As it happened: Three COVID-19 cases detected in south Auckland community

Three new community COVID-19 cases have been detected in south Auckland, officials have confirmed.

As a result, Auckland is going into alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand into alert level 2 from 11:59pm tonight. This is currently set to last for three days.

What you need to know

  • It was confirmed on Sunday afternoon there are three COVID-19 cases in the community - all in south Auckland from the same family
  • The source of the cases remain under investigation
  • Auckland is going into alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand into alert level 2 as of 11:59pm on Sunday. This is currently set to last for three days
  • Papatoetoe High School, where one of the cases attended, will be closed on Monday and Tuesday
  • Two of the cases visited Pak'nSave Manukau on Friday and anyone who was in the store between 3:35pm and 5pm is advised to self-isolate, be alert for symptoms, get tested for COVID-19 and stay at home until a result has returned
  • A list of locations visited by the three cases can be viewed here
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are holding a press conference at 7pm.

These live updates have finished.

10:15pm - Countdown is reminding Kiwis there are more than enough groceries to go around amid a rush to supermarkets ahead of the impending lockdown.

Queues have formed and shelves have cleared in the hours following the alert level change announcement.

"I think we've demonstrated that we absolutely have enough food and groceries to look after everybody - including during lockdowns," Kiri Hannifin, Countdown's general manager of corporate affairs, quality, safety and sustainability told Newshub.

"Our supermarkets are working very hard to open safely tomorrow and we know exactly what to do and we're ready to go. We will be safe, we will be open. We've got lots of amazing fruit and veg and meat and milk."

Read the full story here.

The scenes at Auckland's New World Victoria Park, just 20 minutes after Jacinda Ardern's announcement.
The scenes at Auckland's New World Victoria Park, just 20 minutes after Jacinda Ardern's announcement. Photo credit: Newshub.

10pm - Air New Zealand has announced a number of changes for customers following the alert level change.

The airline first asks that customers travelling to and from Auckland check they are eligible to travel under the alert level 3 restrictions. It says customers travelling from level 2 regions are able to transit through Auckland on their way to other level 2 regions.

Food and beverage services on domestic flights has already been suspended following the latest community cases and this suspension will remain in place until further notice. Water is available on request on all flights.

From Monday, Air New Zealand's Auckland lounges and valet parking will close. Due to capacity restrictions under level 2, the maximum number of people able to access the airline's lounges in other regions is capped at 100.

While New Zealand is at heightened alert levels, the airline says it will take extra precautions to keep its staff and customers safe. Frontline staff and cabin crew will be wearing face coverings and gloves, and customers are still required to wear a face mask on board.

Customers with existing bookings between February 15 and February 21 who wish to rebook to travel before March 7 will have any fare difference waived, and customers can call the contact centre to arrange this. 

Additionally, customers who hold a ticket for a domestic flight scheduled to depart up until March 30 and no longer want to travel are able to opt in for credit and can do this via the airline's online booking tool. Customers who are unable to manage their booking online do not need to contact Air New Zealand immediately or prior to their flight's departure - assistance will be provided at a later date to find an alternative flight option or a credit note can be arranged.

Air New Zealand says its contact centre and social media team are experiencing "very high demand" and is grateful to customers for their patience while it works through changes.

For the latest information, customers can check the Air New Zealand COVID-19 Hub and travel alerts page.

9:45pm - The Restaurant Association says it fears for the industry now New Zealand is going up alert levels.

CEO Marisa Bidois says it is "another blow" for an industry already struggling for survival.

"Obviously this is a major blow for our industry who are already struggling to recover from the compounded impact of changes to alert levels and border closures. With borders closed, our revenues continue to suffer and these changes of alert levels are incredibly difficult to manage." she says.

"Many businesses will have stocked up on food for the days ahead and will now incur wastage costs on top of significantly reduced revenues.

"However, our industry would far rather a short time at level 3 than these extended closure periods we are seeing in other parts of the world. We remain hopeful that we will have a return to a level where we fully open for business by next weekend."

9:30pm - Health authorities in Auckland are asking residents to be vigilant and follow public health advice, and also asking locals to remain calm.

Northern Region Health Coordination Centre lead and Counties Manukau Health CEO Margie Apa says the health sector in Auckland is "well-prepared" to respond to the new community cases, but asks people to prepare to be patient if they are aiming to be tested on Monday.

"We have successfully responded to outbreaks like this before in Tāmaki Makaurau. Together we can do it again."

All health services are regarded as essential and will continue as usual with an additional focus on infection prevention control measures and physical distancing of patients, she says. The city's hospitals and aged residential care facilities are updating their visitor policies and other protocols.

"Our hospitals will continue with planned care including clinics and surgery and we ask patients to please keep their appointments unless they are advised otherwise by their specialist or by public health," Apa says.

"If you are unwell with the symptoms of COVID-19 please call your contact at the hospital or clinic before coming to an appointment. They will tell you what to do."

She says while the new cases "are a concern", it was expected more community cases would pop up at some point.

"We are working closely with the Ministry of Health and other agencies to ensure everything possible is done to contain the spread of COVID-19 in our communities," she says.

"Our message to people living in Auckland is to continue to be vigilant. The best defence against COVID-19 is to follow the same actions we've taken throughout the pandemic. Maintain good hand hygiene. Stay home if you are sick. Keep track of your movements to help us with contact tracing. Maintain physical distancing.

"If you have any symptoms, please get a free test at your local doctor, urgent care clinic, or at one of our community testing centres. If you are unsure, call your local doctor or Healthline. We advise that you ring ahead if you are planning to see your practice."

A list of testing locations in New Zealand can be viewed here.

9:20pm - The Green Party says it is taking precautions and asking MPs currently in Auckland to stay in the city rather than travelling to Wellington. Additionally, those who were in Auckland for the Big Gay Out who have flown home will self-isolate for the next 72 hours.

"As co-leaders, James Shaw and I have used our discretion to advise Auckland-based MPs to stay put," Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says.

Marama Davidson, Chlöe Swarbrick, and Golriz Ghahraman are all currently in Auckland.

"Like many others, Green MPs based in Auckland will abide by the level 3 lockdown that will come into force at midnight tonight. We must set a good example."

Green MPs Jan Logie and Elizabeth Kerekere who attended the Big Gay Out later returned home before the alert level change was announced.

"To be on the safe side, they will also self-isolate at home for the next 72 hours, remaining vigilant for symptoms. We will align any change to this with the 24 hour update from the Prime Minister," Davidson says.

She adds more generally that New Zealand has been through a lockdown before and "can do it again".

"I understand for many lockdowns are stressful, challenging and uncertain.

"It is only through this collective sacrifice that we ensure as a country we stop or slow any spread of the virus."

9pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is urging Kiwis to "be strong" and "be kind" now the country is changing alert levels.

"I know we all feel the same way when this happens we all get that sense of 'not again'," she said at the end of her update earlier tonight.

"But remember we have been here before. That means we know how to get out of this again and that is together."

She added a reminder for everyone to look out for each other over these next few days.

"Please, if you know anyone in Auckland, reach out. Please check on them and if you're in Auckland please check on your neighbours, ensure they're looked after and supported."

She said it's important to ultimately remember that "we are going to be okay".

Read the full story here.

As it happened: Three COVID-19 cases detected in south Auckland community
Photo credit: Getty Images

8:50pm - It's been a few months since New Zealand last changed alert levels, so Kiwis will be forced to follow restrictions they haven't had to abide by in a while for at least the next three days.

If you need a refresher on what an alert level increase will mean for you, read more here.

8:40pm - Physicist and disease modeller Shaun Hendy says Auckland moving to alert level 3 is "the right thing to do" since there isn't yet a definitive link between the border and these cases, only a plausible one.

"There remains a chance that these infections may have come another source, which would mean there are very likely other cases out there," he says.

“If whole genome sequencing can link these newly discovered infections to a case that recently arrived from overseas on a plane that was serviced by this business, then this is probably a small cluster that should be quickly contained.

"If the sequencing can't link this to a recent arrival then we may be looking at a scenario similar to last August. If it is one of the new variants then this level of caution is very prudent."

8:25pm - An emergency alert was just sent out to Kiwis' phones.

It advises people about the alert level change and that this will be in place from 11:59pm for three days.

"Positive cases of COVID-19 have been identified in a household in the Auckland region," it says.

"If you are in Auckland, stay home where possible and follow alert level 3 guidelines. This will stop the transmission of COVID-19 and save lives."

8:15pm - National Party leader Judith Collins says the alert level change is "another blow to Kiwis' hard work".

"I feel for the people who have already sacrificed their livelihoods, their jobs and their businesses to keep COVID-19 out. This will be difficult news for all New Zealanders," she says.

"People will be anxious about this latest lockdown but I urge everyone to stay vigilant in the fight against this virus and to follow the advice of health officials.

"The Government must now move swiftly to find the source of this latest community outbreak, and to vaccinate our border workers as a matter of urgency."

The first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech is due to arrive this week.

"National has been calling for an accelerated rollout of vaccinations for border workers and frontline staff since January because we were acutely aware of the economic and social damage a third lockdown could cause," Collins says.

She believes "avoiding this very scenario" should have been the Government's priority.

"Whether or not this latest outbreak is traced back to the border does not matter. New Zealand cannot afford any more lockdowns. We should be taking every precaution," she says.

"If this proves to be another border failure that is unacceptable. The Government's shortcomings in the area have been shown up time and time again.

"The Government was warned. They no longer have any excuses for failure."

Judith Collins.
Judith Collins. Photo credit: Getty Images

8:05pm - ACT leader David Seymour says the Government "must learn" from this latest outbreak.

"ACT's primary concern is for all those businesses, workers and households who now face the uncertainty of a further lockdown, and the border workers who have operated under extreme pressure, unvaccinated while over a hundred million people were vaccinated in 77 other countries."

He says it "was only a matter of time" before an outbreak "forced" another lockdown.

"New Zealand was a sitting duck, saved by luck, citizen cooperation and geographic isolation. The Government did not take the opportunity to strengthen our defences with better testing and contact tracing, as the Prime Minister claimed. Instead it pinned its hopes on a vaccine while inviting the Wiggles through MIQ," Seymour says.

"It's difficult to believe that the Government learned from damning reports on MIQ. The person in question appears to have gone two weeks without being tested as an MIQ worker, long enough to have an asymptomatic case of the virus and recover, with nobody being any the wiser. In the event, she was not tested until she took it upon herself to do so."

He believes the Government needs to use this event as the "wake-up call ACT has been urging".

"Last month the Government tried to say New Zealand's position was so good we could afford to wait for a vaccine. ACT said at the time that we are only an outbreak away from wishing we had one," he says.

"We must now hope that the testing and contact tracing capabilities the Government does have are sufficient to isolate the virus before New Zealand faces a full sale lockdown devastating for many sectors of the economy."

7:55pm - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says since the city has "more experience" being in lockdown, locals "know what to do to stop COVID-19 from spreading and we will do it again this time".

"I am not underestimating the impact that another lockdown will have on people's lives and businesses around the city," he says.

"I will continue to have discussions with government on the support our city needs during and after the lockdown to ensure we can continue our recovery."

Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore says a precautionary should be taken to stop the spread of COVID-19, especially given the new strains.

"We have proven that it can be done, and that we can emerge safer and stronger."

Essential services within Auckland Council will continue, including picking up and disposing rubbish and recycling, responding to noise issues, operating public transport, and carrying out services that can be completed online. However, online customer service centres will be closed.

7:50pm - America's Cup racing has been postponed under Auckland's new restrictions.

It is currently unknown when Wednesday's race will be held.

Read the full story here.

7:45pm - The press conference has now finished.

To briefly recap, Auckland is going into alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand is going into alert level 2 as of 11:59pm tonight. This is currently set to last for three days and it will be reviewed every 24 hours.

For the first 24 hours of this, people will not need documentation to cross the perimeter, but after this, they will.

7:38pm - In terms of relocating in or out of Auckland and crossing the level 3 and 2 perimeter, documentation isn't needed for the first 24 hours of this, but after that, it will be.

"We understand people need to relocate, so if you need to, you can, but everyone else, please don't move around," Ardern says.

She adds there is "a lot of work to do" and it will be a late night as they work through everything.

7:37pm - Ardern is urging Kiwis to turn on Bluetooth within the COVID Tracer app, but adds that this isn't a substitute for scanning in using QR codes - it's important to do both.

7:35pm - It's anticipated officials will get an early picture of the scale of the outbreak in the first 24 hours, but this may not be the entire understanding.

7:34pm - Ardern says it's currently not clear that even if one of the cases had a test on February 1 that the virus would've been picked up. 

7:31pm - The scenario they are planning for is one of low or no transmission in the community.

If the risk lasts longer than 72 hours, they'll make adjustments, and there will be 24-hour reviews of this.

Ardern says there will be an announcement at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference on Monday afternoon.

7:30pm - Ardern says as the Labour leader, she has advised her Auckland-based members to stay there in the city rather than travel to Wellington.

7:26pm - Dr Bloomfield says they are working under the assumption that this is one of the new variants and that it will be more transmissible.

7:24pm - Ardern says it is her expectation that frontline workers are tested routinely, regardless of whether they are on annual leave or away from work.

7:21pm - Dr Bloomfield says these cases emphasise the need to be very cautious.

"What we've seen in MIQ facilities is sometimes the infection can transmit, even if two people aren't in same place at the same time."

He adds he assumes the woman was wearing PPE, given the nature of her job.

7:18pm - Ardern says she describes the decision to change New Zealand's alert levels as "cautious".

"We haven't quite put a ring around cases," she says.

Dr Bloomfield adds it's still not entirely clear where and who the source is, saying while the woman's workplace is most likely, they want to rule out who in the family became infected first.

7:17pm - Dr Bloomfield says close contacts of the mother and daughter who travelled to Taranaki have returned negative test results, but they are still isolating.

7:16pm - Ardern says testing centre hours will be extended since there is a strong demand. 

7:14pm - For parts of New Zealand that will be in level 2, there will be some restrictions.

Businesses will remain open, but with physical distancing, it will be compulsory to wear masks on public transport, and mass gatherings will be limited to 100 people.

Ardern says we have stamped out the virus before and "we will do it again".

"We have a plan that works for our team of 5 million," she says. "We are going to be okay."

7:12pm - Inter-regional travel will be "highly limited", Ardern says, but people can go home if they're in Auckland and that isn't their place of residence.

Aucklanders are asked to wear a face covering if they need to leave their home.

7:11pm - Ardern says there is "no need" to rush to the supermarket.

7:08pm - As of 11:59pm tonight, Auckland will move to alert level 3 for a period of three days until midnight on Wednesday. The rest of New Zealand will move to level 2 for the same period of time. This is subject to 24 hour reviews.

Ardern says the main thing they are asking of Aucklanders is to stay home. People should work from home, unless that isn't possible, and children should stay home from school.

Schools and early childhood centres will remain open for children of parents who need to work.

7:05pm - The locations of interest will continue to be updated on the Ministry of Health website.

Outdoor places, like Egmont National Park, are considered casual contacts. In indoor places, people are told to self-isolate and seek a test, Dr Bloomfield says.

7:04pm - The woman is an employee of LGS Sky Chefs, an airline catering company. She isn't involved in the handling of food, Dr Bloomfield says, but they will take a close interest in this workplace due to its links to the border.

7:02pm - The daughter is a year nine student at Papatoetoe High School. There are 1400 students at this school and it will be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

There will be a pop-up testing centre at the school from tomorrow which will be specifically for teachers, caregivers, and staff.

7pm - Ardern says with COVID raging around the world, and new more transmissible strains, they've had to make improvements to New Zealand's border and plans if it reemerges in the country.

6:55pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are due to hold a press conference at 7pm.

You can watch that here or tune in on Three.

6:30pm - Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says she and some family members had "just parked up" at Auckland's Big Gay Out when they found out about the new community cases.

"As an over-precaution, and due to me being at big Sth Akl sports gatherings all morning, we turned around and came home," she says.

"But look. We Proud in our backyard instead."

Davidson is based in Manurewa.

6:10pm - Cabinet is currently holding an emergency meeting ahead of the 7pm press conference.

6:05pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are due to hold a press conference at 7pm in relation to these cases.

You'll be able to watch that on Newshub's website or by tuning in on Three.

6pm - It's time for Newshub Live at 6. You can watch online here or tune in on Three.

5:45pm - The Ministry of Health has released a full list of the locations visited by the new cases.

You can view that list here.

4:45pm - Air New Zealand is suspending in-flight food services after a woman who works for an airline catering company tested positive.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to suspend our food and beverage offering on all domestic services for the next 24 hours while we await more information from the Ministry of Health," Leanne Geraghty, Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer, says.

"For international flights we will be providing alternative catering options until more information is known."

4:30pm - According to the World Health Organization, the number of reported COVID-19 cases globally has declined for the fourth week in a row, and the number of deaths has fallen for the second consecutive week.

4pm - Foodstuffs, which is the parent organisation of Pak'nSave, says it considers the risk to team members and other shoppers "reasonably low" after two of the positive cases visited the supermarket in Manukau.

"However, while this is investigated further, we are taking the heightened precaution of requiring team members who were working in the store at the time to: isolate at home, take a test at the right time and return to work only when they have returned a negative result," a spokesperson says.

Staff will be paid for the time they can't come to work.

Pak'nSave Manukau will remain open and team members from surrounding stores will provide cover so the store can continue to operate.

"In addition to the heightened cleaning protocols the store undertakes every day and has cycled through multiple times since 12 February, the store will also undertake a deep clean as an extra precaution which is in line with Ministry of Health guidelines," the spokesperson says. 

"The health and safety of our team and customers is our top priority and all best practice protocols continue to be followed in all our stores."

They encourage customers to continue thoroughly washing their hands, stay home if sick, call Healthline if they have symptoms, and keep scanning with the COVID Tracer app and turn Bluetooth on.

3:45pm - The news of south Auckland's latest community cases sent a shockwave through New Zealand on an otherwise sleepy Sunday afternoon, and many expressed their surprise on social media.

A number of people conveyed concern that the woman had not been tested since January 18, despite health officials reiterating that frontline workers are required to undertake frequent testing to ensure there has been no transmission at the border.

"While it's not too surprising that the more virulent strain is escaping into the community, what I did find surprising and alarming was that the front line worker had her last test result on January 18," one tweeted. "How often are we getting our people checked?"

"Uh-oh. This doesn't bode well," said another.

Read the full story here.

3:30pm - In a written update from the Ministry of Health earlier on Sunday, they gave more details on a new case that was recorded in managed isolation.

This person arrived from the United States on February 11 and tested positive on day one/routine testing.

This brings New Zealand's number of active cases to 47, and the total number of confirmed cases is 1974.

3:15pm - David Seymour says the new south Auckland community cases show the Government has left New Zealand a "sitting duck hoping for luck".

The ACT leader says it proves the Government should have been hardening the country's defences with better contact tracing, testing, and vaccination over the past year.

"It hasn't and we are now reduced to hoping this outbreak will somehow be contained like the January case," Seymour says in a statement.

"The Government has left New Zealand as a sitting duck, hoping for more luck that our isolation has already afforded us. We can only hope for all those who depend on doing business without further lockdowns that our luck hasn't run out yet."

Read the full story here.

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Getty Images

3pm - The Ministry of Health has released new information on testing centres in Auckland.

The hours for the regional community testing centres in Northcote, Balmoral, Henderson, and Otara are being extended for Sunday. The community testing centre in Wiri is also open on Sunday.

Additional testing will be set up for Papatoetoe High School community from Monday, and the ministry says more information on this will be shared with the school later on Sunday.

"It's important the right people can get access to testing - so please don't rush to a centre if you are well, or if you weren't at one of the locations of interest," they say.

"We are anticipating high demand at our COVID-19 testing sites and delays are possible, so our request is to please be patient.

"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."

It is advised that if you were at the locations of interest at the times stated, you need to get a test and remain isolated until you receive a result. If you have symptoms but haven't been to a location of interest, call Healthline for advice.

2:45pm - Auckland's Big Gay Out event is still taking place today despite the new community cases.

Organisers say Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and Director-General of Health Dr Ashely Bloomfield have advised them that it is still safe to continue this and other Auckland Pride events.

"We are relieved that health officials don't currently believe the risk is significant enough to move Auckland's alert level, however we will continue to closely monitor any updates and be ready to change our plans accordingly," they say.

"At this stage we are not implementing any changes to our events and will continue to follow the advice of health officials. We will continue to work with our community and event organisers as we maintain safety as our number one priority, and provide updates as necessary."

Organisers encourage everyone attending to use the QR codes to scan in, register through the event's ticketing platform, and use hand sanitiser.

2:27pm - Further updates on these infections are expected later in the day, with the Ministry of Health to provide more details on where two of the cases visited in New Plymouth last week.

2:23pm - The infected family will be housed at the Jet Park Hotel quarantine facility until they have recovered, officials confirmed earlier. 

2:21pm - During the earlier news briefing, Chris Hipkins confirmed New Zealand remained at COVID-19 alert level 1.

2:10pm - To recap what we know so far:

There are three new community cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand on Sunday.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told a news briefing the cases are all within one family and the test results came through late on Saturday.

"The three cases detected in the community are a mother, father, and daughter from the same south Auckland household in Papatoetoe."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is returning to Wellington to be briefed on the cases and to make decisions relating to the infections.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says the mother in the family who tested positive undergoes regular testing as part of her job.

The family had taken the right action which was why health officials were able to detect the cases, he told reporters.

"These people did exactly the right thing."

2:09pm - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is urging the city to remain calm and to follow all health precautions.

"The detection of these cases demonstrates that the system is working and is picking up potential transmission quickly," he said on Twitter.

"It's now up to everyone to keep scanning in with the NZ COVID Tracer app, stay home and get tested if you feel sick, and follow good hygiene practices.

"Please don't get a test unless you were at a location of interest as announced by the Ministry of Health or you're showing symptoms."

2:05pm - Vaughan Couillault, the principal of Papatoetoe High School, told the NZ Herald the student with COVID-19, in year nine, was only at school on Wednesday last week.

"Staff and students and their families are being asked to self-isolate for two days if they are casual contacts."

2:02pm - An additional COVID-19 testing centre will be set up at Papatoetoe High School on Monday, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says. 

Other testing centres in the Auckland region can be found here.

"Please don't rush to a testing centre if you are well or weren't at the locations of interest," Dr Bloomfield said.

1:57pm - Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says locations visited by the cases in New Plymouth will be posted online as soon as possible.

"Thank you for your patience as we confirm detailed times, dates, and location."

Dr Bloomfield.
Dr Bloomfield. Photo credit: The AM Show

1:50pm - Papatoetoe High School, where one of the cases attended, will be closed on Monday, officials have confirmed.

1:45pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, currently in Auckland, will return to Wellington on Sunday afternoon.

She won't be attending the Big Gay Out event as originally planned.

"We will provide an additional update once further information comes to hand," her office said in a statement.

1:40pm - Known locations the trio have visited include:

  • Papatoetoe High School - the school will be closed on Monday as a result
  • PaknSave Manukau, which is a potential exposure event. Two of the positive cases had short visits there for 10 minutes on Friday. Anyone who visited the store between 3:35pm and 5pm on that day should stay home and isolate, be alert for symptoms, get tested, and isolate until a result has returned
  • Last weekend (between February 6 and 8), potentially around the time of becoming symptomatic, two of the cases travelled to New Plymouth and visited tourist attractions - times, dates, and locations are to be confirmed.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. Photo credit: Google / Getty

1:38pm - The mother who was infected was last at her workplace at LSG Skychefs on February 5 and was not considered infectious when there, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said.

Her daughter, who's also tested positive for COVID-19, attends Papatoetoe High School.

1:31pm - There are three community COVID-19 cases in south Auckland, all the same family, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed.

All their positive tests came through on Saturday night and genome sequencing is underway.

The mother of the family works at LSG Skychefs and is regularly tested for COVID-19, due to being a border worker. She was initially tested when her and her daughter felt symptomatic.

It's understood a fourth household contact of the three cases has tested negative, Hipkins said.

Hipkins said he was informed of the cases early on Sunday morning.

1:27pm - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General Health Ashley Bloomfield are due to speak to media. You can watch live in the video above.

1:14pm - The announcement of more community COVID-19 cases comes as New Zealand prepares for the biggest vaccination programme in the country's history.

Next week, border workers will receive the COVID-19 vaccine after the arrival of the Pfizer jab.

1:08pm - There were two new cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation on Saturday and none in the community, bringing New Zealand's total active infections to 45.

A patient with COVID-19 had also died at North Shore Hospital, the Ministry of Health  confirmed on Saturday.

The ministry said the person who died had been transferred from managed isolation to hospital for treatment of a serious non-COVID related illness on February 5.

However, the patient subsequently tested positive for coronavirus. 

The death has not yet been included in New Zealand's official COVID-19 death toll and more information was expected on Monday.

1:05pm - Sunday's community cases come just a week after a returnee at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland tested positive for COVID-19 after leaving the managed isolation facility.

1pm - Chris Hipkins, in charge of the Government's COVID-19 response, did not indicate there were community infections when appearing on TVNZ's Q&A programme on Sunday morning.

12:50pm - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins' office confirmed to Newshub there are two community coronavirus cases, both in south Auckland.

The confirmation came after Hipkins and Director-General of Health called a COVID-19 press conference, which was not initially planned for Sunday.