COVID-19: Live updates - 12th August - 14th August

live 12/08/2020

FRIDAY 14 AUGUST 2020

At 4:30pm, Newshub will begin rolling coverage of the COVID-19 situation, leading up to the 5:30pm announcement by the Prime Minister.

3:25pm - The Ministry of Health has also updated media on a rumoured case at a Wellington ramen restaurant, saying it's true that a person who later tested positive for COVID-19 visited.

"As part of our normal processes we have been informed about two travellers who left New Zealand and later tested positive for COVID-19 overseas. These cases are being investigated but have not yet been officially confirmed," it said.

"One case is a Japanese traveller who left New Zealand on 8 August and transited through Singapore enroute to Japan. The other case is a Belgian traveller who left New Zealand on 6 August and transited through Singapore enroute to Amsterdam.

"Both travellers were asymptomatic in New Zealand."

The ministry says it's now been made aware that the Japanese traveller "spent some time in Wellington prior to departure and visited The Ramen Shop among a number of other places".

"These premises are all considered casual contacts of the traveller, they have been contacted and provided with advice as part of the normal contact tracing process. No further action is required from any of these premises as the risk is considered very low."

3:15pm - The Ministry of Health has apologised after admitting to incorrectly naming Pakuranga College as a school linked to a confirmed COVID-19 case.

"While there is a casual link, the Ministry is awaiting further test results and at this point no additional public health action is required from the school," it said in a press release.

"The Ministry apologises for putting information in the public domain without first notifying the school."

National MP Simeon Brown had earlier described the mistake as "awful".

3:10pm - Here's all the latest figures in graph form after the Government's 1pm COVID-19 update.

A reminder, there were 12 new confirmed cases announced on Friday, as well as another probable case.

It means there are currently 48 cases of coronavirus in total in New Zealand - 30 of which are community transmission cases linked to the Auckland cluster.

3:05pm - Newshub has been told that a press release on the rumoured new COVID-19 case at a Wellington ramen shop can be expected in the next 30 minutes.

2:45pm - A casual worker at Snowplanet, in the north Auckland suburb of Silverdale, has tested positive for COVID-19, NZME reports.

The Ministry of Health had advised the man he was unlikely to have been infectious while working at the indoor snow recreation centre.

The report says the man last worked at Snowplanet on August 5 and later tested positive on August 11.

The company had already advised customers it would be closing down on Tuesday, following the announcement of Auckland's shift to alert level 3.

2:30pm - A Kiwi epidemiologist living in Victoria believes "hard-nosed actions" are required at Auckland's border to stop the country going back up the alert levels.

Tony Blakely told Newshub border security is "critical". In Australia, anyone wanting to leave the state of Victoria needs to apply for a 14-day permit to cross the border.

"Unfortunately, we have learned in Australia that borders are easily breached, and more so in a trust system," he said. "If New Zealand is to return to an elimination state, it requires hard-nosed actions but with strong communication to the public as to why."

Read Emma Cropper's full report here.

2:15pm - National MP Simeon Brown says he's spoken with Pakuranga College principal Michael Williams, who told him he's now been told that there is no case at his school despite one being announced at 1pm.

Brown describes it as an "awful mistake" that has caused "significant concern in the Pakuranga community".

In a post to Facebook, Pakuranga College confirmed that the Ministry of Education had been in touch to advise them there was no COVID-19 threat.

1:45pm - At what events or locations could have the cases come into contact with lots of people? Dr Bloomfield mentions the church in south Auckland as well as the schools and workplaces.

A preschooler confirmed with COVID-19 went to the church with their family. Church members are now being tested.

In regard to the Pakuranga College Facebook post reported below, Hipkins can't say when they were notified. The minister says they should have been told.

Dr Bloomfield will look into it, but says he has seen information about the school for about a day.

Hipkins is happy to get a list of when schools were notified.

1:40pm - Dr Bloomfield previously mentioned a case linked to Pakuranga College, but the school says its not aware of this.

1:35pm - Are you happy with the resources available in Auckland? Dr Bloomfield says additional testing units have been put forward and he's satisfied with that.

Aucklanders are doing well at isolating after being contacted by contact tracers, Dr Bloomfield says.

Does testing at the Ports of Auckland mean it is under suspicion as a point of entry for the virus? Hipkins says all areas the virus could have entered New Zealand are under scrutiny. It is a complex place to test because of the number of people coming and going.

1:30pm - In regard to a post by a Ramen shop saying it has been informed of a positive case dining then, Dr Bloomfield says he has no information about that.

In response to a claim by Winston Peters that a quarantine breach was linked to the cluster, Hipkins directs questions to the Foreign Minister. Peters says he got that information from a journalist.

"There is one source of truth and that's announcements we make here," Hipkins says.

1:25pm - Despite the large number of tests, Hipkins is confident we have enough tests to keep up. Dr Bloomfield agrees. Capacity outside of Auckland is being used to process the tests.

How concerned are you about not linking the hospital case to the cluster? Dr Bloomfield is not concerned about that at the moment as it is the most recent case and still under investigation.

Unions for workers at the border are being very collaborative as they want to see their staff healthy.

Hipkins is not aware of any positive tests in Wellington, despite rumours of positive cases.

1:20pm - Hipkins says of 2459 people working in MIQ, 1435 have been tested in the last 48-hours. 

Social groups in Auckland have on Friday received stocks of face masks.

The risk in Tokoroa remains low, Hipkins says. They are clearly linked to the Auckland-based cluster. As more cases emerge, rapid contact tracing is happening.

Dr Bloomfield will provide advice to the Government on alert levels later on Friday.

Asked why not all border workers were previously tested, Hipkins says not all are in an at-risk category. Why not compulsory testing? Hipkins says that is a big lever to pull and the Government is exercising a big deal of caution.

Dr Bloomfield is pleased cases are being found and isolated quickly.

The index case is still unknown. Human-to-human transmission is still likely.

1:15pm - Health Minister Hipkins notes that all cases are in Auckland and Tokoroa. He said it is pivotal to contact trace and test over the coming days, particularly in Auckland.

For the rest of New Zealand, the message is for people to be vigilant. Call Healthline or your GP if you believe you have symptoms. 

The message for Aucklanders is that the tests need to be available for people with symptoms and those who visited or worked at the Ports of Auckland, Americold or Finance now.

Over the last two days, testing has ramped up at the border, Hipkins says. He expects the majority of the people-facing border workers will be tested by the end of the day. The workers on the frontline are the priority, he says. Some working at the border are at very low-risk of exposure.

1:10pm - Dr Bloomfield notes that three schools are closed in Auckland due to students testing positive. 

On Thursday, 15,703 tests were processed, the highest in a day yet. The total now is 524,514. He says demand has been high and thanks workers.

There are 16 stations in Auckland. People can also get tested at their GPS. Only symptomatic people are being tested. Those not symptomatic may be turned away.

The two people who tested the Morrinsville Kingswood aged care facility weren't symptomatic at the time. The family member and staff members who came into contact with them have tested negative.

There have been more than 1 million downloads of the COVID Tracer App and 170,000 posters made.

1:05pm - Dr Ashley Bloomfield says there are reports of healthcare workers being verbally abused and attacked. He says this is unacceptable.

Twelve new confirmed cases and one probable case in community. Two are in Tokoroa. 

All but one of the 13 cases are connected to the cluster. The 13th is in hospital. Two positive in Tokoroa are part of a single household and have contact with people in Auckland who visited the Waikato rest home. 

Others in that household have tested negative. The DHB is providing support.

All confirmed cases must go to quarantine. Already, 38 have moved to quarantine, including cases and family members.

Overall, there are 48 active cases, with 30 linked to the community outbreak. We have had 1251 confirmed cases overall. Just one person is in hospital.

12:55pm - Health Minister Chris Hipkins will now join Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield at 1pm.

12:45pm - Stuff reports that there are now six cases from the Finance Now office.  The outlet says four are believed to be new cases.

One of the initial four cases worked at Finance Now. A second employee was confirmed with COVID-19 on Thursday, while a family member of their's has also tested positive.

12:30pm - Newshub's Mitch McCann reports that people are now being turned away from the Tokoroa testing station, which is being inundated with people wanting tests.

We were told at the gate: "We’re full". It only opened a couple of hours ago.

12:25pm - At 5:30pm, the Prime Minister will reveal if our alert levels will stay the same, escalate or come down.

What do you think Ardern should do? Have your say here.

12:20pm - RNZ says there are two new cases connected to the Mt Wellington Americold facility. One is reportedly an employee and the other is from an external hired labour force. 

11:55am - Newshub's Mitch McCann is in Tokoroa and reports that locals there say they are in shock and disbelief.

Newshub has spoken to a local school which says it’s being inundated with calls from concerned parents. It follows revelations from the Mayor of a positive case - despite no confirmation from the Ministry.

Countdown Tokoroa has sent elderly workers home. One told Newshub she was very worried about the situation. 

11:30am - The Māori Party says: "Māori must move to level 4 lockdown and the borders must be closed for the next 14 days - even to overseas whānau wanting to return home - to ensure proper border control".

"Level 4 lockdown for at least 14 days should have been made by the Prime Minister when she announced the new community outbreak,” Co-leader John 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."

The party also wants the election delayed to 2021.

"Only then can we be non-challenging and trusting of the present leadership of the country. It must be leadership of the 5 million, not control by one party.

"When you are in election mode you must question, challenge and be suspicious and at times oppositional. That is why the election must be pushed back."

Tamihere wants the Prime Minister to form a Cabinet of National Unity and reach out to Opposition parties.

11:25am - A South Waikato councillor has confirmed to Newshub there has been at least one confirmed and one probable case of COVID-19 detected in Tokoroa.

11:20am - In light of the new COVID-19 situation, APEX won’t strike on Monday at Southern Community Laboratories (SCL) as it had intended.

"The proposed strike was in support of bargaining for a fair pay offer from a strong and profitable private sector provider of medical laboratory testing," a statement said.

APEX laboratory national advocate David Munro says that although the SCL labs aren’t affected currently by alert level 3, "it is clear that the intensive ramping up of COVID testing will require the capacity of SCL labs in addition to the Auckland DHB labs and ESR".

"In this context the SCL APEX members have decided not to risk any disruption to testing that could have occurred due to their strike."

11:15am - RNZ is reporting Tokoroa has two confirmed COVID-19 cases and five probable cases. They say this has been confirmed by three councillors.

10:40am - The Blues are scheduled to host the Crusaders at Eden Park this weekend, but with Auckland currently under alert level 3 - and no decision yet made on if that will change - the game is unlikely to take place.

Under alert level 3, a gathering like that expected at Eden Park can't happen.

The Blues said on Friday morning that they can't train as a team at the moment.

"The match will ONLY proceed this weekend if the alert level shifts to level 1 or level 2."

The team will release a statement at 6pm after the Prime Minister's press conference at 5:30pm.

10:25am - Auckland's three days at level 3 would have cost the city about $150 million in economic activity, according to a leading economist.

But the city's Mayor says the costs will be far greater if the coronavirus isn't stamped out quickly. 

Read more on that here.

10:05am - Stuff is reporting that a case of COVID-19 has been detected in Tokoroa.

Local Mayor Jenny Shattock says on Thursday evening the council was told of a staff member potentially being linked to a known Auckland case. A Waikato DHB source told Stuff a case in Tokoroa has been confirmed and two staff members at a local medical centre have gone into isolation.

10am - Up to 300 people who were at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Māngere East Puaseisei on Sunday or have been in contact with someone who was there are being told to get tested as a precaution, according to NZME.

It comes after Taeaofou i Puaseisei Preschool announced on Thursday night that a student had tested positive. NZME says many of the church's youngest members attend the preschool.

NZME reports Reverend Victor Pouesi as saying the preschooler was at church with their family on Sunday. He understands the child's parents work with a family member of one of the initial four cases.

9:55am - James Shaw tells Paula Bennett he has yet to get his test result back, but he is awaiting it with "a great deal anticipation". He believes he will be fine.

Shaw said the test wasn't painful.

9:45am - The Waikato Police have posted an interesting pie chart on Facebook. The message from authorities and supermarkets is that panic buying is not needed. If everyone acts normally, stores will be able to keep up with demand.

9:30am - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff wants Sunday's blockbuster Super Rugby Aotearoa clash between the Blues and Crusaders at Eden Park to be called off.

NZ Rugby is awaiting further Government guidance, before making a call on whether the Blues v Crusaders and Highlanders v Hurricanes in Dunedin on Saturday can go ahead. 

A decision is expected on Friday evening, after the Government's announcement over alert level restrictions. 

Read more here.

9:20am - The New Zealand Orthopaedic Association (NZOA) wants the Government to allow elective surgery to continue as the alert levels changes.

NZOA President Peter Robertson says when the country was in level four earlier in the year, numbers of elective surgeries performed plummeted, even though hospitals did not have the expected influx of COVID-19 patients.

“Hospitals had operating theatres, surgeons and surgical teams ready and able to work on our large elective surgery backlog. Instead, many theatres remained empty, while New Zealanders continued to wait in pain and disability for elective surgery," he said.

“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.

“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.”

9am - Paula Bennett is up next on Magic Talk. Among her guests are James Shaw and Simon Bridges. 

8:55am - Although only Auckland is in COVID-19 alert level 3 the impact of the city's lockdown is being felt across the country, according to experts in the hospitality industry.

Executive director of New Zealand's Hotel Owners Association Amy Robens says the industry is trying to stay afloat - but with New Zealand's largest city in lockdown, it's not easy.

"With Auckland being at level 3 the impact on the rest of the country is really quite severe," she told Newshub on Friday.

"Conferences, meetings and holiday bookings across the country are being cancelled and the first impact [of the COVID-19 pandemic] was back in February, so we're all still very much in survival mode."

Read more here.

8:40am - Minister of Health Chris Hipkins has poured cold water on the Deputy Prime Minister's suggestion the new cluster of COVID-19 cases came from a breach at a border quarantine facility.

Peters told Australia's ABC 24 News on Thursday evening a "usually very reliable" journalist told him the city's outbreak was linked to the quarantine system, where Kiwis arriving home from overseas are placed if they're showing symptoms or test positive for the virus. 

The Prime Minister's Office quickly said it had no evidence of any connection, and on Friday morning Hipkins said that remained the case. The last update he had at 10:30pm on Thursday said no link between the border facilities, anyone who works there or anyone with recent overseas travel history had been found.

Read more on that here.

8:30am - The AM Show's Aziz Al-sa'afin is down at the new Eden Park testing station. He says it is "absolute madness" down there, but it is being managed better than the site at Eden Terrace was over the last two days.

Most of those queuing up are not symptomatic, Al-sa'afin says. He says a lot of people are fearful about the current COVID-19 situation.

8:25am - National's health spokesperson Shane Reti has told RNZ that he has now had a "productive" meeting with Chris Hipkins and they are working collaboratively.

Leader Judith Collins on Wednesday criticised the Government for not briefing Reti on the escalating COVID-19 situation.

Reti says he thinks the Government is doing the best it can, but notes that not all border workers have been tested, as revealed in a Newshub story on Thursday.

8:15am - ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner is speaking to The AM Show.

She says there is a significant difference between alert level 3 and 4 in terms of economic activity. While the Government can help via the wage subisdy in the short term, a long-term situation is a different story.

The current uncertainty doesn't help, she says, as it means businesses are less likely to invest.

7:55am - Health Minister Chris Hipkins told The AM Show on Friday morning that there is no link yet between the new cluster and any managed isolation or quarantine facilities.

Officials have been looking at the genome sequencing of the four initial new cases and comparing that to samples from isolation facilities.

Patrick Gower on Thursday night broke down the initial results, looking at the strain of COVID-19 the cases likely have and where in the world this has been reported before. Find that story here.

Newshub's Lana Andelane on Wednesday dived into what genome sequencing means and how it can help fight community transmission. Read about that here.

7:30am - The Restaurant Association wants the Government to allow contactless delivery at alert level 4, if we should return there.

A survey of members on Thursday found just over 50 percent supported this change while 14 percent wanted more information before making a call.

"Delivery options continue to be made available to other businesses such as online retail and supermarkets. Our industry has already proven it can operate a safe contactless service at level 3, so we see no reason why these couldn’t be extended to level 4," chief executive Marisa Bidois says.

7:20am - Simon Bridges says Jacinda Ardern is very cautious and conservative on these issues. He believes Auckland will stay in alert level 3. If we go to alert level 4, the Government will need a very strong case, Bridges says.

There is no evidence yet to justify moving to alert level 4, Hipkins says. If a new cluster emerges or cases unrelated to the south Auckland outbreak are reported, that may change things.

On the lack of testing at the border, Hipkins says anyone with signs of having COVID-19 were tested. He reiterates there is no evidence yet of a link between the cluster and the border.

7:15am - Health Minister Chris Hipkins and National's Simon Bridges are now on The AM Show.

Should Aucklanders prepare for the worst? Hipkins says people should always be prepared for the worst and be ready to take action.

"This is a virus. It's unpredictable."

He says Cabinet will be better informed later on Friday to make decisions around alert level changes. No recommendation has yet been made by the Director-General of Health. Hipkins admits it will be a somewhat "last-minute" decision.

Hipkins says more positive cases will be announced at 1pm. All are linked to the south Auckland cluster. As of 10:30pm on Thursday, there was no link identified between the cluster and managed isolation.

"What we know so far is all of the positive cases we've had to date - and there will be some more announced at lunchtime today, at 1pm today - all of them relate to the same single cluster. They all relate to one another.

"All of the testing we've done up and down the country has not identified any other cases of COVID that aren't related to this one. What we still don't know however is how this cluster came into being in the first place."

7:10am - The National Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NFDHH) and Deaf Aotearoa are concerned about how face mask usage presents a "major communication barrier" to 880,000 people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Many of these individuals rely on lip reading to assist them.

The groups warn the repercussions can include a "reluctance for those who are deaf or hard of hearing to get tested, as they may not understand conversations or instructions" and a feeling of isolation for the people.

"NFDHH and Deaf Aotearoa are calling for closed captions for all COVID-19 briefing sessions on media-run platforms, New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreters at testing stations, and captions in places where public service announcements are played over speakers, such as at airports and train stations."

6:55am - While New Zealand sees its first oubreak in months, other countries continue to struggle to fight the virus.

The confirmed death toll in the pandemic has surpassed 750,000, with nearly 21 million confirmed infected.

Here's the latest from around the world.

6:40am - If more of the North Island moves to alert level 3, some in Taranaki want the Defence Force or Police to run checkpoints at its borders and for the Government to pay for them.

The Taranaki Mayoral Forum and the Taranaki Iwi Chairs' Forum say "we must create a Taranaki bubble to protect our people and our economy". Read more here.

6:30am - Ollie Ritchie, Newshub's Rugby Reporter, says it doesn't look like this week's Blues-Crusaders game at Eden Park will go ahead.

He said NZ Rugby will likely wait until the Government decision before announcing anything, but it's clear the blockbuster match won't happen due to the escalating COVID-19 situation.

Eden Park is being used as a testing centre on Friday.

Netball NZ says no netball will be going ahead, Ritchie says.

6:25am - Marisa Bidois from the Restaurant Association says this is a "devastating blow" to the industry. She said it's an uncertain time, but we have been here before and businesses know what to do.

At alert level 3, businesses that rely on customer interaction must close. Contactless delivery and pick-up can occur.

Bidois says the questions is: What's next?

6:15am - Newshub's Michael Morrah reported on Thursday night that, as of last week, 63.5 percent of all border and hotel isolation workers in Auckland had never been tested for COVID-19.

That astonishing figure comes as the source of this week's cluster remains unknown. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says human-to-human transmission remains the likely cause.

All staff in these high-risk roles will now face compulsory tests. Read more here.

6:10am - It was a record day of testing on Wednesday in Auckland. More than 7800 tests were registered by the city's labs. The previous record in Auckland was 6407 on June 23.

Due to high demand, the Community Testing Centre (CTC) in Eden Terrace will move to Eden Park. This will be located in the stadium's bus hub. It is close to public transport, allowing for walk-ups.

"The three Auckland DHBs thank the public for their patience as they wait to be tested at our CTCs. We know people are experiencing long waits and we continue to work on ways to increase testing capacity in our region," ARPHS said

"We encourage people with symptoms to call their local doctor to arrange a test if they can instead of visiting a CTC. All general practices and urgent care clinics provide free COVID-19 testing."

The process at the CTCs can be sped up by people bringing ID and having their NHI number, if they know it.

"We also want to thank the residents and local businesses in the neighbourhoods where our CTCs are located for their patience and support. Traffic management plans are in place for each CTC and are monitored and updated, but we know the unprecedented demand for testing can impact local communities."

6:05am - We have a lot coming up on The AM Show as we await Jacinda Ardern's decision at 5:30pm.

Among the guests on Friday will be Health Minister Chris Hipkins, National's SImon Bridges and ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner.

6am - If you missed it late on Thursday, at least three Auckland schools have closed after a confirmed case of COVID-19 in each facility.

Glamorgan School in Torbay, Southern Cross Campus in Mangere East, and Taeaofou | Puaseisei Preschool, also in Mangere East, have all been closed while the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) carries out its investigations.

Close contacts of these cases are being followed up on.

An engineering student at the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) has also tested positive, ARPHS confirmed. The student was not on campus while infectious.

5:50am - It's D-Day. At 5:30pm, Jacinda Ardern will inform the country whether COVID-19 alert level changes imposed this week will be extended, escalated or brought down. She's awaiting the latest information about the new cluster in Auckland and will chair a Cabinet meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss with ministers.

THURSDAY 13 AUGUST 2020

It's day two of Auckland's second lockdown. The new restrictions were introduced after four cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the community on Tuesday with an unknown source.

The rest of New Zealand is at alert level 2.

What you need to know:

  • Auckland is waking up to day two of COVID-19 alert level 3, as the rest of New Zealand adjusts to alert level 2
  • Four individuals from a single household in south Auckland tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. They have no history of recent travel internationally, but a member did visit Rotorua over the weekend
  • The workplaces of the individuals have been closed down and staff have been tested. Environmental testing is also happening there.
  • Auckland has moved to alert level 3, meaning people should work from home and avoid unnecessary travel. Checkpoints have been set up around the region
  • The rest of New Zealand is now at alert level 2
  • An additional four probable cases in the community were reported on Wednesday
  • Kiwis should get tested if they are symptomatic and masks are recommended for use in public. They are mandatory when flying out of Auckland
  • Political parties have suspended campaigning and the dissolution of Parliament has been delayed
  • National leader Judith Collins is calling for the election to be delayed due to the crisis
  • Another confirmed case has been identified as a student from Mt Albert Grammar and is a close contact to an already confirmed case

Follow Newshub's live updates here:

2:45pm - The Hawke's Bay DHB says hundreds of people were tested for COVID-19 in the region on Wednesday, but none have returned a positive test so far.

Across Napier, Hastings, Wairoa and central Hawke's Bay, 313 people were tested.

Hawke’s Bay DHB Medical Officer Nick Jones said due to the increased demand, only people with symptoms or those who had been identified as a contact of a confirmed case in Auckland were being tested.

2:35pm - In response to two of Tuesday's cases visiting Rotorua over the weekend, the Ministry of Health on Thursday morning utilised the alert function of the COVID Tracer app for the first time.

That allows officials to send a notification to anyone who scanned into the locations at the same time we know positive cases were also there.

An "exposure alert covering the two separate visits to Heritage Farm and the one visit to the Skyline Gondola" has been issued.

2:25pm - On Wednesday, Japan recorded a new case after an asymptomatic woman in her 20s arrived in Tokyo from New Zealand on August 9.

It appears Malaysia also had a case that came from New Zealand. According to The Star, the country had nine new cases on Wednesday, with five being imported. One of the imported cases was returning from New Zealand.

2:15pm - The Opportunities Party is calling for the election to continue to be held on September 19. 

"The Auckland COVID-19 outbreak is very concerning and creates uncertainty which none of us want. The Opportunities Party (TOP) is supportive of the measures taken by the Government to contain further spread, however, everything should be done to keep the current election date if at all possible, said the party's deputy leader Shao Navot.

"Depending on how things unfold, if a delay is necessary, the election should still take place within weeks of September 19, not months, and certainly this year.”

Navot said National's call for the election to be delayed by months or to next year is out of its own interest.

"COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, so the unwelcome reality is that we are going to need to go in and out of different alert levels for some time.

"It is a matter for the Electoral Commission to ensure that we have the appropriate voting infrastructure in place, including postal voting, not politicians. That is work the Electoral Commission has in fact already been doing.”

1:50pm - Testing staff at the border and at isolation facilities is a priority, Ardern says. 

These staff members have already been getting tested. Staff in those facilities are also receiving health checks every day, Dr Bloomfield says.

Rotorua testing centre hours are being extended. The Director-General says you can also get tested at some GPs. This is free and probably quicker as GPs will have patients' details.

Dr Bloomfield found out about the Taupo trip on Thursday morning.

1:45pm - We must be prepared for the cluster to grow, the Prime Minister tells media.

There is no indication yet of a 'super-spreader event', like a wedding. Dr Bloomfield says the first case in the community could have been weeks ago as the first case confirmed on Tuesday had symptoms on July 31.

The Government are aware of companies price gouging on masks and sanitisers. They are asking people to report this.

The Prime Minister says fairness is needed and people's shouldn't try to capitalise on the situation we are in. People don't need surgical masks, she says.

1:40pm - Ardern says while genome sequencing is helpful, it is still too early to rule anything in or out.

It is unlikely the virus was caught from a surface in the cool store, Dr Bloomfield says. But he wants to rule this out.

Ardern says misinformation is concerning, but most Kiwis understand the measures being imposed. She says conspiracy theories are not new and some are spread from offshore sources.

"I have seen reports of people overseas who have viewed COVID-19 as fake who have lost their lives to it."

Dr Bloomfield doesn't have the number of people tested in Rotorua. He thanks people for their patience in waiting for tests. 

Ardern says the testing isn't what takes time, it is getting people's details.

No thought has been given to 'take-home tests' at this stage.

It is difficult to assess the clusters growth, Ardern says. The modelling suggests it will grow, however.

1:30pm - The Prime Minister earlier said it would get worse before getting better. The Director-General is confident capacity will hold up at quarantine facilities, where cases will now go.

Ardern says human-to-human transmission most likely source of new cluster. But Americold is being swabbed as officials still want to check for surface spread.

Testing continues for staff at the border.

Ardern believes Kiwis understand why most of New Zealand is at alert level 2.

Dr Bloomfield says there isn't genome sequencing from every sample from managed isolation.

1:25pm - Dr Bloomfield said the vast majority of cases occur in workplaces and households, not through casual interactions.

No further travel history about any of the new cases is known. Interviews remain underway with these cases.

Why not just extend restrictions for Auckland now? Prime Minister Ardern says she wants the latest information on Friday, including if any new cases come up not connected to the new outbreak cluster.

The Director-General of Health says there was a positive swab result in Wellington. After further investigation, it came back negative.

1:20pm RECAP:

1 new case in MIQ - woman in 30s who arrived from the Phillipines on August 8. Had been completing isolation in Hamilton and tested positive at around day three of her day

13 new cases in the community

1 is the MAGS student

3 are employees of AmeriCold

7 are family members of these employees

1 is an employee of FinanceNow

1 is a relative of the FinanceNow employee

1 probable case in community, also linked to new outbreak

36 active cases, 17 of which are in the community

1:20pm - Prime Minister Ardern says we have managed clusters before without identifying the source. But finding that source would still help.

She asks Aucklanders to work from home if they can. Only go out for food, exercise or to get a test. Wearing a face cover is encouraged.

If you are well, stay put, Ardern says.

For businesses, customers cannot be on premises unless you are an essential service. Contactless pick up and 'click and collect' can happen.

1:15pm - Notifications have been sent out on the COVID-19 Tracer App for some in Rotorua.

There have been 986,000 app downloads. 

In terms of genome sequencing, no connection has yet been found between the new cluster and recent cases in managed isolation/quarantine facilities. It appears the genome sequences most closely resemble that from the UK and Australia.

1:10pm - Some testing centres are extending their hours, according to Director-General of Health.

1:05pm - Dr Ashley Bloomfield says there is one new case in managed isolation. A woman in her 30s, who came to New Zealand on August 8. She is in Hamilton.

There are 13 new confirmed cases in the community. All are in Auckland and are linked to Tuesday's four. They are being treated as a cluster. Dr Bloomfield expects further cases.

One of the new cases is the Mount Albert Grammar School student. They were not symptomatic at school.

Three are employees of Americold. Seven are family members of these employees.

Two Americold sites - Mt Wellington and Airport - are closed. Mobile testing units have gone to the airport site and all staff have been tested. Further testing is underway at Mt Wellington site.

Another case is an employee of Finance Now, another workplace of one of the four. They went to hospital, but have now been discharged. The next case is one of their family member's.

New Zealand has 36 active cases. Seventeen are connected to the new outbreak of community transmission.

12:45pm - Winston Peters has released a statement attacking National. He wants the party to stop "undermining democracy".

"New Zealanders are sadly being fed a steady stream of misinformation about the pre-election period from the National Party," said Mr Peters.

"Its effect is to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the current Government as it focuses solely on protecting the health of New Zealanders."

On Wednesday, Judith Collins said she wanted the Prime Minister to consult with her over the alert level changes because we are in the run-up to an election.

But Peters has hit out at that.

"There is no convention for power sharing such as Ms Collins, a trained lawyer, is claiming. She should know better. So who is giving her that advice and why is she taking it?

"The current Government ‘continues to have full powers to govern until the election’.

"That is not a self-serving claim made by the Government. It is a fact of stable government."

He goes on to say National is collapsing and is "in danger of losing its way".

"At the very time the government, alongside the 'team of five million' New Zealanders, is solely focused on restoring the nation’s health, the National Party appears focused on undermining that effort to an already fearful public.

"If it wasn’t so malicious and dangerous for our democracy it would merely be sad."

On Wednesday, after four new cases were discovered, National's Gerry Brownlee said it was "interesting" to see Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield undergo a COVID-19 test despite no evidence he was at particular risk of infection, and the Prime Minister visit a mask factory. 

Brownlee told The AM Show on Thursday he never suggested the Government was hiding anything.

12:40pm - Air New Zealand has released an update on how it is handling bookings to travel to Melbourne.

The Australian Government has extended its cap on international arrivals until October 24. There is currently a cap of 25 passenger arrivals per flight into Brisbane and around 40 passenger arrivals per flight into Sydney. 

Currently, no international passenger arrivals into Melbourne are allowed.

Cam Wallace, the airline's chief commerical and customer officer, said in a statement that Air New Zealand is placing a hold on future bookings to Melbourne until late October to prevent further disruption to customer journeys.

"We know this is not an ideal situation for people wanting to return home to Australia and our teams are working to minimise disruption to customers as much as possible. We’d like to thank our customers for their patience at this time as we work to comply with these government restrictions.

"When it comes to flights to Sydney, we do have availability from early September for those who wish to book. With Brisbane, while there is currently a hold on new bookings, we expect flights may become available as customers make changes to their bookings or no longer wish to travel, so customers should keep an eye out on our website."

12:35pm - Mayor Phil Goff is calling on Aucklanders to get tested if they have symptoms.

"You can get tested at one of the multiple COVID-19 testing sites across Tāmaki Makaurau, at your GP or at an urgent care clinic for free."

12:10pm - At least three new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in connection to a Mt Wellington workplace.

Managing director Richard Winnall told media that three people who work at the Americold warehouse in Auckland have tested positive.

This is where one of Tuesday's positive cases works. It has been shut for the last two days while all staff are tested.

Full details are expected at 1pm. 

12:05pm - Aucklanders are busy on the internet during alert level 3, Chorus says.

On Wednesday, Auckland’s day time traffic was 67 percent higher than Monday. In comparison, the rest of New Zealand saw only a 7 percent rise.

In the evening, peak traffic in Auckland was 18 percent higher than the recent norm, while it was within the usual range for the rest of the nation.

"The increased traffic is comfortably within available headroom and there is no congestion on the Chorus network," a statement said.

11:50am - Auckland Transport (AT) says there is traffic congestion around a number of COVID-19 testing sites in the city. On Wednesday, thousands queued up to be tested, with some in lines for hours.

AT is asking motorists to avoid the sites unless they are going for a test. Only people with symptoms should be queuing up, the Prime Minister has said.

Some bus services have been diverted due to congestion, particularly near the New North Rd testing site and in Botany.

11:45am - There appears to have been a small protest in Whangārei. People holding signs reading "end the lockdown" and "we do not consent" marched down one of the town's main roads.

11:35am - A group of 50 of New Zealand's leading infectious disease and public health scientists are urging political leaders to cooperate on COVID-19 as the Greens ask "some leaders" to stop spreading doubt. 

An editorial published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, signed by high-profile microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles, urges politicians to "resist the temptation to scaremonger in an attempt to score points" in the media.

"Instead, they should use their moments in the spotlight to amplify messages of our health system's preparedness and how New Zealanders can individually make a difference at this critical time," the editorial said. 

Read more on that here.

11:25am - In case you missed it earlier, the Prime Minister and Director-General of Health will provide an update at 1pm. Any new cases of COVID-19 will be revealed then and the pair will provide an update on the Government's response to the situation.

This will stream on Newshub and on Three.

11:15am - Supermarkets have been calling for calm in the face of panic-buying across the country.

A Pak'nSave in Richmond in the South Island is out of flour and is running low on pasta and rice.

Pakn'Save Richmond. Photo credit: Newshub.

11:05am - National Party deputy leader Gerry Brownlee has denied suggesting the Government knew about the new local cases of COVID-19 well before they made it public on Tuesday night.

"I never, ever set out to suggest there was any kind of conspiracy at all. That word has been used by journalists and probably from your news outlet. I was answering a question to one of your journalists about some of the questions we have been asking in the House over the last two weeks of Parliament..." he told The AM Show on Thursday morning.

"All I'm saying is that there was a heightened activity. Clearly there was an increasing worry about the prospect of an outbreak. We've now got the outbreak, and that's what we've got to focus on defeating."

Find out more here.

10:50am - James Shaw, the Green Party co-leader, is awaiting the result of a precautionary COVID-19 test after visiting the south Auckland area over the weekend.

"I developed minor cold symptoms after returning to Wellington from Auckland at the weekend," he said in a statement.

"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.

"I remind all of us that we must take any symptoms seriously and be tested if advised to do so by medical professionals.

"We all have a role to play in keeping COVID-19 out of our communities, and that includes following the advice of health experts."

The four people who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday live in south Auckland.

James Shaw. Photo credit: Getty.

10:45am - Police turned back several people trying to visit friends and access holiday homes outside Auckland after midday on Wednesday, but the Commissioner says there have been few issues so far and no arrests have been made.

"We have turned back a number of vehicles but they've understood [the rules] once we've had a conversation with them," Andrew Coster told The AM Show on Thursday.

"We had some people trying to visit friends just over the border. We've had some people trying to go to their holiday homes."

Find out more here.

10:50am - James Shaw, the Green Party co-leader, is awaiting the result of a precautionary COVID-19 test after visiting the south Auckland area over the weekend.

"I developed minor cold symptoms after returning to Wellington from Auckland at the weekend," he said in a statement.

"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.

"I remind all of us that we must take any symptoms seriously and be tested if advised to do so by medical professionals.

"We all have a role to play in keeping COVID-19 out of our communities, and that includes following the advice of health experts."

The four cases of COVID-19 confirmed on Tuesday live in south Auckland.

10:45am - Police turned back several people trying to visit friends and access holiday homes outside Auckland after midday on Wednesday, but the Commissioner says there have been few issues so far and no arrests have been made.

"We have turned back a number of vehicles but they've understood [the rules] once we've had a conversation with them," Andrew Coster told The AM Show on Thursday.

"We had some people trying to visit friends just over the border. We've had some people trying to go to their holiday homes."

10:30am - Speaking of Winston Peters, he has just released a statement about the election date.

"At this difficult time our concern must be focused on the health of our team of five million. That team includes all politicians and their parties. That is why I immediately suspended New Zealand First’s campaign," he said.

He said that health must come first.

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

"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 Peters says that is a decision for another day.

"Today we need our team of five million mobilised once more to play their part so New Zealand can recover its previous health position.

"The health of our people and their livelihoods is our total focus."

10:25am - Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has been speaking to 9News in Australia. He said the source of the infections remain a mystery.

"Everyone is asking the same question, we don't know until we get the medical research in," he said.

The extent of the outbreak is also unknown.

"It is a case of, I suppose, seeing things as the worst-case scenario so that you are not surprised.

"At this point of time we don't know how wide the spread us. Whether it has dispersed outside of Auckland and whether we have a fix on all the cases. It is one of those in-between times."

10:10am - While in Rotorua over the weekend and on Monday, two of the COVID-19 cases visited several tourism destinations and restaurants. 

Dr Ashley Bloomfield on Wednesday revealed a woman in her 20s and her preschool-aged child stayed in the Wai Ora Lake Resort, visited the Skyline Gondola and went to the Heritage Farm and 3D Art Gallery.

Two of the eateries the pair visited have come forward.

Fat Dog Cafe and Bar say late on Wednesday afternoon they heard the pair visited their establishment on Sunday between 1:30pm and 2:30pm.

"At this time we have 4 staff who the MOH deem to be 'casual contacts' and are self-isolating pending a negative COVID 19 test. We are following the guidelines set out by MOH completing a deep clean tonight on top of our usual COVID 19 management practices."

A Facebook post said the cafe was set up for bubble seating and there are screens between seats. 

The pair also went to BurgerFuel Redwoods Rotorua on Monday between 7pm and 8pm. After finding this out on Wednesday night, the store closed for a deep clean and five staff members have been isolated and are getting tested.

9:50am - Kiwis are being told they'll need to get used to wearing masks in their everyday lives if we're going to prevent COVID-19 getting a foothold here.

Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners medical director Bryan Betty told The AM Show on Thursday the evidence they can stop transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is now beyond doubt. 

"At the start of the year... there was a lot of confusion about masks - did they help or didn't' they help? What's become really obvious over the last few months, and from the experience around the world especially in Asia, countries that wear masks in public places - such as public transport, where there's big gatherings - reduce the transmission of COVID. There's no doubt about this now."

Read more here.

9:35am - Skiers have returned to Mt Hutt, but there are new rules under alert level 2.

According to the Mt Hutt Facebook page, all guests require a pass for "contact tracing pruposes". That means no sight-seeing during this time.

To maintain physical distancing, the number of people on the mountain may need to be limited.

"This means car parking will be restricted to our base lodge parks only. We will be counting cars at the info booth and asking guests to move slowly through here to enable counting. There will be space for 550 multiple occupancy vehicles and 50 single occupancy and we will not operate shuttles." 

People with their own lunches should eat them at their cars to keep the cafe and decks open to those purchasing their lunches.

"We are asking guests to ski in bubbles. When riding lifts you will need to maintain 2 empty seats between bubbles, gloves are a must, goggles, neck warmers/ masks are encouraged. Our Triple chair lift will be bubble only."

"Each mountain will have different coloured zones to provide information about what is expected in each area. These maps will show you what is expected in each area"

9:20am - Air New Zealand is asking people to cancel their bookings if they aren’t going to be on the flight. That will allow the airline to be aware of how many people will be on the plane and have appropriate social distancing requirements in place.

"We are working hard to balance our @FlyAirNZ network/capacity with social distancing over the next few days. If you are not intending to travel can you please XXL your booking. Thanks,” chief commercial and customer officer Cam Wallace said.

Head of corporate affairs, Andrew Kirton, said: "This is important - please cancel flights you aren’t taking to allow someone else to get home. Contact Centre wait times are v good at the moment if you need to give us a call in order to do this".

9am - Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has put out a statement on the Mt Albert Grammar School case.

The service has worked with the school to identify around 100 close contacts of the student. Letters have gone out to all students and staff in five classes attended by the student on Monday, informing them that they are close contacts and will need to isolate.

"The student was not symptomatic on this day, but has since become sick and tested positive for COVID-19 [on Wednesday]," a spokesperson said.

"The whole school community has been sent a letter asking all students and staff who are not close contacts to watch out for symptoms and be tested if they get sick."

ARPHS has assured staff and families there is a "low risk to the vast majority of the students and staff". 

"Some would have only been exposed to the virus for a very short time, and most would have not been exposed at all."

Only those with COVID-19 symptoms should get tested. They can ring Healthline on 0800 358 5453 to discuss this.

The school remains open for the children of essential workers.

"We have been able to identify the students most at risk, in the student’s classes and they have all been advised to stay at home in self isolation for 14 days," headmaster Patrick Drumm says.

"Because of privacy concerns, the school will not be telling parents or staff the name of the student who is a close contact, their class or year level."

He is appealing to parents, staff and students not to speculate about the identity of the infected student. Naming them online can lead to bullying and abuse, Drumm says.

8:55am - Separate to these live updates, Newshub is also running updates on how the alert level changes are affecting sport. Find out more here.

8:35am - The Green Party have released a statement calling for "continued commitment to science from political leaders".

Co-leader James Shaw said New Zealand has been successful in fighting COVID-19 through "an absolute commitment to good science and good government".

"Now is not the time to abandon either. Now is the time to band together as a country, be directed by the science, and back good decision making.  

"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 said creating confusion or suspicion could result in reduced trust from communities in the "very institutions we rely on most to keep us all safe".  

8:25am - Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday rubbished suggestions that the Government knew about an outbreak or community transmission long before telling the public.

Gerry Brownlee doesn’t believe the Government has been hiding anything.

“No, I don’t think that and I have never suggested that,” he said.

He also denied he was floating that idea.

Brownlee believes the election should be delayed.

It's hard to go out campaigning when there are extensive restrictions in place and people are more worried about their health and livelihoods, he says.

"In that environment, an election is quite a distraction."

8:15am - National deputy leader Gerry Brownlee is telling The AM Show that the Auckland lockdown is affecting the entire country. He understands the reason for it, however, as we don't the source of the cases.

"None of us are unaffected by this," he says.

While those in the south may not be as worried about catching the virus as those in Auckland at this stage, he said they will be thinking about the ramifications on business.

8:10am - Economist Cameron Bagrie has posted an image on Twitter showing how empty a plane was heading from Auckland to Wellington.

8am - Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois says almost a day into the new alert levels, hospitality businesses are adapting to another stint of restricted trading. 

At level 3, all hospitality businesses are closed to the public other than those operating through contactless delivery and pickup. Those at level 2 must follow the three 'S' rules where practicable - having diners seats, separated and served by a single server. There is also a limit of 100 guests.

"This is of course a devastating blow for those businesses already struggling from the impact of the COVID-19 lock down and border closures," Bidois said.

"Putting in place the regulations is not the principle issue for our members given ours is an industry that already operates under rigorous food control plans. The cost of these regulations combined with the revenue losses are the main factors we are now battling with."

She said the short notice of the changes means many businesses now have unsaleable perishable food. They are trying to distribute this to food banks.

"We are calling on Kiwi diners to continue to support their favourite establishments. Grab a coffee from your local café and order a contactless takeout if you’re in Auckland. Outside of Auckland, we would strongly encourage people to dine out in the knowledge that it is completely safe to do so," Bidois said.

"We are also calling on government to deliver the additional fiscal relief we’ve been asking for since we came out of level 3 in May."

7:50am - It's a beautiful day in Auckland and officers are busy checking in with drivers at the Bombay Hills checkpoint.

7:45am - New Zealand Principals' Federation President Perry Rush is happy with how children and staff are dealing with the new lockdown. He says not every student has a device to use at home or adequate internet connectivity, but a good portion do.

Less than 1 percent of students went to school on Wednesday. He says that even children of essential workers didn't go to school, showing how seriously people were taking the new outbreak.

7:35am - There was significant demand for testing on Wednesday in light of the four confirmed cases in south Auckland. A total of 3546 people were swabbed at Community Testing Centres (CTCs) in Auckland alone.

Some of the testing centres were operating late into the night, with people lining up for hours to get a test.

Two new pop-up CTCs will open on Thursday in Henderson and Airport Oaks.

Eleven pop-up Community Testing Centres will be open:

  • Coast to Coast Wellsford Medical Centre
  • Coast to Coast Walkworth
  • Eventfinda Stadium Carpark (Wairau Valley)
  • White Cross St Lukes Accident & Urgent Medical
  • Health New Lynn
  • Henderson Specialty Centre
  • Botany Road CTC
  • Local Doctors Airport Oaks
  • Otara Town Centre CTC
  • Takanini Urgent Care
  • Waiheke Medical Centre

There are four permanent CTCs in Northcote, Eden Terrace, Henderson and Wiri.

People can also be tested for free at some GPs and urgent care clinics. All testing is free.

7:30am - Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is speaking to The AM Show. He says a number of vehicles at the Auckland border have been turned back. Some were trying to visit friends and some were attempting to head away to holiday homes.

But he says the vast majority are justified in wanting to leave the region.

"We understand it takes a while for a new mode to lock back in," Coster says.

He says police can arrest those breaking the rules, but the first step is to educate people about the alert level requirements.

The non-emergency 105 number was about as busy on Wednesday as a normal Monday - the number's busiest day of the week.

7:25am - Dr Bloomfield says officials should have more information about testing and contact tracing by midday Friday.

That will help Cabinet decide the next step. Current restrictions are meant to last until midnight on Friday, but could be extended if a source for the outbreak is not found.

"I am confident we are doing a good job," he says.

Having Auckland under alert level 3 helps ring-fence the outbreak for the moment.

7:20am - Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says an update on new cases will be given at 1pm.

The Mt Albert case is a close contact of an already confirmed case. The school was notified late on Wednesday night. More details will be given at 1pm.

Dr Bloomfield says officials have jumped quickly into action and the student is now in isolation.

"We are fully expecting more case," he says.

The Director-General says we want to find new cases so we can quickly isolate them and therefore achieve our goal of identifying the size of the outbreak and get it under control.

The source of the first four community cases remains unknown.

7:15am - Cars are starting to queue up at the police border at the Bombay Hills, south of Auckland. People aren't allowed to leave the region unless it is necessary, they are essential workers or they live out of the area.

Newshub reporter Sinelle Fernandez says things are going smoothly on Thursday morning and nobody has made a scene if they have been asked to return home.

She says all vehicles are being checked, including large freight trucks.

All officials are working masks. It's not mandatory to wear masks, but it has been strongly encouraged. Fenandez says not everyone in cars are wearing masks.

6:50am - A student at Mount Albert Grammar School has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email supplied to Newshub by a parent.

The email, from headmaster Patrick Drumm, says Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) confirmed a student at the school tested positive for COVID-19.

Drumm said the school would closely follow the Ministry of Health Advice.

On Wednesday, Director Ashley Bloomfield said one of the four infected individuals was a teenager. One of the other cases was a student at another school in Mt Albert.

 

6.30am - Testing COVID-19 continues into the night. From first light Wednesday morning people were lining up at COVID-19 testing stations across Auckland.

The Eden Terrace station was still testing at 11pm Wednesday night after extending its hours to meet the demand of hundreds of people waiting.

For more details on this story, read the full article on Newshub.

COVID testing station locations in Auckland.

WEDNESDAY 12 AUGUST 2020

Here are the key points from the latest media conference held by the government at 4pm on 12.08.2020

  • Additional 4 new probable cases which linked to the previous 4 showing symptoms

  • One new case added in managed isolation, not community

  • 5 previous cases from managed isolation have recovered

  • Government remains confident that Rotorua should stay level 2

  • Adult and child COVID cases visited Gondola Restaurant in Rotorua

  • Any employees of Americold or Finance Now have been ordered to stay home until contacted. This also applies to anyone who may have visited these workplaces or people who live with said employees.

  • Business’s MUST now display a contact tracing QR code by law

  • Anyone traveling via plane out of Auckland MUST wear a face mask, in addition to the other mask recommendations made earlier today.

Watch the full conference above and check in on the latest COVID updates below to stay up to date.

Today's earlier update at 11.30am was as follows...

  • The infected family are still locked down in their own home, may be moved to managed isolation

  • Two confirmed cases (one adut & one child) traveled to Rotorua recently

  • None of the family members currently require hospital care

  • All staff in possibly affected workplaces (150 people) are being treated as close contacts

  • Another workplace based across 4 worksites in Auckland has been compromised of upwards of 160 people

  • Government is prepared to complete “tens of thousands” of tests over the next several days

  • Aucklanders are being strongly encouraged to use face masks when in public

  • Rest of NZ also encouraged to use face masks if social distancing is not possible

  • Face masks can be homemade, should cover nose and mouth

  • Government asks that only symptomatic people should request a test

  • Aucklanders remain at level 3

  • Rest of NZ remains at level 2

  • No decisions have yet been made around any election delays

Follow live updates here courtesey of Newshub:

12.08.2020

5:20pm - New Zealand Rugby is continuing to work through the impact of the Government's COVID-19 announcement on this weekend's final round of Super Rugby Aotearoa matches, including the possibility of playing with "significant" crowd restrictions.

As it stands currently, with Auckland at level 3, the Blues-Crusaders game could not be played, while the Highlanders-Hurricanes game at level 2 could be played with restrictions on crowd attendance.

"All our decision-making will be guided by the Government advice," says NZR general manager of professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum.

"We will wait to see if there will be any changes to alert levels in Auckland and around the country for this weekend and beyond. We are all awaiting the next Government update with interest.

"In the meantime, we are preparing prudent contingency plans around playing the Highlanders-Hurricanes game with significant crowd restrictions."

5:15pm - Employees and contractors of Auckland-based companies Americold in Mt Wellington and Finance Now on Dominion Rd.are required to isolate over concerns they might have come into contact with one of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community.

The direction also applies to any visitors to those workplaces in the past two weeks, and any people who ordinarily live with those employees, contractors or visitors.

The Mt Wellington branch of Americold is linked to one of the four community COVID-19 cases announced on Tuesday night. Its managing director confirmed to Newshub all employees had been sent home and would be tested for the virus.

It is currently unclear whether Finance Now on Dominion Rd is also connected to these four new cases.

5:05pm - More details on the travels of a family who tested positive for COVID-19 have been revealed by the Government.

While they were symptomatic, two members of the family left Auckland to holiday in Rotorua.

For the full story click on this link.

5pm - Ardern says New Zealand's response to the virus so far has worked.

"It opened our economy and our communities and gave New Zealanders opportunities and freedoms that we cherished," she says.

"We all want to get back there as soon as we can. But success relies on all working together, looking out for one another. We know we can beat this, but we also know we don't need to look far to see what can happen if we don't get on top of it. We have a plan, and now's the time to follow it."

4:55pm - Ardern says the COVID-19 leave support scheme is there for all businesses that are experiencing financial hardship.

It covers workers who are unable to work from home and need to self-isolate. The rate is $585.80 for full-time workers, and $350 for part-time workers.

It's available to any business that's had a 40 percent drop in revenue over a 30-day period

There's also the Small Business Cashflow Scheme and the Covid Income Relief Payment to provide additional relief to struggling businesses and Kiwis.

The Finance Minister met with the Treasurer and is looking into targeted financial support for Auckland businesses.

4:35pm - Jacinda Ardern is up now. She says the COVID Cabinet committee met at 1pm. Ministers will reconvene on Thursday and Friday on the next steps. They plan to make any decisions "well in advance" of the Friday midnight deadline.

A new COVID-19 public health order came into effect at 12pm, and gives the legal basis for level 3 lockdown.

However there are two exceptions that are new from what we experienced the last time we were at level 3. The order makes it mandatory for:

  1. Any business or service to display a QR code at any entry point. Businesses are allowed one week to become compliant.
  2. People travelling out of Auckland to wear a face mask on a plane.

4:27pm - Bloomfield says he'll take the "significant and serious step" of making an oral direction under Section 70 of the Health Act.

"I require the following people to do two things - isolate at their usual home and not go out to work and remain isolated until they're contacted by our national contact tracing service and are given further direction."

That direction applies to any employees or contractors of two employers - Americold in the Mt Wellington suburb in Auckland, and Finance Now, the Dominion Rd branch in Auckland.

The direction also applies to any visitors to those workplaces in the last two weeks, and any people who ordinarily lives with those employees, contractors or visitors.

4:25pm - Testing is underway from this morning at all sites they visited between Rotorua and Auckland. Dr Bloomfield says there are between 6000-7000 people to test at those sites.

As of midday, just over 200 close contacts were identified and over 100 have been spoken with.

Most contacts are from two workplaces. Those people have been told to stay at home until they were contacted and given further instructions.

4:20pm - Dr Bloomfield says he's confident "the visit of two of the new cases to Rotorua... has not resulted in anyone who we'd classify as a close contact".

They were in Roturua between August 8 (Saturday) to August 11 (Tuesday).

4:12pm - Dr Bloomfield says there's one additional new case in managed isolation. She is a woman in her 50s from Islamabad who tested positive on day three of her stay.

There are also an additional four probable cases - people with symptoms who are linked to the first four cases. Contract tracing has been engaged on those cases.

4pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are giving an update on new NZ COVID-19 cases and the Government's response.

3:22pm - Collins wouldn't say whether an election could happen under level 2, but wants to have a meeting with the Electoral Commission. She won't support a postal ballot.

3:18pm - Collins says there's been a lack of transparency from the Government.

"It is important to New Zealand and New Zealanders that we have full transparency - that is currently not available," she says.

"What is really important is that everybody, last time we had the lockdown, believed we'd be able to deal with this issue, that we'd be able to stop it. We were told we could stop it at the borders, we would have good quarantining. What people are now saying is they want some answers."

3:10pm - Judith Collins is calling for the election date to be pushed back until November.

The National leader warns it's "unsustainable" to suggest there will be a "fair and just" election in this situation.

"In a country that has one of the oldest democracies in the world, New Zealanders deserve better than to wonder whether or not they can even vote on election day."

3pm - Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins and National Party health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti are holding a press conference following the confirmation of community transmission of COVID-19 in Auckland.

2:25pm - Netball NZ has confirmed the cancellation of the final round of ANZ Premiership games, scheduled for this weekend.

With all playoff spots already decided, the matches have been declared draws.

1:55pm - Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero is pleading for the public to think of people who can't leave their homes to shop or who might need help with their shopping.

"Do you have a neighbour you could check in with and drop items off to? Can you free up your online delivery slot for priority shoppers?" she says in a statement.

"For many people who can't leave their homes at all shopping for essential items will be extra challenging.

"In the worst-case scenario, it may mean people go hungry till they can get help."

1:20pm - One of the COVID-19 cases visited Westview Medical Centre in west Auckland.

A text sent to patients says the individual was seen in the "infection control area" and was wearing a mask.

"The patient was assessed and swabbed by one of our Dr's wearing full protective equipment. All surfaces were subsequently cleaned as per guidelines," the text says.

The centre will shut for 48 hours from 11am on Wednesday.

"We apologise for the inconvenience but it is necessary to avoid NZ having to go back to level 4, something none of us want to happen."

12:35pm - The next press conference from the Prime Minister and the Director-General of Health will be at 4pm. You'll be able to find a replay on this website.

12pm - It is now midday. That means the Auckland region is now under alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand is under alert level 2.

You can find more information about the alert levels here.

11:05am - While Cabinet can report while Parliament is dissolved and the Government can made decisions, the dissolution will be delayed until at least Monday. That will preserve options to reconvene Parliament if needed.

Dr Bloomfield has no new results to present.

10:55am - Ardern says the new information about one of the contacts' movements shows the need to increase alert levels across the country.

She wants to see the number of people being tested, but not those without sypmtoms or who don't work in high-risk workplaces.

Healthline has received thousands of calls since late Tuesday.

The Prime Minister said people should visit the COVID-19 website rather than calling Healthline unless they need it.

If you are in Auckland, please cover your face if you are leaving home to access essential services. Masks won't be mandated in public at this stage, but they are encouraged in Auckland.

For the rest of New Zealand, they are encouraged on the likes of public transport.

Masks will be mandated on flights leaving Auckland. Air New Zealand will present these on departure.

People who have recently left Auckland should be vigilant and aware of their health.

10:52am - Newshub understands the dissolution of Parliament has been delayed.

10:50am - Jacinda Ardern says the Government is taking a rapid response to break the chain of transmission.

Dr Bloomfield reports that the infected family remain in isolation at home. 

After further interviews with the family members, it's been revealed one of the cases - a woman in her 20s - travelled to Rotorua while symptomatic on Saturday. Officials are trying to find out what places were visited.

All people should be vigilant, Dr Bloomfield says, wherever they are located in New Zealand.

Officials are still trying to understand how the family was infected.

None of the workplaces of the infected individuals are customer-facing. There are 130 close contacts across one of the workplaces. All staff members are being treated as close contacts. It is a financial company and has been closed for the time being.

Three colleagues are symptomatic and are in isolation.

Dr Bloomfield said health sectors are ready to test tens of thousands of people.