Coronavirus: Warning as Auckland COVID-19 cluster on track to become New Zealand's biggest

The Auckland COVID-19 cluster is continuing to grow and there's an official warning that it's on track to become the country's biggest.

And an original or index case has been identified - although the mystery of how it got to New Zealand remains.  

Reverend Victor Pouesi is one of the Aucklanders in lockdown as a result of the cluster.

His congregation is all getting tested - there's a testing station at his Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in Māngere.

And he has been deemed a close contact of a family of churchgoers who have tested positive. COVID-19 has spread within the church to one other family.

"They are now isolating in their own home and are waiting for further instructions from the health department," Pouesi told Newshub.

The Reverend said the original member of his church caught it at work.

There are now 69 positive cases in the Auckland cluster and it could become New Zealand's biggest. There were 13 new infections on Tuesday - 12 confirmed and one probable.

"I think you are right - it is on track to becoming the biggest," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told reporters.

Bloomfield. Photo credit: Getty

Genomic sequencing has identified an index case and linked it to an Americold coolstore in Mt Wellington, making it ground zero for the outbreak.

"It seems so far that the case that was the first, is the case that was from the Americold facility, whose symptom onset was July 31," Dr Bloomfield said. 

But scene investigations have quashed the theory the virus came in on frozen goods, so that leaves the mystery of how the coolstore worker got it.

So the tracing and testing continues. Ninety-eight people linked to the Auckland cluster are in quarantine - 44 are positive cases and the other 54 close contacts.

Taking out those in hospital, that means there are up to 19 positive cases isolating in the community. So many, like Aukuso, are getting checked.

"Prevention is better than cure," he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 1880 close contacts had been traced and 1691 were self-isolating.

"Within our community we have been able to say - I think we confined the spread," Reverend Pouesi said.