Coronavirus live updates: Seven new cases, another Auckland school, ski fields affected

There are seven new cases of COVID-19 in the community.

Aucklanders are under alert level 3 until midnight on August 26. The rest of the country is sitting at alert level 2.

Keep up to date with the latest from Newshub.

What you need to know:

  • There have been 37 cases of community transmission recorded in New Zealand since Tuesday. Seven new cases were reported on Saturday
  • All, but two, have links to the Auckland cluster. It's believed, however, that the additional two are linked but further investigation is required
  • Auckland will be at alert level 3 until midnight on August 26. The rest of the country is at alert level 2
  • Police checkpoints have been set up north and south of Auckland
  • Air NZ has cut back its domestic schedule to and from Auckland due reduced demand, while Jetsar has suspended all domestic flights from Tuesday until at least August 26
  • No contact or genetic links have been found between the cluster and managed isolation and quarantine facilities, nor previous cases from earlier in the year
  • The wage subsidy for impacted businesses has been extended

That's it for Saturday's live updates. Thanks for following along.

7pm - The decision to stay in alert level 3 and 2 means many businesses can still operate.

But with a wage subsidy extension confirmed in-principle, some businesses have decided to keep their doors shut.

"I kind of anticipated it but it's still quite gutting," one restaurateur says.

"We don't want to take the risk of losing more money than we try and make."

Read more here.

6:40pm - A new Community Testing Centre is being set up at the Auckland Netball Centre on Allison Ferguson Dr, St Johns. It will open between 9am and 5pm on Sunday, and then 8am and 5pm Monday to Saturday.

6:15pm - A harmful rumour widely circulating on social media claiming the resurgence of COVID-19 in Auckland is due to a young woman infiltrating a quarantine facility is false, MBIE says. 

The statement, seen posted and reshared on Facebook and Instagram, contains a number of irresponsible and damaging claims, alleging a member of the family in south Auckland who recently tested positive had visited a man recently deported from Australia who had the virus. 

The mistruths have been debunked by the MBIE who told Newshub on Saturday the rumours circulating on social media around managed isolation and quarantine facilities are false. 

Read more on that here.

6:05pm - There have been concerns that all workers at the Port of Tauranga won't be able to get tested by Monday night, as a new health order requires.

However, the Bay of Plenty DHB on Saturday said it wouldn't penalise the port workers if they can't get tested in time.

Bay of Plenty DHB's interim chief executive Simon Everitt said its staff have been working over the weekend with port staff to set up a testing station on-site at the port to ensure sufficient capacity to test all required workers. Workers with symptoms of COVID-19 have been getting tested at their GP’s practice.  

"We will be prioritising port staff who have been on-board  a vessel in the last 14 days and/or those who have been in direct contact with crew. Testing will begin next week," he said.

"Port of Tauranga staff will be contacted by their company to allocate them a testing slot.  If a staff member is unwell or has symptoms, please seek treatment from their GP and remain off work.

"In the meantime we acknowledge the uncertainty that workers have being feeling about how to organise their tests. We ask that people be patient as they will be able to get tested over the next week, and that people wait for further instructions from their employers, and allow general practices to focus on testing those people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and require testing."

6pm - Newshub Live at 6 is starting now with a wrap of all the COVID-19-related developments of the day. You can watch that on this website or on Three.

5:30pm - A reminder that Aucklanders don't have to go out to a store to purchase a Lotto ticket for Saturday's massive draw.

"While there is always an incredible buzz around a Must Be Won jackpot, keeping our community safe is the most important thing right now," says Marie Winfield, head of communications at Lotto NZ.

"If you are planning on buying your ticket in-store this afternoon, please keep health and safety top of mind and follow the COVID-19 guidelines."

With the current alert levels in place, Lotto NZ encourages their customers to purchase tickets online via the MyLotto website and app,

"Sales are typically at their peak after 5pm. I can’t stress enough how important it is to buy your ticket as early as possible. If you want to get a ticket for tonight’s draw, now’s the time to buy it," says Winfield.

4:55pm - An Auckland councillor is calling on residents to stay home and stay local after many have been seen "heading out to beaches and parks across the region and ignoring alert level 3 instructions, putting themselves and their families at risk".

Parks, Arts, Community and Events committee chair councillor Alf Filipaina sid in a statement that it was "disappointing" to hear of large numbers of people flocking to popular places despite alert level 3 rules.

"We're experiencing stunning spring-like weather in Auckland this weekend but that is no excuse to flout the rules," Filipaina said.

"The result is large groups of people unable to safely keep their distance, plus this puts pressure on the very limited services, like car parks and public toilets, that we can offer under this alert level. It’s also important that our staff can manage visitors and themselves safely," he says.

Despite the likes of playgrounds and skate parks being closed, he said "we're still hearing that playgrounds are alive with children, families are using on-park equipment and park benches are all being used".

Muriwai Beach is one of the areas affected by this behaviour, he says.

Auckland Council has had reports of queues of cars more than 2km long at Muriwai Beach, influxes of people using toilets, padlocks and chains cut on closed gates (for example at Coast Rd in Muriwai, Cornwallis and along Scenic Dr in the Waitākere Ranges).

"Barriers are in place for a reason and when visitors damage public property they not only break the rules and but are breaking the law," says Filipaina.

More information can be found here.

4:30pm - The Health Minister on Saturday explained how just how an Auckland school with no confirmed cases of COVID-19 ended up being named during Friday's daily pandemic briefing. 

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said one of the 13 new cases reported that day was linked to Pakuranga College, which took the school by surprise.

The Ministry of Health later said there was a "causal link", not a confirmed case, and no one at the school was at risk. 

Read more on that here.

4pm - The Port of Tauranga is testing all workers for COVID-19. Everyone who has been at the site since 11:59pm on Tuesday July 21 must be tested under a new health order.

This includes everyone who has worked at the port, including shipping agents, stevedores, drivers picking up or delivering cargo, contractors, suppliers of goods and services, classification societies, government agency employees and any crew members who may have come ashore.

Port of Tauranga chief executive, Mark Cairns, said in a statement that the Port is working with the local DHB to provide testing facilities on site.

"As this order is likely to affect up to 6,000 people, it will take some time for us to work through the logistics. We are grateful for port users' patience and understanding and will share more information as soon as we can."

Testing all workers will help rule out the port as a source for New Zealand's new cluster.

3:55pm - Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) says the Whanganui DHB told the company on Friday that a confirmed COVID-19 case from the Auckland cluster visited Tūroa ski field on Sunday, August 9.

Two RAL staff self-isolated and have tested negative for COVID-19.

"Public Health officials have advised that the interactions any of our staff have had with this person are not considered to meet the definition of 'close contact'," chief executive Jono Dean says.

"The person above also visited Whakapapa Ski Area on Saturday August 8 but was considered pre-symptomatic and so unlikely to be infectious at this time, because of this the DHB have advised that there is no cause for concern or action beyond our current level 2 protocols, which we are of course following and asking visitors to the mountain to follow as well."

Dean says deep cleaning is being conducted and both ski fields remain open.

"We have had direct instructions from the Ministry of Health and Wanganui DHB that if our crew are not symptomatic then they are safe to be at work, therefore we remain confident that we are following best practice.

"We will be encouraging all staff to wear masks towards the same goal of preventing any possible spread."

3:45pm - The Greens' Chlöe Swarbrick has advice for anyone wearing a mask.

"In the wise words of [Trevor Mallard], treat your mask like your undies. Don’t touch or adjust ‘em in public, don’t wear someone else’s, make sure it’s clean, if it’s damp change it and don’t go commando."

3:30pm - Otahuhu Primary School in Auckland says a person with COVID-19 "has attended our school".

"Some children and staff members close to them may have to get tested and stay in self isolation. Anyone who has been near this person will be contacted as a 'close contact' this afternoon (Saturday 15 August)."

Those who weren't in the same classroom as the individual won't be contact and don't need to isolate or be tested, according to the school. 

"If we contact you we will let you know what the next steps are. We ask for your understanding at this time as we work with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, our Board of Trustees, staff and school community."

3:20pm - The 75th anniversay of the end of World War II was held at Pukeahu, Wellington on Saturday, attended by the likes of the Governor-General, Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Leader of the Opposition.

Due to the alert level changes, members of the public couldn't attend.

3:10pm - $50 million is up for grabs with Lotto on Saturday night. There are queues at dairies on Auckland's North Shore, with players physically distancing, but not everyone wearing masks. Players can purchase a ticket online.

With Auckland under alert level 3, people are asked to physically distance and to wear masks or face coverings. These are not mandatory, however.

3pm - Police have been busy at checkpoints north and south of Auckland since Wednesday. They are also undertaking "reassurance patrols" across essential facilities like supermarkets, pharmacies and testing stations. 

In a statement on Saturday afternoon, police say no arrests have yet been made in regards to breaches of restrictions. Officers' focus is on education rather than handing out infringement notices.

"Motorists at police checkpoints in Tāmaki Makaurau have been generally compliant and engaging positively with police staff," the statement said.

"There has been a noticeable reduction in traffic flow across Auckland, with less disruption and delay.

"There have been no major changes to the nine checkpoint locations around Auckland."

The Defence Force and Māori wardens are also present at the checkpoints to support police.

As of 4pm on Friday, 40,865 vehicles have been stopped at checkpoints, with 605 turned around. More than 1880 "prevention activities" have been completed, "including directed patrols and reassurance checks at essential facilities such as supermarkets, pharmacies and COVID-19 testing sites".

2:50pm - Earlier on Saturday, Newshub reported that Toi Te Ora Bay of Plenty - Lakes District said someone who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Japan had recently visited Rotorua.

Among the places they visited was Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland on August 7 between 9am and 10:15am.

That facility has confirmed to Newshub that local health authorities have been in touch. They said the authorities say there is a low risk and no staff have symptoms.

"However, all staff have been tested. We are following strict guidelines advised by the Ministry of Health. Since we opened in May, we thoroughly sanitise our site daily."

Dr Neil de Wet, the local Medical Officer of Health, says those who visited the destination at the time should monitor themselves for symptoms.

2:45pm - The opening two weeks of rugby's Farah Palmer Cup have been called off due to the return to COVID-19 alert level 3.

The North pool of the women's domestic competition was set to begin Saturday August 22.

All of those teams, which include Northland, North Harbour, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki, are based in Auckland.

NZ Rugby is still hopeful those fixtures affected will be able to be worked into future rounds.

Read more on that here.

2:35pm - Auckland Transport (AT) has announced additional changes to public transport on top of those brought in after the move to alert level 3 on Wednesday.

These new changes include:

  • School buses will not be operating from Monday, August 17
  • Public transport timetables will be adjusting
  • Some AT customer service centres will be closing
  • City centre and town centre pedestrian crossings will be set to automatic phasing

2:15pm - There were 23,846 tests processed in New Zealand on Friday. That takes our overall total to 548,260. 

Looking at our 37 active cases (outside of managed isolation or quarantine), eight were detected in the Auckland DHB, 21 in Counties Manuaku, two in Waikato, and six in Waitemata.

All confirmed cases must now stay at a quarantine facility. The two cases from Tokoroa are being transported to the Auckland facility - the Jet Park hotel.

2:10pm - There's not a mask in sight and only minimal social distancing at the Cambridge Farmers Market. But many people are checking in with the COVID Tracer App and sanitising on entry. Cambridge - in Waikato - is under alert level 2.

Cambridge Farmers Market.
Cambridge Farmers Market. Photo credit: Newshub.

2:05pm - It has been reported that the Jet Park hotel - the main quarantine centre - was evacuated due to a fire alarm ealier. That turned out to be a false alarm.

Minister Hipkins at the press conference didn't have any information about it. However, he said there was a plan for how to deal with the guests if an alarm goes off.

2pm - Face masks or coverings are now strongly encouraged in Auckland and recommended throughout the country. Local groups on Facebook are often good places to look if you need a mask and the stores are sold out.

Coronavirus live updates: Seven new cases, another Auckland school, ski fields affected

1:40pm - Recapping the key points of this press conference: There are seven new cases of COVID-19 in the community, with all, but one, of these linked to the Auckland cluster. Dr Bloomfield is confident a link will be found between the cluster and this additional case as well as another from Friday.

A total of 54 people linked to the cluster, including family members of infected individuals, have been moved to quarantine facilities.

All tests have come back negative from those at the Morrinsville Kingswood rest home that two positive cases visited.

Dr Bloomfield says people confirmed positive in Japan and Belgium who recently visited New Zealand were not symptomatic while in New Zealand.

There were 23,846 tests processed on Friday - a new record.

The one individual in hospital is a Mt Wellington GP. He was not symptomatic while dealing with patients, but people who visited the centre 48 hours prior to him becoming symptomatic are being followed up on.

Health Minister Hipkins warned people not to trust information swirling around on social media and also condemned bullying of COVID-19 cases.

1:16pm - Health Minister Chris Hipkins says COVID tracer app registrations and QR downloads have doubled in the past four days.

Coronavirus live updates: Seven new cases, another Auckland school, ski fields affected
Photo credit: Newshub.

1:11pm - No returning New Zealanders in managed isolation have tested positive for coronavirus in the past 24 hours, Dr Ashley Bloomfield says.

1:10pm - Dr Ashley Bloomfield says two COVID-19 cases in Tokoroa are being transferred to a quarantine facility in Auckland.

1:05pm - There are 7 new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand on Saturday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says.

Six of those cases are linked to the existing Auckland cluster, while one remains under investigation. Dr Bloomfield said he's confident, however, it will be linked to the cluster.

There have now been 1258 cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand - 56 of which are active.

Coronavirus live updates: Seven new cases, another Auckland school, ski fields affected
Photo credit: Getty

12:54pm - Watch Saturday's COVID-19 news briefing here. It's due to start at 1pm.

12:28pm - The new outbreak of COVID-19 is a "reality check" for already struggling businesses and tough decisions are looming, according to Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen. 

Watch the Newshub Nation interview here.

12:15pm - Health Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will provide the latest update on Auckland's COVID-19 outbreak at 1pm.

Hipkins told Newshub Nation earlier on Saturday there were another "handful" of cases that had been identified.

Chris Hipkins, left, and Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
Chris Hipkins, left, and Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo credit: Getty

12:07pm - A New Zealand businessman in the Cook Islands is devastated there is community transmission back home.

Peter Hayes owns accommodation in Rarotonga and had been holding out for a travel-bubble.

He told Newshub Auckland's renewed community transmission is a real blow.

It was only Monday when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a Cook Islands bubble was expected before the end of the year.

11:57am - Chris Hipkins says officials are having to spend "quite a lot of time" stopping the spread of not just COVID-19, but rumours and conspiracy theories.

Speaking to Newshub Nation on Saturday, the Minister of Health said they're sparked by locals finding out about cases in their communities before the public at large, then going on social media.

Read Dan Satherley's full story here.

11:49am - Auckland and Tauranga Ports are scrambling after being told thousands of workers need to be tested for COVID-19 by law.

The swabs have to be carried out by midnight Monday, as the Ministry of Health investigates the source of community transmission.

At the Ports of Auckland testing site, about 300 eople each day have been getting tests.

Watch Friday night's report from Newshub National correspondent Patrick Gower here.

Coronavirus live updates: Seven new cases, another Auckland school, ski fields affected
Photo credit: Getty

11:35am - The National Party on Saturday took aim at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in an effort to postpone the election.

Leader Judith Collins has called for the election be held later this year instead of next month, due to the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

She told Newshub Nation the decision is now with Jacinda Ardern.

"We do want people to be able to have policies and to consider them, not just for the 19th of September but for the next one, two, three years."

11:18am - Former Cook Islands Prime Minister Dr Joe Williams, a medical practitioner in Auckland, has been admitted to hospital with COVID-19, the Cook Islands News reports.

11:12am - Jetstar has temporarily suspended all domestic flights from August 18 until at least August 26.

"If you have been impacted by flight cancellations, you will be contacted directly by Jetstar over the next 24 hours with your available options," the airline said in travel alert.

"Customers with Jetstar bookings to fly between Tuesday 11:59 pm and Wednesday August 26 will be contacted directly to explain available options, which include moving their date of travel forward to return home on any available flight on or before August 18 at no additional cost, or request a credit voucher refund."

Coronavirus live updates: Seven new cases, another Auckland school, ski fields affected
Photo credit: Newshub.

11:09am - Judith Collins revealed a small part of National's border policy on Saturday morning, saying it would involve regular testing of all staff at managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities.

If that sounds familiar, it's because that's the current Government's policy. Collins told Newshub Nation the difference would be that under a National-led Government, voters could be sure it would actually happen.

Read Dan Satherley's full story here.

11:07am - Independently-owned butcher shops in New Zealand are urging the Government to consider them as essential services as Auckland's COVID-19 lockdown continues.

This comes after the Government announced on Friday that Auckland will remain under alert level 3 restrictions for another 12 days.

Retail Meat New Zealand wrote a letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday asking her to reclassify independent butcher shops as 'essential services'.

Read the full story here.

10:31am - A person who has tested positive for COVID-19, on arrival in Japan, had recently visited Rotorua and Taupō.

Toi Te Ora Public Health is alerting the public to the possibility they may have been exposed at two places.

The person visited Wairakei Terraces on Thursday August 6 between 6 and 7pm, and the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland on Friday August 7, between 9 and 10:15am

Dr Neil de Wet says people who visited at these dates should monitor for symptoms.

"If you were at one of these places at these dates and times there is a small possibility that you may have been exposed," said Dr de Wet, Toi Te Ora Public Health's Medical Officer of Health.

10:28am - National leader Judith Collins is urging Kiwis to follow the current alert level rules and be safe.

"If I'm in public transport or anything like that, I'm wearing a mask," she told Newshub Nation.

"Follow the rules and take the health advice, is the number one thing I'd say," Collins said, adding the country "can't afford" another lockdown after this.

10:22 - Despite officials saying there's no evidence to suggest the latest COVID-19 outbreak came from the border, National leader Judith Collins told Newshub Nation,"It's pretty clear it has been from a border failure".

"This is not something that was lurking in the community - it's come in through the border in some way." 

10:19am - The Government's decision to continue Auckland's lockdown restrictions is being supported by National leader Judith Collins.

"I think they have to do that - I couldn't see what else they could do, particularly given the fact they still have not been able to tell New Zealanders how the COVID-19 got over the border this time," she told Newshub Nation. "I think they've got to do that, and they clearly haven't traced everybody who's been in contact with those who are infected. I think they have to." 

Judith Collins.
Judith Collins. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

10:14am - ACT leader David Seymour has joined calls to let schools decide how to operate in alert level three to help senior students.

Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O'Connor told Newshub there will be dire ramifications if sixth and seventh form students are not allowed face to face learning.

Under alert level 3, only students of essential workers can attend physical classrooms. 

Seymour said in a statement on Saturday there was no logic in the decision.

"To simply send students home regardless of the impact on their long-term futures is out of touch and will erode public confidence in the Government's strategy."

10:09am - Health Minister Chris Hipkins says mistakenly naming the school as being affected by Auckland's COVID-19 cluster was an "issue with preparation for the media briefing".

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told reporters on Friday that one of New Zealand's 13 new cases of COVID-19 was linked to the college, but the school said that was the first it had heard of the case.

In a statement after the press conference, the Ministry of Health confirmed it had incorrectly named the college as an affected school and apologised.

Hipkins told Newshub Nation on Saturday he believes Dr Bloomfield and his team were given incorrect notes.

"Obviously we'll look to tighten that process up as much as we can," Hipkins said.

9:54am - According to the Health Minister, there's no evidence to suggest the latest outbreak came through the border.

"That is a real part of the puzzle," Chris Hipkins told Newshub Nation. "We're trying to solve that puzzle as quickly as we can.

"At this point, there isn't any evidence it's come through the border in a person-to-person sense."

Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

9:52am - It remains unclear where the latest COVID-19 outbreak originated from, Health Minister Chris Hipkins told Newshub Nation.

"It's most likely to have originated in Australia or the UK, but at this point we still don't know how this cluster came into contact with COVID-19 in the first place." 

9:38am - Health Minister Chris Hipkins says some additional COVID-19 cases will be announced at 1pm on Saturday.

"There's a handful of new cases that have been identified," he told Newshub Nation.

"All of the contacts and the links of course will be worked through this morning, and we'll release the details of that. 

"They do all appear to be in Auckland, they do all appear likely to be related to that cluster that we're dealing with."

9:21am - After the lockdown extension announcement on Friday night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The Project there was "a lot of speculation" about if restrictions were going to be tightened further.

"I do hear some of that noise, a lot of people have been speculating we were going to move into level 4 but there is no reason to do that."

Read the full story here or watch the interview above.

9:13am - Countdown says it's well-prepared for Auckland's alert level 3 extension.

"While our online shopping service is seeing a lot of demand, we’re working hard to increase capacity for our customers as well as ensuring we have plenty of delivery slots available," said Countdown spokeswoman Kiri Hannifin.

"Our customers have done a great job of adapting to the alert level changes across Aotearoa and are well practiced in what is required when they visit our stores.

"It's great to see many of our Auckland customers are wearing masks and playing their part in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Countdown Henderson on the first day of alert level 3 this week.
Countdown Henderson on the first day of alert level 3 this week. Photo credit: Newshub.

9:08am - The COVID-19 alert level change has seen Gisborne's sewerage system come under intense pressure.

Since Wednesday, there has been a 600 percent increase in blocked pipes across the local system.

Read the full story by RNZ here.

9:03am - The latest on COVID-19 from around the world:

As New Zealand experiences its first outbreak in more than three months, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage overseas. 

Nearly 300,000 new cases are being confirmed every day now, with the total now at 21.2 million - with tens of millions more believed exposed, but untested.

The death toll is now at 760,000.

Read the latest from Newshub's Dan Satherley and Reuters here.

8:47am - Businesses are being urged to take proactive steps to dampen financial impacts of Auckland's COVID-19 restrictions. 

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says it's vital people take any opportunity they can to prepare.

"If people are facing financial challenges - whether it's personal finances or with your business - it would be really good to get in touch with your bank as soon as you can to reach out and get support, and that will help you," he told Newshub.

Nick Tuffley.
Nick Tuffley. Photo credit: The AM Show

8:44am - There are fears systemic inequality in the country's health system will ignite with the new outbreak of COVID-19.

The Government's official COVID tracer app has led the official charge against the virus, but Victoria University health lecturer Clive Aspin told Newshub leaning too hard on the tech will cause problems.

"If we rely on that as the mechanism for preventing the spread within Māori communities, then we're feeling well short of our obligations to have equitable outcomes for all communities."

8:42am - The Government is being urged to let schools decide how to operate in alert level three to help senior students.

Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O'Connor told Newshub there will be dire ramifications if sixth and seventh form students are not allowed face to face learning.

Under alert level 3, only students of essential workers can attend physical classrooms. 

8:29am - With another COVID-19 testing centre opening in Auckland on Saturday, there will be 17 community stations people can get swabbed for the novel coronavirus.

The additional site will be at Rosedale and will be open from 8am - 5pm.

There's also 43 GPs where people can be tested without needing to be enrolled.

"Where possible, please help us relieve some of this pressure by choosing a general practice or urgent care clinic for your test," said Northern Region Health Coordination Centre lead Margie Apa.

Click here for a full list of testing centres.

Coronavirus live updates: Seven new cases, another Auckland school, ski fields affected
Photo credit: RNZ

8:16am - There are concerns about the reliability of the COVID tracer app.

The tech has played a major part in the Government's response to the latest outbreak with thousands of downloads in the past 24 hours. 

But Victoria University health lecturer Clive Aspin told Newshub the app is no silver bullet.

"People who live in rural and remote locations are likely to be disadvantaged - partly because of the fact that may not have access to the networks that are required. We know that older people, and Māori in particular, are less likely to have access to the devices that are necessary to use the tracking device."

8:05am - An economist doubts an extension to the COVID-19 wage subsidy will break the bank.

ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley says it's within the Government's spending margin.

"When we're looking at two weeks of extended wage subsidy for the whole country, that's going to be a smaller cost than what we saw for the initial 12 week wage subsidies," he told Newshub.

Read more about the wage subsidy extension here.

8am - The University of Auckland says one of its students has reported testing positive for COVID-19. 

They are linked to the existing cluster, the university said late on Friday night.

"The student has not been on campus since the end of July, and is not living in student accommodation, so we are confident the risk of exposure to other students and staff is minimal.

"The Ministry of Health is handling the case, and we are making sure our student is well supported."

Vice-chancellor Dawn Freshwater said the university has detailed contingency plans in place.

"Safety of our students and staff is of paramount importance and we will be closely following the guidance of the Ministries of Health and Education."

Coronavirus live updates: Seven new cases, another Auckland school, ski fields affected
Photo credit: Getty

7:25am - The Cook Islands, a week ago itching for a travel bubble with New Zealand, has closed its borders to all incoming flights until at least August 17.

7:20am - A New Zealand-based British PhD student who flew back to the UK for her father's funeral has told Newshub about her desperate attempts to get back into New Zealand.

"I get rejected within 20 minutes of applying, it seems like the computer is just saying no," said Sophie Farrow.

Read more about her situation here.

6:55am - Scientists are scrambling to identify the origin of the country's latest COVID-19 outbreak. 

The genome sequence of the original four cases is different to the strain seen earlier this year, and hasn't yet been linked to any cases detected in managed isolation and quarantine facilities at the border.

"We know that the incubation period of the virus could be 12 days, so it's likely some people are yet to develop symptoms," Te Pūnaha Matatini and University of Canterbury statistics specialist Michael Plank told Newshub.

"We need this extra time to get confidence that we've found all of the cases that are out there." 

Michael Plank.
Michael Plank. Photo credit: University of Canterbury

Dr Plank says the race to find its source is on. 

"What they're still working on is whether it can be linked to any of the cases that we've seen at the border. They're still working on sequencing that." 

Dr Plank says people outside of Auckland should work hard to ensure it does not spread further. 

"I'd suggest to anyone that's travelled from Auckland in the last two weeks to try and self-isolate. Everyone all around the country should make sure they're physically distancing, and [using masks] and contact tracing."

6:30am - Passengers will no longer be able to fly on a scheduled flight to Rarotonga this morning. 

Until now, one flight a week to the country has carried residents and visa holders. But Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran says the extension of level three has temporarily put an end to this. 

The Ministry of Health says it is working to mitigate any potential risk of COVID-19 leaving New Zealand. 

Refresh the page for the latest updates.