Coronavirus live updates: Community COVID-19 case latest

More test results from the contacts of New Zealand's newest community case of COVID-19 are due back on Wednesday.

The 56-year-old Northland woman tested positive for the virus over the weekend and around 30 places have been listed as locations of interest where she may have passed COVID-19 on.

All of the woman's 16 close contacts, including her husband and hairdresser, have tested negative.

What you need to know

These live updates have finished.

10:40pm - Mayor Phil Goff is urging Aucklanders to scan with the NZ COVID Tracer app and practise good hand hygiene after news that new COVID-19 cases have been detected in the city.

"I understand that this is unsettling and not how any of us wanted to start 2021," Goff says in a statement.

"We had hoped to leave COVID-19 behind in 2020 but the reality is that we will be at risk from the virus for some time yet. As the gateway city for New Zealand, the chance of another outbreak was always present.

"Aucklanders, out of anyone in the country, know how to beat this virus - we have done it multiple times and we are going to do it again.

"I know this is frustrating, but I want to ask Aucklanders to do what is needed to defeat COVID-19 again."

The mayor urges Aucklanders to "scan, scan, scan".

"I cannot emphasise enough how much scanning needs to be ramped up. Use the app to record your movements and turn on the Bluetooth tracing function," he says.

"Wash your hands regularly and stay home and get a test if you feel sick."

He adds the public should only get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms or have been present at locations identified by the Ministry of Health.

"Remember it is still a requirement to wear masks on public transport."

Decisions around events over the Auckland Anniversary Day long weekend will be made in the next two to three days based on advice from the Ministry of Health.

10:35pm - In addition, the Ministry of Health says Aucklanders and people travelling to the city should follow key public health advice, including washing your hands; using a mask on public transport, using the NZ Covid Tracer app, and if you develop symptoms, to isolate and seek advice from Healthline about getting tested.

10:30pm - The Ministry of Health says a number of steps have been put in place at the Pullman Hotel MIQ facility, which is where they stayed, including:

  • a deep clean of commonly used areas
  • tighter restrictions on movement of returnees including no arrivals or departures
  • increasing hotel ventilation
  • requesting returnees who have recently left to not fly, to stay home, and have an additional test within 48 hours
  • restricting staff from working at other sites
  • tighter restrictions on movement of returnees including no arrivals or departures from the facility.

10:25pm - These are the the locations of interest provided by the Ministry of Health regarding these Auckland cases.

Coronavirus live updates:  Community COVID-19 case latest
Photo credit: Ministry of Health

People who have visited those locations during the time period, or anyone in Auckland with symptoms, are asked by the Ministry of Health to isolate and call Healthline to arrange a test and remain isolated until they receive their result.

"It's important the right people isolate and get tested, so we don't overwhelm testing centres," Dr Bloomfield says.

"We understand that many will be anxious, but it's important to remember we are carrying out these measures as a precaution. There is no evidence so far that suggests community transmission - but we need the right people to isolate and get tested."

The Ministry of Health adds that this will come as news to some locations of interest as they move to respond to these two cases.

10:20pm - Two people who completed their managed isolation in the same facility and at the same time as the Northland case are now being treated as confirmed COVID-19 infections.

"While we still can't categorically rule these out as historical infections, test results so far indicate the two people may have contracted COVID-19 towards the end of their stay in managed isolation, after returning two negative tests each during their stay," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says.

"It's too early to early to make a firm conclusion. Genome sequencing results, which are expected tomorrow, and serology results expected the following day, will help develop the picture further."

However, out of an abundance of caution the Ministry of Health says it is now responding as if these are confirmed current infections.

The two former returnees were initially classified as under investigation after returning positive tests and were pending further investigation to determine if the infections were recent or historical. They returned a second positive test with a higher CT value which led to them being treated as confirmed cases, MoH says.

A third person in the family's bubble has tested negative. The two family members who tested positive are in the process of being moved to Auckland's quarantine facility.

The two positive cases completed quarantine on January 15 and have been residing in north Auckland since.

Further interviews are being carried out to determine the family's detailed movements since they left managed isolation to identify close and casual contacts.

10:15pm - The Auckland Regional Public Health Service has added two pop up testing centres in Auckland.

One is in Orewa and the other is in Albany, and both are open on Thursday and Friday at this stage.

Their locations are:

  • Victor Eaves Park, 87 Florence Avenue, Orewa - open 9:30am to 4pm on January 28 and 29
  • Carpark B, North Harbour Stadium, Stadium Road, Albany - open 8am to 6pm on January 28 and 29

The Albany centre was also open earlier on Wednesday from 5:30pm to 8pm.

10pm - During Ministry of Health press conferences, you may have heard COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins refer to the different levels of contacts - close, casual and casual-plus.

But what do they actually mean?

Click here to find out.

9:30pm - Poorer countries face a best-case scenario of a 6-8 month lag behind richer nations in getting access to COVID-19 vaccines to protect their populations against the pandemic disease, the philanthropist Bill Gates said on Wednesday.

In an interview with Reuters, Gates called the rollout of the first COVID-19 shots a "super hard allocation problem" that was putting pressure on global institutions, governments and drugmakers.

"Every politician is under pressure to go bid for their country to get further up in line," Gates said.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has so far committed some US$1.75 billion to the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including via funds for the COVAX vaccine-sharing initiative co-led by the World Health Organization, and via direct support for some vaccine makers.

COVAX, co-led by the GAVI vaccines alliance, says it aims to deliver 2.3. billion COVID-19 doses by year-end, including 1.8 billion doses to poorer countries at no cost to their governments. It hopes to start some deliveries next month.

Gates said supplies of vaccines via COVAX would be "modest" at first.

"The total number of doses that GAVI (and COVAX) will have in the first half of the year is still very modest. Yes, they will get some doses out, but if you compare when they will reach the same percentage of coverage as the rich countries - that's where I'd say it's six to eight months, best case," he said.

- Reuters

9pm - Countdown in Orewa, north of Auckland, has been closed for deep cleaning after it was believed one of the two people who returned a weak positive test visited the store.

"We were advised early this evening about a probable new community case of COVID-19 and that it was likely that this person visited our store," Countdown's general manager of safety Kiri Hannifin says.

"We took the precaution to close our Orewa store early tonight while this was being confirmed and to stand down the team.

"We've just been advised that our supermarket was not visited, which is great news for our team and community. We'd rather be safe than sorry, and it's reassuring to know that our evolving COVID response works fast and puts safety first."

8:30pm - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador first felt the onset of COVID-19 on Sunday and was tested after returning to the capital on a commercial flight from an event in central Mexico, his spokesman said on Tuesday (local time).

The 67-year-old president said on Sunday evening he was infected with the coronavirus just hours after taking the Aeromexico flight, raising concern about the extent of potential exposures.

Spokesman Jesus Ramirez said that passengers on the flight were being contacted, and that journalists traveling with the president were recommended to isolate.

Lopez Obrador had a fever on Sunday and was still experiencing some mild symptoms by Tuesday, including a minor headache, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said in an evening news conference.

"The president is doing well... he does not have other symptoms," Lopez-Gatell said, adding that Lopez Obrador was in good spirits.

- Reuters

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Photo credit: Getty Images

8pm - Despite the negative tests in Northland, residents and business owners remain concerned the next outbreak could be imminent.

Ruakaka resident Graeme Johnson was one of those reporting for testing on Wednesday.

He's relieved to know of the close contact's negative results - but is not convinced it's all over.

"They need to be ready because this could happen again," he says.

He wants New Zealand better protected from places like the US and UK - including by suspending flights from those regions.

Read and watch the full story here.

7:30pm - The latest COVID-19 community case is causing extra concern for many businesses around the country and one café is taking restrictions one step further.

Zumo, a café in Nelson, is forbidding those recently released from managed isolation from entering.

"If someone died due to a breach, I would take it personally," Zumo's owner Allen Chambers says.

"I would feel personally responsible, so in my view, we had to act."

Chambers says the decision was prompted by the latest community case who developed symptoms after leaving managed isolation.

"This just adds another layer of protection for our people and customers," Chambers says.

Read and watch the full story here.

7pm - The European Union is warning it will tighten COVID-19 vaccine exports and countries are even threatening to sue AstraZeneca for falling behind on fulfilling vaccine supplies. 

New Zealand has pre-purchased enough of that particular vaccine to immunise 3.8 million Kiwis and our Government says it won't hold up our vaccination drive - but a medical expert has warned the threat could disrupt roll-out. 

Oxford University's AstraZeneca factory in Belgium is having production issues with the vaccine, meaning the European Union's supply could be cut in half. 

Royal College of GPs medical director Dr Bryan Betty, formerly top brass at our drug buying agency Pharmac, says we could be affected.

"The possibility exists that could disrupt supply and it's just something we need to consider in terms of the vaccination programme," he told Newshub. 

"The potential for delay is always there. It's the same with any vaccination programme. We saw that with flu vaccinations last year - that potentially could happen and we just need to address it."

Read and watch the full story here.

6:30pm - A group of 31 London police officers face being fined £200 (NZ$380) each after they broke strict COVID-19 lockdown rules to have their haircut while on duty, their force said on Tuesday.

The Metropolitan Police said it launched an investigation after receiving an allegation that a number of officers had their hair cut by a professional barber at the Bethnal Green station in east London.

Under lockdown rules brought in on January 5, hairdressers and barbers are among businesses that have been closed down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The investigation had concluded the 31 officers who had their hair cut last week should be fined £200 and the two who organised it will be investigated for misconduct.

"It is deeply disappointing and frustrating that my officers have fallen short of the expectation to uphold Covid-19 regulations," said Detective Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett.

"Although officers donated money to charity as part of the haircut, this does not excuse them from what was a very poor decision."

- Reuters

6:05pm - The Ministry of Health has just released some extra information on these two possible cases.

"The two former returnees both returned a positive test for COVID-19, however it is yet to be confirmed if they are recent or historic infections. Further urgent testing is being carried out this evening," MoH says.

"The two people are asymptomatic and have already completed their managed isolation and previously returned two negative tests. Both individuals are currently self-isolating at home."

As a precaution, public health staff are checking details with the individuals about their movements since they left managed isolation to identify close and casual contacts to see if contact tracing is required.

The pair were staying at the Pullman Hotel.
The pair were staying at the Pullman Hotel. Photo credit: Google Maps

6pm - It's time for Newshub Live at 6pm. Tonight: the latest on the two possible cases who left MIQ, the UK surpassing 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, and the new Kiwi-designed test that has the potential to open up the world's borders again.

You can watch online or tune in on Three.

5:35pm - The Ministry of Health is investigating two possible COVID-19 cases in Auckland after they returned weak positive results.

The pair were staying at the Pullman Hotel in the central city - the same managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility New Zealand's most recent community case stayed in.

After this case was identified, all 353 guests who stayed at the Pullman Hotel at the same time as her was ordered to stay home, isolate and get a test.

On Tuesday, two people with weak positive results with weak positive results were retested, but there was no cause for alarm - one was historic and the other was confirmed negative.

However Newshub has learned there are another two people in Auckland who returned weak positive tests.

Follow-up tests have been ordered, and the COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins' office told Newshub the people are at home isolating.

5:30pm - The United States aims to acquire an additional 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday, enough to inoculate most Americans by summertime, as he races to curb a pandemic he warned could still get worse.

Biden's administration will purchase 100 million doses each of the vaccines made by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech, and Moderna Inc, increasing the overall total doses to 600 million, with delivery expected by summer.

The previous purchase target was 400 million doses.

Each vaccine requires two doses per person to be fully effective, suggesting the new purchases would build up enough of a stockpile to inoculate most of the country's 331 million people. The vaccines are not approved for use by most children.

"This is a wartime effort," Biden said in the White House State Dining Room under a painting of President Abraham Lincoln, who led the Union to victory in the US Civil War.

Pfizer is confident it can deliver the extra doses in the time frame specified by Biden, spokeswoman Sharon Castillo said.

- Reuters

5pm - Hipkins has brushed off the European Union's threat to block COVID-19 vaccine exports beyond its borders.

Brussels threatened on Monday to block exports of COVID-19 vaccines outside of the block over AstraZeneca's announcement that deliveries will be reduced for a few weeks - and it could affect New Zealand. 

The Government has invested in a portfolio of four vaccines - 750,000 doses from Pfizer/BioNTech, 5 million from Janssen, 3.8 million from the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca, and 5.36 million from Novavax. 

Hipkins said he was aware of what's happening in Europe, but trusted vaccine producers to honour their pre-purchase agreements with New Zealand. 

"I'm not blind to what's happening in the rest of the world. We have done what we can do in terms of pre-purchase agreements that we have in securing the supplies to support that, we're doing everything we can at the New Zealand end, but we can't necessarily control what's happening around the rest of the world," he said. 

"I know that the pharmaceutical companies developing the vaccines will be working very hard to fulfil the obligations they've signed into."

Read the full story here.

Coronavirus live updates:  Community COVID-19 case latest
Photo credit: Getty Images

4:30pm - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador first felt the onset of COVID-19 on Sunday and was tested after returning to the capital on a commercial flight from an event in central Mexico, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

The 67-year old president said on Sunday evening he was infected with the coronavirus, just hours after taking the Aeromexico flight, raising concern about the extent of potential exposures.

Spokesman Jesus Ramirez said that passengers on the flight were being contacted, and that journalists traveling with the president were recommended to isolate.

The pandemic is worsening in Mexico. Hospitals in the capital are close to saturation, and residents are scrambling to find supplies of medical oxygen. With more than 152,000 deaths officially registered, it has the fourth-highest toll worldwide and fatalities are expected to overtake India within days.

People who met with Lopez Obrador's entourage during a three day tour at the weekend included corporate bosses and his former chief-of-staff, Alfonso Romo.

Lopez Obrador had felt chills at the end of the event in the central city of San Luis Potosi, but believed it was no more than a cold, Ramirez told Reuters. The symptoms were stronger once he was back in Mexico City, Ramirez said.

Ramirez told a national radio station earlier in the week that Lopez Obrador felt congested on Saturday while in the industrial city of Monterrey, and took a test there. However, he told Reuters on Tuesday that information was incorrect.

- Reuters

4pm - During Wednesday's press conference, Dr Bloomfield demonstrated how to turn on the Bluetooth function on the COVID Tracer app.

Bluetooth tracing allows you to receive an alert if you have been near another app user who tested positive for COVID-19. The alert will advise you on what to do to keep yourself and your whānau safe.

"An important point is, this is a specific requirement inside the app - it's not just having Bluetooth turned on your phone," Dr Bloomfield said.

Turning on Bluetooth should be done in addition to scanning QR codes. Scanning allows health authorities to know where you've visited, whereas the Bluetooth function sends an alert if you come into contact with a positive case.

See a step-by-step guide on how to enable Bluetooth tracing here.

3:40pm - The death toll in Britain from the coronavirus pandemic passed 100,000 people on Tuesday (local time) as the government battled to speed up vaccination delivery and keep variants of the virus at bay.

Many more deaths would follow before a vaccination programme began to take effect, England's chief medical officer said.

Britain has the world's fifth highest toll from COVID-19 and reported a further 1631 deaths and 20,089 cases on Tuesday.

The 100,162 deaths are more than Britain's civilian toll in World War Two and twice the number killed in the 1940-41 Blitz bombing campaign.

"It's hard to compute the sorrow contained in that grim statistic, the years of life lost, the family gatherings not attended, and for so many relatives the missed chance, even to say goodbye," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

"We will make sure we learn the lessons and reflect and prepare," said Johnson, whose government has faced heavy criticism for its handling of the crisis.

England, by far the most populous of the United Kingdom's four nations, re-entered a national lockdown on January 5, which includes the closure of pubs, restaurants, non-essential shops and schools to most pupils. Further travel restrictions have been introduced.

In December, Britain became the first country in the world to approve Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. It has set itself the task of offering vaccination to everyone 70 and over, those who are clinically vulnerable, frontline health and social care workers and older adults in care homes by mid-February.

Up to Monday, a total of 6,853,327 people had received a first dose and 472,446 a second dose.

- Reuters

3:20pm - The number of COVID Tracer app QR scans nearly doubled in the days after Kiwis learnt of the positive case in Northland.

According to figures published on the Ministry of Health website, between 1pm on Sunday (when reports of the case first began emerging) and 1pm on Monday, there were 815,287 scans. That's up from 520,400 in the 24 hours beforehand and 547,645 on the week prior.

The number of manual diary entries skyrocketed from 20,472 on the day earlier to 93,666, while the active user and Bluetooth user counts also increased.

In the next 24 hours, between 1pm on Monday and 1pm on Tuesday, the number of scans grew even higher to 1.067 million - nearly double that seen before the Northland case. 

Read the full story here.

3pm - The National Party says any checkpoints set up in response to this community case in Northland must be lawfully mandated by the Government, with police officers present.

"We don't want private citizens taking the law into their own hands and stopping people from travelling on public roads," National's police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

"Unlawful checkpoints should be quickly condemned by the Police Minister before they set a bad precedent."

Brown says the frustration and anxiety caused by the recent community case is understandable, but it suggests communities in Northland feel the Government isn't doing enough to secure the border and keep locals safe from COVID-19.

"The Police Minister must clarify what is happening with the latest proposed checkpoints to guarantee those travelling around Northland are free to do so, unless health officials say otherwise," he says.

"The Government must get ahead of this situation to maintain law and order in Northland."

2:45pm - The COVID Tracer App now has 2,505,796 registered users, the Ministry of Health says. This is an increase of about 10,000 people compared with Tuesday.

The total number of poster scans is now 161,180,179 and users have created a total of 6,594,817 manual diary entries.

"Please remember to keep up the momentum and scan, scan, scan," Dr Bloomfield says.

"Scanning in has made it so much easier for contact tracing staff to very quickly trace the movements of close and casual plus contacts.

"This is exactly the kind of response we need to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19."

Coronavirus live updates:  Community COVID-19 case latest
Photo credit: Getty Images

2:30pm - On Tuesday, 983 tests were taken around Northland, the Ministry of Health says.

Testing staff say the rush on community testing centres had eased by early afternoon.

"We want to extend our thanks to people for recognising the importance of getting a test and when," MoH says.

"A reminder that if you were not at a location of interest at the stated times and you have no symptoms you do not need to be tested.

"If you were at the locations of interest at the times stated, you need to get a test, and remain isolated until you receive the result."

If you are in Northland and require a test, a full list of locations is available here. A list of Auckland testing locations is here.

2:15pm - Australia is on track for a 10th day of no new local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday with its most populous state of New South Wales (NSW) hoping to ease coronavirus restrictions this week after controlling a fast-spreading cluster.

Australia's most populous state NSW has recorded no local cases for 10 days after low single digit numbers earlier in January.

Victoria state, which is hosting the Australia Open tennis tournament, has gone three weeks without a local case.

Other states and territories which have mostly been COVID-free, some for months, will report daily case numbers later on Wednesday, but are expected to report zero local infections.

Australia's success in curbing small outbreaks, with a total 22,000 local cases since March 2020 and 909 deaths, comes at a time when global coronavirus cases are edging towards 100 million with the death toll surpassing 2 million.

An advertising campaign will be launched later on Wednesday to encourage people to take the COVID-19 vaccine after the country's regulator this week approved the Pfizer-BioNtech shot. A rollout is expected in late-February.

NSW made masks mandatory in indoor venues such as shopping centres and cinemas, imposed a cap on public gatherings while suspending dance floors even for night clubs to successfully curb outbreaks in Sydney's northern beaches and western suburbs.

The outbreaks saw other states and territories close borders or restrict travel from NSW.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklien told the Australian Broadcasting Corp she hoped to receive medical advice later in the day that would allow her to ease restrictions this week.

"In New South Wales our policy always is don't keep restrictions or burden our citizens a day longer than you need to. I'm hoping to have confirmation of advice that allows us to announce that later this week," she said.

Despite its relative success in handling the pandemic, Australia's international borders will likely remain shut to non-citizens this year although there may be exclusive travel arrangements called "bubbles" with its South Pacific neighbours.

Australia had a one-way "travel bubble" with New Zealand where those arriving from the latter didn't have to quarantine, but that arrangement was suspended for 72 hours on Monday after a highly infectious coronavirus strain was found in New Zealand.

- Reuters

Gladys Berejiklien.
Gladys Berejiklien. Photo credit: Getty Images

1:55pm - Dr Bloomfield says all vaccine manufacturers are doing studies to see if their vaccine provides a similar response to the emerging variants.

"It's very early days, but Pfizer and others will start to look at whether they need to alter their vaccine," he says.

"We would expect this virus to keep changing and overtime we will need repeat vaccinations."

But he says the higher our vaccination rates are, the sooner we can go back to "level 0".

He says due to the nature of these viruses, it's more likely to be endemic.

"There's very few diseases it's possible to eliminate or eradicate. These coronaviruses do tend to become endemic," Dr Bloomfield says.

1:50pm - Hipkins says they are doing rolling audits at MIQ facilities to see what can be improved.

"I have yet to get to the point where I say, 'yep, we've done everything we can'. There's always going to be things we can do," he says.

He adds health authorities are also looking at end-of-stay protocols and whether any further changes are needed.

1:45pm - On testing in Northland, Dr Bloomfield says it is "not acceptable" if people have to wait hours in queues in a hot car.

"They need food and water and bathrooms," he says. "We are looking to Civil Defence and police to help manage those queues."

He says what health authorities are getting right is testing stations are available and people are visiting them. 

"Occasionally there are mixed messages - if people are concerned or get mixed messages, they should call Healthline and get a clear read," Dr Bloomfield says.

1:40pm - The woman at the centre of the Northland case is now considered recovered, Dr Bloomfield says.

It has been 10 days since the onset of symptoms and she has been symptom-free for 72 hours.

1:30pm - Dr Bloomfield says the vaccine is being used in most other countries on the basis of an emergency, and it hasn't gone through an actual approval process.

He adds he would want regulators here to look at the benefit risk assessment for New Zealanders to ensure it's safe and effective.

Hipkins says one of the things the World Health Organization has warned against is vaccine nationalism, and he believes it's a very pertinent warning that everyone needs to be aware of.

"I've always said in terms of our border restrictions vaccination will play a role here at some point. I don't think that will be sudden, I think that will happen over time," he says.

1:25pm - Hipkins said there has recently been a huge amount of interest from New Zealanders in vaccinations for COVID-19.

"We want New Zealanders to be assured our processes are robust," he said. "We are getting the balance right by moving rapidly and making sure we are thorough."

Hipkins said New Zealanders can have confidence that when the Government does roll out the vaccine, that it has been through the necessary approvals process.

Medsafe will be seeking approvals around the Pfizer vaccine next Tuesday,' he said.

"The date in which we start vaccinations is important of course - this is likely to be a year long process. When we start vaccinating, they will not be available to the public at large, they will be targeted to those most at risk - border workers, those working in manged isolation facilities."

Dr Bloomfield said they want around 70 percent of the New Zealand population to be vaccinated and a recent survey showed that most Kiwis would agree to get it.

"In December around 70 percent of people said, if they had good information, they would get the vaccine."

He said around 10 percent of those surveyed said they did not want to receive it.

1:20pm - Dr Bloomfield said since the Northland case was reported, Kiwis have increased their use of the COVID Tracer App.

He said it was "pleasing" there had been over 1 million scans in the 24 hours to Tuesday.

Several thousand people have also turned on Bluetooth.

1:18pm - To date, 327 people have been confirmed as potential contact at one of the 31 locations of interest. The Ministry of Health have negative test results on 127 of those people.

1:15pm - Health officials have reconsidered the criteria for the close contacts of the Northland woman. 

Now only 11 of them will remain in isolation for 14 days and will be retested.

Dr Bloomfield said 353 guests who departed Auckland's Pullman Hotel between January 9 and 14 have all have been contacted.

So far 255 have tested negative and contact tracing is following up with the rest. Fourteen reported symptoms - 13 tested negatiove, with one result still pending.

All the results we have on staff from pullman have come back negative.

"Past expereince shows we may find one or two postive results," he said.

"Yesterday we had two tests come back positive but further testing revealed one was historical an one was not a case.

"We may get other positive results like this, each of which we will investigate and we will take further action if necessary."

1:10pm - Dr Bloomfield said another previously reported case has now been classified as under investigation.

He thanked Northland locals and the health force for their "hard work, patience and cooperation" following the positive case.

But despite the encouraging negative test results, Bloomfield said: "the situation is evolving and we're not breathing out just yet."

1:07pm - Dr Bloomfield said there are four new cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation, bringing the total of active cases to 68.

1:06pm - Hipkins praised New Zealanders for getting tested and said the country has the highest testing rate per positive case in the world - equal with Australia. 

"I am very encouraged," he said. "Hugely appreciative of anyone who has got a test or anyone who has administered a test."

He said 10812 tests were processed on Tuesday.

1:03pm - Chris Hipkins has confirmed that all of the Northland woman's close contacts have now been tested - the results have returned and all have been negative.

12:52pm - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director- General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will be providing a COVID-19 update from the Beehive at 1pm.

You can watch the press conference at the top of this page or refresh the page for Newshub's live updates.

12:45pm - During the COVID-19 update on Sunday, Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Chris Hipkins said the case had been in Northland, around the areas of Helensville, Mangawhai, and Dargaville.

However when the Ministry of Health released a list of locations visited by the case, nowhere in Dargaville was included, leading to some locals expressing their confusion online.

The Ministry of Health has now confirmed to Newshub that the woman who tested positive for COVID-19 in Northland did not visit Dargaville.

"The Ministry of Health is confident that we have all the information from the Northland woman on the locations she visited and the list on our website is complete," a spokesperson said.

"The woman did not visit Dargaville. She visited a number of locations of interest in small towns in the wider area such as Kaiwaka, Maungaturoto, Matakohe, Mangawhai, Ruakaka etc."

They said that there is however a testing centre set up in the town.

"[This is] due to the fact that locals/domestic tourists in the area may have gone on from – for example - The Kauri Museum to Dargaville to stay. We wished to give people a range of options to get tested if they had been in a location of interest at the same time as the Northland woman."

12:25pm - Juries in criminal trials in England and Wales should be cut from 12 to seven members to help tackle a backlog of more than 54,000 cases that has rapidly worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, the opposition Labour Party said on Tuesday.

Criminal justice watchdogs have been warning of dire consequences from lengthy delays to trials, with victims losing faith in the system, witnesses' memories fading and defendants' lives on hold.

"The justice system is facing its gravest crisis since World War Two," said David Lammy, Labour's justice policy chief.

He said temporarily cutting juries to seven members, as was done during the war, would reduce the space required to hold socially-distanced trials and the likelihood of jurors becoming infected in court.

The Ministry of Justice said it had implemented a range of COVID safety measures designed for 12-person juries, but it was not ruling anything out.

Crown Courts, which handle the most serious cases, had close to 40,000 cases outstanding before the pandemic, but that number had jumped by 38 percent by the end of 2020, official figures show.

England has been back in national lockdown since January 5, causing further disruption.

In many courtrooms, 12 jurors would previously have sat close together for days or weeks on end. Staff have had to find COVID-secure ways to operate, such as using several video-linked courtrooms for a single trial.

Lammy also called for more temporary facilities known as "Nightingale courts" to be set up. So far, 20 have been opened in England, in locations such as universities, town halls and theatres.

The Ministry of Justice said it had prioritised measures that yielded the greatest impact, such as installing plexiglass screens in courtrooms and jury deliberation rooms. It said over 290 courtrooms were now set up to hold COVID-secure jury trials.

- Reuters

Coronavirus live updates:  Community COVID-19 case latest
Photo credit: Newshub

12pm - The Ministry of Health is defending the decision to not set up portaloos at COVID-19 testing centres in Northland this week.

Hundreds of locals flocked to testing stations after a woman from the region tested positive for COVID-19, around a week after completing managed isolation.

On Monday some people were forced to wait in line for several hours before getting a test, leading to questions about why portaloos weren't set up.

The Ministry of Health is now urging people getting tested to use the toilet at home before leaving home.

"If you do need to use a public toilet or a portaloo, it is important to maintain good hand hygiene. Wash and dry your hands and pack your own hand sanitiser, in case soap and water is not available," a spokesperson said.

"You should also be careful to cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue or into your elbow and wear a face mask or covering if you need to use a public toilet while waiting to be tested."

11:35am - Doctors and nurses are racing to learn how to administer Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine ahead of New Zealand receiving the treatment.

General practices are undergoing training in how to administer the jab which had some quirks.

"We haven't dealt with frozen vaccines before. We do have a few vaccines that come in a big vial - but that's only a small number," president of the College of GPs Samantha Murton said.

Read more here.

10:55am - Northland resident sare currently divided over whether to reinstate checkpoints in the region following the latest COVID-19 case.

Tai Tokerau Border Control's regional co-ordinator Reuben Taipari said the iwi was aiming to set up the first checkpoint at Waiomio Thursday morning.

The situation that we're in this is of the highest priority. What we're facing is this COVID strain from South Africa and all information is frustrating and that we're already late."

Read the full story here.

French President Emmanuel Macron.
French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo credit: Getty

10:25am - The daily number of new COVID-19 cases in France stayed above 20,000 on average for the fourth straight day on Tuesday while hospitalisations kept growing to reach an eight-week high of 27,041, increasing fears of a third national lockdown.

President Emmanuel Macron still hopes a 6pm curfew put in place 11 days ago will be enough to rein in the surge in new infections prompted by the emergence of more contagious variants of the coronavirus.

Despite calls from some doctors and medics for a new lockdown, government minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said earlier there was no need to make a decision on such a measure at this stage.

Macron will head the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday and a government COVID-19 press conference is scheduled for Thursday.

Health authorities reported 22,086 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours on Tuesday, up sharply from Monday's 4240, giving a seven-day moving average, which averages out daily data-reporting irregularities, of 20,230.

The government needs that figure to go below 5000 to regard the pandemic as being fully under control.

The number of people being treated in intensive-care units (ICUs) for COVID-19 was also up, at 3081, staying above the key 3000 threshold for the second day running. A drop below 3000 led the government to relax the second lockdown on December 15.

France's cumulative total of infections now stands at 3,079,943, the sixth highest in the world.

Its COVID-19 death toll rose by 612 to 74,106, the world's seventh-highest, after an increase of 445 on Monday. The seven-day moving average of new fatalities stands at 395.

- Reuters

10:05am - US Vice President Kamala Harris has received her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

9:55am - US Correspondent Sandy Hughes says it's yet to be seen whether the US will be able to achieve President Joe Biden's ambitious plan to vaccinate 1.5 million Americans each day.

"So far there has been a lot of complaining and griping about how the vaccines are being handed out/given in different places," she told The AM Show.

"You can't really call your healthcare provider because they don't have them. The way they are being sent out has caused a lot of complaining.

"But look. This is a huge goal, 1.5 million. It's more than we ever heard from our former President so let's look on the positive side and hope that this can get done."

She said that there is currently an "overall optimism" in the United States as the vaccine is rolled out.

"I do feel like there is an overall optimism. Our numbers are actually down in California and we have been the worst for the longest probably. So let's hope he [Biden] can do it. Let's hope the health care workers can do it and they are able to get us shot in the arm."

9:30am - Dr Ashley Bloomfield is confident New Zealand will be ready to administer vaccines to border workers as soon as doses arrive.

He told The AM Show that Kiwis expect vaccines to begin arriving in the first quarter of 2021. However, he explained that the greenlight is first needed from Medsafe. 

"None of the manufacturers will deliver their vaccine until there is approval. That is the first very important step. We have expedited that process. Medsafe staff have done some excellent work there," he said. 

Read the full story here.

9:10am - A new COVID-19 milestone was recorded just before 9am on Wednesday: there have now been over 100 million recorded cases of coronavirus.

Over the last week, roughly 600,000 cases were recorded each day as countries struggled to contain the more transmissible British and South African strains of the virus.

The United States has by far recorded the most cases of any country with 25 million. India has the second-highest with 10 million and then Brazil has 8 million.

Almost 20 countries have each recorded over 1 million cases.

Read more about the milestone here.

8:55am - Host Duncan Garner said he thought New Zealand had gotten lucky with the latest community case of COVID-19.

But Dr Ashley Bloomfield said he thought it was down to their systems rather than luck.

"This is not so much as dodging a bullet, it shows that our systems work and I think one of the things which was a huge help here - and people have recognised this - is that the woman here did all of the right things. 

"She got tested, isolated when she was symptomatic, she used the app. And she gave us such a head start [by] identifying where she had been and then identified who else needed to be tested. So a great lesson for all of us here - use the jolly app."

He also thanked those who did get tested and apologised for the long wait times.

Some people were left waiting for up to eight hours on Monday in the scorching heat to get tested.

"I think the teams in Northland have done a fantastic job and they have set up all of these testing stations, but people did have to wait and that's not ideal," Dr Bloomfield said.

"Some people had to wait hours and we thank them for their patience. We will look at ways that we might be able to reduce that real surge and the waiting they had to do this time."

8:40am - Director- General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says so far everything is looking okay in regards to the new community case of COVID-19.

"We are not breathing out yet but all of the signs are good so far," he told The AM Show on Wednesday.

"[There are] no more positive tests amongst close contacts. Of course those close contacts stay in isolation for the full 14 days and are retested. We have had no positive tests so far from the many thousand that have been done by Northlanders who did heed the call - I want to thank them - and went and got tested."

8:15am - New Zealand got very lucky with the new case of community transmission, The AM Show's Duncan Garner writes.

Garner says it could have been a summer catastrophe as the woman had been out and about in the community with the very transmissible South African variant. But thankfully no one, not even the woman's close contacts, have tested positive.

"Jacinda Ardern, you are blessed, go buy a lotto ticket," he says.

Read the full story here.

8am - Northland locals spent hours waiting for COVID-19 tests earlier in the week after a new case was reported in the community.

But on Wednesday morning, Newshub reporter Alice Wilkins was the only person at one testing station near Whangarei.

"There is no one here," she told The AM Show.

"It's a very different sight from those scenes from yesterday and certainly from Monday. Yesterday at this testing centre, cars were already here, queues were already forming."

She said one man had turned up around 6am, prepared to wait in line for a test, but decided to go home and wait until the centre opened.