The key facts you need to know about Covid-19 in Aotearoa.
Sunday 23 August, 1pm
There are 3 new cases today. One is linked to the Auckland cluster and two are recent arrivals from overseas.
There are 114 active cases, 96 in the community outbreak and 18 imported cases in managed isolation.
Nine people remain in hospital, three of them in ICU.
Yesterday there were 7,005 tests done. The total number of tests processed is 692,481.
The Kingswood Rest Home in Morrinsville has been officially cleared of any possible cases of Covid-19.
There are new rules for travel across Auckland. If people need to travel through Auckland for work they can do so without an exemption as long as they transit across the city without stopping and have documentation showing the reason for travel and the departure and destination points. More details on the travel restrictions are available at Covid19.govt.nz
Auckland is currently at level 3 alert level, and the rest of the country at alert level 2. This is due to be in place until 11.59pm on Wednesday. Cabinet will meet tomorrow to assess the number of cases and the contact tracing system and review the situation.
Saturday 22 August, 1pm
Today there are 6 new cases, all in the community.
Four cases are linked to the Auckland cluster. Two cases are under investigation.
145 people linked to the cluster have been moved into quarantine, 75 people who have tested positive and their household contacts.
New Zealand now has 111 active cases. 95 of those are community cases and 16 are from recent travel.
There are nine people in hospital. Six people are stable on a ward and three people are in ICU in Middlemore.
The Ministry of Health said in a statement that all hospital cases are in isolation and carefully managed. “We have heard reports of people who are reluctant to get an ambulance or go to hospital – hospitals continue to be safe places to receive medical care, and people should feel confident going to hospital to receive treatment.”
NZ Post has stood down 70 staff at the Highbrook mail centre until August 29 after two postal workers at the facility tested positive.
There were 12,256 tests done yesterday, bringing the total number of tests to 685,476.
Friday 21 August, 1pm
Today there are 11 new cases. Nine are related to the community outbreak, and two are imported from recent overseas travel.
There are eight people in hospital, all of them part of the Auckland community cluster. One person is in intensive care.
The total number of active cases is now 105. 89 of those are community cases and 16 are from recent travel.
88 of the community cases are now linked to the main cluster.
A case of a worker at St Lukes Mall that was yesterday said to not be linked to the cluster has now been found to be linked.
Genome sequencing has shown this case is the same sequence as the main cluster. However there is no epidemiological link, meaning there’s no clear physical contact between this person and the rest of the cluster.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says this case and another case may have been on the same bus. He says this is a reminder of the value of using a mask on public transport.
The one community case that has not been linked to the cluster is the maintenance worker at the Rydges Hotel.
143 people linked to the community cluster have been moved to quarantine hotels. 70 of those are people with positive tests, the rest are their household contacts.
On Monday cabinet will meet to decide any change to the alert levels.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has thanked those who have been tested.
“Vilifying those who have caught the virus or those who helped keep us safe by getting tested is something that I simply will not tolerate.”
“It is those who shame others, those who seek to blame, they are the dangerous ones. They are the ones who cause people to hesitate before getting a test. They are the ones who make people afraid. There is no room for division when it comes to fighting Covid.”
Thursday 20 August, 1pm
There are five new cases of Covid today, all related to the community outbreak.
Four are in Auckland, and one is connected to the two Tokoroa cases.
Six people are in hospital, with one of those in intensive care in a stable condition.
We now have a total of 101 active cases. 21 cases are from recent travel, and 80 are in the community.
Out of the community outbreak, 78 are linked to the one main cluster.
Two cases do not seem to be linked to the main cluster and are under investigation. One is a maintenance worker from the Rydges Hotel, whose case appears to be linked to a recent traveller from the United States.
The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says investigations have shown the maintenance worker used the same lift very shortly after the traveller. “We know the virus can be passed on contaminated surfaces,” he says.
The other community case not linked to the main cluster is one that was announced yesterday. It was initially believed to be linked to the main cluster but has now been reclassified as under investigation.
This person was at St Lukes Mall on the morning of August 12th. The Director-General of Health says anyone who visited the mall at that time should be on the lookout for any symptoms and should contact their doctor or healthline if they develop symptoms.
133 people linked to the cluster have been moved to a quarantine facility, 65 of those are people who have tested positive and the rest are their close contacts.
18,091 tests were processed yesterday.
Minister of Health Chris Hipkins has thanked the Pacific community for their high rates of getting tested.
“The data shows that our Pacific people are getting tested at higher rates than other communities, and significantly more than their percentage of the population,” he says.
“Everybody who takes a test should be seen as a community hero.”
Wednesday 19 August, 1pm
There are five new cases in the community today, and one new case from recent travel.
All five new community cases are related to the one major cluster.
Five people are in hospital.
125 people from the community have been moved to an Auckland quarantine facility. 61 of those are people who have tested positive and the rest are their household contacts.
23,038 tests were processed yesterday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says today’s results are encouraging. “The perimeter of the virus is not expanding exponentially, and risks like daily doubling of cases like we saw during the first outbreak has not occurred in the last week,” says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Tuesday 18 August, 1pm
There are 13 new cases in the community today.
There are no new cases from recent travel.
12 of today’s 13 new cases are linked to the community cluster. One is under investigation but is believed to be linked.
This means there is now a total of 90 active cases. 69 of those are from the main community outbreak, one case is in the community but not linked to the current outbreak and 20 are imported cases from overseas travel.
98 people connected to the community cluster have been moved into quarantine. 44 of those are people who have tested positive and the rest are their household contacts.
There are six people in hospital, none in intensive care.
The Ministry of Health had been investigating two community cases that did not have a clear link to the main community cluster.
Genomic sequencing has found that one of these cases is the same strain of virus as the community cluster. However, it’s still not clear how this case got the virus as there has been no physical connection found between this person and the people in the current community cluster.
The other case does not have the same strain of virus. This person is a maintenance worker at the Rydges Hotel, which is one of the managed isolation facilities.
Genomic sequencing showed the closest link is to a returnee from the USA who was staying in the hotel.
Monday 17 August, 3pm
The wage subsidy will be extended for another two weeks because of the resurgence of Covid.
It will be at the same rate as the previous wage subsidy extension, which is
$585.80 a week for full-time workers and $350 a week for part-time workers (less than 20 hours per week).
Businesses need to have had or be predicting a revenue drop of 40 percent, over a 14 day period within 12 August to 10 September, compared to a similar period last year.
The wage subsidy will be available nationwide, not just for Auckland.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson says this is because Auckland represents 40% of NZ’s GDP, Aucklanders impact many other businesses outside their own region and because level 2 across the country is also affecting businesses nationwide.
It’s estimated this will cost $510 million, which will be paid for out of the money that was not spent from the existing wage subsidy pool. Grant Robertson says the government won’t need to dip into the $14 billion set aside from the Covid response and recovery fund.
There will also be an expansion to the leave support scheme, for people who have to self isolate and can’t work from home.
Monday 17 August, 1pm
There are nine new cases today, all in the community.
There are none from recent overseas travel.
Seven of today’s new cases have been linked to previous cases, two are still under investigation.
This means there is a total of four cases in the community that are under investigation that do not yet have a clear link to the cluster.
86 people linked to the cluster have been moved to quarantine, 36 of those are people who have tested positive and the rest are their household contacts.
5 people are in hospital.
We currently have a total of 78 active cases. 58 of those are related to the community cluster, and 20 are imported cases in quarantine facilities.
Yesterday 26,014 tests were processed by laboratories.
Monday 17 August, 10am
The election will be postponed by four weeks till October 17th.
It was originally going to be September 19th.
The Prime Minister made the decision in consultation with the leaders of the other parties in Parliament.
“Moving an election date especially this late in the electoral cycle is a significant decision,” says the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “In the end what matters most, is what is in the best interests for voters and our democracy.”
She says no matter what happens, she does not intend to change the election date again.
The Electoral Commission has been planning since March for how to hold an election at various alert levels, including scenarios where parts of the country are at alert levels 2 and 3.
The government considered moving the date just by two weeks (the length that Auckland will be at level 3 for) but the Electoral Commission said that would not give them enough time to re-book voting venues and print voting papers.
Sunday 16 August, 1pm
There are 13 new confirmed cases today. 12 of these are in the community and one in managed isolation.
All of the community cases are Auckland based. Early investigations indicate they all have a connection to the existing cluster.
There are 3 people in hospital, two in Auckland Hospital and one in Middlemore.
To date 66 people linked to the cluster have been moved to quarantine.
The total number of active cases is 69, 49 of these are from the community outbreak.
New Zealand’s total number of confirmed and probable cases is 1622.
Minister of Health Chris Hipkins started out today’s briefing warning people to be wary of rumours circling on social media. He said a claim that a woman connected to the cluster contracted the virus after sneaking into a managed isolation facility has been spreading widely online. Hipkins said this claim which contained “vile slurs” has been investigated and was "totally and utterly wrong".
"At a time we are fighting a pandemic and we need all hands on deck to beat it down. This sort of behaviour is deliberately designed to create panic, fear and confusion and is completely unacceptable," he said.
Hipkins advised people to take their information from the 1pm briefings. “The information here is verified,” he said.
Testing remains at record levels. Yesterday there were 23,682 tests done.
The usual 24-hour turnaround has been extended to 48 hours due to the high number of tests being processed. High risk swabs are being processed as a matter of priority and positive tests are reported first.
Our total number of tests is 571,942.
The NZ Covid Tracer app now has 1,374,200 registered users.
Travel in and out of Auckland remains heavily restricted. Police are seeing an increase in stops and people being turned back. You can not travel across the boundary for work unless you have an exemption. Details on how to get an exemption are available at covid19.govt.nz
Saturday 15 August, 1pm
There are 7 new cases of Covid-19 today. All are in the community.
6 of the new cases have been linked to the existing Auckland cluster. 1 case is being investigated.
There are 56 active cases, 37 of these are in the community.
1090 close contacts of those community cases have been identified. 86 percent of these have been contacted by contact tracers.
The two people who have tested positive in Tokoroa have been transported to quarantine facilities in Auckland.
New Zealand’s total figure of confirmed and probable cases is 1609.
There are two cases of international travel under investigation. One person tested positive after travelling from NZ to Japan. Another traveller tested positive after arriving in Belgium.
Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said again that Covid-19 virus is the problem here, not the people. He said was disappointed to hear reports of online abuse targeted at people who had tested positive. “There is no shame or blame in having this virus.”
Minister of Health Chris Hipkins said online abuse was “disappointing and dangerous”. People need to feel comfortable in coming forward to get tested.
There were 23,846 tests carried out yesterday.
And Home Learning TV will be back on Monday at 9am.
Friday 14 August, 5.30pm
Auckland will stay at level 3 and the rest of New Zealand will stay at level 2 for another 12 days.
This will be lifted at 11.59pm on Wednesday 26th August.
“There is nothing to suggest we need to move to a level 4 lockdown at this stage,” says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, “as we do not have a number of clusters or unrelated cases.”
The decision will be reviewed on August 21st.
Jacinda Ardern says the decision was part of New Zealand’s approach of being “precautionary and going hard and going early.”
There is still no clear connection between this new outbreak and the border or managed isolation and quarantine facilities at this stage.
The genome sequence of the virus is not the same as our first community outbreaks in March, which means it is unlikely to be a “burning ember” of a dormant strain. “It appears to be new to New Zealand” says Jacinda Ardern.
She says we can expect to see more cases as part of this cluster. “It will grow before it slows.” However it is possible to contain a cluster or outbreak without ever being able to identify its origin.
One factor in the decision not to move to level 4 was the impact on the economy. The economy only operates at about 60 percent at level 4, but at around 80 percent at level 3.
The government has decided to extend the wage subsidy nationwide and it will last long enough to cover the length of level 3.
A decision on whether the election should be postponed will be made over this weekend.
Friday 14 August, 1pm
There are 13 new cases, made up of 12 new confirmed and 1 probable case.
Two are in Tokoroa. They are close contacts of a family member of the new cluster.
12 of the new cases have been linked to the existing cluster.
One case has not been linked to an existing cluster and is currently hospitalised.
In total there are now 48 active cases, 30 of these are linked to the community outbreak, the rest are people who recently returned from overseas.
38 people linked to the cluster have already been moved into an Auckland quarantine facility.
771 of their close contacts have been identified, and 514 of those had been contacted as of 10am this morning.
15,703 tests were processed yesterday, our highest-ever number of tests in one day.
Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has reminded us that people with the virus should be treated with dignity and respect. He also said there are reports of healthcare workers being verbally abused and attacked, which is “completely unacceptable”. “Please remember that all healthcare workers are doing their best to help not just you, but all New Zealanders.”
To avoid putting strain on testing sites, New Zealanders are being asked to only seek a test if they have symptoms or have been told to by a health professional.
“If you are well and you are seeking a test, you could be preventing someone who needs that test, getting a test,” says Health Minister Chris Hipkins.
He says only people who are in one of these categories should try get a test:
- Border workers
- Identified close contacts
- People with symptoms
- People who have been advised by a health professional to get a test
“Only people with symptoms are being tested, if you are not symptomatic and you turn up... it is quite possible you will be turned away,” says Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Thursday 13 August, 1pm
There are 13 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Auckland linked to the four people with community transmission.
There is also one new case in managed isolation who recently arrived from overseas.
This means the new outbreak has 17 cases, so including the cases in managed isolation our total is 36.
Three of the people who tested positive are employees of Americold, a workplace of one of the original family members. Seven cases are family members of these employees.
One is an employee of FinanceNow, and another who has tested positive who is a family member of that employee.
From now on, all confirmed Covid cases are to be managed in a quarantine facility. This is different to the previous lockdown, where people were able to self-isolate at home.
Labs processed 6006 tests yesterday.
The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says no exact link has been found between the genome sequence of the new cluster and any recent case that has come from overseas in a managed isolation facility.
338,000 people have downloaded the NZ Covid Tracer app in the last 48 hours, bringing the total number of downloads to 986,000.
Border patrols in Auckland stopped 17,000 vehicles by 7am this morning. Most of those were travelling legitimately into or out of Auckland to get to their homes, but 312 were turned back, many of them attempts by people to travel to their holiday homes.
Wednesday 12 August, 4pm
Today there are four new probable cases, who are people with symptoms who are linked to the four cases announced yesterday. They have had tests taken and are waiting for results in self-isolation.
There is one new case in a managed isolation facility today.
Five previously reported cases have recovered, so the total number of active cases including recent arrivals to New Zealand in managed isolation is 22.
Yesterday there were 4225 tests processed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to over half a million.
As of midday today, 200 close contacts of the family with believed community transmission have been identified and over 100 have been phoned and spoken with.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the family travelled to Rotorua and stayed at the Waiora Lakeside Hotel from the 8th-11th August, visited the Skyline Gondola and Lodge on August 9th from 4-6pm and the Heritage Farm and 3D Art Gallery on August 10th from 3-4pm.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the Ministry of Health remains confident that alert level 2 is appropriate for Rotorua.
Most of the people who are considered close contacts are from the family’s workplaces. Therefore Director-General of Health has made an oral direction under the Health Act requiring that:
- Any employees or contractors of Americold in Mt Wellington, Auckland or the Dominion Rd branch of Finance Now in Auckland, and
- Any visitors to those workplaces in the last 14 days and any people who ordinarily live with those visitors or workers
- Isolate at their usual home
- Not go out to work and remain isolated until they are contacted by the national contact tracing service
However because Auckland is already in alert level 3, those people should be at home anyway.
It is now mandatory for businesses to display the QR code for the NZ Covid tracer app. There will be a week’s grace before it will be enforced.
It is also mandatory for people travelling out of Auckland by plane to wear a face covering. For others, a face covering is advised but not mandatory.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says “We know how to beat this, but we also know we don't have to look far to see what it can mean if we don't get on top of it.”
She says Australia had 322 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, with 664 people in hospitals, 39 of those on ventilators.
“Our response to the virus so far has worked. It opened our economy and our communities and it gave New Zealanders freedoms that we cherished and we all want to back get there as soon as we can, but success relies on us all working together.”
Wednesday 12 August, 10.30am
At midday today Auckland will go into level 3 lockdown. The rest of the country will move to level 2.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the family who have tested positive are all in isolation at home.
One of the cases, a woman her 20s, travelled to Rotorua over the weekend while she was symptomatic.
People in Rotorua and around the country should be vigilant and seek advice if they have any symptoms.
“We fully expected because we were in alert level 1 with people able to move freely around the country, that should we get a case it would require a nationwide response,” says Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
“This virus does not discriminate, there is no shame or stigma in contracting it.”
Dr Bloomfield says they are working hard to put together the pieces of the puzzle of how the family contracted the virus.
The workplaces connected to the family members have been temporarily shut down, including a finance company with around 130 workers and another company with multiple sites around Auckland with 160 staff.
All staff at these workplaces are being considered as close contacts.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says in order to trace where the outbreak came from, testing needs to be increased. “But that does not mean we just want to randomly test,” she says, because that could overwhelm the system and create longer queues.
Only people who have symptoms or who have been told to get a test by a medical professional or Healthline should do so.
All aged care facilities across the country will be closed to everyone except staff and essential deliveries from midday today. This means no families will be able to visit.
A reminder of what alert level 3 involves:
- Stay in your bubble - no visitors to your home
- No school except for the children of essential workers
- When you’re outside of your home, keep 2m physical distancing including in supermarkets and on the street
- Gatherings of up to ten people are only allowed for weddings, funerals and tangihanga
- Businesses can only open if there are no customers on the premises. So drive-throughs, delivery and online and phone orders are still allowed, but no going into any shop or restaurant
- Public venues like cinemas, libraries, playgrounds will all close
- You can do low-risk recreational activities but only in your local area, like a walk, run, swim at the beach or fishing from a local wharf
Aucklanders are being asked to cover their faces when they leave home. The Prime Minister says “a mask or a scarf or bandana that covers the nose and mouth will suffice.”
Mask use is not being required or enforced by the government but it is strongly encouraged.
Parliament was due to be dissolved today (which means that today was supposed to be the last day of the parliamentary term) in the lead up to the election on September 19th. This would mean that if Parliament needed to sit it wouldn’t be able to. Therefore the decision has been made to delay the dissolution until next Monday August 17th.
From midday Wednesday there will be nine road checkpoints around the borders of Auckland.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says vehicles will be stopped and drivers will be questioned to make sure any travel is essential.