking furniture, was “impossible”, her flatmate said.
A male student, who also declined to be named, said access to food and money was too great an obstacle to risk getting a test, which could result in several weeks of self-isolation.
Because of that, and because they were vaccinated, the students said they were no longer scanning into locations.
On Sunday the Southern District Health Board sent a media release saying a Covid-19 positive student may have been at a party on the previous Saturday night.
An hour after the release, the health board retracted the student party mention, saying it was issued in error.
Fox Meyer​, the 2022 editor of Critic Te Arohi, the University of Otago’s student magazine, said at the time the error had created a panic among students who were partying on Saturday night.
“It was the right headline, but a week too soon,” he said.
Police have reported several large parties in Dunedin’s student quarter this week. A Monday party that attracted more than 150 people was shut down by the hosts.
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins encouraged students to follow the rules to minimise the spread of the virus over the coming days.
“Now is not the time to be attending large parties or ignoring other health guidelines under our current red traffic light settings, given the heightened risk of transmission.’’
© 2022 Stuff Limited

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