Scroll down for a recap of day 16 of 1 NEWS' live updates on the current Delta outbreak.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- There were 49 new Covid cases announced on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases associated with the current outbreak to 736.
- There are now 42 cases in hospital, six of which are in ICU with three being ventilated. The youngest person in ICU is an 18-year-old.
- There are now 332 locations of interest on the Ministry of Health website after around 40 supermarkets were added as "low-risk" locations, according to Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
- Northland will join the rest of the country - excluding Auckland - at Alert Level 3 from 11.59pm on Thursday after wastewater samples came back negative.
7.02pm: That concludes 1 NEWS' live updates for today.
6.52pm: The Director-General of Health says he didn’t intend to “poke” National’s Covid-19 spokesperson on Twitter, only that he wanted to communicate information clearly.
6.44pm: Pasifika health providers are fighting an invisible enemy as conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers make an impact amid the vaccine rollout.
"It has gained a lot of momentum in the past few weeks and we are constantly battling with that," The Fono's Frank Koloi said.
"There's a lot of resources that's been put in to try and address some of those fears our people have gained from listening and being told of these complete lies."
6.38pm: More than 100 nurses from other parts of the country are joining the frontline response as cases continue to rise in Auckland.
The recruitment has since sparked criticism over a perceived overall lack of preparation for Delta's arrival.
"It was a very, very lean system and when you put pressure on something that's so lean, then the cracks start to appear - which they have," the New Zealand Nurses Organisation's Kate Weston said.
6.30pm: Meanwhile, people in Northland are breathing a sigh of relief as the region prepares to move to Level 3 from midnight tonight.
Northland's three main industries - forestry, dairy and horticulture - can begin trading again.
The forestry industry alone will see some 2000 people return to work from tomorrow.
Others, such as those in hospitality, will be considering the viability of opening tomorrow, however.
6.27pm: Management at St Margaret's Hospital and Rest Home in West Auckland aren't taking any chances after a staff member in the dementia ward today tested positive.
The rest home was the centre of a large outbreak last year which led to 51 cases and three deaths.
Residents and staff who were in contact with the worker have since been tested and are now self-isolating.
6.15pm: MIQ workers at the same Ellerslie MIQ facility where a man escaped quarantine have been forced to isolate after being exposed to a Covid-19 patient.
The breach occurred after a mother quarantining with her three children left her room to confront staff after waiting hours for food.
She has since been moved to another hotel.
The head of MIQ apologised for the delay but said abuse towards staff is unacceptable.
6.10pm: The list of locations of interest has risen to 332 after 12 new locations were added at 6pm this afternoon.
It includes AUT South Campus; Hoyts Cinema Flat Bush; Countdown Mt Wellington; and Greenlane Clinical Centre in Epsom.
5.43pm: The Southern District Health Board (SDHB) says its Covid-19 vaccination programme has delivered 284,066 doses of the vaccine to date, 93157 of which were second doses.
Dr Michael Butchard, Medical Officer of Health said across the district, 64.5 per cent of the population over 12 years has received at least one dose and 31.9 per cent are fully vaccinated.
5.13pm: Jacinda Ardern has reiterated her message for people to "be patient and be kind" amid reports of abuse aimed at bus drivers and other transport staff in recent weeks. Read the full story here.
5.01pm: Police confirmed officers in full PPE arrested an Auckland man at an Ōtāhuhu address after escaping a quarantine facility earlier today.
The man has since appeared via video link in the Auckland District Court charged with failing to comply with order (Covid-19). He was bailed to return to a managed quarantine facility.
4.56pm: 1 NEWS has been sent an image of a pair breaking Alert Level 4 restrictions by playing golf at Gulf Harbour Country Club, in Auckland, this afternoon.
4.29pm: ANZ Bank NZ has waived fees for contactless debit payments to encourage its use when alert levels permit, as well as to help small businesses feeling the strain of Covid-19 restrictions.
The fees for contactless debit transactions will be waived for around 11,000 eligible small businesses for this month.
The waived fees will be reviewed monthly, taking into account the needs of customers and government emergency requirements, ANZ Bank NZ said in a media release.
4.18pm: National Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says answers are needed from the Government over how a Covid positive person escaped from the Ibis Novotel Ellerslie MIQ facility.
"This is obviously a very concerning situation and will cause many people to worry about the safety and security of our critical MIQ facilities," he said in a statement.
"We need an urgent investigation into what has happened here, and the Government needs to outline quickly what will be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
"The last thing we need is Delta spreading further into the community through poor oversight of security at MIQ."
4.13pm: Northland businesses needing to travel across the alert level boundaries are being urged to apply for business travel documents through MBIE as the region prepares to join most of the country at Level 3 from midnight tonight.
The travel documents provide staff with proof of eligibility they need to travel across an alert level boundary.
Businesses that have previously registered need to re-apply for travel documentation through the Business Connect website.
4.07pm: Joint Head of MIQ Brigadier Rose King said in a statement that the person who allegedly absconded from an Ellerslie MIQ facility was a Covid positive case who had entered the facility yesterday evening.
"The fact that someone has absconded from one of our facilities is a disappointing and unacceptable breach," King said.
Police and the Ministry of Health are investigting the person's movements following their escape, she said.
4.01pm: Meanwhile, the Director-General of Health says everything is going according to plan as Auckland’s hospitals call for more nurses to help them cope with the Covid-19 outbreak.
On Tuesday night, a call-out was sent to nurses around the country to come to Auckland as the number of Covid-19 patients in the region grew to 42.
3.57pm: The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment has received 190 wage subsidy complaints as of August 31, general manager for employment services, Katherine MacNeill, told 1 NEWS in a statement.
Of that number, 72 have been resolved and eight have been referred to the Ministry of Social Development as alleged fraud or eligibility, she said.
"The main themes alleged or complained about include: employers not passing on the wage subsidy to employees as per scheme requirements, employees being made to take leave, claiming the wage subsidy for a non-employed person, and non-essential services."
3.44pm: Hipkins has also laid out the criteria for adjustments to school qualifications as senior secondary school students eye up their end of year exams.
Among the changes is the reintroduction of Learning Recognition Credits should schools and kura be disrupted by Alert Levels 3 and 4 for 20 or more school days.
3.39pm: Meanwhile, the Government announced earlier this afternoon that it is giving the three Whānau Ora commissioning agencies an immediate funding boost totalling $8.8 million as they continue their response to the latest Covid-19 outbreak. Read the full story here.
3.38pm: "Anybody leaving an MIQ facility, particularly someone who is infected with Covid-19, is something that’s utterly unacceptable," Hipkins said.
3.29pm: When asked by reporters why the MIQ escapee was not mentioned during this afternoon's 1pm press conference, Hipkins said he did not have a conversation with Dr Bloomfield but Ardern had received "some preliminary information".
"I do understand some preliminary information was provided to the Prime Minister, but I can’t make further comment beyond that," he said.
3.29pm: Auckland’s second dose mass vaccination event, which will provide a second Covid-19 vaccination dose to people who attended the first event from July 30 to August 1, will now be a drive-through event, according to a media release by the Auckland DHB.
The second dose event on the weekend of September 10 to 12 will operate from the Airport Park and Ride location in Māngere, rather than the Vodafone Event Centre.
3.21pm: Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told reporters while he "doesnt have all the information yet" regarding the man who allegedly escaped an Auckland MIQ facility, "I do understand that somebody has been arrested" in relation to the incident.
"I don't have all the information yet; I do have information that suggests there is some CCTV of someone hiding in a bush while a security guard walked past them," he said.
3.10pm: A dedicated clinic for people who have a disability, impairment or long-term health condition to receive their Covid-19 vaccine has been set up at the New Plymouth Vaccination Centre.
The low-sensory clinic will cater for anyone who would find it challenging to attend a regular clinic, the Taranaki District Health Board said in a press release.
The clinics will take place every Thursday morning between 9am and 11am for booked appointments, and any requirements can be accommodated.
3.07pm: Professor Michael Baker earlier told 1 NEWS it may take weeks before Auckland can expect case numbers to trend downwards.
While the prospects may seem grim for Aucklanders, the country's biggest city will “not necessarily” have to wait to see zero cases for consecutive days before moving down an alert level.
2.59pm: A staff member at St Margaret's Hospital and Rest Home in West Auckland has tested positive for Covid-19.
Chief executive Carriann Hall told 1 NEWS the staff member worked in the facility's dementia unit, and the positive result was confirmed by Auckland Regional Public Health late last night.
"This staff member is a household contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case and went into precautionary self-isolation before undertaking their Covid-19 test and subsequently testing positive," she said.
2.52pm: A person who has previously tested positive for Covid-19 has escaped a managed quarantine facility in Auckland’s Ellerslie, according to police.
An Ōtāhuhu address has been cordoned off and police and are “preparing to arrest the individual”.