Coronavirus updates: Mystery community COVID-19 case sparks concern about another lockdown

The mysterious COVID-19 case reported on Thursday has now been genomically linked to the Defence Force cluster.

The exact means of transmission between the Defence Force worker who became infected at the Jet Park quarantine facility earlier in November and Thursday's case remains unknown.

However, the Government has confirmed no alert level changes are necessary. No new community cases were reported on Friday.

People who attended several establishments on the same day as Thursday's case are being asked to get tested regardless of their symptoms.

Aucklanders can return to the CBD as normal, but are being asked to wear masks on public transport.

What you need to know:

  • Thursday's mysterious COVID-19 case has been genomically linked to the Defence Force cluster, but when and where the transmission occured remains unclear
  • The Government is making no change to the alert levels, but on Monday, Cabinet will consider making masks mandatory on public transport in Auckland
  • No new community cases have been reported on Friday. Four cases were recorded in isolation facility - a new arrival and three historical cases
  • Auckland's CBD can reopen, but people who visited several locations of interest also attended by Thursday's case are being asked to get tested.

These live updates have finished.

7:35pm - Reassurance that Auckland was not moving up COVID-19 alert levels came too late for some event organisers, who decided to cancel this weekend.

Cancelled events incuded Street Kai on Takutai and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and the University of Auckland also made moves to go virtual with exams.

But two of the country's biggest annual events will still go ahead, one being the Aotearoa Music Awards which has already started the mammoth task of setting up for Sunday evening.

The other is Big Boys Toys which opened the gates to crowds on Friday morning, and they are assuring guests it's safe to visit.

Read the full report here.

7pm - The Government's handling of the Vincent Residences apartment block has been described as shambolic.

Friday's confusion around isolation orders followed Thursday's  testing chaos where residents were seen packed into the lobby waiting for tests rather than socially distanced. 

Some people simply left, one woman was taken away in PPE, but not before she walked through the lobby, the wrong way down the street, to the wrong van, before turning around and walking back down the street to the right one.

ACT Party Leader David Seymour attacked the response via Twitter on Friday.

"This Labour government couldn't deliver a pizza let alone a coherent response to COVID-19," he wrote. 

Read more here.

6:30pm - Auckland Council has confirmed its city venues will reopen on Saturday after the Government announced Friday's restrictions would not continue.

The Auckland Central City Library and Tepid Baths, along with council offices at Albert Street, Graham Street and Bledisloe House, the Waitematā Local Board office, and Bledisloe House and Graham Street service centres will open as usual on Monday, November 16.

5:57pm - We're less than five minutes away from Newshub Live at 6pm, here's what's on tonight:

  • Lisette Reymer provides the latest update on New Zealand's COVID-19 cases

  • Reassurance that Auckland was not moving up alert levels came too late for some event organisers who were busy on Thursday making contingency plans

  • Newshub's investigations reporter Michael Morrah looks further into face masks in MIQ facilities after the NZ Nurses Organisation said workers need N-95 masks as a health and safety requirement

  • The Government's handling of the Vincent Residences in Auckland Central, where Thursday's positive COVID-19 case lives, has been described as shambolic by a resident

In non-COVID-19 news:

  • The latest on the flooding in Napier which has left many houses uninhabitable

  • A former Blenheim teacher imprisoned for having sex with two students has been granted parole

Watch Newshub Live at 6pm here.

5:30pm - Here's the lastest COVID-19 news from around the world:

Europe

  • A surge in coronavirus infections in Greece's northern city of Thessaloniki is pushing the hospital system to its limits.
  • French Prime Minister Jean Castex said there would be no easing for at least two weeks of the country's second COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Portugal announced an expansion of a nightly curfew and weekend lockdown already in place across more than 100 municipalities to a further 77 areas.

Americas

  • Ontario, Canada's most populous province, may have to begin suspending non-essential surgeries again starting in two weeks as surging coronavirus cases fill hospital intensive care units.
  • Argentine authorities said were informed about an alleged finding by China of traces of COVID-19 on the external packaging of a shipment of the South American country's beef.
  • US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said vaccine developers should push to make billions off their COVID-19 vaccines to ensure access to all parts of the world, instead of focusing on the rich countries.

Asia-Pacific

  • Australia will not allow foreign students to return as Canberra prioritises the return of locals stuck overseas, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.
  • New Zealand reopened downtown Auckland after contact tracing of a new coronavirus case revealed it was linked to a known case from a border isolation facility.
  • China is facing an increased risk of local transmission of the coronavirus in the winter due to imported cases.

Middle East and Africa

  • Israel will sign a provisional deal with Pfizer Inc to receive 8 million doses of the drugmaker's still-experimental coronavirus vaccine from January.
  • Iraq has started closing camps housing tens of thousands of people after COVID-19 delays, but aid groups warn this could create a second wave of displacement with dire consequences.

- Reuters

5pm - Chris Hipkins is seeking to enforce mask-wearing on public transport and aircraft after a case of COVID-19 was detected in the community on Thursday, sparkling speculation of a new outbreak.

Hipkins said he will take a public health order to Cabinet on Monday to make mask use mandatory on domestic flights and on public transport in Auckland. In the meantime, he's asking Aucklanders to wear masks to prevent any potential spead of the virus.

Read more here.

4:35pm - Auckland's Civil Defence Emergency Management is urging residents with cold and flu-like symptoms, and those who have visited locations of interest to get tested for COVID-19.

4:20pm - The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is warning nurses may have to refuse to work at MIQ facilities due to health and safety concerns.

The organisation's concerns lay around the current use of surgical masks. They instead want nurses to have access to N-95 masks which are more robust with better seals.

"We've known the virus is airborne since very early in the year, so it's alarming that our members working in MIQ still do not have consistent access to N-95 masks, or the fit tests that make them effective in preventing airborne transmission," NZNO's industrial services manager Glenda Alexander said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly changing situation and we all need to learn as we respond. This is not happening and we are going to see increased risks to the lives of our people and the wellbeing of our communities as a result. We cannot let this continue."

Minister for COVID-19 Chris Hipkins says he is currently waiting on updated guidance on the masks.

Read more here.

Minister for COVID-19 Chris Hipkins and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay.
Minister for COVID-19 Chris Hipkins and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay. Photo credit: Getty

4:05pm - Health officials have been stationed at the Vincent Residences apartment building in Auckland CBD.

The residents were supposed to be urgently getting tested and self-isolating after a resident's test came back positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

But AM Show reporter Lauren Hendricksen saw people leaving the apartments on Friday morning for "milk" and to check their car.

During Friday's COVID-19 update, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said health officials are now outside the building to stop people from leaving.

"My understanding was that public health [officials] were going to be there last night. It became apparent early this morning that there weren't people at the front door and so as soon as I became aware of that I got on the phone and made sure that it happened." 

Read more here.

3:45pm - The woman who tested positive on Wednesday has also signed a statement issued by her employer's lawyer, saying false information had been reported, potentially due to a language barrier.

"On the evening of the 9th I had a sore throat, but I did not think much of it. I contacted my GP on the 10th over the phone as I thought I may have a cold. I did not think I met the symptoms of Coronavirus but my GP recommended that I get a test just to be sure," she said.

"On the 11th my sore throat had gone and I did not feel any discomfort, so I went to work. I wore a mask just to be safe.

"My employer has instructed us to wear a mask whenever possible. It is not unusual for us to wear masks at work, so my manager, co-workers, and customers thought nothing of it. I did not think there was any chance that I had coronavirus.

"I did not tell my boss or manager of the above and did not request leave at any time. I did not think it was a big deal."

She said she was "shocked and upset" after learning she had tested positive for coronavirus, but contacted her close contacts as soon as possible and co-operated with the Government.

"During this time, the government arranged for staff to interview me and trace my previous whereabouts, actions and contacts. I fully cooperated with them. 

"Due [to] the language barrier (my first language is Mandarin, this statement will be translated to English), the staff made many errors in recording my previous whereabouts, actions, and contacts. Many of these errors made it onto the news and were reported as fact. 

"It was reported in the news that I was still asked to go to work by my boss after I became sick – this is false, and I was very upset to hear this. I contacted the Government many times begging them to correct the information, because I knew the hate and attacks myself and my boss and our families would receive. They said they would contact me again to review this information but at that point it was too late."

She said since the reports, she and her friends had been "heavily attacked" by cyberbullies, many of which were racist and hurtful.

"Today, the 13th of November, after having to ask many times, the Government have finally arranged a Chinese translation service for me to communicate with the tracing team. Once they speak to me again, without the language barrier, I hope that they can restore the truth and the media can report the true story. 

"For now, my hope is that everyone can focus on the prevention and control of the epidemic and how to find potential asymptomatic infections, instead of continuing to promote online violence and racial discrimination, causing real harm to victims."

3:35pm - The co-owners of the Auckland CBD store linked to the latest case of community transmission have issued a signed Statutory Declaration, along with a statement from the woman who tested positive for COVID-19.

Bill Wang and his wife Mei Chen from A-Z Collection on High Street said they were not aware the woman was sick before she attended work on Wednesday.

"Both myself and my wife have fielded many interviews from the media since the first reports were made on the afternoon of 12 November," said the statement Wang signed. 

"The contents of those interviews have largely been taken out of context and misrepresented. 

"I make this statutory declaration to tell the clear truth in relation to the COVID-19 diagnosis of our employee."

He said before his employee was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Thursday morning, he was not told by her or anyone else that she was feeling unwell.

"She did not call in sick or ask for sick leave. If we knew she was feeling unwell, we would not have asked her to come in.

"The false media reports that we knew she was feeling unwell, that she asked for sick leave, and that we told her to come to work nonetheless but wear a mask, are categorically false. 

"Upon seeing these false reports on the afternoon of 12 November, we were shocked. We contacted our employee, and she was even more shocked than we were. She had never made the false claim to the Ministry of Health that she was 'not allowed sick leave and asked to work whilst sick'."

Wang and Chen said since the news reports aired, they have received a torrent of abuse online, through text messages, through emails, phone calls, and their persona! information was broadcast across social media. 

"I hope that this statement may help set the record straight. "

3:10pm - Here's a statement from the Ministry of Health regarding the locations of interest:

"In addition to the testing advice provided yesterday which  remains current, we are now asking that if people were in Auckland CBD at locations of interest,  they get a test regardless of symptoms. Currently, these locations include: 

  • Mezze Bar on 5 November  
  • Liquor.Com bottle store, Queen Street on 5 November 
  • Red Pig Restaurant on 7 November   
  • Smith and Caughey’s Queen Street on 7 November 
  • Sunny Town China Taste Restaurant on 8 and 9 November   
  • Starbucks Queen Street on 8 and 9 November 
  • The Gateau House on 8 November 
  • A-Z Collection on 8, 9, 11 November 
  • The Vincent, 7-12 November 
  • Auckland City Doctors on 10 November   
  • AUT Student Hub on 10 November."

2:55pm - The University of Auckland has announced that all remaining examinations will be moved online, with some exceptions.

2:50pm - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has welcomed the fact the mystery COVID-19 case has now been linked to the Defence Force cluster and no alert level changes are needed. But he still wants everyone to keep to health guidelines. 

"At this stage, businesses will be able to get back to normal in the city and major events will be able to go ahead this weekend," he said.

"However, we should not be too relaxed. This case is a reminder of the need for continued vigilance against COVID-19.

"The virus continues to spread rapidly overseas, meaning there is an ever-present risk that it may breach our borders again. The proven way to reduce the chance of a further community outbreak is by following the advice of health agencies and the government.

"We all know what to do: if you are sick, stay home and get a test. Track your movements with the NZ COVID Tracer app. Keep up with good health practices such as regular handwashing and cough/sneeze etiquette.

"As the government has indicated, it will be compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport from next week, and it’s strongly encouraged to do so between now and then.

"Following these rules will help keep everyone in our community safe and reduce the likelihood of further restrictions. We need to be prepared for the situation to change at short notice and act accordingly. The best way to avoid a further outbreak later is to stick to the rules now.

"Thank you to all the Aucklanders who are supporting the health response and uniting against COVID-19. This is a challenging situation, but as we have demonstrated twice now in Auckland, working together and following the health guidelines is the best way to beat the virus, so let’s all keep up the good work."

2:40pm - This recent incident has shown the importance of getting tested if you have symptoms, which is what this case did, Dr McElnay says.

New Zealand isn't currently providing any assistance to authorities in Vanuatu which is dealing with a COVID-19 case. But we would try to help if asked.

There has been detailed investigations into both cases, but there is nothing obvious yet as to where the pair may have met.

The press conference has now finished.

2:30pm - Only Aucklanders who visited locations of interest on the specific days mentioned on the Ministry of Health website need to get tested. Not everyone who visited the establishments in November.

The hypothesis is that there is a direct link between the two cases because of the identical genome sequencing. But the actual link needs to be found. That has not yet been found, however, they were both in a specifc area of Auckland. Hipkins says it's unlikely there is a large chain of transmission out there.

2:25pm - Hipkins says authorities are always getting more information about the cases so things can be reviewed and changes made if necessary.

The two premises in question - the bar and the High St shop - have two separate bathrooms, Hipkins says. That follows speculation on Thursday that the new case may have caught the virus in a common toilet.

It's possible masks will be mandated on public transport outside of Auckland in the future, Hipkins says. That will be considered over the next week or so. There is a more immediate need to take action in Auckland, he says.

There is no legal requirment to wear masks on public transport until Cabinet gives approval to the order next week. But Hipkins wants people to do that from Friday. He believes there will be good compliance.

2:20pm - Hipkins says the cases feel the weight of the entire country on their shoulders at the moment. The virus is the problem, not the people. Please be mindful of their privacy and how they are feeling. It could be anyone of us. People need to give them space to take part in the contact tracing process. Be kind, he says.

His last message is to say thank you to all border workers. They are some of the great heroes of our response, he says. They are scrutinised and tested and are doing a great job.

There is not the level of risk at the moment that would trigger a higher alert level. But mask wearing is important, Hipkins says. Wear a mask if you are socialising with people you don't know.

Hipkins says it became apparent on Friday morning that public health officials weren't at Vincent Residences. He got on the phone to make sure they were. The risk for the apartment residents is still relatively low, he says. It would have been nice for security to be there the whole time, but that has now been resolved.

The genomic sequencing was identical between the two cases. That suggests a straight transmission between the two.

2:15pm - Hipkins says these recent events show how important all of our ongoing vigilance is. COVID-19 rages on around the globe and to continue being in a privileged position, we all have to take actions.

There is no confirmed theory for how the virus transmitted between the cases and we are not in a position to rule out unidentified cases flowing from that, Hipkins says. That's why it is so important to get tested.

It is in businesses' interest that the CBD stays open and people take the right actions. He urges businesses to make the QR codes visible to customers.

Hipkins says public health protection officers have been deployed to the Vincent Residences to secure the building. 101 of 173 people at the apartments have tested negative. The rest have pending results.

Masks will become mandatory on public transport in Auckland "on an ongoing basis" and on domestic flights if Cabinet gives approval on Monday.

It's possible in the future that it may be mandatory for people to scan in at large events.

2:10pm - In regard to the four cases announced on Friday, the recent arrival came from the Philippines via Hong Kong on October 31. They tested positve on day 12 and are now in the Auckland quarantine facility. 

The three historical cases tested positive in MIQ and on further investigation were found to be historical. They are classified as recovered.

Four previous cases have now recovered. We have 53 active cases. Overall, New Zealand has recorded 1639 confirmed cases. On Thursday, 7226 tests were processed. 

Dr McElnay says people should take a few second to scan in at locations via the COVID Tracer app. It significantly helps tracers, she says.

2:05pm - Dr McElnay says the link between the case and the Defence worker is being investigated.

There was an increased demand for testing across Auckland on Thursday. It is the same on Friday, she says. Four new testing stations have been stood up. Existing testing centres around the Auckland area continue to report steady volumes.

Anyone in the Auckland area and throughout New Zealand with cold or flu symptoms should get tested and stay at home until they get a result.

If you were in Auckland CBD, at locations of interest, you should get a test regardless of symptoms. That includes the Mezze Bar on Nov 5, Red Pig restaurant on Nov 7, Sunnytown China Taste restaurant on Nov 9, Auckland City Doctors on Nov 10 and AUT Student Hub on Nov 10. More locations are on the Ministry website.

There were 11 push notifications relating to seven locations visited by the confirmed case. As of Friday morning, 51 NZ COVID Tracer apps have received contact alerts. 

2pm - Chris Hipkins says Prime Minister and COVID ministers have met. There are no new cases connected to the community.

The new case has been linked to the Defence worker at the Jet Park, who spent time close to where the mystery case worked. 

The country including Auckland remains at alert level 1. Events can take place and people can enter into the CBD. But people should act with caution.

Dr McElnay says there are four new cases in isolation. There is one new arrival with COVID-19 and three are historical cases.

She says it is encouraging news that genome sequencing has linked the mystery case to the Defence Force cluster. Testing of three close contacts have come back negative.

1:50pm - We are about 10 minutes away from the press conference starting. You'll be able to watch it in the video above or on Three.

1:35pm - With Aucklanders being told to stay out of the CBD if possible on Friday, the streets have been far quieter than usual. 

Bus driver Anthony McCoy, driving in from Onehunga, told RNZ that his double-decker would normally have about 40 people onboard.

"There would have been four, maybe five people got on the bus. It would have been one not wearing a mask. The traffic was a lot lighter. I arrived here about 10-to-15 minutes earlier than usual," he said.

1:10pm - Testing has ramped up in New Zealand following Thursday's shock announcement that an Auckland woman with no known links to the border or managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities had contracted COVID-19.

Here's how to know if you should get a COVID-19 test, and where to get one in Auckland and Wellington if you do.

1:05pm - Just a reminder that we will be livestreaming the 2pm press conference on Newshub.co.nz. There will also be a Newshub special on Three at that time.

12:40pm - While we wait for the 2pm press conference, let's have a look at the current breakdown of cases in New Zealand:

Coronavirus updates: Mystery community COVID-19 case sparks concern about another lockdown

12:25pm - A cultural festival has been postponed after a community case of COVID-19 was found in Auckland. 

K-festival, which was expected to attract up to 10,000 people, was set to take place tomorrow at Eventfinda Stadium on Auckland's North Shore. The festival was a celebration of Korean food, music, performance and dance. 

But on Thursday, organisers said the festival was postponed until further notice because of the new case. 

Read more here.

12:15pm - Friday is World Kindness Day and while we await the new COVID-19 update, the Unite against COVID-19 Twitter account is acknowledging those who work on our border.

"Staff at our managed isolation and quarantine facilities are at the frontline of New Zealand’s defence against COVID-19, doing essential work to ensure people can complete their stay safely and comfortably.

"This includes hotel staff, health workers, NZDefenceForce, nzpolice, security staff and wellbeing staff. Everyday they’re welcoming hundreds of kiwis home and working in strict Level 4 environments.

"Our workers are committed to keeping their whānau, loved ones and communities safe.

"Our frontline workers offer kindness every day, whether it’s cooking someone a special meal, wishing someone a happy birthday, or giving children’s certificates after they complete their stay.

"Thank you frontline workers for everything that you do to keep Aotearoa safe."

11:55am - This new information from ARPHS adds to our understanding about the case's movements this week. It had previously been said that the woman hadn't been to "any lectures or classes on campus" since mid-October.

11:45am - This is a new statement just in from Auckland Regional Public Health Service:

"Auckland Regional Public Health Service can confirm from its investigations that the AUT student who this week tested positive for COVID-19 spent ten minutes on the university’s city campus.

"The student was at the Student Hub from 2.30pm until 2.40pm on Tuesday 10 November.

"ARPHS considers anyone who attended the Student Hub at the same time to be a casual contact, and at low risk of catching the virus.

"Casual contacts do not need to self-isolate, but should monitor their health for 14 days from Tuesday 10 November.

"Anyone who is concerned they are developing symptoms should get tested, and isolate until they return a negative result."

11:30am - Just in: The COVID-19 press conference has been pushed from 1pm to 2pm. More time is needed to gather some information.

The Prime Minister's Office says there has been no Cabinet meeting. Cabinet ministers would need to meet if there was going to be an alert level change.

11:25am - Microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles says its possible the COVID-19 case contracted the virus from a cafe surface.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Friday that the case may be linked to the Defence Force cluster. Wiles told RNZ the timing works.

"One of the Defence Force workers had eaten in the CBD on Thursday and this person who lives in the CBD and works all around that area was symptomatic on Monday," she said.

"So the timing looks absolutely right, that that somewhere around there that transmission has happened."

11:15am - Almost 23,000 people have come to the end of the COVID-19 income relief payment (CIRP) without finding a job - and it's possible thousands of them could still be out of work but unable to get other types of government support.

The 12-week payment is for people who lost their jobs between March and October because of the pandemic - and applications for it close at midnight tonight.

Read more here.

11:05am - Smith and Caughey's, one of the locations the COVID-19 case visited on Saturday, is open on Friday.

"We are following the advice of the Ministry closely. We have been advised we can remain open," a store spokesperson said.

"We deep cleaned all high touch surfaces this morning, and continue heightened cleaning protocols through the day. We are monitoring the situation constantly and are in regular contact with the Ministry."

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health said others who went to the department store between 3:50pm and 6pm on Saturday should watch for symptoms.  

11am - Swarbrick has provided an update on her Facebook page. 

"University of Auckland have taken exams online today, with an extra half hour for students to adjust and complete. After more Ministry of Heath information becomes available today, a decision will be made to go online for tomorrow’s exams, and those next week. I’m aware a number of students prefer this approach and would like to see this approach across the exam period. I’m seeking more information on these decisions.

"There is no legal order for businesses to close and, as yet, there has been no change to Alert Levels. Responsible and safe business hosting in the time of COVID-19 applies. If people can work from home, you should. If you’re operating, provide for physical distancing, ensure contract tracing, wear masks and wash hands.

"Please wear your mask, particularly on public transport.

"I’m acutely aware of our music venues in particular. This morning in contact with Prime Minister’s Office I have requested crystal clear guidance for events in our city centre across this weekend and next week.

"It’s International Kindness Day, so, gummon. Be kind."

10:55am - K-Festival, a Korean cultural event, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 situation. The event was to be held in Auckland's Wairau Valley on Saturday.

"We understand that the news from today regarding community transmission in Auckland CBD has been a surprise and a concern to you," a statement from the festival organisers says.

"As we value the safety of everyone, we have unfortunately decided to postpone the event until further notice. Although the New ZealandGgovernment has not announced their decision on the next steps, we wanted to take the initiative in following the standards and regulations by the New Zealand government to keep the New Zealand community safe.

"We have spent so much time and efforts preparing for the event, but your safety matters the most to us."

​The organisers say once the Government "has confirmed that it is once again safe", the festival will be back.

10:45am - We are expecting an update from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay at 1pm. Newshub will livestream that press conference and there will also be a Newshub special on Three from 1pm.

10:35am - With many central city workers staying home on Friday, it's expected businesses will take a major hit.

Heart of the City chief executive Viv Beck told RNZ that businesses will need support.

"On the one hand it's not an alert level but it's still a massive impact... to be a position like today where it's not an alert level so you can open and trade but if you haven't got 100,000 workers and you're reliant on those businesses, that's a huge impact on you," she said.

"Some businesses are really in the eye of this and it's been over an extended period."

One restaurateur RNZ spoke to said reservations were at half of what they were on Thursday.

10:15am - David Seymour, the leader of the ACT Party, is questioning why media were the first to inform Vincent Residences residents of the COVID-19 case on Thursday. 

"How is it that a financially struggling media which operates on the smell of an oily rag was able to alert people at The Vincent Residences there was a Covid case in the building before a government with a blank cheque to fight the virus?" he writes.

"Labour couldn’t deliver a pizza, let alone the world’s smartest COVID response."

He said the Government had a head start and media didn't find out until 1pm.

"Even then, journalists camped outside the building were quicker than health officials to tell residents who had no idea that one of their neighbours had tested positive for COVID," Seymour says.

"One of the first actions the Ministry of Health should have taken was to door-knock every single person at The Vincent Residences encouraging them to get a test and isolate."

The MP also asks why NZDF personnel weren't posted outside the complex to let residents know.

"If we survive this community case without a lockdown, it won’t be a result of the Government’s competence. We will have gotten lucky - again."

The Government has said following notification of the new case on Thursday, Auckland Regional Public Health officials began liasing with the building management. A testing station was quickly set up inside the reception.

Chris Hipkins said on Friday morning that he will look into reports that people were leaving the building after being told to isolate.

Many residents Newshub spoke to on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning were confused about the instructions.

10am - If Auckland's new COVID-19 case can be linked to the recent Defence Force cluster, it's likely we'll have fewer than 10 cases and won't need to go into lockdown, an expert says.

A student who lives downtown tested positive for the virus this week, with no obvious link to any previously known cases. Tests have suggested a potential link to the cluster that emerged earlier this month, after a Defence Force employee based at the Jet Park quarantine facility in Auckland contracted it. 

University of Auckland COVID-19 modeller Shaun Hendy, who's been advising the Government on its response to outbreaks, told The AM Show on Friday if the new case is linked to the Defence Force cluster then a lockdown probably won't be necessary.

Read more here.

9:45am - Auckland Central's MP is masked up!

Coronavirus updates: Mystery community COVID-19 case sparks concern about another lockdown
Photo credit: Chloe Swarbrick / Instagram.

9:35am - At Thursday's COVID-19 press conference, it was said that the mystery case tried to ring in sick to work on Wednesday, but after a conversation with her manager, she went in. The store's co-owners are disputing the account given.

Speaking to RNZ on Friday, Hipkins had a message to employers. 

"If someone rings in sick and says 'I need to stay home', well, do everything you can to support them to do that. When it's related to COVID-19 there is additional financial support available to businesses if they need that."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff expressed his anger at the situation on social media on Thursday night.

"What is it that a shop manager who told his employee to come into work despite having COVID symptoms didn’t understand?"

He told RNZ it's "just crazy". 

"Obviously if her story is true, any suggestion that pressure was put on employees showing symptoms to come to work, that's just crazy. That can't be allowed to happen."

9:25am - We have confirmed that a COVID-19 press conference will be held on Friday. This will be at 1pm and fronted by COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay.

9:20am - Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management says advice for those in the CBD is to wear a face covering when out and about. It's also important to use the COVID Tracer app, practice social distancing where possible and maintain good hygiene practices.

9:10am - Senior Labour MP David Parker says it's "impossible to do much better" than New Zealand when it comes to COVID-19, despite a new mystery case in Auckland.

"I think everyone's disappointed that we've had another case that we haven't yet locked down the source of," Parker told The AM Show on Friday.

"But we know the drill - we've been here before... We just all hope that we can contain this cluster in a narrow margin so that we can avoid any escalation."

National MP Simon Bridges, appearing on The AM Show with Parker, was hesitant to criticise the Government's handling of the pandemic, which has been hailed worldwide. He did express concern that basic things weren't being done at the border to prevent the need for more extreme measures.

"Follow the advice. We are concerned, we are all in this together, but actually there have been several incursions in the last two or three months. We want to make sure we are doing the simple, effective stuff at the get-go up front, so we don't have to face the massive cost and inconvenience of lockdown."

Read more here.

8:55am - Another Vincent Residences resident is also unclear about what the rules are.

"When they say isolation, what set of rules? Is it like the first outbreak, when one person goes out to get groceries? Those instructions aren't clear at all.

[The] mood is quite cheerful in my household. I get to spend more time with my daughter.

[I've] been out to get essentials... and I'll have to go out again later cause I'll need milk powder and nappies and stuff for baby."

8:50am - Chris Hipkins says the Government is relying on "goodwill" to keep potential contacts of the latest COVID-19 case from entering the community-  but at least five have left their apartment already.

One person left "to buy a bottle of milk" and another said he was checking his car. 

A resident Newshub spoke to said there was confusion about whether officials could stop people leaving. 

"They said they had isolated the building and wouldn't let people in or out but people were leaving.

"And so we confirmed with the person who was doing the test and they said they can't stop anyone from going in or out."

8:45am - There seems to still be confusion at Vincent Residences about whether residents can come and go. While people are asked to remain home until their test results come back, Newshub's Lauren Hendricksen has seen several leave the complex.

8:40am - Here's some advice for Aucklanders from microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles.

8:30am - Newshub's Shannon Redstall is flying out of Auckland and says only about 20 percent of people on the plane are wearing masks. That's despite COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins urging people to wear masks when leaving Auckland. 

8:25am - COVID-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy is speaking to The AM Show. He says if the case is linked to the Defence Force cluster, the outbreak is likely smaller than the Auckland August cluster.

"The concern is when we see one of these cases crop up in the community and we can't link it directly to the border, that we're really looking at the tip of the iceberg - so you're looking at dozens and dozens of cases," he said.

"However if we can establish that link to the border and particularly that Defence Force cluster, that means only looking at maybe a week since that leak from the border facility, we're looking at a much smaller outbreak.

"If that's confirmed, that'll mean we're probably not looking at a lockdown." 

In that case, he estimates there could be about 10 cases linked to it.

"There may well still be some downstream cases. That's a possibility, coming out of people who visited the store on High St or came into [contact with] this latest case. But we're looking at probably 10 or so, and if we're lucky, less than that."

He expected to see a public health official at Vincent Residences keeping track of who was coming and going.

8:15am - Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker told RNZ on Friday morning that this COVID-19 case has similarities to the Auckland August outbreak.

"This person must have got infected from somewhere. They don't work in a border situation so that does suggest a chain of transmission in the community," he said.

Prof Baker said the original source would have to be some form of border breach. It was unclear when that was and how long the chain of transmission would be, he said.

"So there could be a number of cases. It's much more like the Auckland August outbreak that we had that was quite hard to control. It took a few weeks."

8:05am - Here are the locations of interest linked to the mystery COVID-19 case:

Coronavirus updates: Mystery community COVID-19 case sparks concern about another lockdown
Photo credit: Ministry of Health.

8am - Hipkins confirmed on The AM Show that there is still no scheduled Cabinet meeting on Friday. However, ministers would meet later in the day if necessary.

Any alert level change would require a Cabinet meeting. That could be done virtually at short notice, he said.

7:55am - Hipkins on Friday morning wouldn't rule out a lockdown for Auckland. Any alert level changes will be announced in the afternoon.

"We worked really hard over the last couple of months to strengthen our case investigation, contact tracing and testing capability because that's how we protect against escalating our alert levels... we want that to be a last resort."

In the meantime, he wants people to take precautionary measures like wearing a mask on public transport or avoid the CBD.

7:50am - While those living at the Vincent Residences have been asked to stay at home, Newshub reporters have seen some coming and going, including with suitcases.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told The AM Show that authorities are "relying on good will here", but he would follow that up. He would look at whether a security guard could be posted at the front of the property.

"Our message from last night has been very, very clear to the people in that building, please do the right thing. Protect yourselves and protect others by staying home [and] getting a test."

7:45am - PB Tech is postponing its Black Friday sale as a result of the evolving COVID-19 situation.

"Due to the developing COVID situation in Auckland, our Black Friday Sale scheduled to start at 3pm on Fri 13th Nov has been postponed NZ-wide pending further COVID updates from the Government at 1pm on Fri 13th Nov. 

"Please check our website after this Government update for more information on when this sale will go ahead. 

"We know many of you were super excited to attend our biggest sale of the year but this is just a postponement at this stage and the health and safety of our staff and valued customers is our primary concern right now."

7:40am - New Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick on Thursday night called on people to isolate if they are sick. She's been in touch with the Prime Minister's Office about the situation in her electorate.

7:35am - The University of Auckland says all exams which are scheduled for Friday will now be held online.

The university said in a statement that exams on its central Auckland campuses (City, Grafton, Newmarket and Epsom) will be held online

Scheduled start times will remain the same, but the exams will run for an additional 30 minutes, the statement said.

Read more here.

7:25am - Hipkins told The AM Show that authorities were working to put a ring around this current case and their contacts as quickly as possible.

"We know that geography is on our side here. There are a number of locations all close together but we don't know exactly how they came into contact with one another," he said.

"Hopefully we can narrow that down."

7:20am - Good morning and welcome to Newshub's live updates of the mystery COVID-19 case in Auckland.

Just in recent minutes, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has told The AM Show that early indications from genomic sequencing suggest the case is linked to the Defence Force cluster from earlier in November. Three cases are currently within that mini-cluster. 

"We got some preliminary genome sequencing last night suggests which its likely to be related to the Defence Force workers that we have been dealing with," he said.

"If we do get that confirmed later this morning then that's very, very helpful in helping us narrow down the train of transmission."

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