UC Pop-up provides access to testing for ākonga

During the start of the Omicron outbreak, the University of Canterbury (UC) had one of the largest clusters of positive cases amongst students.

The decision to have a pop-up site on campus was to help aid the demand of the cluster, specifically for those ākonga in the halls of residence, where initial cases swiftly increased.

Jamiee Cairns, Site Lead for the pop-up COVID-19 testing station, says they had hundreds of students coming through every day, starting off with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing. Eventually this changed to Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) to keep up with the demand and allow students to self-test at home.

“The testing clinic was greatly appreciated and made a significant difference for our students,” says Ripeka Tamanui-Hurunui, Director of Equity.

“Having your team on campus meant that hundreds of students were able to access testing that would not have been accessible to them otherwise,” Ripeka says.

Many students on campus are first-time students with no access to transportation and living away from their hometown. Having a testing station on site meant that it was accessible for them to get tested and reduced demand at other testing sites.

“There was a high level of need and anxiety about accessing testing; the team arrived just in time. It took the pressure off when we most needed it and allowed us to focus on those who needed medical attention,” says Teàrlach MacLean, General Practitioner at UC Health Centre.

Vikram Selvaraj, University of Canterbury’s Student President says he was glad to see the testing site on campus.

“It gave students the opportunity to get tested, keeping themselves and others safe. The site was open for several days, giving students the opportunity to drop in whenever they could,” says Vikram.

The pop-up testing station at the University of Canterbury saw over 1,300 students, staff and whānau. More than 650 PCR tests were done and close to 1,000 RATs were distributed during the seven days they were on campus.

“Our team thoroughly enjoyed working at UC, with several requesting to be rostered there. The students, despite being sick, were friendly and supportive of each other,” says Jaimee.