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Thirty-eight Aucklanders linked to Covid-19 cluster moved to quarantine facility

That concludes 1 NEWS' live updates this morning on the Covid-19 Lockdown for Friday, August 14 - we'll bring you updates here throughout the day with the latest news.

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The city is currently in Alert Level 3, but that could change later today. Source: Breakfast

UPDATES:

1:52pm: Dr Bloomfield says there have been reports of healthcare workers being verbally abused and attacked. "This is completely unacceptable, I'm sure you will agree. Please remember that all healthcare workers are doing their best to help not just you, but all New Zealanders. I know how hard they are working...I want to take a moment to sincerely thank them all." 

1:45pm: The person in hospital with Covid-19 is the 13th case confirmed today. Dr Bloomfield says that person is Auckland-based, and an investigation is underway into how the person caught the virus, as a link to the cluster has not yet been made. "Hope to have an update on that later today," says Dr Bloomfield. 

1:39pm: Ports of Auckland staff have been tested for the virus and most customs and MPI frontline staff were tested yesterday or today, says Mr Hipkins. Of the 2459 who work in managed isolation or quarantine facilities, 1435 have been tested in the last 48 hours. 

1:34pm: Mr Hipkins says 1.6 million face coverings were sent out at 4.30am this morning to 125 social sector groups in Auckland, including foodbanks, iwi, churches and other organisations. There's a further 1.4 million that will be distributed. 

1:29pm: Both Health Minister Chris Hipkins and Dr Ashley Bloomfield are urging Aucklanders to only get tested if they are showing related symptoms or are in a priority group. Mr Hipkins says the tests are needed for people that the ministry has identified "as a priority". Those people include anyone who has had anything to do with Americold, Ports of Auckland, Finance Now, or if they have been to Rotorua. "If you are well, if you are not a border worker, or if you are not employed at an MIQ facility, if you are not an identified close contact or have come into direct contact with a known positive case, and if you are not showing any symptoms please do not come to the community based assessment centres."

1:26pm: Speaking at the 1pm press conference today Health Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed there have been 26,000 Covid-19 tests processed in the last 48 hours. He says there is "no evidence of a positive Covid-19 case outside of Auckland that is unrelated to the cluster that we are dealing with". There are two confirmed cases in the Waikato with a direct link to the cluster. But, Mr Hipkins says Auckland is "not out of the woods yet". 

1:22pm: Dr Bloomfield has confirmed New Zealand now has 48 active cases and the country's overall confirmed and probable cases now moves to 1602.

1:19pm: In addition to Mt Albert Grammar School and Pakuranga School, Dr Bloomfield confirmed the closure of Glamorgan School in Auckland's North Shore, and South Auckland's Southern Cross Campus and Taeaofou | Puaseisei Preschool. All have been linked to confirmed Covid-19 cases. 

1:15pm: There have been 771 close contacts of the Auckland cluster identified to date, as of this morning Dr Bloomfield says 514 have been contacted. 

1:12pm: Thirty-eight people linked to the Auckland cluster have been moved to an Auckland quarantine facility. Dr Bloomfield said all postivive cases, and where relevant, their family members or household members, will be transferred to quarantine facilitie. "This is so we cann greatly reduce the risk of transmission," Dr Bloomfield said.  

1:06pm: Dr Ashley Bloomfield has confirmed there are now 12 confirmed cases in New Zealand's community today and one probable case. Thirteen new cases in total. Two of the new cases are located in Tokoroa, and all of the cases bar one have been linked to the original Auckland cluster. An investigation has begun to find out the origins of the 13th case. The Director-General gave the case number update with a reminder to Kiwis: "The problem is the virus, not the people - people are the solution." He also thanked health workers for their work to date. 

12:30PM: Big queues are being seen at Tokoroa's Covid-19 testing station after reports of a confirmed case in the South Waikato town. Upwards of 100 cars were seen this morning after the news, and the Ministry of Health has told people to wait for the 1PM update for official information.

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1 NEWS reporter Sam Kelway filed this midday, August 14, update from Tokoroa. Source: 1 NEWS

12:12PM: Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will deliver today's 1pm Covid-19 update in less than one hour. 1 News will have a live stream available on the 1 News site and on Facebook.

12:06pm: A total of 805 Covid-19 tests were carried out in the Nelson Marlborough region yesterday. Those were made up of 376 tests in Nelson, 209 tests in Tasman and 220 tests in Marlborough. As yet, no Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the South Island. 

12:01PM: 1 News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver has spoken out against criticism of identifying the Auckland family that first contracted Covid-19 as "Pasifika". She argues that it would have been "the absolute peak of irresponsibility not to" due to to close-knit nature of those communities. 

11:30am: The Māori Party's co-leaders John Tamihere and Debbie Ngawere-Packer are calling for a voluntary Level 4 Lockdown period among Māori, and saying the government should have announced Level 4 on Tuesday. They are also calling for the September 19 General Election to be postponed until next year, due to the effect of the latest outbreak. "Level 4 lockdown for at least 14 days should have been made by the Prime Minister when she announced the new community outbreak," Mr Tamihere said. "We also cannot allow returning Kiwis home – including our whānau – until health officials get on top of this this community outbreak. Iwi Health Check points are now re-established."

11:00am: An Auckland woman says she is concerned that she was forced to queue closely with other people while waiting for a Covid-19 test. The woman said she went for a test at the Ōtara pop-up clinic and after waiting in her car for three hours, she was ushering into an open-ended tent to wait on foot. She said she was surrounded by people who had symptoms of Covid-19.

10:18am: Stuff is reporting that Tokoroa may have two Covid-19 cases - one confirmed and two probable. South Waikato Mayor Jenny Shattock is quoted as saying she was aware of the cases. A source quoted from inside the Waikato DHB also confirmed the cases.

9:51am: Minister of Health Chris Hipkins has told RNZ that there are now more confirmed cases in the community, and that they will be announced today at 1pm. He also said for New Zealand to be put into Level 4, there would need to be a number of active clusters and unconnected cases, which at present, there are not.

9:35am: The New Zealand Orthopaedic Association is calling on the government to enable elective surgery to continue during Level 3 and 4 conditions. President Peter Robinson said this morning the number of surgeries performed during Level 4 earlier this year plummeted, despite hospitals dealing with fewer than the expected number of Covid-19 patients. "In the case of large numbers of COVID-19 patients, of course health services have to be prioritised. However, where public hospitals are half empty because - very thankfully - the expected influx hasn't happened, we need to take the opportunity to provide people with the surgery they have been waiting for and desperately need," Mr Robinson said. "The NZOA is asking the Government to continue to allow elective surgery to take place should we move to Level 4, if we are again in a situation where theatres and surgeons are available."

8:56am: Taranaki iwi leaders and mayors are calling for a Taranaki regional bubble to be set up. The groups are calling on any Taranaki residents who have recently been in contact with people from Auckland to get tested for Covid-19, and are also calling for government support in setting up checkpoints at entry points into Taranaki if the alert level there rises. 

8:51am: National Party Health Spokesperson Dr Shane Reti this morning said he had offered to help the government with their Covid-19 response. Speaking to Breakfast, Mr Reti's tone was significantly more subdued and less critical of the government's response than his party leaders in past days, and he admitted "I have trust they're doing the best they can do".

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The party’s health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says he’s offered his help following the new outbreak. Source: Breakfast

8.30am: Ségolène de Fontenay of the New Zealand Event Association says events across Auckland are being cancelled or postponed on a large scale "just when things were starting to pick up again". She said a planned XPO trade conference was among those, with 7500 ticket holders, 200 exhibitors and 40 international speakers disappointed. Ms de Fontenay said the cancellations had potential to damage public confidence in booking events in future. The Association are now hopeful that further wage subsidies will be put in place if Level 3 is extended, or Level 4 restrictions are put in place.

8.05am: Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult says rumours of droves of Aucklanders fleeing to Queenstown seem to be "overcooked". Mr Boult told Breakfast that very few flights came into Queenstown yesterday, and they were all carrying far less than capacity. He also said people coming to Queenstown were welcome - they'll spend money in the struggling economy. However, he said Queenstown has continued to struggle since the first lockdown, and with many tourism operators only just changing their operations to "keep their nose above water" in the changed conditions, the latest lockdown was "an absolute kick in the guts". Mr Boult said he's confident that people will come back to Queenstown, but also said that it will be a long time before tourism rebounds to the levels seen last year. "I think the whole tourism industry will suffer very, very long term from this."

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Mayor Jim Boult supports the idea proposed by Southern Institute of Technology but says there must be a strict testing system in place. Source: 1 NEWS

7.49am: John Fiso of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation says a lot of Pasifika people in Auckland are particularly at risk in the latest outbreak. He said Pasifika people had the highest rate of underlying health conditions - as many as 60 per cent - which "makes them very vulnerable to this virus". He also said Pasifika people are more likely to be essential or front line workers, who would be more exposed to contracting Covid-19, and that their close-knit family and community structures also increased their risk. He urged Pasifika families to continue to follow hygiene and social distancing rules, and to reach out to Pasifika agencies if they need help. People who feel unwell should be tested without delay.

7.34am: Queues are already forming at testing stations around Auckland this morning. There will be 16 community testing stations operating today, up from 15 yesterday with the addition of a site in Mangere. Details of the first 15 are available here, and the Mangere testing station will be operating at the Mangere Town Centre car park from 10am.

7.21am: Covid-19 data modeler Shaun Hendy says whether or not Auckland moves up to Level 4 or stays at Level 3 today will likely depend on two factors: whether a link between the cool store facility and the border can be found, and whether or not additional clusters are found. Mr Hendy said the first and only cluster identified so far - linked to a man who works at Auckland cool store Americold - now extends "right across the city" due to Auckland's nature of being quite a distributed city. He said his opinion is that there is some kind of link between the cool store worker and the border which hasn't been found yet. "I'd probably rate that still as the most likely source, but having said that, we haven't found a direct connection," he said. The best-case scenario today was that a link between the cool store facility and the border was found, and that no further clusters were identified, and in that case it was likely the restrictions in Auckland would stay at Level 3. The worst case scenario was that no link could be found and further clusters were also found, in which case Level 4 was likely. Mr Hendy said it was possible, if the infection had been undetected for some time, that there were up to 100 current cases circulating the community.

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The virus modelling expert says New Zealand has learnt a lot already about controlling the disease. Source: Breakfast

7.07am: University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker says he believes the chances of Covid-19 coming into the country through the cold-store company Americold is "plausible, but a long shot". He said Covid-19 can survive lower temperatures, but said the main risk of transmission remains respiratory droplets caused by coughing and sneezing. He said it remains very difficult to know what the chances of getting Covid-19 by handling an infected surface is.

6.56am: Health and Education Minister Chris Hipkins said on Breakfast that there are no new cases of Covid-19 in the community to report, as of this morning, but said people should still wait for the 1pm official update for the very latest verified figures. Mr Hipkins said upwards of 36,000 tests had been carried out as of late yesterday afternoon, and laboratories are "working around the clock to process those". Speaking on Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters' comments to Australian media yesterday, in which he said he was told by a Kiwi journalist that the initial cluster of four people was linked to some kind of quarantine breach, Mr Hipkins hit back, calling those comments unfounded and saying "there is no evidence to back up that claim". He urged people to rely on the official 1pm update for the latest verified numbers. He reiterated that every single person working either at the border, or within isolation and quarantine facilities, would be tested by the end of today. He admitted that there had been some "reluctance" on the part of those people to be tested in the past, but said at this point, "this is no longer a choice for those people - they will all be tested".

6.26am: Michael Barnett of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce has called for the system of designating of some businesses as "essential" should be scrapped in favour of a system where there are a set of rules any business can abide by in order to stay open during a Level 4 lockdown. Speaking to Breakfast, Mr Barnett said the government is currently "picking it's winners", such as supermarkets, and leaving the butchers, greengrocers, manufacturers and exporters out in the cold. He said he thinks businesses can be trusted to follow the same rules as supermarkets, "the same, if not better", and that the cost of a second Level 4 lockdown could destroy many more businesses. He also said he had spoken with Treasury, and asked them to signal as early as possible whether further wage subsidies will be available to businesses.

5.56am: Recapping on a development last night - two Auckland primary schools and a preschool have closed after positive Covid-19 cases were confirmed at all three facilities. They are Southern Cross Campus and Taeaofou | Puaseisei Preschool, both located in South Auckland's Mangere East; Glamorgan School in North Shore's Torbay.

5:52amAuckland Police yesterday reminded people not to attempt to travel in or out of Auckland without a valid reason, and to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. Road checkpoints are in place on all of the major roads in and out of the region, and motorists are being stopped and questioned on their reasons for travel. A complete list of valid reasons for travel and conditions for travel, both for Auckland and the rest of the country, are available on the Ministry of Transport website. A larger version of the checkpoint map is available here.

A map of Auckland Region police checkpoints put in place during the second Level 3 Covid-19 Lockdown. Source: Supplied

5.32am: Professor Shaun Hendy, who specialises in modeling the spread of diseases, says he believes that the government will extend lockdown conditions later today. He told RNZ that a return to normality now, with new cases popping up, is "not a likely outcome".

5.25am: This morning on Breakfast from 6am: Health Minister Nick Chris Hipkins will speak from the Beehive on matters of quarantine and University of Otago professor of infectious diseases David Murdoch will talk about the latest understanding of the Covid-19 virus. We'll also have Covid-19 data modeler Shaun Hendy talking about why the numbers are moving so rapidly. We'll also have discussions around why the Pasifika community are so vulnerable to this disease, and we'll check in with Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult talking about the people currently in the region who are not from there, and what that means.

5.15am: Kiwis are waking up to the final day of Lockdown Level 3 in Auckland and Level 2 across the rest of the country, with the government due to announce this evening at 5.30pm whether the conditions will be extended. Today's daily Ministry of Health briefing will also take place at 1pm, which will update the current case numbers.