Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, August 31

Forty-nine new cases of COVID-19 have been reported on Tuesday, yet another drop from the figures seen over the preceding days.

The outbreak now consists of 612 cases, the vast majority of which are in Auckland. Just 15 have been detected in Wellington, and the rest of the nation so far remains untouched by the virus.

One of the 49 new cases is a corrections officer at Spring Hill prison in Te Kauwhata, north Waikato. Twenty-three staff are isolating as a result and prisoners who may have come into contact with the officer are being segregated.

The staffer, who is fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, decided to seek a test after realising he had visited a potential exposure site.

However, the officer is still counted as an Auckland case as he resides in the city, not in the Waikato region.

It comes as everywhere south of Auckland prepares to shift to alert level 3 at 11:59pm, with Northland set to follow suit on Thursday if wastewater samples show no traces of COVID-19.

Auckland will remain in lockdown for at least another two weeks.

On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the Government is doing everything it can to keep up with the surging demand for vaccinations. A delivery of Pfizer vaccines is set to arrive in October, but until then, supply will be "tight", she said - however, it's understood a potential deal is in the works to procure additional doses.

What you need to know:

  • Forty-nine new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Monday, bringing the outbreak to 612
  • Of the cases, 597 are located in Auckland and 15 in Wellington
  • Thirty-three people are in hospital, eight of whom are in the ICU
  • Everywhere south of Auckland will shift to alert level 3 at 11:59pm on Tuesday and Northland will move to level 3 on Thursday if wastewater test results come back clear
  • Auckland will stay at level 4 for at least another two weeks
  • A corrections officer at Spring Hill Corrections Facility in Te Kauwhata, Waikato, is among the 49 new cases - however, the officer is counted as an Auckland case
  • Click here for the latest locations of interest - a map can also be found here.

This article is no longer being updated.

9:28pm - A quick recap from Reuters of today's COVID-19 developments:

New Zealand on Tuesday reported new COVID-19 cases fell for a second day, down to 49, amid the tight lockdown the country undertook during the latest outbreak this month.

The total number of cases in the outbreak is at 612, with 597 in Auckland and 15 in Wellington.

The declining number of daily cases signals the social restrictions are reducing the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a news conference.

"We have a second day where our numbers have declined. We want the tail of this outbreak to be as short as possible."

About 1.7 million Aucklanders will remain in strict level 4 lockdown for another two weeks, while restrictions for the remainder of the country will ease slightly from Wednesday. 

Police placed checkpoints at the outskirts of Auckland to ensure no non-essential movement was allowed into the city.

Nineteen people were also arrested on Tuesday following anti-lockdown protest around the country.

9:24pm - Eighteen months into this pandemic, despite ongoing warnings, the fragilities of our health system remain glaringly obvious, writes investigations reporter Michael Morrah.

You can read his column and watch his story here.

9:18pm - An update from the Auckland District Health Board:

Visiting us in alert level 4. We know how important the support of whānau and friends is to everyone in our care, so we've made some changes to keep our patients, kaimahi and visitors safe. 

If you need to visit our hospitals and clinics, please read this before you arrive.

9:12pm - Flooding in Auckland has dealt a heavy blow to businesses that are already struggling under COVID-19 alert level 4. 

Kumeu, in west Auckland, saw its second-wettest day on record and a heavy rain warning is in place across Northland until midnight on Thursday.

"It's going to cost some money but it's the disruption to people's lives already disrupted under alert level 4 that I'm most worried about," Auckland City Mayor Phil Goff says.

9:04pm - Truckies are hoping the police checkpoint operation south of Auckland don't turn into the chaos of earlier this year, when thousands were waiting for hours.

From midnight, police checkpoints will be operating to stop non-essential traffic between greater New Zealand, at COVID-19 alert level 3, and Auckland which remains at level 4.

Simon Shepherd reports.

8:54pm - Cafes and restaurants south of Auckland are gearing up to open their doors on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, people went into their businesses for the first time in two weeks since New Zealand went into lockdown.

Alexa Cook reports.

8:38pm - Back to developing COVID-19 news now and, across the Tasman, Australia has agreed a vaccine swap deal with Singapore in a bid to curtail surging coronavirus infections.

The agreement, which will see Australia return the same amount of Pfizer vaccine doses to Singapore in December, will allow Canberra to accelerate its vaccination programme as daily cases near record levels for the country.

8:33pm - That concludes Newshub Investigates: Delta. Thanks for watching and following along - keep following this article for more COVID-19 updates.

8:31pm - PM Ardern admits she doesn't want anymore COVID-19 lockdowns after this current one.

She says she never wanted to lock down New Zealand, but COVID-19 and the Delta variant are unpredictable.

8:25pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tells Patrick Gower everytime she hears about a COVID-19 case is a "kick in the guts".

Ardern says she doesn't have any doubts about the call she made to put New Zealand into alert level 4.

Meanwhile, National leader Judith Collins says it's one of the worst public policy failures she can recall; "it's sent us into a level 4 lockdown with no particular plan to get us out of it," she says.

8:16pm - Epidemiologist Martin McKee spoke to Newshub Investigates about the UK and how the country is now living with the virus.

McKee describes that strategy as an admission of failure and "a jumbo jet crashing every day with hundreds of deaths".

And microbiologist Simon Clark, from the UK's Reading University, says the philosophy of keeping infections low with the Delta variant circulating doesn't work.

8:08pm - On the COVID-19 vaccine, University of Auckland vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris tells Patrick Gower no steps were missed in the process of making them - and they're all safe.

Meanwhile, Oxford University's Sarah Walker says vaccines will continue to be reasonably effective - even as different variants come and go.

8:06pm - Newshub Investigates also spoke to former Prime Minister Helen Clark, who believes we could see variants that are more deadly and more transmissible than Delta is.

She says we should be worried about what's to come if people don't vaccinate and if governments and health officials around the world don't get health tactics in order.

And Clark warns the world is at risk if countries prioritise giving their own citizens booster shots before poorer nations get more vaccine supply.

7:58pm - Dawn Raid music founder Danny Leaoasavai'i is working with up to 800 people impacted by the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

He blames many of the new infections in lockdown on delays getting people into quarantine.

"Please, please hurry - hurry and get our families in there," he tells Newshub Investigates.

"They need to be quarantined away so the other family's members aren't infected."

7:35pm - Newshub Investigates spoke to Morgan, an Auckland University of Technology (AUT) student who tested positive for COVID-19.

She's now in quarantine at the Jet Park Hotel.

"I've had a few fevers here and there, my throat has definitely been a bit scratchy - fortunately for me it's been managable," she told national correspondent Patrick Gower.

She couldn't believe it when she tested positive.

"I remember just needing a moment just to fathom what was going on," she said.

Newshub investigates also spoke to Morgan's friend Tadgh Eoghan. He also caught the virus and experienced worse symptoms.

"It's no joke man... that first six days was scary," he says.

7:25pm - COMING UP: As New Zealand faces fallout from Delta and is amid another lockdown, what does the COVID-19 variant mean for our future?

Newshub Investigates: Delta is a look into the highly infectious and game-changing variant that is sweeping the world.

The hour-long episode begins at 7:30pm.

Watch it live in the video above and follow this article for updates from the documentary.

7:10pm - Across the Tasman, Sydney's health care system is so overwhelmed - hospitals are turning people away.

The spread of COVID-19 seems unstoppable, with 871 infected people in hospital - 143 of those in intensive care.

Australia correspondent Emma Cropper has the latest on New South Wales' COVID-19 crisis here.

6:51pm - The mother of a baby who is one of New Zealand's youngest COVID-19 cases says she was shocked to hear her 11-month-old caught the virus - and she doesn't know how he did. 

Watch Alice Wilkins' exclusive interview here.

6:35pm - Notorious conspiracy theorist Karen Brewer has been arrested by police while protesting as part of a wider plan to overthrow the Government.

Brewer, who has thousands of followers on social media for her COVID-19 scepticism and claims about Freemasons and pedophiles in powerful positions, had been calling for mass protests on Tuesday morning to force Parliament in Australia and New Zealand to be dismissed.

Read more here.

6:05pm - The number of Māori battling the Delta variant as a result of the latest COVID-19 outbreak is now in the double digits.

Since the start of the pandemic, five Māori have died with COVID-19.

The Hui on Mondau asked its audience what they wanted to know about COVID-19 and put those questions to expert Māori virologist Natalie Netzler.

Watch the interview here.

5:37pm - Experts are weighing in on whether the newly detected C.1.2 coronavirus variant with multiple mutations could be worse than the Delta strain.

"We will learn more about C.1.2 in time, but as yet we have no real indication that this most recently popularised variant should be an urgent cause of concern. We do know the viruses harbour some mutations that may be a cause for concern when viewed individually," says Associate Professor Ian Mackay, a virologist at Australia's University of Queensland.

"From the published preprint, it is evident that C.1.2. may have more immune evasion properties than the prevalent delta variant, based on its pattern of mutations, but the full extent of the fitness and pathogenicity of the new variant is still very much under review. I personally feel that at the current stage, people shouldn’t be overly concerned about C.1.2. yet, as it was expected that variants with more mutations would emerge later in the pandemic," adds Vinod Balasubramaniam, from Monash University Malaysia's Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine & Health Sciences.

5:35pm - Compared to being at COVID-19 alert level 1, a full nationwide lockdown is estimated to be costing the country $1.9 billion in lost activity each week. Read more here.

5:07pm - Tegel has confirmed three people who work at its Henderson plant in west Auckland have tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting locations of interest.

The workers' departments have been closed and all staff have been tested for COVID-19 as a precaution, the company says.

"We are an essential service and we have been operating during all the lockdowns with extensive safety measures in place. However, as we've seen on the daily news bulletins, this variant of COVID is very infectious," a spokesperson for the poultry producer said.

"Consequently, we are upping our efforts to keep COVID at bay to ensure our production lines and distribution centres can continue to supply customers with Tegel product without further disruption."

4:55pm - And an advisory from the Canterbury District Health Board:

Under COVID-19 Alert Level 3, visitor access to all Canterbury DHB health facilities remains restricted to enable safe physical distancing.

Limiting our interactions with those outside our bubbles is one of our best defences against COVID-19. For this reason, a no visitor policy continues to apply across all Canterbury DHB facilities.

Children under 16 and people who are unwell cannot visit under any circumstances, except to access emergency care.

4:51pm - An update from the Waikato District Health Board about COVID-19 testing centres:

Testing in Coromandel

Coromandel Family Health Clinic

80 Kapanga Rd


Tuesday - Friday 10am-3pm

Note: All patients must call the clinic and make an appointment in advance.

Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki - Coromandel

225 Kapanga Rd


Call the clinic on 07 866 8084 for more information. 

The Coromandel town car park pop-up testing centre is now closed.

Testing in Hamilton

Hamilton Community Testing Centre

Founders Theatre car park

Entrance off Norton Rd

8am - 4pm

Testing in Tokoroa

Tokoroa Family Health

Tokoroa Hospital

8:30am - 5pm

Call the clinic on 07 886 5431 to make a booking in advance.

Tokoroa Medical Centre

35-75 Maraetai Rd, Tokoroa

8:30am - 5pm

Call the clinic on 07 886 8777 to make a booking in advance.

4:38pm - Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Leeann Watson says businesses being able to open on Wednesday, when regions south of Auckland move to alert level 3, is bittersweet.

"We do need to recognise that some of those businesses simply can't operate in level 3 as well," she told Newshub. "There'll be a real push to go to level 2 when it is safe to do so."

4:32pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the earlier news conference she's keen to keep the tail of the Delta COVID-19 outbreak as short as possible.

"A reminder that it's not until we get to level 2 when you can start having contact with those outside of your bubble again," she said, urging people to continue following restrictions.

4:19pm - Green Party co-leader James Shaw claims Parliament sitting on Tuesday is risking lives.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show on Tuesday National "rejected" plans for a virtual Parliament, leaving her with "no option" but to allow a physical sitting of MPs.

"You've got to remember, it's not just about having a dozen people in the chamber," Shaw told Newstalk ZB. "It's the fact that those people each have bubbles - they'll be passing through various points of connection." 

4:04pm - Contact tracers have hit a brick wall in their efforts to find the source of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield explained all while evidence points to Auckland Crowne Plaza hotel managed isolation facility, the virus' exact path remained a mystery.

 "We've gone down a number of roads and they've all turned out to be dead ends so far," Dr Bloomfield told a news briefing. "We may never find the exact way that the virus got from the facility into the community but we are very confident that's the place where it came from."

3:59pm - It is understood New Zealand is in the process of securing more COVID-19 vaccines but the Government is staying tight-lipped on the details. Asked about the matter in an interview with The AM Show earlier, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "I have said that we are working to see whether or not we can meet the demand we have right now while we, of course, wait for those bigger deliveries to come through into October and that continues to be the case." 

It comes after 76,354 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered on Monday.

3:40pm - For all New Zealand regions outside of Auckland and Northland, click here for the 11 things you need to know about tonight's move to COVID-19 alert level 3.

3:10pm - Checkpoints will be established in the southern part of Auckland this afternoon as the rest of the country prepares to shift to alert level 3, says Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.

Southern checkpoints will be set up in the following locations:

  • SH1/Mercer off ramp - southbound traffic
  • SH1/Oram Rd - northbound traffic
  • Mangatawhiri Rd/SH2
  • East Coast Rd - Waharau Regional Park
  • SH22/Pukekawa - Churchill Rd and Logan Rd.

At the request of the community, Port Waikato has been included within the Auckland border to ensure residents are not cut off from essential services close to their homes.

"Given the complex nature of closing down a State Highway, planning for managing travel through an alert level boundary has been under way for some time," Commissioner Coster said in a statement.

"Police intend to have all the checkpoints operating by 11pm tonight to ensure a smooth transition when the alert level change comes into effect."

Drivers will be stopped and questioned if they pass through the checkpoints on the outskirts of Auckland to ensure there is no non-essential interregional movement.

"We do not have our northern boundary checkpoints set up at this time while Northland remains part of alert level 4," Coster said.

Northland continues to operate three checkpoints at southern entry points at the following locations:

  • SH1 intersection with SH12
  • Mountain Rd, Kaiwaka
  • Cove Road, by Bream Tail Rd.

"Anyone attempting to travel across the regional boundaries separating alert level 4 and alert level 3 areas should expect to be stopped and asked for proof of essential travel," Coster said. "We are anticipating that there may be delays during peak times at these boundary checkpoints, and we are asking our community be prepared for this and to be patient."

Police are in regular dialogue with iwi leaders regarding the response to COVID-19 in the community, he added.

Should Northland's alert levels change at 11:59pm on Thursday night as signalled by the Government, officers are ready to deploy checkpoints to the region's southern boundary with Tāmaki Makaurau at the following locations:

  • SH1 / Mangawhai Rd/Twin Coast Discovery Highway
  • Mangawhai Rd/Twin Coast Discovery Highway / north of Coal Hill Rd
  • Black Swamp, west of Rako Rd
  • Mangawhai Rd/Twin Coast Discovery Highway and Cames Rd
  • Mangawhai Rd/Twin Coast Discovery Highway and Ryan Rd.

3pm - Aucklanders getting groceries delivered during lockdown are reminded to keep an eye out for text alerts confirming their delivery - and to take orders inside immediately.  

It follows a number of reports on social media of Auckland residents having their groceries stolen from outside their homes shortly after the food has been delivered.

According to posts on several Facebook community groups, stolen groceries have been reported in the areas of Mt Eden, Epsom and Sandringham.

Another said they'd heard reports of delivery trucks and couriers being followed.

Read more here.

2:45pm - The Green Party's Te Mātāwaka spokesperson for Pacific Peoples is condemning the "consistent racial overtone during this pandemic".

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, Greens' MP Teanau Tuiono berated the recent incident where Pacific people were asked to present their passports before vaccination.

"The Government has made it clear that no one should be asked for photo ID of any kind, and that everyone in Aotearoa despite their immigration are eligible for a free vaccine," Tuiono said. "We have been reassured by Government officials that overstayers would be able to access vaccination and testing without having their immigration status compromised. Asking for passports or identification only creates fear and uncertainty amongst our communities who have been racially profiled.

"It is evident now more than ever that an amnesty for overstayers is a public health response. We have to remove all barriers so Pasifika communities can access all essential services like the COVID-19 vaccination without apprehension."

He says Government officials need to dismantle institutional racism within the health system.

"We are also encouraging Labour to fix the systematic blockage which is stopping our people from accessing health care, which includes more funding and resourcing Pasifika providers."

2:30pm - Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis has released a statement regarding the positive case at Spring Hill prison in Te Kauwhata.

He confirmed the staff member is fully vaccinated and "did the right thing" after realising they had visited a location of interest.

"Despite showing no symptoms they went and got tested and I want to thank them for their vigilance," Davis said.

"All staff who had contact with the officer were immediately contacted and told to isolate and get tested, while the men in the unit have also been segregated and will be tested.

"Corrections have been planning for this possibility for some time and I have full confidence that their thorough plans will limit any spread of the virus within the prison.

"I expect to be kept fully informed as this situation develops, including updates on the welfare of both staff and prisoners at Springhill.

"This will be an unsettling time for many at the prison and I want to acknowledge the frontline staff going to work every day while we try to eradicate the virus."

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says he has been informed of the positive case and the prison guard "did the right thing" by getting tested - despite being asymptomatic and fully vaccinated.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says he has been informed of the positive case and the prison guard "did the right thing" by getting tested - despite being asymptomatic and fully vaccinated. Photo credit: Newshub

2:15pm - Parliament is sitting for the first time under alert level 4 restrictions. You can watch along here.

2:10pm - The locations of interest page has once again been "updated" as of 2pm, but still has no new entries to show.

The latest additions are from 4pm on Monday.

2:01pm - The Ministry of Health's daily statement continued:


Testing nationwide remains an essential part of our response to this outbreak, in particular providing confidence for understanding the extent of any spread of COVID-19.

Our advice remains the same - wherever you are in the country, if you were at a location of interest, at the specified times, or have cold and flu symptoms, please call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing.

By calling Healthline, people who have been at locations of interest at relevant times are logged into the contact tracing system. This means their swab can be tracked and processed faster by the laboratories.

Yesterday, 16,755 tests were processed across New Zealand.

Demand for testing in Auckland remains high with around 12,700 swabs taken across metro Auckland yesterday – 4700 at community testing centres and around 8000 at general practice and urgent care clinics.

There are 24 community testing centres available for testing across Auckland today, this includes six regular community testing centres, 14 pop-up testing centres and four invitation-only for high-risk groups and to prioritise essential health care workers,

The pop-up community testing centre at Parakai is closed today due to flooding in the area. Anyone who presents for testing at this site is being diverted to the local medical centre.

The storm also impacted the two drive-through vaccination sites at Trusts Arena in Henderson and Airport Park and Ride which were closed until 11am this morning. We have been working with those who have been impacted to reschedule their appointments.

Wiri and Balmoral testing centres are operating extending hours this week and will stay open until 8pm to supplement existing testing in Urgent Care Clinics.

For up-to-date information on all testing locations, please visit the Healthpoint website.

The total number of COVID-19 tests processed by laboratories to date is 2,984,428.

The seven-day rolling average is 31,600.

- the Ministry of Health.


There are no unexpected results to report today.

Following detection in samples collected from the Christchurch wastewater treatment facility on 21, 23 and 25 August (consistent with known cases in MIQ facilities), additional sampling from Christchurch locations was undertaken.

COVID-19 was not detected in wastewater grab samples collected from seven pump station sites on 26 and 29 August 2021.

Processing of samples collected on 30 August is in progress. This includes samples collected from the Wastewater Testing Plant. The results of these are expected tomorrow.

Contact tracing

As of 9am today, 34,413 individual contacts have been identified and around 89 percent have had a test.

Locations of interest

Additional locations of interest continue to be identified. As of 9am today, there were 389 locations of interest

Please remember to regularly check the Ministry's website. Locations are being automatically updated on a two-hourly basis between 8am and 8pm. If you have been to a location of interest during the relevant time, follow the advice on the website which will tell you whether you need to self-isolate and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing, or whether you just need to watch for symptoms.

However, anyone who develops symptoms whether or not they have been at a listed location of interest, should ring Healthline for advice on testing.

COVID-19 vaccine update

Yesterday 76,354 vaccines were administered. Of these 53,032 were first doses and 23,322 were second doses.

More than 3.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date.  

Of these, over 2.2 million are first doses and more than 1.18 million are second doses.

More than 202,000 Māori have received their first vaccination. Of these, more than 106,000 have also had their second vaccinations.

More than 131,000 first doses have been administered to Pacific peoples. Of these, more than 72,000 have also received their second doses.

2pm - The Ministry of Health's daily statement:

There are 49 new cases of COVID-19 in the New Zealand community today, all in Auckland. This brings the total number of cases in the community outbreak to 612. One previously reported case has been reclassified as a border case.

The total number of community cases in Auckland is now 597 and in Wellington it is 15.  

All of the cases have or will be transferred safely to a quarantine facility, under strict infection prevention and control procedures, including the use of full PPE.

There are 566 cases that have been clearly epidemiologically-linked to another case or sub-cluster, and a further 46 for which links are yet to be fully established.

There are currently seven epidemiologically-linked subclusters identified within this outbreak. The two largest clusters are the Mangere church cluster (308 confirmed cases), and the Birkdale Social Network cluster associated with Case A (78 confirmed cases).

Of the current community cases, 33 cases are in hospital – 25 are in a stable condition on a ward and eight cases are in a stable condition in ICU. Two cases are in North Shore Hospital, 18 are in Middlemore Hospital, 12 are in Auckland City Hospital, and one is in Wellington Regional Hospital.

There are appropriate isolation and infection prevention and control plans in place at all hospitals where these patients are being managed.

The total number of active cases being managed in New Zealand is currently 651.

There is one new case in recent returnees in a managed isolation facility.

New case identified at the border 

  • Arrival date: 25/8/2021
  • From: Nepal via UAE
  • Positive test day/reason: Day 0/routine
  • Managed isolation/quarantine location: Christchurch.

Since 1 January 2021, there have been 126 historical cases, out of a total of 1395 cases.

Our total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic is 3213.

1:57pm - Earlier in the press conference, Ardern said people who had their appointments cancelled this morning will be contacted to reschedule after some vaccination sites struggled against Auckland's wild weather.

The vaccination site at Henderson's Trusts Arena has been moved indoors for today but will resume its drive-through model tomorrow.

The wild wind and wet weather caused chaos for some vaccination sites, with the severe gusts blowing over several tents and marquees. Widespread flooding in west Auckland also resulted in the Trusts Arena site being significantly under-staffed.

1:55pm - Meanwhile, New South Wales has recorded 1164 new community cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night (local time) and three additional deaths.

State Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the ongoing lockdown and deadly outbreak is "ripping families apart".

Read more here.

1:50pm - In the Ministry of Health's daily statement, it is also confirmed that a contract security officer on-duty at Middlemore Hospital on August 26 has tested positive after being exposed to the virus in the community.

The individual is fully vaccinated and had been wearing full PPE, including a N95 mask, while on-duty at the Auckland hospital.

The risk of exposure to patients and staff is considered to be low. To date, no staff at Counties Manukau Health have contracted COVID-19 while at work.

1:46pm - When asked how she felt about the six infants who have tested positive for COVID-19, Ardern says it should serve as a reminder to everyone how important it is for eligible adults to be vaccinated to protect the younger members of our communities.

"There are some vulnerable and young members of our communities that aren't eligible to be vaccinated… they get it from us. If you can be vaccinated, be vaccinated on behalf of the tamariki."

1:42pm - When asked if New Zealanders should be delighted by the drop in cases over the last two days, Ardern says she would ask everyone to "hold that thought".

"Every day is another step, a bit of progress, but it's too early," she says.

"I want to see sustained reductions over a period time... it's good to not see some of those higher numbers... but it's still a journey to go through."

1:40pm - The corrections officer who works at the Spring Hill Correctional Facility in the Waikato is one of the 49 cases reported today, Dr Bloomfield says.

The officer is counted as an Auckland case as he resides in the city, not in the Waikato.

Dr Bloomfield has clarified that 19 of the 49 new cases are yet to be epidemiologically linked.

1:31pm - Dr Bloomfield says officials have ventured down "a number of roads" to try and determine the missing links, but "they have all ended up being dead-ends".

Officials are still confident the outbreak originated in the Crowne Plaza - beginning with the returnee from Sydney - however it might not ever be known how the virus escaped from the facility and into the community.

Ardern says it would be fair to say that most, if not all obvious sources of transmission have now been ruled out.

1:28pm - Ardern says in regards to the investigation into the source of the outbreak, officials have "conclusively ruled out" the theory around the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility and a location of interest, potentially connected by a case with an early onset of symptoms.

That person has returned three negative tests.

"We are no further along in the investigation."

1:26pm - Ardern reiterates that despite the South Island remaining COVID-free, it will still shift to alert level 3 for at least a week alongside the rest of New Zealand - excluding Auckland and Northland.

She says this will be reviewed in a week and health officials are keeping their "options open".

If alert levels can be scaled down safely, "we will", Ardern says.

1:23pm - There is a case at the Spring Hill Corrections Facility. This person identified themselves as having been at location of interest. The case is a corrections officer.

Dr Bloomfield says they already have very strict protocol in place at the prison regarding health and safety. The officer, who is asymptomatic, is fully vaccinated.

Twenty-three staff who had contact with the case are now isolating and being tested.

Wastewater samples from the facility will be tested. 

All inmates who may have been in contact with the officer are being segregated and will also undergo testing. It's unclear if the prisoners are vaccinated.

The prison is located in Te Kauwhata in the Waikato region.

1:20pm - Fifty-one of the cases in the outbreak have yet to be epidemiologically linked, Dr Bloomfield says.

He says most of those hospitalised are in older age groups, and the hospitalisation rate with Delta is around double.

1:18pm - Dr Bloomfield says he believes the youngest of the 33 in hospital is 18. Two-thirds of the cases are under the age of 34.

Ardern says despite a second day of declining cases, "we still have work to do.".

"Please do stick with it and remain absolutely cautious."

1:15pm - Weddings, funerals and tangihanga are permitted with up to 10 attendees.

If you own and run a business that requires close contact, you cannot open, Ardern says. All business must be conducted through contactless methods.

1:14pm - Ardern is now recapping what is required under alert level 3.

Face masks are still encouraged - "Delta spreads easily and masks are a tool that make a difference".

The golden rules are stay at home, keep your bubble small, and exercise and shop locally. Those who can continue working from home are expected to do so. Schools, learning centres and public venues largely remain closed.

From tomorrow, all people aged 12 and over can get the vaccine.

1:12pm - "I'd like to stress that anyone who needs healthcare can get help when they need it. Don't delay," Dr Bloomfield says.

It was another day of high testing on Monday, with 16,755 processed.

With everywhere south of Auckland shifting to alert level 3 at 11:59pm, Ardern says a "high degree of caution" is still required, despite the progress.

1:11pm - Six of the cases in the outbreak are under the age of one, Dr Bloomfield says, which is particularly "sobering".

Thirty-three people are currently in hospital, eight of which are in the ICU. Two are being ventilated.

1:09pm - As this is the lowest case number in six days, it "does provide reassurance", Dr Bloomfield says.

Sixty-six percent of the new cases reported yesterday are household contacts of an existing case.

Of the cases yesterday, only 23 percent were considered to be infectious while in the community.

1:08pm - There are 49 new cases in the community today.

12:50pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield will take the podium at the Beehive Theatrette at around 1pm to provide the latest update on the outbreak.

To recap, 53 cases were reported on Monday - after 82 and 83 respectively were recorded over the weekend.

This morning, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said it was too early to tell if the marked drop in cases would be a trend.

You can watch the press conference live on Three or online at - or above in these live updates.

Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, August 31
Photo credit: Getty Images

12:35pm - The Ministry of Health has updated the list of locations of interest - but once again, no new locations or dates have been added on Tuesday.

The latest visits were added on Monday afternoon for:

  • The Met Apartments on Durham Street East
  • Headquarters Bar in Auckland's Viaduct
  • Elliott Stables Auckland CBD
  • Tasi Market, Massey
  • Newton Pharmacy Sport and Health

The full list of locations can be found here and a map of locations can be found here.

12:20pm - St John ambulance is urging the public to let ambulance staff know if they have tested positive for COVID-19, or if anyone in their household has been exposed, has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19.

St John deputy chief executive of ambulance operations Dan Ohs has assured that ambulance crews will attend to all emergencies at all alert levels regardless of these circumstances.

"However, in order to respond safely, we are asking patients and their support persons to be upfront about whether they've been exposed to the virus," he said.

"In response to feedback from our ambulance officers, who are reporting regular instances of patients and those in their household not providing accurate answers to COVID-19 screening questions, St John has made the decision that all frontline ambulance officers in the wider Auckland region will now be required to wear full airborne PPE, including gowns, eye protection, gloves, and N95 masks, to all routine call outs to keep them safe.

"For the rest of New Zealand, ambulance crews will continue to wear regular PPE but will wear full airborne PPE in instances where a patient or someone in their household has symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19."

11:50am - Food storage container manufacturer Sistema waited over a week to inform staff that a colleague had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the union E tū.

A number of team members have now been identified as close or casual contacts after working alongside the infected staffer.

In an email sent to Sistema's workforce late on Friday evening, Sistema chief executive Drew Muirhead said the person had been infectious at work on Tuesday, August 17.

A letter from Auckland Regional Public Health Service attached to the email said some staff were considered close contacts and must isolate at home for 14 days and get tested on day 12.

It's understood two workers were exposed to the virus on the weekend of August 14.

In a statement, E tū union team leader Jen Natoli said the company "should have told their workers about the positive case far earlier than it did".

E tū says says Sistema is also refusing to pay staff who are not working due to the ongoing lockdown, with the company directing those not at work to either take annual leave or face leave without pay.

As the company is currently operating at around 10 percent capacity under alert level 4, a significant portion of its team of roughly 600 are unable to work.

"How can [workers] make informed choices about safety if they don't know what’s going on at their work? And how can they stay home and not take risks if they aren't being paid when they are off work?" Natoli says.

"It has an obligation to pay them as they stay home."

11:45am - The most highly mutated variant of COVID-19 was detected in New Zealand this year - and experts warn it could be more infectious and better at evading vaccines than previous strains.

The C.1.2 variant, which was first detected in South Africa in May 2021, was found in a returnee who arrived on our shores in late June. They were taken to a quarantine facility, and there's no evidence the variant entered the community.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan, China, no known variant has mutated as much as C.1.2.

And now a new study - by South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform - has shown it could have several advantages over other strains.

Read more here.

11:30am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will provide an update on the COVID-19 outbreak at 1pm.

Watch the press conference live on Three or online - we will be livestreaming the stand-up on and via these live updates.

11:20am - The ongoing pandemic has triggered an increase in people suffering with eating disorders, according to a University of Auckland study.

Based on cases in the Waikato, the research backs both anecdotal and media reports of a pandemic-linked surge in demand for inpatient and outpatient treatment.

It also highlights the risk of treatment services being stretched thin managing the serious, sometimes life-threatening illnesses.

"There's potential for the latest lockdown to lead to another surge in cases," says Sara Hansen, the final-year medical student who led the study. "However, we can't be sure. The first lockdown was unprecedented; repeat lockdowns may affect people differently.

The study analysed the clinical records of 150 adults and 86 children admitted to hospital or referred for treatment during 2019 and 2020.

The study showed:

  • Hospital admissions for adults spiked during last year's nationwide lockdown, and doubled for the year overall
  • An increased number of both children and adults were admitted to hospital for the first time with an eating disorder, mostly anorexia nervosa
  • Māori were under-represented in inpatient and outpatient care, suggesting barriers to treatment

"Our findings are in line with studies overseas that have linked the pandemic to increases in eating disorders," says Associate Professor David Menkes, of the University of Auckland, a co-author of the paper published in the Journal of Eating Disorders. "Disordered eating may be fueled by people's desire to assert control over their bodies and lives in the midst of disruption and uncertainty."

Read the paper here.

11am - A foodbank in central Auckland is calling for urgent donations to refill its shelves and freezers, nearly emptied due to the unprecedented demand from struggling families amid the lockdown. 

Requests are up by about a third compared to the first lockdown last year, the Presbyterian Support Northern Foodbank's community relationship manager, Anne Overton, said on Tuesday. 

The foodbank cannot accept in-person food donations under alert level 4. Instead, staff have requested financial donations so they can shop at supermarkets to restock the empty shelves.

"Instead of public donations of food, we’re asking for financial donations. We have a good relationship with a local supermarket where we can buy large quantities of food and have it delivered to the Foodbank," Overton says. "The more financial donations we receive, the more food we can buy and the more families we can help during these tough times."

Financial donations to the foodbank can be made online here - make sure you click on 'Foodbank' in the drop-down box. 

10:50am - There are still no changes to the locations of interest. The page was last updated at 10am, it says, however the last entry in the list was added at 4pm on Monday.

If you were at a location of interest during the relevant time, you can record your visit online or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. If you record your visit online, you do not need to call Healthline - contact tracers will call or email you.

If you were not at a location of interest at the relevant time, you do not need to be tested or register your visit.

For those who have been at a location of interest during the relevant time, it is likely you will need more than one test. You must continue to isolate until you have spoken to Healthline. They will advise you and your household members on what you need to do. 

If you have been contacted by the Auckland District Health Board, the Ministry of Health or District Health Board Public Health Units, please follow their advice.

Official guidance for businesses that have been identified as a location of interest can be found here.

10:45am - A vaccination centre for Pacific and Māori communities will open in the Wellington suburb of Kilbirnie on Wednesday. 

The vaccination site will be located at the ASB Sports Centre on Kemp St and will be open from 9am to 5pm.

"Please wear a mask, you must not have been in a location of interest and not currently in isolation," the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office warns.

10:30am - The number of Kiwis who have died after receiving a dose of the  Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is actually "less than the expected number" by chance, New Zealand's medical safety authority says.

The first death in New Zealand likely to be directly linked to the vaccine was reported on Monday, a woman in her 50s who died about a month ago.

"All the evidence" is the cause was myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle - "probably due to the vaccine", the chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board (CV-ISMB), Dr John Tait, told The AM Show on Tuesday.

He said the woman had "a couple of other things that may potentially have affected this, but we can't really comment on that as it's still under the jurisdiction of the Coroner".

"But when we weighed up all the evidence, we felt that the myocarditis was probably due to the vaccine," he continued.

Since the start of the  rollout, 26 deaths following doses of the  vaccine have been reported to Medsafe. Medsafe says "some people will experience new illnesses or die from a pre-existing condition shortly after vaccination… by chance", and part of its monitoring involves comparing the number of deaths in those who receive doses to the rest of the population, "to determine if there are any specific trends or patterns that might indicate a vaccine safety concern".

"To date, the observed number of deaths reported after vaccination is actually less than the expected number of deaths," according to Medsafe's latest vaccine safety report, which covers all deaths and adverse reactions up to August 7.

Read more here.

10:20am - Te Whānau o Waipareira CEO John Tamihere says the gates are now open at the embattled Trusts Arena vaccination centre in west Auckland.

The drive-through centre has experienced a number of difficulties on Tuesday morning due to the wet and windy weather, with several tents blown away by the severe gusts.

Vaccinations will now take place indoors, Tamihere says, as staff endeavour to shorten the significant line of vehicles that has formed outside the stadium.

"We're now back in business," he told Newshub. "We've got wonderful people... immediately Kiwis just turn into furniture removal people, cleaners, cooks - just a tribute to people who serve on the frontline."

He says the team is down by roughly five or seven staff due to the severe flooding in west Auckland, and they're currently searching for replacements to keep the system running smoothly.

"We just need people to bear with us as we sort this weather incident out," he says. "A number of staff have been affected by flooding out west here, [so we're] looking for others to fill their gaps. It does slow our system down a bit."

10:10am - With all areas south of Auckland set to shift to alert level 3 at 11:59pm, here is a reminder on what constitutes essential interregional travel.

Travel for both personal and business purposes is strictly limited to essential movement if it requires crossing an alert level boundary. To recap, both the Auckland and Northland regions will remain under alert level 4 restrictions, with the latter potentially moving to level 3 on Thursday.

You may only travel between alert level 4 and alert level 3 areas if that travel is permitted. You also need to make sure you have acceptable evidence that you are permitted to cross the boundary.

Permitted reasons to cross an alert level 3 or alert level 4 boundary include collecting someone from a managed isolation and quarantine facility, attending a health appointment, caring for pets or other animals, providing care or support for a person in a critical or terminal condition, shared childcare arrangements, urgent care of a child, and emergencies. 

You can apply for an exemption if your reason is not permitted.

Click here for more information on alert level boundaries.

Click here for personal travel permissions to cross an alert level 3 and 4 boundary - business travel can also be found here.

9:55am - The drive-through vaccination centre at Trusts Arena in Henderson has been moved indoors.

Te Whānau o Waipareira CEO John Tamihere says the clinic will now operate on a walk-in basis.

"Last night's heavy rain caused damage to the site and tents used for vaccinating," Tamihere said. "Chairs have been set to social distance."

Earlier, staff at the centre were working to get the site up-and-running after the strong winds blew away a number of tents. It was hoped vaccinations would begin at 10am.

Tamihere says the doors are now set to open at 10:30am.

9:50am - At the time of writing, no additional locations of interest have been identified this morning.

You can keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest on the Ministry of Health's website, or via Newshub's infographic below. Click on the 'added' column heading to sort the sites by newest to oldest.

9:30am - The Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is urging Aucklanders to drive with caution during essential journeys on Tuesday.

Motorists are advised that SH16 through Kumeu remains closed due to flooding in the township between Matua Rd and Riverhead Rd.

"While rain in the area has eased for now, the overnight storm surge has also caused flooding in a range of other locations though out west Auckland, and those who need to be on the roads are urged to drive with caution," a spokesperson said.

The agency has also received reports of slips and fallen trees across the wider network, which pose a risk to road users.

"Our essential maintenance crews are working as hard as they can but these slips and debris will take time to clean up and flood waters take time to subside."

Motorists are encouraged to assess their need for essential travel and follow all updates via the Journey Planner, or by following Waka Kotahi Northland/Auckland on Twitter.

"The weather has also caused significant impact to bus services, while some ferry services have been cancelled," the spokesperson said. 

"Those who need to travel should drive to the conditions and keep their speeds down, maintain a safe following distance and stay alert."

9:15am - Wild weather is wreaking havoc in Auckland, with heavy rain, strong winds and widespread flooding in western suburbs.

Essential workers who are preparing to battle the elements this morning are warned to stay vigilant on the slippery roads. In a tweet, the New Zealand Transport Agency cautioned motorists to take "extra care" when crossing the Harbour Bridge, particularly for motorcyles and high-sided vehicles.

9:10am - Businesses are being assured a "pretty big bounce" looms once lockdown is over, but there are growing concerns many won't survive to see it without more financial assistance.

Economist Cameron Bagrie says if last year is anything to go by, losses incurred during levels 3 and 4 will be recouped.

"As we move down the alert levels, you're going to see a little bit of the pent-up demand; stuff that's been deferred that we need to do or have to - little things such as getting a haircut, restocking various items," he told The AM Show on Tuesday.

"We're going to see a pretty big bounce in the December quarter following what's going to be a pretty awful GDP number for the September quarter. A lot of it is dependent upon how long the lockdown continues to go. At the moment you can write off the month of September."

Read more here.

9am - Following the news on Monday that a woman had died after receiving the Pfizer vaccine - with health officials saying she developed myocarditis, an extremely rare side effect - experts have been speaking out to reassure New Zealanders of the vaccine's safety and efficacy. 

In a blog shared on Monday, vaccinologist and associate professor Helen Petousis-Harris from the University of Auckland provided some further insight into myocarditis.

"What is myocarditis? Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle; pericarditis is inflammation of the sac around the heart. Each year New Zealand has around 100 cases of myocarditis. A key trigger is a viral infection, including COVID-19. Symptoms include an abnormal heartbeat, new chest pain, and difficulty breathing. The condition can be severe and life threatening. Most cases will be admitted to hospital," she explained.

She acknowledged that while myocarditis and pericarditis following MRNA vaccines (such as Pfizer and Moderna) are "a thing", people should not be worried.

"This is very rare, and most cases recover. You are much more likely to get myocarditis if you get COVID-19. In fact, struck by lightning is more likely so while you should be forewarned, you should not lose sleep over it either."

After extensive investigations, Petousis-Harris says experts are aware of the following:

  • Myocarditis cases are typically occurring in males under 30, within days of receipt of the second dose. In these cases, the course of disease in generally mild and resolved with rest and anti-inflammatory medication. Long-term follow-up of cases is ongoing. When hospitalised. the average stay is two days
  • Summaries from the United States and Europe are available here
  • The benefits of receiving the Pfizer vaccine in younger age groups far outweigh the risks associated with it. While New Zealand has very little COVID-19 in the community at the moment due to lockdown, once we ease the restrictions and open the borders, community transmission of this infection is inevitable.

8:40am - Te Whānau o Waipareira staff at the Trusts Arena vaccination centre in Henderson are working hard to get the drive-through clinic up-and-running after several tents were swept away in the storm. 

Vehicles are reportedly queuing outside the stadium.

In a Facebook live video, a staff member said it was hoped the testing site would be fully operational by about 10am.

8:20am - It's understood the Government is close to finalising a potential deal to procure additional vaccines from another nation, with COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirming to Newstalk ZB that he's hopeful "we'll have something in the next few days". 

It follows a transaction between Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Poland earlier this month, in which our trans-Tasman neighbour was able to secure one million surplus vaccines to boost its inoculation rates. 

But officials are not disclosing any details about the potential deal, with Hipkins staying tight-lipped on the matter during his interview with Newstalk ZB this morning.

"When we've got some ink on some paper, then I'll tell you about it."

According to a report by Stuff, the deal - should it be finalised - would either involve New Zealand purchasing additional supply of the Pfizer vaccine, or procuring surplus doses in exchange for some future vaccine supplies.

A shipment containing than four million doses of the vaccine is due in October, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern telling The AM Show that until that delivery arrives, supply "will be tight" over the coming weeks.

8:10am - WasteMINZ has offered some of its top tips to reduce your rubbish during lockdown.

"Right now some councils around the country are unable to process recycling due to health and safety restrictions, it is now more important than ever to think about what you can do to reduce not just your rubbish, but also how much recycling you create," a spokesperson said.

Here are some of its top tips for reducing waste:

  • Make your own mask: Check out these tutorials
  • Stick to paper or cardboard packaging: Purchase items in paper or cardboard packaging where possible. Paper and cardboard can be composted at home or, in colder regions, used as a fire starter in the fireplace. Egg cartons, toilet rolls, newspapers and writing paper can all be torn up into smaller pieces and placed in your compost. If you don't have a compost set up yet, here's the Sustainability Trust's guide to making your own
  • Go electronic: Check what mail you are still receiving in the post and see if you can sign up for an e-newsletter instead, or sign up to receive your bills online. Order e-books, e-magazines and electronic greeting cards, or use your library to download free audio or e-books. You'll save postage and packaging, and can start enjoying them immediately
  • Ditch the plastic bottled water: Many of us are keeping up the exercise during the lockdown, so take a reusable water bottle instead of buying single-use bottles at the supermarket or dairy
  • Hold on to glass jars and containers: Hold onto your glass jars and donate them to community groups and op-shops once lockdown is over. Other containers, such as margarine containers and ice cream containers, can be reused as storage options.

7:52am - Ardern has again addressed the possibility of introducing alternative vaccines into New Zealand's rollout, saying adding an additional brand "won't necessarily speed up the process".

She says New Zealand's vaccination system is now "very specific" to Pfizer and introducing different vaccines would require implementing different processes. The extra complications of rolling out an additional vaccine on a mass scale may slow the speed of the campaign, rather than increase its efficiency, she says.

"Adding in those complexities may make it more difficult."

She says that New Zealand is now familiar with the Pfizer vaccine and we know it's an effective option. 

7:49am - Ardern says even if the Government is unable to meet the current surge in demand, the worst-case scenario is not necessarily a bad one.

"The worst-case scenario is that we're still delivering 350,000 vaccines a week, because we have enough supply in order to do that. And then of course in October we get those very large shipments, and those issues... move aside."

The Government is "trying to do everything that [it] can" to meet the increased demand.

"We've had this surge and we want to be able to keep that up, but even the worst-case scenario is not that we'll run out."

7:47am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is speaking on The AM Show.

She says there will be a few weeks where vaccine supply "is tight" while the Government waits for a large delivery to arrive in October.

"The bulk of ours come in October, so we've got this period of three to four weeks where our supply is tight. That's the period we're in at the moment. We are working to see if we can meet the demand we have right now while we wait for those bigger deliveries to come through in October," she says.

7:45am - A couple who may have received a saline or low dose injection instead of the Pfizer vaccine still don't know if they need a booster shot and say they've been getting the run-around from health officials.

Last week the Ministry of Health confirmed it could not rule out that five people may have received an incorrect dose of the vaccine on July 12 at the Highbrook Vaccination Clinic in Auckland.

Frances Beniest and her partner, Graham Grace, both believed they had received their second dose that day.

Beniest was sent an email about the possible mix-up within a day of the news breaking but, five days on, Grace has still heard nothing.

"I was in the same booth with her, our cards have the same batch number and she's received it, I haven't," he told RNZ.

The couple also want to know what the next steps will be - and the email Beniest received from health officials, which recommended they contact an 0800 number, hasn't been much help.

"We've contacted that number and every other 0800 number that every person has fobbed us off and given us. It is just going round and round in circles."

Read more here.

7:40am - South African scientists have detected a new variant of the virus with "concerning constellations of mutations", but are yet to establish whether it is more contagious or able to overcome the immunity provided by vaccines or prior infection.

The new variant, known as C.1.2, was first detected in May and has now spread to most South African provinces and to seven other countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania, according to research which is yet to be peer-reviewed.

It contains many mutations associated in other variants with increased transmissibility and reduced sensitivity to neutralising antibodies, but they occur in a different mix and scientists are not yet sure how they affect the behaviour of the virus. Laboratory tests are underway to establish how well the variant is neutralised by antibodies.

Read more about the C.1.2 variant here.

7:25am - Hosking grilled Hipkins as to why the Government is not redistributing vaccines to Auckland from other areas of the country that remain untouched by the current outbreak.

Hipkins noted that officials are "prioritising Auckland", but they don't want to be forced to cancel appointments anywhere in the country.

Hosking pressed that as there is currently no evidence of COVID-19 in the South Island, some of their supply could be redistributed in Auckland to increase the city's vaccination rate.

"Situations can change very rapidly and we want as many New Zealanders to be vaccinated as possible, as quickly as possible," Hipkins said.

7:20am - Hipkins says the Government is having "active conversations" about procuring additional supply of the vaccine.

Australia recently managed to secure a further 1 million doses from Poland.

"I'm hopeful that we'll have something in the next few days to be able to tell people about. At the moment I'm feeling very optimistic about that," Hipkins said.

"At the moment we're working on trying to ink some arrangements to get some more doses into the country faster, and when we've got some ink on some paper that's signed, then I'll tell you about it."

He confirmed the Government is still focused on Pfizer.

7:15am - Hipkins has defended a statement he made about vaccine supply, saying a quote was taken completely "out of context".

The minister previously suggested the Government was looking to delay further deliveries until October or November so "we don't end up with a whole lot sitting in the freezer".

"We've always been pushing hard to get more vaccines into the country earlier. What I was talking about is that we've got 10.1 million doses on order, by the end of October they will all be in the country, but current demand is only expected to be just over 8 million," Hipkins explained.

"So if everyone who's eligible gets the full two jabs, we'll still have something like 1.5 million doses left. What we do with those is a conversation we have with Pfizer as to whether we delay them til next year for booster shots or whatever."

He says it's in "no one's interest" to have roughly 1.5 million unused doses that are set to expire.

"We are not in any way slowing down deliveries that we need to make sure that everyone who is eligible can get one."

7:10am - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says "it's still too early to tell" if Monday's dramatically lower case number will be a trend or a one-off.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking on Tuesday morning, Hipkins acknowledged the high testing rates over Saturday and Sunday, which signalled the 53 new cases on Monday weren't just due to the typical weekend slump.

"That's encouraging," he said. "It's still too early to tell whether that's a trend yet. 

"[We can] keep our fingers crossed and be optimistic about it."

6:50am - Immunologist Graham Le Gros says we should be bringing in doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines we've purchased if the Pfizer vaccine supply is running short.

"At this point, given the fact that we're so vulnerable, yes I think it's really important we give everyone one jab," of the COVID-19 vaccine, immunologist and chief executive at the Malaghan Institute Prof Le Gros told RNZ.

"I think that getting bigger coverage, 50-60 percent of the population having at least one jab, because one good thing about the one jab - it does stop the dying and hospitalisation, which is the thing that we're really afraid of here in New Zealand."

6:40am - Aucklanders who need to evacuate their homes due to the extreme weather hitting the city Tuesday morning are being told to go right ahead, regardless of the alert level.

"If you need to evacuate: evacuation advice overrides any COVID-19 alert level requirements to stay home," Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management said on Twitter. "Stay 2m away from others if you can. Wear a mask or face covering & bring warm clothing, essential items for yourself & your family, & medications. Stay safe."

6:30am - A group of All Blacks partied at a location of interest before flying to Australia earlier thi month, the NZ Herald reports. They were celebrating a win over the Wallabies at the HeadQuarters bar in Auckland on August 14, which was added to the Ministry of Health's list on Sunday night. 

The players are currently in a secure bubble in Perth, after arriving on August 26. A spokespersopn said they were all vaccinated, have been following safety protocols and have all returned two negative tests so far. 

The Herald also reports a new vaccine will be trialled in New Zealand, after the manufacturer couldn't find enough unvaccinated people to test it on in Europe.

Stuff reports the Government is close to securing an extra batch of doses of the Pfizer vaccine from a friendly country, to ensure the accelerating vaccine rollout doesn't run into supply problems, but details are scarce.