Wednesday evening update:
Chris Hipkins, Minister for the Covid-19 Response, has told RNZ's Checkpoint programme several new Covid-19 cases had emerged since the 1pm press conference.
Hipkins says there have been "several more cases." Following Hipkins' comments a spokesman for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there are now 10 cases in total.
Hipkins also says there are potentially several thousand people who came back to New Zealand from Australia who went through managed isolation, and possibly those who came from other states aside from New South Wales, to investigate.
Later on Wednesday evening the Ministry of Health issued a statement. The new case of a woman in her 60s who has a connection to the border, is an Air New Zealand aircrew member who doesn't appear to be connected to the rest of the cluster.
Meanwhile, there are now nearly 70 locations of interest in Auckland and Coromandel, including shopping malls, bars and cinemas across Auckland.
The statement is below.
There are three new cases of COVID-19 in the community to confirm this afternoon.
These are additional to the seven cases reported previously. This brings the total community cases at this stage to 10. Nine of these cases have been linked to other community cases and the remaining case has been linked to the border.
Details of the three new cases, who are all in Auckland, are as follows:
- A man in his 20s. This man is the partner of a known case who was reported as a positive case this morning.
- A woman in her 60s. Interviews are underway to determine any link to existing cases. This woman has a connection to the border.
- A woman in her 20s. She has a connection with another case reported today.
In addition, two cases announced at 1pm today have now been linked to existing cases.
- A teenage woman who was a close contact of a case reported today.
- A man in his 20s who visited the household where three of the cases reported today reside.
Movements of all cases reported continue to be investigated. Investigations also continue at Auckland City Hospital, where one of the cases worked for four shifts during their infectious period.
Additional locations of interest identified have been added to Ministry’s website this afternoon. These include Sky City Casino, Avondale College, several Auckland supermarkets, bars and cafes.
This list will be updated progressively as further locations of interest are identified.
The key message from the last lockdown remains relevant: ‘stay at home, save lives, be kind. If you have symptoms or have been at a location of interest, get a test. This will help stop any undetected spread in the community.
Only leave your home if you need to, and please wear a mask when you do.
Health authorities don't yet know the source of Auckland's new community Covid-19 cases that first emerged on Tuesday, but they originated in Australia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.
Ardern says results of genomic sequencing are expected Wednesday night. Given Tuesday's initial case is genomically linked to the New South Wales outbreak, there are lots of trails to follow, Ardern says.
"We know it has come from Australia. The question is how and when," Ardern says.
Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says there are now two more community cases, in addition to the five already reported. All seven cases are linked. The two latest are a 21-year-old male and a 19-year-old female, both returned a positive test on Wednesday.
Cases include a 20-year-old male who is a work colleague of the first case that emerged on Tuesday, a 58-year-old Devonport man, and three of his flatmates. These include a 25-year-old teacher at Avondale College, and a nurse from Auckland Hospital who is fully vaccinated. Another is a 29-year-old male. They have the highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19. Sixteen close contacts have been identified, 14 have been reached so far. They are isolating and being tested.
A church, the Church of Christ in Freeman's Bay, and SkyCity Casino are among the locations of interest. Most of the cases are in their 20s and Bloomfield expects more locations of interest and more cases.
He says we may see somewhere between 50 and 120 cases, according to modelling.
Bloomfield says Rosedale waste water testing, from Auckland's North Shore, is expected later Wednesday. Testing is also happening in Coromandel and Thames, with first results expected on Friday.
Mask wearing is being made compulsory from midnight Wednesday for people visiting and working at essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations, along with bus terminals and in taxis. Mask wearing is already compulsory on public transport. Covid-19 vaccinations will resume across New Zealand from Thursday with some sites resuming Wednesday afternoon, Ardern says.
Asked about a level four lockdown being in place in the South Island when the outbreak is in Auckland, Ardern says until the source of the outbreak is traced there's concern there could be cases in the South Island. Additionally there may be people from places of interest in Auckland who have subsequently travelled to the South Island.
A slightly abridged version of the Ministry of Health statement is below. The full version is here.
Two additional community cases; 3 cases in Managed Isolation; more than 55,000 vaccine doses administered
There are two new cases of COVID-19 in the community to confirm.
This is additional to the five cases reported previously. This brings the total of community cases at this stage to seven, all which are being included in the national tally today. All cases are being transferred safely to an Auckland isolation facility, under strict infection prevention and control procedures, including the use of full PPE.
In addition, there are three new cases in returnees in managed isolation.
The two new community cases, a 21-year-old male and a 19-year-old female, both returned a positive test today (18 August). Both are located in Auckland.
These two cases are linked to the earlier reported community cases. Public health officials are conducting interviews to establish more details of how these new cases were infected and to determine further details of their movements.
Case A is now in a quarantine facility in Auckland. A subsequent test of case A has again returned a positive test result.
The wife of Case A, reported yesterday, and who is fully vaccinated, has again returned a negative test result.
Of the community cases reported to date, four were tested after becoming ill and seeking healthcare and three after being identified as contacts.
Movements of the additional cases reported earlier today continue to be investigated. Investigations also continue at Auckland City Hospital, where one of the cases worked for four shifts during their infectious period.
The hospital last night activated plans to prevent the spread of the virus within the hospital. The DHB has stopped unnecessary movements between wards and is testing all staff and patients on the ward the staff member worked on. The DHB is also standing down, testing and isolating staff on the same ward.
The Ministry understands news this morning that one of the cases worked at Auckland City Hospital may create concern.
However, anyone who needs urgent medical care will be safe as safe in our hospitals now as they would be at any other time, including Auckland City Hospital.
While elective surgery and non-essential outpatient hospital appointments are currently postponed at hospitals around the country, anyone who needs urgent medical attention – such as a medical emergency or going into labour – should follow the normal procedures.
At Alert level 4 many appointments or interactions with heathcare services may be virtual.
Dial 111 or attend a hospital emergency departments. Hospital staff are working and able to provide the care you need. They have measures in place to safely manage care at Alert Level 4.
And as you would normally do, if you have a health issue that isn’t an emergency, please call your GP or give Healthline a call on 0800 611 116.
Pharmacies also remain open in Alert Level 4.
Additional testing resources are being set-up across the country and people that are symptomatic, wherever they are in New Zealand, especially in the Auckland region and the Coromandel, or have been at a location of interest are urged to get tested.
The key message from the last lockdown remains relevant: ‘stay at home, save lives, be tested. This will stop any undetected spread in the community.
Only leave your home if you need to, and please wear a mask when you do.
Public health staff in Auckland are working hard on the critical work necessary to investigate community cases.
They are interviewing cases, identifying their contacts, tracing those contacts, and ensuring they’re in isolation and tested. Isolation, when in alert level 4, means isolating themselves from other household members.
That work continues apace.
As at 11am Auckland Regional Public Health have 16 contacts identified. Of these 16, 14 have been contacted. Two are in the process of being traced and contacted. One of the 14 contacts has tested positive and they are included in the case update provided earlier.
Two contacts have returned negative test results, and the other 13 are isolating and being tested. Of the 16 contacts, we know that four are fully vaccinated; three have had one dose; and the remainder are unvaccinated - reflecting the majority of these individuals would not yet have been offered vaccination due to not yet meeting the eligibility for vaccination.
These numbers are expected to grow.
Details of the locations of interest identified to date are available on Ministry’s website, which will be update progressively as further locations of interest are identified.
The Ministry’s website will also include advice on what to do if you were at any of these locations at the time when you could potentially have been exposed. Text message alerts are currently being sent to people who scanned in using the COVID-19 Tracer App at locations during the relevant times.
Please call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if you were potentially exposed and for advice on testing.
Whole Genome Sequencing
Initial whole genome sequencing run on a sample from Case A overnight has shown he has the Delta variant and there is a link to the New South Wales outbreak.
Further investigations have continued this morning and the Ministry is working closely with ESR to determine the source of these infections.
ESR is also examining cases who have recently arrived from New South Wales to determine if there is any possible link.
The results of wastewater samples taken at Rosedale on Auckland’s North Shore are expected today. Daily samples are now being taken from that site.
ESR has also increased the wastewater samples they are taking at other sites around Auckland.
Composite sampling of Whitianga and Coromandel Town is being set up today with further samples being taken in Coromandel at Pauanui, Tairua and Whangamata. Sampling at Thames will be underway tomorrow.
The first results from the samples can be expected on Friday. ESR is planning to take three samples over the next three consecutive days.
Wastewater testing is continuing at ESR’s other 26 sites across the country, including at its new sites announced on Monday which include Whangarei, Gisborne, Tauranga, Taupo, New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill.
Please get tested if you visited a location of interest or have cold and flu symptoms.
All community testing centres in Auckland are continuing to operate extended hours today and will remain open until 8pm.
Four additional pop-up community testing centres have opened this morning in Devonport, St Lukes, Wairau Valley and Albany and will remain open into the evening.
Testing is under way in Thames and Coromandel Township, including two pop-up testing sites, and additional testing centres are being rapidly stood up across the District.
Pop-up testing sites are open in Coromandel Township and Thames, and an additional testing centre has been stood up at Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton.
Please call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. And go to healthpoint.co.nz to find your local testing station, they will be updated during the day
We know that on the first day of testing it can take time for systems to be stood up and queues can be long. Please prepare to be in a queue for some time –wear a mask, take food and water with you, take a book to read or something to watch and please be patient and kind. Everyone is doing their best at testing stations, but the first day always tends to be busy.
DHBs are working on additional testing capacity throughout the country.
For up-to-date information on testing locations in Auckland, including visting hour, visit Auckland Regional Public Health Service and for information about the Coromandel Testing stations please visit Waikato DHB. For all testing locations nationwide, visit the Healthpoint website.
The total number of COVID-19 tests processed by laboratories to date is 2,571,452.
Yesterday, 7,057 tests were processed across New Zealand.
The seven-day rolling average is 5,162.
Yesterday (17 August) a daily record of 55,688 doses were administered. This includes 35,499 first doses, and 20,189 second doses.
More than 2.61m doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date (to 11.59pm on 17 August).
Of these, 1.65m are first doses and 954,000 are second doses.
More than 143,000 Mâori have received their first vaccination. Of these, more than 87,000 have also had their second vaccinations.
More than 96,000 doses have been administered to Pacific peoples. Of these, around 60,000 have also received their second doses.
All DHBs had plans in place to continue the vaccination roll-out during alert level 4, and those are now being activated. Some vaccination in limited sites will restart this afternoon.
From 8am tomorrow the vaccination programme will resume throughout New Zealand.
This will look different - vaccination sites will be operating under alert level 4 conditions and that means in some cases, they won’t have as many people coming through. That is to enable distancing.
If you are one of the bookings that we need to move to ensure we have a bit more space, you will receive notification. Otherwise, the message is simple. If you were booked for tomorrow and you haven’t heard anything, please go.
The most part we are intending to continue our roll out as planned. That means continuing to open up age bands. From today, those who are aged 40 plus can visit bookmyvaccine.nz to make their bookings.
NZ COVID Tracer
NZ COVID Tracer now has 2,926,215 registered users.
Poster scans have reached 325,352,493 and users have created 13,012,921 manual diary entries.
There have been 555,441 scans in the 24 hours to midday yesterday.
Wednesday's 1pm Covid-19 update with Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern can be viewed below. And you can see our earlier story here.