TODAY |

13 new confirmed community Covid-19 cases in Auckland today, hundreds in isolation

Aucklanders head into day two of Alert Level 3 lockdown today, set to end at midnight on Friday. The rest of New Zealand remains at Alert Level 2 for the same amount of time. 

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Tests are being carried out on people who worked at the same Auckland sites as a man and woman with Covid-19. Source: Breakfast

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that any decision to move up or down alert levels will be made tomorrow - Friday.

This live updates article has now finished. You can find the latest updates for this afternoon and evening here.

What we know so far:

- Tuesday saw four new cases of Covid-19 through community transmission confirmed in New Zealand, all in the same household in Auckland
- 13 new cases have been confirmed today, linked to those cases
- Members of the family confirmed to have the virus travelled to Rotorua and contact tracing has begun there
- Contact tracing has begun for contacts of the confirmed cases, with almost 300 close and casual contacts in isolation so far
- Police check points have been set up at Auckland's borders for the duration of the lockdown, 24/7  
- Face coverings are recommended but not mandated at this stage

2.00pm: Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield have wrapped up their press conference, here are the key points:

- 13 new cases in the community, all linked to the four cases from Tuesday. Hundreds of people are identified as close contacts and are in isolation
- One new case in managed isolation, total active cases now 36
- All new confirmed cases will be moved to the Government quarantine facilities
- Confirmed cases visited Taupō, Rotorua and an aged care facility in Waikato before testing positive. More details can be found here.
- Government to review Alert Levels tomorrow. Auckland is currently in Level 3 lockdown while the rest of New Zealand is at Level 2

1.57pm: Dr Bloomfield says he was briefed on the family's trip to Taupō this morning and he's not concerned about any delays with details being made public.

Even before the public announcements, the public health unit and national contact tracing centre identify close and casual contacts and get in touch with those people, he says.

They're then able to get them into isolation, before the follow-up interview is carried out and people are tested if required. 

Dr Bloomfield says it highlights the value of the Covid-19 Tracer app, to help with contact tracing.

1.53pm: All managed isolation and quarantine staff are made to undergo health checks every day, including declaring symptoms and getting their temperature checked before starting their day, Dr Bloomfield says.

1.51pm: Just over 6000 Covid-19 tests were processed yesterday, the most processed in a single day since late June.

Dr Bloomfield says they have capacity to process around 12,000 tests a day.

1.47pm: Face masks and hand sanitiser has been added to Price Watch, which monitors the prices to ensure there's no gouging.

Two million masks were released to Countdown for sale from the Government's central supply.

An email address will be made available for people to report potential price gouging for monitoring.

1.44pm: Ms Ardern says there's nothing to suggest the community transmission case is linked to a "super spreader" event, such as a wedding or other big gathering.

For the most part, the man has been in self-isolation at home after falling ill, she says.

1.39pm: Businesses who are confused whether they're allowed to open are urged to contact MBIE. 

Ms Ardern says the rules are the same as last lockdown - businesses that were allowed to open are still allowed to open, those that needed to stay shut should stay shut.

Business operators with concerns can contact MBIE where there's a "dedicated team" of staff who can help, she says.

1.36pm: Ms Ardern says it's most likely the initial transmission was human-to-human, rather than being contracted off a surface.

She says they're being "very, very cautious" as the virus can live longer on surfaces in cooler environments, like the Americold facility.

Dr Bloomfield says it's "almost certain" it's person-to-person but they're working to rule it out together.

1.30pm: All confirmed cases are being shifted to the Government-managed quarantine facility to try and prevent the spread; Dr Bloomfield says there are a couple of reasons why they're doing it now when they didn't before.

The managed isolation facilities and quarantine weren't set up until about halfway through the lockdown, Dr Bloomfield says.

"These facilities are expressly set up to help minimise any risk of further infection in the community," he says.

Being in quarantine will hopefully help infection passing between family members, as they'll be able to keep positive and non-positive members of families separate, Dr Bloomfield says.

Some of the patients had "reservations" about moving to quarantine but there's been no active push-back, Dr Bloomfield says.

1.27pm: Ms Ardern and Dr Bloomfield will host another live press briefing at 1pm tomorrow, where they'll reveal the latest case numbers.

A decision on whether the Alert Levels will be shifted won't be made until after Cabinet meets to discuss it. 

A second press conference will be held after that.

All of these briefings will be streamed live online at 1NEWS.co.nz.

1.24pm: Dr Bloomfield says they don't think they need to widen the restrictions at this point, despite cases having contact before their positive tests in Rotorua, Taupō and Waikato.

He says the vast majority of spread comes from workplace and households, rather than casual spread.

"At this point in time it's very clear that the focus of the outbreak is in Auckland."

1.22pm: Just like the first outbreak, Ms Ardern says people should know the outbreak will likely get worse before it gets better.

"At this stage though, at this stage, it's heartening to see them in one cluster," she says, warning people again that the virus is "tricky".

1.17pm: Jacinda Ardern says they're expecting more cases from the cluster, but says the lockdown is helping make sure people are already staying relatively isolated before they're identified as contacts.

"Once you identify a possible new cluster, it grows before it slows," she says.

Addressing the rush on community testing facilities, Ms Ardern says people can also get tested for free at their GP if they call ahead and book in.

She's still encouraging people to stay home if they're not symptomatic so tests can be prioritised for people symptomatic or at risk.

1.15pm: The genome sequencing is still underway but hasn't been linked to any confirmed cases in managed isolation so far.

It most closely resembles the the virus in the UK and Australia, Dr Bloomfield says.

1.07pm: Breaking down the 13 new community cases today: three worked at Americold, seven are family members of employees, one is an employee of Finance Now, one is related to that person, and one is a student at Mt Albert Grammar School. There is also a probable case, awaiting a test result.

One of the people who tested positive had visited an aged residential facility in Waikato, Dr Bloomfield says. They were not symptomatic at the time.

Dr Bloomfield says they're not going to name the facility at this stage, but will be contacting those who need to be alerted.

1.06pm: One of the cases is an employee at the finance company linked to the original cases, and was admitted to hospital last night. They've since been discharged.

All new confirmed cases are being moved to quarantine, Dr Bloomfield says.

1.03pm: Dr Bloomfield announces 13 new confirmed Covid-19 cases in the community, all linked to the previously confirmed cases. 

There is also one new case in managed isolation. 

12.55pm: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are about to address media. Watch live on TVNZ1, or stream it online on the 1NEWS.co.nz website here or on the 1 NEWS Facebook page.

12.44pm: It's not long now until Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield's press conference. We'll be airing this live in a 1 NEWS special on TVNZ1 and the entire press conference can be streamed on our website or Facebook page. This article will be updated with a link closer to the time.

At the moment there are officially four confirmed cases, all from Tuesday, however 1 NEWS has been able to confirm four more, expected to be announced today.

It's not yet known whether there will be further confirmed or probable cases announced outside or those four, or any more cases in managed isolation or quarantine.

As of yesterday's update, there are 22 active cases in New Zealand, 18 arrivals in managed isolation or quarantine and the four linked to comunity transmission, who are currently in isolation at their home but may move to the quarantine facility of Jet Park Hotel.

12.25pm: Americold has confirmed to 1 NEWS three workers have tested positive for Covid-19, relating to the case earlier this week.

It brings the total number of Covid-19 cases linked to this community transmission case to eight.

The entire plant has been ordered to isolate for 14 days and get tested, treated as close contacts of the confirmed case.

12.19pm: ABC News reports three of the workers at the coolstore in Mt Wellington have tested positive for Covid-19. They worked with the man in his 50s who is the index case of the latest community transmission.

Yesterday it was revealed three of his coworkers at Americold were symptomatic and being tested.

Four cases were being treated as probable yesterday, awaiting test results; today four cases, the three workers plus a high school student, have tested positive.

12.01pm: There's a lot of traffic congestion around the Covid-19 testing sites in Auckland, including the new pop-up centers.

It's forced some buses to be diverted, particularly on New North Rd and at Botany, Auckland Transport says.

People are asked to stay away unless they're going for a test. 

The current guidelines to get tested are if you're symptomatic or have reason to believe you've been exposed to the border or a managed isolation facility. If in doubt, call your GP or Healthline.

11.47am: A group of protestors are marching against the lockdown in Whangārei, where there is currently no lockdown.

Around 40 or so people seem to be taking party, carrying signs including "we do not consent".

Whangārei is currently in Alert Level 2, which means heightened awareness, social distancing, and limits on gatherings, but not an actual lockdown.

11.40am: Nanogirl Michelle Dickinson's latest video highlights why the Government is recommending people wear masks after the latest community transmission.

She shows what happens when you sneeze with and without a mask - and how you should sneeze if you're wearing a mask. No one wants a soggy mask. Check out the video here.

And if you want to make your own mask, Breakfast reporter Wilson Longhurst got to work with just an old shirt and a couple of rubber bands.

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Wilson Longhurst got the scissors out and got to work. Source: Breakfast

11.32am: Around a quarter of a million children are being kept home from school under Auckland's Alert Level 3.

Balmoral School principal Malcolm Milner told RNZ it was an eerie change, adding: "It's pretty unsettling when you have over 880 people here and suddenly there's only eight of you here."

Only children of essential workers, and those who can't stay at home, are allowed at schools at the moment.

11.13am: More than 500 people were swabbed for Covid-19 tests in Rotorua and Taupō yesterday, with just under 400 of them in Rotorua. 

A pop-up testing centre has been set up at the Rotorua International Stadium today, open for the next four days, to help with the demand. Hundreds of people are waiting to be tested there, with people lining up from 6.30am.

The hours at the Vaughan Rd centre in Rotorua and the Miro St centre in Taupō have been extended, now open from 9am to 4pm every day.

11.06am: NZ First leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says it's not the right time to discuss whether the election date needs to be pushed back.

He says right now, it's "health first, politics second".

"When we have the information we need to better understand our health challenge then we can address the timing of the election," he says.

"The General Election, and the campaign that proceeds it, needs to be free and fair for all concerned – parties, candidates, officials, and most of all voters.

"If that means delay then so be it. But that is for another day."

10.49am: Green Party leader James Shaw is being tested for Covid-19 after travelling to South Auckland during the weekend and developing "minor cold symptoms".

"On the advice of health experts, I undertook a Covid-19 test to rule out the possibility of having the virus, and am currently staying at home while I await the results," he says.

10.40am: Auckland Regional Public Health Service has publicly released details about the Mt Albert Grammar School case, confirming there are around 100 close contacts of the student.

They'd attended five classes on Monday, before falling sick and testing positive for Covid-19 yesterday.

10:08am: Countdown's Kiri Hannifin says the supermarket chain is “disappointed” with the way some shoppers have been behaving in-store in the wake of the country’s Covid-19 alert level changes, after some staff copped verbal and physical abuse yesterday.

The store's put some limits on certain products and changed its store hours to try and cope with the demand.

Staff are only just getting over the emotional toll of the last lockdown, Ms Hannifin says, and are still "really scared and anxious".

9.45am: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will be holding a press conference at 1pm with an update on the Covid-19 community transmission cases in New Zealand. This will be aired live on TVNZ1 and will be streamed online at 1NEWS.co.nz and on the 1 NEWS Facebook page.

9.33am: A spot of lightness today: Blind Low Vision NZ says most of its staff are working from home in the Covid-19 restrictions, but its breeding centre is still open to look after the mums and pups.

They shared a look at the next generation of guide dogs, with mama Odette and her eight (!!) puppies. They're just 10 days old today.

The litter haven't been named yet, but will all start with 'P'. Too cute!

Guide dog Odette and her eight puppies. Source: 1 NEWS

9.26am: There might be some more support for businesses if the Alert Level restrictions are extended from Friday, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

He told Breakfast just a week of these restrictions could cost the economy up to $400 million, despite a "hard and fast" lockdown helping the economy recover faster.

He says they're working on a support package for struggling businesses if the restrictions are extended, saying he empathises with them. Watch the full Breakfast interview here.

9.04am: A driver escaped one of the checkpoints at Auckland last night, police say.

They were at a northern checkpoint on State Highway 1 and Mangawhai Rd when a driver, known to be disqualified, fled.

Police say they didn't chase after them, telling 1 NEWS it was a "a decision made for the safety of all based at the checkpoint".

"Police will follow up with the registered owner of the vehicle."

Other than that, police say there was a high level of traffic at both the northern and southern checkpoints yesterday, bringing significant delays.

The congestion eased overnight and is expected to continue over the next few days.

"Initial reports from these checkpoints are that the vast majority of people were complying with the restrictions."

8.41am: Green Party leader James Shaw says political leaders need to be committing to trusting medical science, saying he's "disheartened" by recent comments from "some leaders".

"It is particularly incumbent on leaders from all stripes to support and back a strong community health message. This will ensure we get through this and stamp out Covid-19 once again," he says.

"To create confusion and suspicion quite frankly could result in reduced trust from our communities in the very institutions we rely on most to keep us all safe."

Mr Shaw didn't name anyone in his press release, but it comes after National deputy Gerry Brownlee implied the Government knew about the cases earlier than they said, saying it was "interesting" communication and advice was ramped up several weeks ago.

At the same time the Covid-19 messaging was increased, Australia was grappling with a serious surge in virus cases after previously thinking it was contained.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern denied the allegation as "just nonsense".

8.26am: Issues are continuing at testing facilities across Auckland, despite the Prime Minister's plea for people to only go if they have symptoms or reason to believe they've been exposed.

A woman at the St Luke's testing centre told 1 NEWS the only reason the line is moving is because people are leaving without getting tested.

She expects to be waiting for around four hours, after arriving at 7.40am - 20 minutes before the centre opened today.

She says there's no traffic management in place and cars are merging into the queue from multiple road entry points.

8.15am: 1 NEWS understands up to 100 close contacts are in 14-day self-isolation relating to the confirmed Covid-19 case at Auckland's Mt Albert Grammar School.

Students and staff classified as close contacts have already been contacted by the school.

8.01am: The Eden Terrace testing centre is scrapping walk-in patients today, only testing people who arrive at the drive-thru clinic in cars.

One person told 1 NEWS they were nearly turned away shortly before the centre opened at 8am today, after waiting for more than 40 minutes. 

Staff told them anyone who's already in the queue can get a test, but it'll be drive-thru only for the rest of the day.

The line of cars waiting for a test already stretches down New North Road and around the corner.

The line of cars waiting for a Covid-19 test in Eden Terrace, Auckland, stretches down New North Rd and around the corner. Source: 1 NEWS

7.59am: Waikato DHB is setting up more Covid-19 testing centres in the region, after the Claudelands facility was swamped by more than 500 people within the first two hours it was open.

Its capacity is being boosted and its hours extended, as well as more mobile clinics being set up.

Details will be released as the facilities are established, the DHB says. Some GP clinics are also offering testing but patients are asked to call first and make an appointment.

7.48am: Some people were waiting at the Eden Terrace testing station for more than 10 hours, RNZ reports. It stayed open until 11pm last night to try and process everyone.

The testing centre opens again at 8am today and there's already a long line of people waiting.

7.31am: Super Rugby fans, avert your eyes. Sports Minister Grant Robertson says there's "absolutely not" a chance of the Blues and Crusaders getting an exemption to travel to Dunedin for their Super Rugby clash.

The game's sold out Eden Park in Auckland, but won't be able to go ahead if Level 3 restrictions remain in place. It was supposed to be the last match of the season.

The Highlanders v Hurricanes should be able to go ahead as planned in Dunedin under Level 2, Mr Robertson says - just with a smaller crowd.

7.25am: Queues are already growing at the Eden Terrace testing station, with around 80 cars lined up. 

The testing station doesn't open until 8am.

7.20am: Dr Bloomfield thanks people who got a Covid-19 test, especially those who waited a significant amount of time due to demand.

Breakfast executive producer Jono Williams was one of them - he ended up waiting more than four hours to get tested, after being recommended by his GP.

Here's a full list of where to get tested in Auckland. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asks only people who are symptomatic or have had contact with the border, or managed isolation facilities, to get a test. If in doubt, call your GP or Healthline.

7.12am: Dr Bloomfield backs the decision not to put Rotorua into Level 3 despite two of the confirmed Covid-19 cases visiting while symptoms.

He says there are no close contacts identified from the trip, only casual, but ask people to be aware of symptoms and get tested if they have any.

Auckland is in lockdown because it's clear that's the origin of the lockdown, Dr Bloomfield says.

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Student from Auckland's Mt Albert Grammar tests positive for Covid-19

7.08am: The Mt Albert Grammar student is a close contact of the existing four cases, Dr Ashley Bloomfield told Breakfast. He says the cluster "almost certainly" would grow in the coming days.

He wouldn't say whether he thinks Auckland will go up to Level 4 tomorrow, saying it's too early to tell. "We're wanting to see not just what's happening in Auckland but what's going on around the country."

6.52am: 1 NEWS can confirm parents at Mt Albert Grammar School have been told a student of theirs has been diagnosed as a Covid-19 case.

Close contacts, including students and staff members, are in 14-day self-isolation and being tested, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service letter says.

"There will be a great deal of concern in the school community, but there is a lower risk as the student was not symptomatic while at school and has not been at school since they became sick and got tested."

Mt Albert Grammar's headmaster says they were told of the positive test result yesterday evening.

6.50am: Some Rotorua businesses are undergoing deep cleans despite no official order from health authorities, according to Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick.

She told Breakfast she's "incredibly impressed" by the response from local businesses, including places voluntarily deep-cleaning as a precaution.

"It's a ghastly feeling really, but we're all responsibly following the orders and we've been there before. We responded so well last time and we'll do it again."

She says there's some anger and frustration within the community, heavily dependent on tourism.

6.41am: Jury trials outside of Auckland are continuing today, while those in the city are postponed due to the lockdown.

Auckland High Court, Auckland District Court and Manukau District Court are all suspended until Monday.

6.28am: NZ Herald reports a student at Mt Albert Grammar School has tested positive for Covid-19, citing a letter from the school's principal.

It's not clear whether the student is one of the four probable cases being tested last night, or a new case.

Yesterday it was confirmed that a household member of the confirmed cases goes to Mt Albert Primary.

6.17am: Community testing is getting a further boost in Auckland today, with two more centres opening up.

It brings the total number of testing stations to 15.

More than 3500 people were tested for Covid-19 yesterday in Auckland alone, and many more were reported to have lined up. 

6:07am: Staff at two Rotorua eateries are waiting on Covid-19 test results after being contacts of a woman infected with Covid-19.

Rotorua's on high alert after the woman - one of the four confirmed cases of community transmission from Auckland had symptoms when she travelled to Rotorua last week, with her one-year-old child.

Both BurgerFuel Redwoods and the Fat Dog Cafe say they were contacted by the Ministry of Health yesterday. A total of nine staff are self-isolating.