Thursday 25 February, 1pm

Today there are no new community cases. 

This means there are still 11 cases associated with the Auckland February cluster. They all remain in the Auckland quarantine facility. 

Genome testing has revealed that the most recent case, case K is very closely related to cases A and B. This provides reassurance that the Auckland February cluster has not spread far into the community. 

15 staff members have been identified as casual-plus contacts to the Kmart Botany case that was identified on Tuesday night. Eight negative test results have come back from this group, the remaining seven are still outstanding.

1,525 casual-plus contacts have been identified at Papatoetoe High School in relation to the initial case of the Auckland February cluster (Case A). 1,490 of these contacts have returned at least one negative test result since 15 February. All of these contacts have been asked to test again. 

Since 14 February, 53,000 community tests for Covid-19 have been processed.

There are three new cases in managed isolation. One of the three cases in managed isolation is a non-infectious historical case.

 

Wednesday 24 February, 1pm

There are no new community cases today.

The number of new community cases reported yesterday increased to three later in the day after two siblings of a Papatoetoe High School student also tested positive.

This means there are now 11 cases associated with the Auckland cluster. All are in the quarantine facility.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins praised the Papatoetoe High School community for its handling of the response. The school community is being tested for a second time. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said so far all re-tests had returned negative results.

“Yesterday’s news of additional cases I know was unsettling. It feels like another climb up on the rollercoaster ride, but it does not need to be alarming,” said Dr Bloomfield.

He said the most recent high school case was likely picked up in a common area such as hallway or bathroom. 

The student’s sibling worked at Kmart in Botany on February 19 and 20. It has been named as a location of interest by the Ministry of Health, along with Dark Vapes on Springs Rd which the person also visited on February 19 and 20. 

Location name

Address

Day

Time

Contact Category

What to do

Kmart Botany 

500 Ti Rakau Drive, Northpark, Auckland 

20 Feb

3.30PM - 10.30 PM

Casual Plus

Please isolate at home for 14 days and, get a test on the 25th February and 4th March and call Healthline on 08003585453

Dark Vapes East Tamaki

30 Springs Road, East Tamaki, Auckland 

20 Feb

7.00pm- 8.30PM

Casual Plus

Please isolate at home for 14 days and, get a test on the 25th February and 4th March and call Healthline on 08003585453

Dark Vapes East Tamaki

30 Springs Road, East Tamaki, Auckland 

19 Feb

2.30PM - 4.00 PM

Casual Plus

Please isolate at home for 14 days and, get a test on the 24th February and 3rd March and call Healthline on 08003585453

Kmart Botany 

500 Ti Rakau Drive, Northpark, Auckland 

19 Feb

3.30PM - 10.30 PM

Casual Plus

Please isolate at home for 14 days and, get a test on the 24th February and 3rd March and call Healthline on 08003585453

The first South Islanders have received the Covid-19 vaccine. So far 1000 border workers have got the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, including 40 Christchurch Airport workers this morning. 

A second shipment of the vaccine, another 76,000 doses, arrived in the country yesterday as well as 490,000 special-purpose needles. 

“By the end of March, we’re due to receive a total of about 450,000 doses – enough to vaccinate 225,000 people with a two-dose course,” said Mr Hipkins. 

There are two new cases in managed isolation, one of these is an historical case.

 

Tuesday 23 February, 1pm

A casual-plus contact linked to the Covid-19 outbreak earlier this month in Papatoetoe has tested positive. 

According to Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, the risk of widespread community transmission is low, as the new case was subject to requests made by the Ministry of Health to stay at home and isolate. 

However, the Ministry is currently investigating whether there are any locations of interest and potential contacts relating to the latest case.

“We will look at where there might be additional risk,” he says.

The case, who is a student at Papatoetoe High School, was identified as a casual-plus contact thirteen days ago but was not tested until yesterday, after becoming symptomatic. 

Ten casual-plus contacts from the school are still yet to be tested. Eight are now in contact with the Ministry of Health and attempts are being made to get the remaining contacts tested. 

“Our entire response to Covid-19 is based on a degree of high trust. When we escalate alert levels, we don’t put police officers on every street corner to enforce it, we ask people to do the right things and by-and-large, people do the right things,” says Hipkins.

All students and staff of Papatoetoe High School have been requested to be tested again and to isolate. The high school was closed all of last week and was opened again for the first time yesterday. 

Students were not allowed to return to school unless they had returned a negative test result. 

“We want to be sure that there weren’t some potential cases that may have been early on in the incubation period who may have returned a negative test initially and be back at school, possibly asymptomatic,” says Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield.

All close contacts relating to the initial outbreak at Papatoetoe Highschool were isolating and received tests on day five and also on day twelve. One case returned a positive result. This latest case, a casual-plus contact, lives in a household of six. All members of the household are now being tested, with none currently being symptomatic.

Wastewater test results for the Papatoetoe region have also been negative for Covid-19.

“That gives us confidence that there is not widespread community transmission in the Papatoetoe area,” says Dr. Bloomfield.

“The important thing is that they haven’t come back to school.” 

Besides the new community case, there were five new cases in managed isolation.

Monday 22 February, 3pm 

Aucklanders will move to alert level 1 at midnight tonight.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement on Monday afternoon, after a small number of community cases surfaced in the past week. All of the new community cases have been linked to the February Auckland cluster. 

The announcement means Auckland, like the rest of the country, will have no restrictions on the size of gatherings - however face masks on public transport are still mandatory. 

Earlier today one new community case linked to the Auckland cluster was detected, but this individual has been in quarantine since Friday meaning the Ministry of Health considers the risk to the community “very low”. 

The source of the Auckland cluster is still under investigation.

 

Monday 22 February, 1.30pm

Today there is one new community case. There are 6 new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation, four of which are historical. 

The new community case is linked to the Auckland cluster and has already been in quarantine since Friday. 

The case is a household contact of previous cases D, E, F and G. The individual had previously returned a negative test result and was isolating at home since Monday last week. The person was transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility on Friday 19 February as a precaution. 

Due to the individual being in isolation while infectious there are no additional contacts to report, and the risk to the community is considered “very low”. 

 

Saturday 20 February, 1.30pm

There are no new cases in the community. There are two new cases in managed isolation.

Of the 128 people identified as close contacts of the Auckland cluster, 120 have returned negative tests. 8 people are still waiting for results. 

New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccine programme has started its rollout. The first of 12,000 border workers and their families began receiving their shots today. 

"Today is a small but important step in a long journey. It's the start of a new chapter," said Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 

"We can have confidence in the science and process New Zealand has in place to ensure the vaccines are safe and effective.

Dr Nikki Turner, Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre at the University of Auckland said that clinical trials had shown the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is an incredibly high performing vaccine. Results found if 100 people had the vaccine, at least 90-95 of them if exposed to Covid-19 would not get infected. 

The reason the vaccine has been produced so quickly is “the world got its act together, in the way we don’t normally,” said Turner.

Just like the flu vaccine, or other vaccines, it can cause allergic reactions - but severe reactions are rare. For some people it will give sore arms, they can feel achy, or a bit miserable for a day or two.   

"New Zealand is very privileged to have this vaccine," said Turner. "It's the best in the world."

A reminder, Auckland remains at Alert Level 2 this weekend. Ministry of Health guidelines are to: 

  • Stay home if you’re feeling unwell and get advice about a COVID-19 test
  • Wash your hands  
  • Scan QR codes    
  • Turn on Bluetooth tracing on the NZ COVID Tracer app
  • Wear a face covering on public transport and on domestic flights.

Friday 19 February, 1.30pm

There is one new case in the community linked to the current Auckland cluster. There are three new cases in managed isolation.

The new community case had previously returned a negative test earlier in the week and has been isolating at home. They have now been moved to the Auckland quarantine facility.

They are a household contact of the brother and sister Papatoetoe High School students who tested positive on Wednesday. The sister from Wednesday’s cases is a classmate and close contact of the youngest member of the family this cluster developed from.

128 close contacts of all the cases in this cluster have been identified. Of these, 112 have returned a negative test result. 16 are awaiting test results and are all currently in isolation.

Out of the 1,476 casual-plus contacts identified at Papatoetoe High School, 1,412 have returned negative results and 63 are awaiting results. There was 1 positive casual plus-case, which was one of the siblings reported on Wednesday.

The number of casual-plus contacts has decreased from what was reported yesterday as it was determined some people were not at school at the time of exposure.

Thursday 18 February, 1pm

There are no new cases in the community to report today. There are three cases in managed isolation.

Genome sequencing has shown all positive community cases are linked to each other so far.

Face coverings are now mandatory for all New Zealanders using public transport. 

“Aucklanders have already been wearing face coverings on public transport since late last year. They have led the way in showing the rest of the country it can be done easily and it can become a normal part of day to day life,” said Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. 

People using public transport including trains, buses and ferries and planes must now wear masks. It is not mandatory in taxis but is recommended.

This decision will be reviewed alongside alert levels at Cabinet on Monday 

The three cases announced yesterday associated with Papatoetoe High School have been moved to an Auckland quarantine facility. 

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the 31 close contacts from Papatoetoe High School have all returned negative tests. 

There are 1490 casual-plus contacts related to the college, 1398 have returned negative results with 91 results still to come. 

There have been more than 25,000 tests done since Sunday and vaccines are on track to roll out to the first 12,000 border workers this weekend.

Wednesday 17 February, 4.30pm

Auckland will drop to alert level 2 and the rest of the country will move to level 1 at midnight tonight.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said these levels will remain until Monday at which point they will be evaluated.

“I want to remind everyone that this is good news,” Ardern said, outlining that the transmission chain indicates we have a contained cluster and not a widespread outbreak.

Exceptions to these alert changes include those communities connected to the South Auckland cluster, including Papatoetoe High School Community. Students and staff there will need a negative test before they can return to school.

Ardern outlined the efforts that have gone into addressing this cluster since it was discovered on Sunday, including 23,000 tests and wastewater testing that has indicated there is no widespread community transmission.

Director General of Health Dr Ashely Bloomfield announced that alongside the brother and sister from Papatoetoe High School who tested positive today, one more member of this household has tested positive. He said the brother and sister did not attend school during their infectious period.

Wednesday 17 February, 1pm

There are two new community cases related to the current South Auckland cluster.

These cases are a brother and sister who attend Papatoetoe High School. The sister is a classmate and close contact of the youngest member of the family this cluster developed from.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced these new cases in a meeting of Parliament’s Health Select Committee on Wednesday morning.

"It’s important to remember these two new cases have a known link to our existing cases. It’s a bit different to the three cases we started with where there was no clear identification of where those cases had come from."

Responding to questions in the committee meeting, Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said two-thirds of the school had returned negative tests.

Any changes to the alert level will be announced at a press conference at 4.30pm today.

Hipkins said he couldn’t comment on what impact these new cases will have on the decision.

Tuesday 16 February

There are no new community cases. There are also no cases in managed isolation.

The three positive cases remain in quarantine, and investigation into the source continues.

5818 tests were processed yesterday, with no positive results.

More than 15,000 swabs were taken yesterday, with 10,500 of those from the Auckland region. The results of those will come out over the next 48 hours.

109 people have been identified as close contacts outside the household.

The Ministry of Health has formally recorded the death of a patient with Covid-19 that was first announced on Saturday February 13. A total of 26 people have now died from Covid-19 in New Zealand.

Monday 15 February - 4pm

The first batch of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine arrived in New Zealand this morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed. 

60,000 doses landed in Auckland around 9.30am.

“That's more than enough doses to vaccinate our frontline workforce over the coming weeks,” she says.

It has arrived here earlier than previously predicted, and more will continue arriving in small batches over the coming weeks.

The vaccine will be tested for quality assurance this week, and once safety checks are complete, will be released to start the first phase of the vaccination programme, expected to begin from this Saturday.

Border and managed isolation and quarantine workers will receive the first doses, with priority given to those in Auckland. That includes cleaners, security staff, customs and border officials, nurses at MIQ facilities, airline staff and hotel workers.

That will be followed by their household contacts. Frontline health workers will be next, then the wider population in the second half of the year.

“We've purchased enough to cover all New Zealanders for free, including all those in New Zealand regardless of their visa status,” Ardern says.

She says the UK strain that has been identified in the latest cluster is a “highly transmissible and a fast-moving strain, one that requires extra care in order to stamp it out.”

They have not yet been able to match the strain to anyone who has been through a New Zealand managed isolation facility.

“However we continue to pursue a range of theories. In our view it's important to leave no stone unturned.”

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says it’s an “encouraging sign” that no further cases in the community have been detected today, but the days ahead will be important.

Monday 15 February - 1pm 

There are no new community cases of Covid-19 today.

10 close contacts of the current cluster have been identified. Six have returned a negative test and the other four are waiting for their results.

More than 1000 tests were done across Auckland yesterday, and 3132 tests were processed nationwide.

The Ministry of Health is asking people to not rush to testing centres, unless they have visited one of the locations of interest (which you can check here), or have symptoms.

The Prime Minister will give an update at 4pm.

Genomic sequencing of the latest Covid-19 community cases has revealed the cases are the UK variant, and can not be linked to managed isolation. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told TVNZ's Breakfast this morning the source of the three community cases - a mother, father and daughter from the same family - is still unknown. 

The UK variant - known as B.1.1.7 - is up to 70 percent more contagious than other Covid-19 strains.

Ardern says it is “unlikely” that a breach in the country’s managed isolation hotels is the source of Auckland's three new community cases, but a transit passenger or international airline crew are possibilities.

The news follows the announcement yesterday that Auckland was being put into a level 3 lockdown for three days from midnight Sunday, while the rest of the country has moved to level 2 as a precaution. 

Police checkpoints have been set up at Auckland’s borders preventing non-essential travel from the region for the next 72 hours. Police will be stopping vehicles and questioning drivers about whether their movements are essential. 

Ardern said it is too early to say whether lockdown restrictions will be tightened or extended, and decisions about this will not be made today. 

The Prime Minister also confirmed that a wage subsidy for businesses affected by the lockdown will only kick in if the restrictions extend to seven days. If this is the case, the subsidy will be paid for the entire duration of the lockdown. 

As a result of the new cases, Australia has suspended its one way travel bubble with New Zealand for 72 hours. Flights from New Zealand to Australia are now classified as “red zone”, meaning all passengers will now need to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine.

Auckland courts have also been shut down due to change in alert levels. There will be no jury trials before Thursday and trials currently underway will be suspended unless they are in the deliberation stage. Trials scheduled to be heard outside of Auckland are not affected and will continue. 

Sunday 14 February

Auckland is moving to alert level 3 for three days from 11:59pm tonight while authorities investigate three new community cases of Covid-19.

The rest of the country will move to alert level 2. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement this evening after a special cabinet meeting. The alert levels are in place for three days and will be reviewed in 24 hours. 

Three members of the same family - a mother, father and daughter - have tested positive in Papatoetoe, South Auckland. 

Ardern said the decision to move alert levels was made with a high degree of caution due to the possibility that the new cases are one of the more transmissible strains. 

"We don’t yet have a complete picture of the infection and spread, if any, beyond one household," said Ardern. 

LEVEL 3: AUCKLAND

  • Stay home to avoid any risk of spread
  • Work from home if possible
  • Schools and daycare centres are only open to children of essential workers
  • Gatherings are only permitted for weddings, funeral and tangihanga and limited to 10 people
  • Travel restrictions are in place around Auckland
  • Public facilities like pools, gyms, libraries and playgrounds are closed
  • While outside your home, maintain a physical distance of 2m and wearing a mask is strongly advised

LEVEL 2: REST OF NEW ZEALAND

  • Workplaces, schools and daycare centres remain open
  • Gatherings restricted to 100 people
  • Travel into Auckland is restricted
  • Masks are legally required on public transport and planes

The mother works at LSG Sky Chefs in Mangere. The company provides laundry and catering services for planes at the airport. The woman had not been at work since February 5. 

Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield told a press conference this afternoon she was not infectious when she last worked there. He said the Ministry of Health was actively working to identify the source of infection. 

The daughter attends Papatoetoe High School. The school will be closed on Monday and Tuesday as a precaution, with a testing facility set up. 

Pak n Save Manukau in Cavendish Drive was also named as a possible location of exposure, but is considered low risk and is remaining open. Anyone who visited the supermarket on Friday, February 12 between 3:30pm and 5:30pm should stay home and get tested if they develop symptoms. 

Symptoms of Covid-19 are: 

  • a new or worsening cough
  • fever (at least 38˚C)
  • shortness of breath
  • a sore throat
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell.

Two of the positive cases also visited New Plymouth on February 6-8. Information about the times and locations of these visits have been released through the Ministry of Health website

Locations of interest for Auckland February cases

Location name Address Day Time Contact Category What to do
BP Papakura BP Motorway Service Centre, Papakura 6 Feb 7.00am - 8.15am Casual Plus Please stay at home and get tested ASAP and call Healthline on 08003585453.
McDonalds Southern Motorway BP Motorway Service Centre, Southern Motorway, Auckland 6 Feb 7 am - 8.15 am Casual Plus Please stay at home and get tested ASAP and call Healthline on 08003585453.
GAS Piopio 94 Moa Street, Pio Pio 6 Feb 8.30 am - 9.30 am Casual Plus  Please stay at home and get tested ASAP and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Te Rewarewa Bridge Fitzroy, New Plymouth 6 Feb 12 pm - 1.30 pm Casual Monitor your health for the next 14 days. If you begin to feel unwell or develop any COVID-19 symptoms, contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453
Sumela Kebab 6 Breakwater Road, New Plymouth 6 Feb 12.30 pm - 2.30 pm Casual plus  Please stay at home and get tested ASAP and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Amber Court Motel 100 Leach Street, New Plymouth 6 - 8 Feb 1.30 pm 6 Feb - 10.30 am 8 Feb Casual Plus  Please stay at home and get tested ASAP and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Pukekura Park Pukekura Park New Plymouth 6 Feb 5.30 pm - 9 pm Casual Monitor your health for the next 14 days. If you begin to feel unwell or develop any COVID-19 symptoms, contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453
Egmont National Park New Plymouth
(The Pouakai Range - Mangorei Track).
7 Feb 7.30 am - 3.30 pm Casual Monitor your health for the next 14 days. If you begin to feel unwell or develop any COVID-19 symptoms, contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453
Cycle Inn New Plymouth 133 Devon Street East, New Plymouth 8 Feb 9.30 am - 11 am Casual Plus Please stay at home and get tested ASAP and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Puke Ariki Library and Museum 1 Ariki Street, New Plymouth 8 Feb 11.45 am - 2.15 pm Casual Plus Please stay at home and get tested ASAP and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Pizza Hut New Plymouth  Cnr Gover Street and Leach Street, New Plymouth 8 Feb 1.15 pm - 2.45 pm Casual Plus  Please stay at home and get tested ASAP and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Back Beach New Plymouth 8 Feb 2 pm - 5 pm Casual Monitor your health for the next 14 days. If you begin to feel unwell or develop any COVID-19 symptoms, contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453
BP Breakwater Road, New Plymouth 7 Breakwater Road, New Plymouth 8 Feb 3.30 pm - 4.35 pm Casual Plus Please stay at home and get tested ASAP and call Healthline on 08003585453.
McDonalds Otorohanga 117 Maniapoto Street, Otorohanga  8 Feb 4 pm - 5.30 pm Casual Plus Please stay at home and get tested ASAP and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Pak'nSave Manukau 6 Cavendish Drive, Manukau 12 Feb 3.45 pm - 5.00 pm Casual plus Please stay at home and get a test on the 17th of February and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Chemist Warehouse Westfield Manukau 5 Putney Way, Manukau 12 Feb 11.30am - 2pm Casual plus Please stay at home and get a test on the 17th of February and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Bunnings Warehouse Manukau 55 Lambie Drive, Manukau 13 Feb 8.30am - 10.00am Casual plus Please stay at home and get a test on the 18th of February and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Bunnings Warehouse Takanini 167 Great South Road, Takanini 13 Feb 1.00pm - 2.30pm Casual plus Please stay at home and get a test on the 18th of February and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Bunnings Warehouse Botany 320 Ti Rakau Drive, Burswood 13 Feb 1.30pm - 4.30pm Casual plus Please stay at home and get a test on the 18th of February and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Ranfurly Skinny Superette 17E Ranfurly Road, Papatoetoe 13 Feb 5.30pm - 6.30pm Casual plus Please stay at home and get a test on the 18th of February and call Healthline on 08003585453.
Papatoetoe High School         Our key advice here is to stay home and self-isolate until you receive further information from the school.

There was also one new case in managed isolation reported today. 

 

Thursday 4 February

A person in the community connected with one of last week’s community cases has tested positive for Covid.

They are the mother of a young child who tested positive last week, connected to the Pullman Hotel cases. 

Because they were a close contact of a previous case they have been in isolation, so Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the public health risk is “very low”.

She has been moved to the Auckland quarantine facility.

A person has died overnight in a managed isolation hotel, from a medical incident not related to Covid-19.

Friday 29 January

There are no new community cases of Covid-19 today.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says this means the country won’t be seeing any lockdowns or changes to the alert level.

“The level of community testing with no new positive results in the community, so far, does provide reassurance at this point that people thinking about whether they or not they should be travelling in or around Auckland or Northland around the long weekend can do so," he says.

38,000 people have been tested for Covid in the last week.

Thursday 28 January

The Ministry of Health has confirmed there is still no evidence of community transmission. 

In a media conference this afternoon, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed the new Auckland cases are a father and his young daughter. 

Bloomfield said genomic sequencing confirmed the Northland case and the two new cases are both the South African variant and “consistent with a single train of transmission”.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says their investigation revealed the three recent cases did leave their rooms at the same time while staying at the Pullman Hotel, but for different reasons. The Ministry is still working to get a clearer picture of how the virus could have spread during this time. 

All returnees will now have to stay in their room after their day 12 test for the remainder of their stay. Hipkins says this is a temporary requirement while they investigate how Covid-19 spread within the hotel.

Bloomfield confirmed that the father of the Auckland cases had not been at work since leaving managed isolation, and the child has not been at childcare either. The mother in this family has continued to test negative and they have all been moved to managed isolation. 

Eleven other close contacts for the Auckland cases have been identified, they are all isolating and at least five have returned negative test results.

The Northland case is now officially considered “recovered”. Her close contacts, who have all tested negative, will remain in isolation for the 14 day period since they were last exposed to this positive case.

“It is important to point out at this stage, there is no evidence of community transmission. But of course we are responding and acting accordingly to ensure that is the case,” said Bloomfield.

Wednesday 27 January

Two new cases of Covid-19 in Auckland were confirmed on Wednesday night.

A child and an adult who completed their managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel at the same time as the Northland case have tested positive for Covid-19. The two Aucklanders are now being treated as confirmed cases as it is still unclear if they are historical cases. 

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, the Ministry of Health said the preliminary genomic sequencing results indicated the strains are not an exact match, but they are in the same ‘tree’, so it is highly likely they are connected. The Ministry suspects the cases may have contracted the virus towards the end of their stay in managed isolation. 

All three of the recent cases returned two negative tests while in isolation.

The Pullman hotel will be emptied of returnees in the next two weeks and cleaned to ensure the spread of Covid-19 is stopped. 

The two Auckland cases left quarantine on the 15 of January and had been residing in North Auckland since. They are now isolating in the Jet Park quarantine facility. 

The two cases are asymptomatic and were in a bubble of three, but the third family member, who has been in close contact with the pair for 10 days, has returned a negative test. 

Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins says this is reassuring. "If they had been incubating there's a good chance you would've seen a positive result amongst them, and there wasn't."

Further interviews are being conducted to identify close and casual contacts and track the Aucklanders' movements since they left managed isolation.

The Ministry has updated its website to include more locations of interest in light of the new confirmed cases. People who visited these locations or anyone with symptoms are asked to isolate and call Healthline to arrange a test and remain isolated until they receive their result.

Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins says lockdown or an alert level shift won’t be considered until there is proven community transmission.

Tuesday 26 January

There are no new cases of Covid-19 in the community today.

Out of the 16 identified close contacts of the case in Northland identified on Sunday, 15 have returned negative results. One test is still pending. Over 1500 people were tested in Northland yesterday.

Staff and guests at the Pullman Hotel, where the case was staying, have also been tested. All results have been negative so far. 

Over 350 people left managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel between 9 and 24 January. They are all being advised to isolate and will be tested. The source of the case remains unknown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the situation is “very obviously unwelcome but one we have prepared for”.

“What is important is our response.”

Two new cases have been confirmed in managed isolation today.

A Covid vaccine rollout could begin as early as next Wednesday, according to the Prime Minister.

She says Medsafe feedback will be received next Tuesday regarding the purchase of the Pfizer vaccine. Immunisation of border and quarantine staff could begin as early as the following day. 

Ardern says there is a “strong commitment to make sure vaccines are safe and effective” before rolling them out but believes this can still be achieved in a timely manner. 

Border, isolation, and managed quarantine staff and their close contacts would be the first to receive the vaccination, before a “mass-vaccination” rollout around the middle of the year.

It will be the largest ever vaccination rollout in New Zealand’s history. Yesterday, the Government granted Covid-19 vaccine suppliers Pfizer and BioNTech indemnity (exemption from legal liability) against claims that may arise from use of the vaccine.

“We’ve brought a portfolio of vaccines,” says Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. A diverse selection was required due to a possible range of effectiveness amongst different communities. 

Pre-purchase agreements have been put in place with a number of vaccine manufacturers. Hipkins expects a smaller number of vaccines to arrive in New Zealand sometime this quarter, before a larger quantity arrives later in the year.

Speaking on the possibility of borders opening, Ardern says that for travel to start, “we need the confidence that you don’t pass Covid-19 onto others, and we don’t have that yet, or we’d have enough people vaccinated in New Zealand for borders to open”. 

She also says the possibility of bubbles continues to be sought with Australia and throughout the Pacific.

Yesterday, Australia suspended its one-way travel bubble with New Zealand for 72 hours after news of the Northland case. 

Prime Minister Ardern says while she is confident a bubble with Australia will be formed, she must first be sure “we won’t see decisions that impact people perhaps unnecessarily”.

 

Monday 25 January

There are no new cases of Covid in the community today.

The Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says reports New Zealand will be going into lockdown today are fake. “If you are sharing something on social media, make sure it's true,” he says.

The probable case announced yesterday, of the Northland woman who had recently left managed isolation, has now been confirmed as positive.

Her two closest contacts, her husband and hairdresser, have both tested negative.

Genome sequencing has identified the strain as the South African variety. Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says there is some evidence this strain may be more transmissible, but not as clearly as the new UK variant. 

“New forms or variants have become increasingly common,” he says. “They are now global, they are not confined to specific countries. We have expected to see them in New Zealand.”

Minister Hipkins says it is highly likely the woman caught the infection from a fellow returnee on the same floor as her in managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland.

He says health authorities do not yet know exactly how the infection took place but are looking at CCTV footage to identify when and where they may have come into contact.

As a precaution, 46 people who were staying at the Pullman Hotel and were due to complete their isolation will be delayed. They will need to test negative again before being released.

New air filtration devices will be installed in the hotel.

“Get a test if you are feeling unwell and isolate, do not go to work if you are feeling unwell,” says Minister Hipkins.

Both Minister Hipkins and Dr Bloomfield praised the woman for her diligent use of the Covid-19 Tracer App.

“I can't thank the person enough for their dedicated use of the app,” says Dr Bloomfield.

There has been a surge in people switching on Bluetooth capability on their app. Dr Bloomfield says an additional 200,000 people turned on Bluetooth yesterday. 

Yesterday the Ministry of Health released a list of 30 locations the woman had visited. 

Health authorities are asking that people who visited those locations at a similar time to the woman, or who are symptomatic, be tested first.

Dr Bloomfield asked “people who were neither at those places nor symptomatic, to stand back and let others be tested first”.

There are another six new imported cases in managed isolation today.

 

Sunday 24 January

There is one new probable community case of Covid-19. A 56-year-old woman has tested positive in Northland. 

The origin and strain of the infection is currently under investigation. 

The woman recently returned from Europe and tested negative twice during her stay in managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland. 

She has visited about 30 different places around Mangawhai, Dargaville and Helensville since leaving managed isolation 11 days ago. The Ministry of Health will publish details of the locations on their website. 

Minister of Covid-19 Response, Chris Hipkins told a press conference on Sunday afternoon that until authorities had more information on the case it was too early to speculate on the response. 

Hipkins reiterated the public health advice: 

  • If you’re feeling unwell get a Covid-19 test and isolate until you get results
  • Don’t got to work if you are feeling unwell
  • Use the Covid Tracer App to scan and turn on Bluetooth
  • Wash your hands

In addition, there are 8 new cases in managed isolation reported in the last two days. There are 79 active cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand in total.