COVID-19: 'All eyes' on today as health officials await 'crucial' gym test results - Peeni Henare

Test results returned on Thursday will play a crucial factor in whether Auckland is able to shift out of lockdown sooner than Sunday, Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare says.

Gym-goers who were at CityFitness Papatoetoe at the same time as Case M, a 21-year-old Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) student, are expected to receive their results on Thursday.

After undergoing a test for COVID-19, the 21-year-old went to the gym instead of following public health advice and returning home to isolate. The student also visited several public spots, including MIT, while he was potentially infectious. 

The Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, made it clear during a news briefing on Tuesday that anyone who is symptomatic and seeking a test should isolate until they receive a negative result. 

The Auckland region was subsequently plunged into alert level 3 at 6am on Sunday for a provisional seven-day period, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. The rest of New Zealand was placed under alert level 2 restrictions as a precautionary measure.

Thursday's results will provide crucial information as health officials piece together the extent of the transmission potentially caused by Case M's movements. 

"The results from those [who were] at the gym, and the test results today, will be crucial. Those will be coming in as the day transpires," Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare told The AM Show on Thursday morning. 

The results will also play a significant factor in Cabinet's review of the current alert level settings on Friday, Henare said. No new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the community after Auckland entered lockdown on Sunday.

"All eyes are on today," Henare told The AM Show. 

"The information that comes in over the next 24 hours will be a factor in whether Cabinet makes the decision on the alert level tomorrow."

The Associate Minister admitted he is apprehensive about the impending results.

"I'm a little nervous, but as long as our people get tested and those results are good, we're headed in the right direction."

Henare reiterated that Auckland could move out of lockdown earlier than expected - depending on what information comes to light on Thursday.

"Businesses don't like the unknown and the Prime Minister was quite clear that [lockdown] would be seven days with the opportunity for a review on Friday," he said. "Once all the information comes to us over the next 24 hours, my colleagues and I will sit down, assess it all, and make the decision from there.

"The hope is we can come out as soon as possible. We're hopeful if today comes zero community transmission and that continues throughout the week, those are all positive signs."

The Government is continuing to roll out the first wave of its vaccination campaign, with more frontline border staff expected to receive the vaccine on Thursday. 

Just two cases were recorded in New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine facilities on Wednesday. 

The last community case, Case O, was announced on February 28. They are linked to the existing cluster and tested positive in Auckland's quarantine facility. They are a household contact of Case I - a Papatoetoe High School student - Case J, an employee at Kmart Botany, Case K - an infant - and Case L, a KFC worker.