COVID-19: Four Papatoetoe High School students 'weren't willing' to take coronavirus tests - Ashley Bloomfield

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says four students at Papatoetoe High School have been unwilling to take a COVID-19 test.

The school became front and centre of the latest COVID-19 outbreak after a student became one of the first cases in the Auckland February cluster.

All students and staff were asked to isolate and undergo testing after that original infection, but health officials last week found another three cases linked to the school meaning 1500 had to be retested. Students and staff weren't permitted to return until they'd received a negative COVID-19 test.

But Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughan Couillault revealed last week several students had made a "conscious choice" to not get a COVID-19 test as requested, and instead self-isolate at home. 

At a news briefing on Tuesday, Dr Bloomfield confirmed four people linked to Papatoetoe High School, understood to be students, had yet to undergo testing for COVID-19.

"The only ones that haven't been tested - my understanding is they just weren't willing to take a test but they've got a management plan in place," he told reporters.

"Their exposure would have been right back on February 10 - because they wouldn't have got back to school last Monday, so we're probably 14-20 days after that initial exposure."

He said public health officials would work with the students to determine when they can return to school.

"We know there are people across the community who are not willing to be tested - we see some come through our managed isolation facilities - the good thing here is they haven't been back to school and they have been isolating with support," Dr Bloomfield added.

Last week, Couillault told The AM Show said people were allowed to make the choice to refuse to get a test and isolate. 

Ashley Bloomfield.
Ashley Bloomfield. Photo credit: Newshub.

"There's all manner of reasons why people do or don't comply with advice and requests.

"In some cases, I know there's a number of students where it's a conscious choice and they're choosing to isolate for that 14-day period.

"You're allowed to make that conscious decision to isolate yourself, that's all good - but we need to know what's happening."

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins last week said people are entitled to refuse coronavirus testing.

"Ultimately when someone refuses to be tested - which people are entitled to do - they'll find that they'll be having a much longer stay in managed isolation than they necessarily needed to."