TODAY |

Covid community cases reach 210, most in Auckland

Cases of Covid in the community climbed today as New Zealand marks a week in Alert Level four.

Follow all the developments from Wednesday morning and early afternoon in the feed below. 

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3.08pm - AUT has confirmed to 1 NEWS one positive case in their student accommodation, the Wellesley St Apartments.

Elsewhere at AUT, there are six students who ar confirmed as being on campus while infectious and a further two waiting to get confirmed details regarding locations of interest.

Two students are positive but were not on campus during the the infectious period.

2.58pm - The MOH has awarded Victoria University of Wellington a contract to carry out a study into the impacts of Covid-19 on Kiwis.

The study will have a particular focus on key populations including Māori, Pacific people, people with disabilities and those people who contracted Covid-19 through their employment.

The evidence will be used to generate recommendations for how health services can best be oriented to be accessible, equitable, and meet the needs of people with Covid-19.

“This research project will establish a multidisciplinary longitudinal study of people in Aotearoa New Zealand who have had COVID-19,” said Dr Ian Town, Chief Science Advisor, Ministry of Health.

“It’s important that we improve our understanding of the short and longer-term physical, psychological, and economic impacts of COVID-19 on affected people in Aotearoa New Zealand, and to highlight any equity issues faced by this cohort.

“The more we understand the different effects the disease has on people the more we can plan our health responses.”

2.23pm - Hipkins says he wants to drive Delta out of New Zealand’s community so the country can “get back to a sense normality”.

"It's too soon to throw in the towel. We’ve come this far – it would be an absolute waste for us to give up on this now”.

"You will see changes in the medium-term, and the way we manage the border and of course we do want to get to the point where lockdowns aren’t the answer to potential outbreaks in the community but we are not there yet.”

2.16pm - Hipkins says saliva testing is being rolled out for border workers with Bloomfield saying there's a possibility it will be rolled out in other parts of the country, such as surveillance testing of hospital workers.

2.13pm - The NZ COVID Tracer app now has 3,065,491 registered users, according to the ministry. There have been 703,870 scans in the 24 hours to midday yesterday.

2.07pm - Hipkins says an extra 50 primary care facilities are being brought in per week to administer the Covid vaccine. He says by early October he expects there to be an extra 650 places available in addition to the DHB facilities provided for people to be vaccinated.

1.59pm - Bloomfield says the incident where there is a possibility some people received a saline dose instead of the Pfizer vaccine last month is being investigated. He said on July 12 there were 732 people vaccinated at the Highbrook site after which a reconciliation showed a vial was left over at the end of the day. He said the interpretation that someone missed their vaccine is just a "possibility".

Bloomfield says protocols have been updated since and there are labels now placed on syringes that have been drawn up. Expert advice has been sought on whether the five people who may have been involved in missing a dose get a follow-up dose. He says everyone involved in the incident will get a letter in the next 24 hours.

1.52pm - A day six test is being introduced in MIQ on floors where a case has been identified on day zero or day three. Bloomfield says it will also be required for returnees on the same floor who's room is in the vicinity of a day zero or three case. He says it's to ensure spread can be detected earlier.

1.49pm - Rules around exercise: A contact of a known case or who has been at a place of interest are not allowed to exercise or leave the house, Bloomfield says. But household members staying in the home are allowed to leave the property to exercise as long as they avoid contact with others and do not have symptoms.

1.28pm - Bloomfield says the Ministry of Health is now publishing the demographic breakdown of clusters which will be updated daily. It details cases by gender, ethnicity and age-group.

1.19pm - Six epidemiologically-linked subclusters have been identified in the current outbreak. Bloomfield says the first is related to Case A and is called the Birkdale subcluster which has about 36 cases. The other is the 105 confirmed cases associated with the AOG church in Māngere.

He says one other is associated with a set of Massey households that has about 14 cases. Bloomfield says the remainder have less than 10 involved so did not name them.

1.15pm - Bloomfield says 12 people are in hospital with Covid-19, an increase of three since yesterday but none are in ICU.

He says health officials are working to identify the extent of the outbreak but is urging people to abide by Level 4 restrictions.

He said he reiterated his “shout out” to the Pasifika community for “stepping up” to support measures to mitigate Covid in their area. Bloomfield said Pasifika people have the highest testing rates of any ethnicity.

1.05pm - Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are updating the current Covid situation.

Today's new confirmed cases of Covid are 63 - of those, 62 are in the community and one is in MIQ. A total of 198 are in Auckland and 12 in Wellington meaning the total is 210.

Record testing numbers reached 50,000 across the country yesterday while 80,000 Kiwis were vaccinated, which Hipkins said was "good news". It comes as those who are 30-years of age and over can now book their vaccine.

12.52pm - Just returning to locations of interest: Several exposure dates have been added for AUT's student accommodation (Wellesley Student Accommodation) on Mount St.

This is the first time they've been listed, and there are exposures dating back to Saturday, August 14.

12.46pm - Foodstuffs NZ has told 1 NEWS more than 700 of its people are isolating, from 14 of its New World and Pak ’n Save stores, due to the current outbreak. Despite this, all stores remain open and Antoinette Laird, Head of Corporate Affairs, says extra staff have been trained up and owner/operators have come out of retirement to plug the gap.

12.44pm - Teachers and support staff across all early learning services, kōhanga reo, kura, and state and state-integrated schools can now access free Covid-19 Employee Assistance Programme support, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced.

Source: 1 NEWS

12.25pm - The number of locations of interest has risen again. The Ministry of Health's list now has 481 entries.

New times and locations include: Countdown in Auckland's Victoria St West and Northwest Massey, Pak'nSave Manukau, specific locations at both AUT's city and south campuses and the University of Auckland, another bus route, another church, Nandos in Botany and Queen St in the CBD, Green Bay High School, McAuley High School Ōtāhuhu, Glassons Westfield Albany and Portmans Shore City.

People continue to be encouraged to check the exact dates and times of visits on the Ministry's website.

12.10pm - Northland Police have set up three checkpoints at "southern entry points" into the region where they will be stopping and questioning motorists about their travel.

They are:
• SH1 intersection with SH12
• Mountain Rd, Kaiwaka
• Cove Road, by Bream Tail Rd

"Anyone attempting to travel into Northland from outside of the region or around the region can expect to be stopped by police at a checkpoint or randomly, and asked about their purpose for travel," Superintendent Tony Hill, Northland District Commander, said.

"We have now been under Alert Level 4 for a week and there’s no excuse for people not following the rules.

"We will look to take enforcement action against those who blatantly ignore the restrictions in place."

12.00pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Coast FM she was not "too fussed" about Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's stance about elimination. 

In a television interview on Tuesday, Morrison said Australia "can’t stay in the cave" and that "any state and territory that thinks that somehow they can protect themselves from Covid with the Delta strain forever, that’s just absurd". 

Ardern said New Zealand had been making its decisions about the pandemic independent of other countries. 

She added that there needed to be high vaccination rates across all regions and age groups of New Zealand. 

"We can't live for lockdown forever and we don't intend to," she said. 

11.25am - Countdown's Kiri Hannifin has told 1 NEWS about 1900 of its team are off due to the Delta outbreak. She also said 19 stores are locations of interest and six are temporarily closed.

11.05am - Nick Kelly, the Department of Conservation's Coromandel operations manager, said he has received reports about boats cruising around the Mercury Islands while in lockdown.

He said he had got the reports from people with properties looking out over the islands.

"We’ve got reliable information — from my staff and the crew of an essential supply vessel — about a steady stream of boats making their way to Ahuahu and the wider archipelago during this lockdown. 

"It’s completely unacceptable. Boating and island hopping are not permitted at Level 4. People need to be adhering to the Government’s direction," Kelly said.

"DOC is committed to stamping out the virus and keeping communities safe from Covid-19. Anyone caught breaking the Covid-19 rules will be reported.

"The islands are not a part of boaties’ immediate 'local area', and access to these islands for recreational activities is not permitted."

10.21am - The 19 new locations of interest include several bus and train journeys, arcade games at Event Cinemas St Lukes, McDonalds New Lynn, St Heliers Mall and a café inside it, Revive Vegan Cafe in the city, a lecture theatre at AUT's city campus, a computer lab at the University of Auckland, TAPAC, The School of Tourism and Mecca Maxima in Westfield Albany. 

People can visit the Ministry of Health's locations of interest page for the relevant dates and times. 

10.16am - The Ministry of Health has released 19 new locations of interest

9.52am - 1 NEWS has received a statement from Jo Gibbs, the national director for the Covid-19 immunisation and vaccination programme, regarding the vaccine mistake in Auckland last month

It reads: "We are aware of a situation at a vaccination centre in Highbrook, Auckland, last month, where the end-of-day reconciliation of vaccine doses in stock didn’t match the doses administered.

"These types of situations occur from time to time, and we have systems and processes to detect and manage them — which is what occurred in this instance.

"Although no patient harm would have resulted, at this stage we can’t rule out the possibility that five people may have received an incorrect vaccine dose.

"The situation that occurred relates to just 5 doses that were unaccounted for at the end of that day, during which 732 people were vaccinated.

"It could have been due to some vaccinators getting more than the regular number of doses out of some vials and forgetting to record this. An alternative that we can’t rule out is the possibility that some people didn’t receive the correct vaccine dose.

"We are still gathering the information needed to fully understand the situation and provide any advice or support that might be needed.

We will be communicating with people who may have been affected when that work is complete."

9.45am - National Party leader Judith Collins told Breakfast earlier the country's vaccination regime needed to be sped up earlier. 

Despite this criticism, she is encouraging Kiwis to "get vaccinated". 

Collins also had this to say in the wake of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's comments around elimination of the virus: "He’s talking to his audience in Australia.

"Australians are looking at that and saying 'we’re going to have to learn somehow to live with it' but, we certainly can’t do it if you’re not vaccinated, that’s really important."

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The National leader says Kiwis can’t “live with” the virus unless they’re vaccinated. Source: Breakfast

8.45am - Two men were arrested in Kaitāia early Wednesday morning for breaching lockdown rules.

The men, who are from Auckland, were at the Mobile gas station refusing to wear masks and police were called.

The men allegedly coughed at police claiming Covid-19 is a conspiracy. They will appear in the Kaitāia District Court on Wednesday.

8.31am - About 11 new locations of interest have been added in Auckland. They include Pak 'n Save Mt Albert, Manukau and Westgate. Countdown Northwest Massey is also included.

The other locations include two bus journeys, F45 Training Henderson, AUT South Campus, Farmers WestCity Henderson and Smoko's WestCity Waitākere. 

People can check the Ministry of Health's locations of interest webpage for the specific dates and times.

8.25am - Those aged 30 and over are now eligible to book their Covid-19 vaccine. 

8.07am - Immunologist Maia Brewerton told Seven Sharp last night the greatest protection parents can offer their children is getting them vaccinated.

Children aged 12 to 15 can be vaccinated when their parent or caregiver is eligible. 

Brewerton said health authorities had "good data" on its safety and clinical trials are underway to determine if children aged 6 months to 11 years old can get the vaccine. 

Napier mum Jennifer Warner took her 13-year-old son to get vaccinated when she became eligible.

She told Breakfast the process was "easy as" and they were in and out of the drive-thru vaccination in about an hour. 

Relocating from the US late last year, Warner said New Zealand's Covid-19 messaging was "refreshing" in its focus on kindness, along with the community approach to lockdown. 

7.51am - Covid-19 disease modeller Shaun Hendy told Seven Sharp last night daily case numbers won’t start to drop off until the end of this week at best.

"We would hope that we would start to catch up with the edges of the cluster as it was last Tuesday and then start to see numbers of infections that have occurred under level 4 lockdown. And those numbers should start to slowly decrease."

7.16am - Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare told Breakfast he has no updates from overnight on case numbers or locations of interest.

He reassured the public health authorities were investigating how five Aucklanders may have received a dose of saline solution, rather than the vaccine, last month. 

Henare said authorities needed to learn whether it was human error or a "process breakdown". 

He understood it was an isolated case and authorities needed to identify what went wrong and rectify it. 

6.54am - Although a baby has tested positive for the virus, paediatrics professor Stuart Dalziel said it is "reassuring" there are not as many "severe outcomes" in children as adults. 

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We answer your questions on the vaccine and how it works! Source: Seven Sharp

He described Covid-19 as largely mild in children, but encouraged parents to still get them tested if they are displaying symptoms, vaccinating those over 12 and staying in bubbles to prevent transmission.

6.45am - Auckland Councillor Efeso Collins said it was a "misstep" of the Ministry of Health to name one of the churches in the outbreak as Samoan.

He said it opened the "floodgates" on social media, where the commentary was "detestable" and "obnoxious". 

6.30am - The Ministry of Health will soon be releasing data on the make-up of Covid-19 cases.

It should be able to tell people where the positive cases got Covid from — within the community or their bubble.

The data should also be broken down into demographics including age and ethnicity.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said this information should have been made public sooner.