Student at Auckland Uni hall of residence worried about intermingling

Source: 1News

A student living at one of University of Auckland’s halls of residences has criticised its handling of Alert Level 4 restrictions after a resident tested positive for Covid-19.

Waipārūrū Hall Auckland University.

There are now 51 cases in the current community cluster, after 21 cases were announced this afternoon, with the number expected to rise in the coming days.

An Auckland University student, who wished to remain anonymous, told 1 NEWS he’s concerned about how the university is managing the Alert Level 4 lockdown.

“It seems a little bit of a shambles,” he said.

It comes as 460 students living in affected halls have been confined to their rooms and are only allowed to leave to use the bathroom, where he says they can easily run into others.

“It's quite concerning… it feels like they should have already had systems in place to be able to immediately jump in to."

A spokesperson for the university told 1 NEWS students have been asked to stay in their rooms until further advice is provided by the Ministry of Health.

"In this pandemic there are inconveniences for everyone," she said.

She added that the halls are designed to ensure there is one bathroom to every four students and that they "have been asked to use the bathroom closest to them where possible to ensure distances can be maintained".

The Covid-positive case had eaten in Waipārūrū Hall's dining hall, which the student 1 NEWS spoke to said provided a massive risk in spreading the virus.

“You would have three or four bubbles go down at a time - we're talking 80 to 100 students in a small stairwell, all going down at once."

However, the Auckland University spokesperson said student bubbles had "allocated eating times with restricted numbers allowed in the dining halls at the same time" when the lockdown came into effect at 11.59pm on Tuesday.

She said the groups had been kept separate and disputed the possibility that up to 120 students at a time had been eating in the halls, saying it "does not seem correct".

"There are two bubbles at most per meal sitting and they are asked to keep separate," she said.

Each floor has become a bubble, and the university says there are a maximum of 28 to one floor.

It's also been revealed the positive case attended the first year ball for Waipārūrū Hall students on Saturday night at the Aotea Centre.

Health services are following up on this as part of their contact tracing process.

The anonymous student told 1 NEWS around 200 people attended the ball, with a number of people bringing partners from out of town.

The university said, “We are working hard to ensure they stay safe in extraordinary circumstances. We have also advised students that a wellbeing team would contact them to check in and offer support”.

AUT has also been caught up in the outbreak after a second student today tested positive for Covid-19.

There are currently eight close contacts living in student accommodation run by AUT, with one other contact living accommodation not run by the university.

An AUT spokesperson said, "AUT is in contact with our two students who are confirmed cases, and working with them on the support they need, including financial assistance if required."