Coronavirus: Officials address 'leaked' lockdown plans after social media rumours speculate an alert level move 'planned' for November

Rumours circulating social media incorrectly allege New Zealand will enter another lockdown.
Rumours circulating social media incorrectly allege New Zealand will enter another lockdown. Photo credit: Newshub / Supplied

Rumours that New Zealand will enter a "planned" lockdown in early November have been squashed by All-of-Government COVID-19 response group after the "leaked" proposal circulated social media.

One person claiming to work in education said their superior was at the Ministry of Education during the school holidays and was told: "The Ministry of Health is preparing for a third wave that they have predicted will hit November 6 or 8".

"They used the word 'preparing'. I'm cynical when it comes to COVID and the government and what info they pass out," they said in a Facebook message.

In a Facebook post, a second person responded to the false rumours and said these plans were supposedly true because they've "already been leaked".

But an All-of-Government COVID-19 response spokesperson slammed these rumours because a shift in alert levels "is not something the Government would ever plan weeks in advance".

"An alert level change is a careful decision made by a group of ministers or Cabinet, after advice from senior officials including the Director-General of Health, in the event of community transmission," she told Newshub.

There are currently four active community cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. Friday was the last day a new community case was announced.

"Some of the considerations made when providing the advice are: whether the case is isolated, the risk of transmission based on their movement, case history, symptom onset and severity and the source of infection."

The restrictions under whichever alert level is decided are then determined by the Minister of Health, they added.

"We encourage New Zealanders to only take their information from official sources."

Screenshots of rumours have been circulating social media.
Screenshots of rumours have been circulating social media. Photo credit: Supplied

It isn't the first time false rumours about COVID-19 have circulated social media. 

After the Auckland outbreak of community transmission in August, a man took to Reddit to allege COVID-19's reemergence was due to a young woman infiltrating a managed isolation facility to visit her deportee boyfriend. 

MBIE debunked the mistruths.

At the time, it forced Minister of Health Chris Hipkins to ask New Zealanders to take information they see on social media with a grain of salt and to treat it as a rumour if it hasn't come from an official source.

"That is [treating it as] unverified and therefore something that cannot be relied upon to be true or accurate," he said in August.

He said Kiwis should get their information from official sources, such as the daily briefings or official social media pages.

"Behind the scenes from early on every morning, there are dozens of dedicated people tracking down, cross-referencing and checking every bit of information in preparation for these media conferences. That means the information here is verified.

"Please be responsible and sensible about what you choose to share on Facebook. If it's not verified, please don't share it."