Coronavirus updates - August 23, 2021

All of New Zealand will remain in COVID-19 alert level 4 until 11:59pm on Friday, the Government has announced.

Although Auckland will stay in level 4 a bit longer - until at least 11:59pm on August 31.

Earlier on Monday, 35 new cases of COVID-19 were detected in the community, bringing the total outbreak to 107.

The Ministry of Health announced that of the 35 cases, 33 are in Auckland. The remaining two have been found in Wellington. The number of contacts has also increased significantly, with 13,230 individual contacts now identified - the majority of whom are close contacts.

An investigation into possible transmission within the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility in Auckland is still underway. On Monday morning it was confirmed the Sydney returnee who the current outbreak has been linked to was in the lobby while a small number of people walked through the atrium thoroughfare, a well-ventilated open walkway.

Six people walked in the open walkway while the case was in the lobby, the Ministry of Health says, noting there is a possibility of "air-flow between the two spaces". 

Four of the six have been identified and three have tested negative for COVID-19, with one due to be tested. 

What you need to know

  • All of New Zealand will stay in alert level 4 until 11:59pm on Friday, although Auckland will stay in level 4 until August 31
  • There are now 107 community cases of COVID-19 after another 35 were reported on Monday - 33 of which are in Auckland and two are in Wellington
  • As of 8am today, 13,230 individual contacts have been identified - and this number will increase throughout the day. The majority are close contacts
  • Seven cases have been hospitalised, but none are in the ICU
  • Health officials are continuing to investigate possible transmission within the Crowne Plaza, with their inquiries determining six people were in the atrium walkway at the same time the Sydney returnee was in the lobby - the case to which the outbreak has been linked
  • The list of locations of interest has ballooned to more than 400
  • Signing in to events or most businesses, such as scanning in with the NZ COVID Tracer, will become mandatory across all alert levels.  

This article is no longer being updated.

9:14pm - The locations of interest for New Zealand's Delta COVID-19 outbreak have surpassed 400, with nearly 50 more added on Monday evening.

New potential exposure sites include several Auckland bus routes, Pizza Hut Mangere and Countdown Mangere. Click here for all locations of interest.

8:51pm - The Auckland University of Techology (AUT) has identified multiple locations of interest on campus after seven of its students tested positive for COVID-19. Click here for all AUT locations of interest.

8:48pm - The mystery of the Auckland Crowne Plaza managed isolation hotel continues as investigators try to find the source of the Delta outbreak.

The current theory is as that as an infected person arrived at the hotel, they passed it to a member of the public.

Here's Tom McCrae's report on the Crowne Plaza.

8:41pm - The New Zealand Government's decision to plunge the country into an alert level 4 lockdown is largely supported by the public, according to a poll published by The Spinoff and conducted by Stickybeak.

According to the poll, 84 percent of New Zealanders were in favour of the alert level 4 move.

8:26pm - ACT leader David Seymour is condemning the Government for using "spin over substance" amid the current COVID-19 outbreak.

"The same day the Government pronounced out that '74 percent of currently eligible people are booked or vaccinated at least once,' a much more telling figure emerged," he said in a statement.

"As reported by Newshub, of 107 current cases, 14 were vaccinated once, and only three were double vaccinated.

"The number that matters right now, if Kiwis want to get out of lockdown, is not 74 percent. It's three percent.

"One way or another, the Government needs to recognise its responsibility for not vaccinating New Zealand. Then it needs to stop spinning, give us the facts and start acting."

8:23pm - Australia is facing a growing compliance problem as more and more people refuse to follow government health orders. 

In the past 24 hours, there has been another protest, a COVID-infectious man on the run from the police and a church service that racked up $30,000 in fines.

Maskless protestors, led by a man on a horse, went on a protest for freedom on the border to a COVID-free Queensland.

Newshub Australia correspondent Emma Cropper reports from Sydney.

8:08pm - Earlier, National leader Judith Collins criticised the Government over its suspension of Parliament during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"I have expressed that a one week suspension of Parliament is all the National Party will support. However, the Prime Minister has indicated that she expects it will continue longer than that.

"At a time when New Zealanders have the harshest lockdown in the world and have lost our freedoms because of the Government’s failure to vaccinate and secure the border, this move by Jacinda Ardern is unfathomable.

"Look around the world and you will see parliaments managing to continue to function despite challenging circumstances. In the UK they operated virtually for almost a year."

8:03pm - With no COVID-19 cases and only a small proportion of close contacts in the South Island, lockdown fatigue is growing. 

Juliet Speedy reports from Christchurch.

7:50pm - Public health professor Nick Wilson is backing the Government's decision but is urging officals to look for alternative managed isolation facilities - other than city hotels.

The latest COVID-19 outbreak was sparked by a 58-year-old man testing positive for the highly infectious Delta strain in the Auckland suburb of Devonport last Tuesday. The case has since been linked to a returnee from Sydney who stayed in a managed isolation hotel, but how the infection was passed on remains under investigation.

"There's no surprises that we keep having problems and it really is now time to have another serious relook at not using hotels for quarantine," Prof Wilson told RNZ's Checkpoint.

7:30pm - Head of managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) Megan Main has a released the below statement regarding the pause on room releases:

MIQ is temporarily halting the release and re-release of rooms on the managed isolation allocation system due to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

This includes cancelled vouchers that are normally automatically re-released back into the system. This means there will be no rooms available to book on the managed isolation allocation system for a short period.

The halt on the release of rooms is expected to last a few days.

We will let people know when the system returns to normal.

The current community outbreak means MIQ needs to carefully manage capacity as community members enter facilities to quarantine.

There's still several thousand rooms yet to be released through to the end of November and a decision will be made on timing for the release of December.

7:10pm - Seven Auckland University of Technology (AUT) students have now tested positive for COVID-19, it's been confirmed.

An AUT spokeswoman said it's yet to be confirmed whether three of these students were on campus during their inrectious periods.

6:45pm - Infectious disease modeller Shaun Hendy warns the outbreak could grow to 1000 total cases.

"I would say a best case scenario would be something like what we saw in August last year - probably, higher than that. Maybe 200 [cases] might be the best case scenario but it could go as high as 1000 [cases]. That's still a possibility," he says.

"But we will see later this week how alert level four is working and it's alert level four which will actually determine the number of cases in this cluster."

Read the full story here.

6:30pm - The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says there will be a temporary pause in releasing rooms in the managed isolation allocation system due to the outbreak.

"This includes cancelled vouchers that are normally re-released. No rooms will be available to book for a few days," they tweeted.

6:15pm - Several new locations of interest have just been announced. They are:

  • NZ School of Tourism, August 12 from 9am to 3pm
  • St Patrick's Cathedral Auckland CBD, August 12 from 12:15pm to 1:15pm
  • NZ School of Tourism, August 13 from 9am to 3pm
  • Ground Floor walkway between Car Park 8 and Better Burger, Sylvia Park Shopping Centre, August 14 from 9:50am to 11am
  • Browns St Heliers Mall Cafe, August 14 from 10am to 11am
  • Ground Floor Walkway between Better Burger and Car Park 8, Sylvia Park Shopping Centre, August 14 from 10:30am to 11:40am
  • Breadwinners Bakery, St Heliers, August 14 from 10:50am to 11:10am
  • Mission Bay Liquor, August 14 from 4:40pm to 4:55pm
  • Burger Fuel Mission Bay, August 14 from 5pm to 5:15pm
  • Bus 70 from Symonds Street to Panmure Station, August 15 from 11:55am to 1:30pm
  • Nandos Restaurant, Queen St, August 15 from 1pm to 2:30pm
  • Moretons Bar & Restaurant St Heliers, August 16 from 5:45pm to 8pm
  • Rosebank School Avondale, August 17 from 9am to 3pm
  • Dentist Otara, 3 Watford St, August 17 from 9:45am to 11:45am
  • McDonald's Stoddard Road, August 17 from 5:45pm to 5:50pm
  • Whitaker Hall Auckland University Grafton Campus, August 19 from 12am to 11:59pm
  • Pak'nSave Clendon, August 22 from 10:30am to 11:45am.

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

5:45pm - The Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) says it is training 200 healthcare students from the University of Auckland, Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), Auckland University of Technology (AUT), and Unitec to carry out swabbing at community testing centres (CTCs) and in primary care across the Auckland metro region.

The students, who all need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, will learn how to take a swab, how to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), and infection prevention and control procedures.

NRHCC lead Fepulea'i Margie Apa says Auckland has seen an "unprecedented demand" for testing recently and appreciates the number of students who have registered their interest to learn.

"When trained, these students will support the testing workforce across the system including community testing centres, primary health care and DHBs who are all working to quickly identify any new cases," she says.

MIT head of Nursing School Associate Professor Deborah Rowe says it's an opportunity for students to support something that will protect their communities.

"It provides our tauira with additional experience contributing to COVID-19 response which will be part of the worldwide healthcare landscape for the foreseeable future."

5:30pm - Below is a heat map Ardern showed during the alert level update. It shows where all close contacts are located throughout the country.

It is accurate as of 8am this morning.

Coronavirus updates - August 23, 2021
Photo credit: Supplied

5:15pm - Experts have reacted to the decision to extend alert level 4.

Professor Shaun Hendy says it's becoming clear that the cluster is "towards the upper limit of expectations".

"This does mean we will likely see alert level 4 held in place for at least several weeks more in the Auckland region," he says.

"For the rest of the country we will have to wait until later in the week to see if they remain clear, in which case, an alert level shift could be considered on Friday. In Wellington, where there are active cases, officials will need to rule out spread within the community to consider an alert level shift."

Epidemiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles says alert level 4 restrictions are needed to help minimise the chance of transmission.

"We can see by how quickly this outbreak has grown, that the increased infectiousness of Delta in combination with super-spreader events can quickly overwhelm the ability to use contact tracing to identify cases and stop chains of transmission," she says.

"That is why the alert level 4 restrictions are so important for New Zealand to minimise the chance of chains of transmission continuing so that we are able to stamp out this current outbreak."

5:05pm - The Ministry of Health added some new locations of interest while the alert level update was happening.

They are:

  • Better Burger Sylvia Park, August 14 from 10am to 10:30am
  • Level 3 Car Park to Level 1 including escalator, Westfield Newmarket, August 14 from 10:50am to 12pm
  • Krispy Kreme Westfield Newmarket, August 14 from 11am to 12:10pm
  • Level 1 to Level 3 Car Park including escalator, Westfield Newmarket, August 14 from 11:10am to 12:20pm.

4:57pm - Ardern says alternative measures have been sought, following scrutiny from the Opposition over suspending Parliament.

She couldn't justify MPs coming in from across the country and bringing in other staff too.

In terms of setting up the Epidemic Response Committee, Ardern says they chose to have a range of select committees going on virtually rather than one committee.

She adds that Labour will give bulk of questions during Question Time to Opposition.

4:54pm - Dr Bloomfield says the surge is mostly around testing and specifically in Auckland, whereas elsewhere it's been scaled back.

Intensive care units are only at about 50 percent at the moment and there is no pressure on wider health system, he says, although DHBs are looking into bringing back selective surgeries.

He adds that additional ventilators were sought last year because other health staff can be trained to fill in and operate one. All DHBs have been training their workforce to help out should it be required.

4:52pm - Ardern says people have been good in terms of there not being any transmission through lockdown breaches.

Officials have been looking for that issue, but they've had no concerns so far.

Ardern points to NSW where people have been out in the community and spreading COVID despite lockdown rules, and says we haven't been in lockdown that long for that to be the case.

4:49pm - Fifty percent of the current cases are of Pacific ethnicity, Dr Bloomfield says, and none are Māori.

A breakdown of the ethnicities and age brackets of positive cases will soon be published, he adds.

4:48pm - Dr Bloomfield says he advised Parliament's suspension for this week and anticipates he'll be asked for further advice next week.

"Let's see what the results show this week," he says.

4:46pm - The COVID-19 test result system was down today. Dr Bloomfield says it caused a delay in turnaround times and officials have been working hard to get it up and running again.

4:44pm - On having an elimination strategy, Ardern says it has worked before and it is the right thing to New Zealand.

It will get us to a point where we have no restrictions again and vaccinations will lessen the need for lockdown, she says.

The strategy will continued to be reviewed over the coming months, adding the Government has already been adapting it to what it might look like.

4:42pm - Seven people in the outbreak are in hospital and none are in an ICU, Dr Bloomfield says.

4:40pm - Ardern says about 11 people who are COVID-positive are vaccinated, although she couldn't say whether they had one or both doses.

4:38pm - Ardern says Cabinet had good discussion on how things would look with regional lockdowns, and "how we do this as efficiently as possible".

"We need to consider the range, what if you had a [level] 4 and a 3," she says, adding it would have to be ensured that parts of the country aren't inaccessible.

4:36pm - Dr Bloomfield says it's "promising" that there are no cases from locations of interest in Wellington, and no cases in Coromandel.

Ardern says they "want to wait it out" before there confident there isn't any super spreading.

4:33pm - Ardern says there are over 100 close contacts currently isolating in the South Island.

On the trans-Tasman bubble and asked whether it should've been opened, she says it was shut when the origin case got in.

She adds that it's "a very hard virus" and she stands by her decisions.

4:29pm - The public walkway at the Crowne Plaza is just one possible transmission possibility, Ardern says, but it was still blocked off to the public. However, they're not ruling it out.

4:27pm - Contact tracing is "certainly a stretch on the system", Dr Bloomfield says, because they're being more careful with Delta.

Additional capacity in call centres is being brought on and close contacts require daily follow ups which is "intensive".

Public health units are triaging the most critical contacts, which Ardern says is important.

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty Images

4:25pm - Ardern says the exercise area at the Crowne Plaza is ruled out as the main theory of first infection and they're now looking into the walkway theory.

"We're keeping open the lines of investigations," she says.

4:22pm - Bloomfield says most of our emerging cases are linked. Many are associated with a church service and Wellington cases are close contacts.

"The picture in Wellington is reassuring," he says.

Dr Bloomfield says the AUT student who travelled to Wellington was in a student residence and health officials are looking into where they have been.

4:21pm - Ardern says they need more information, regarding whether it's likely the rest of New Zealand will move to level 3 if there are no new cases.

"We don't want to take any risks with Delta," she says, but "we do believe that [Friday] is an appropriate check-in point."

4:19pm - Ardern says the extra four days will give them additional data, testing across known contacts, and "a level of reassurance".

She says that they will keep "checking in" with Auckland, but adds that those in the city will know the two weeks in lockdown "is  given".

Dr Bloomfield says the big exposure events were two Saturdays ago, so this Friday will be 14 days since then.

4:16pm - On the suspension of Parliament, Ardern says that ministers will appear before select committees virtually to "balance safety and scrutiny".

4:14pm - Ardern says that Cabinet and the health team remain confident due to wide contact tracing and testing.

She urges people who are contacts to isolate and get tested.

To leave level 4, New Zealanders need to follow the rules closely, Ardern says.

4:12pm - New Zealand will stay in alert level 4 until 11:59pm Friday. Auckland will stay in level 4 until at least 11:59pm on August 31.

4:10pm - Ardern says Delta "had a head start on us", and points to the transmission rate and how it's spreading so fast.

"We have some way to go yet," she says.

She says there are "far more than other outbreaks" in terms of locations and contacts. 

"We won't always have the same certainty we've reached all those we want to," she says, referring to contact tracing.

4:06pm - Ardern is currently speaking. She says Cabinet met today and talked about the new cases today.

"We are building a picture of the outbreak spread," Ardern says. She adds there are "no further clues in the Crowne Plaza investigation to date.

About 154,000 tests have been done in past six days, a record amount "by quite some way".

3:55pm - We're just minutes away from the Government's announcement on alert levels.

You can watch that here or by tuning in on Three. We will also update any developments on this page.

3:50pm - National leader Judith Collins says Ardern's suspension of Parliament is "wrong".

"I have expressed that a one week suspension of Parliament is all the National Party will support. However, the Prime Minister has indicated that she expects it will continue longer than that," she says.

"At a time when New Zealanders have the harshest lockdown in the world and have lost our freedoms because of the Government's failure to vaccinate and secure the border, this move by Jacinda Ardern is unfathomable.

"Look around the world and you will see parliaments managing to continue to function despite challenging circumstances. In the UK they operated virtually for almost a year."

Collins adds that she will reach out to ACT and the Māori Party to "establish how best we can prevent this shut down of democracy".

Meanwhile, ACT leader David Seymour says the suspension is "a historic low".

"At the very least the Epidemic Response Committee should have been brought back," he says.

"The suggestion that Select Committees with a Labour majority, which have been notorious for obstructing questioning are a substitute for Parliament would not be taken seriously at any other time.

"Ardern's objection that inter-regional travel is not justifiable is extraordinary. The planes are still flying to Wellington with people on them, Ardern just doesn't think those people should include Opposition politicians."

3:35pm - Newshub understands Parliament will be suspended, on the advice of Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, which may indicate a long lockdown. 

Newshub has contacted the office of House Leader Chris Hipkins for information on how long Parliament could be suspended, but his office could not confirm anything ahead of the 4pm post-Cabinet press conference.

3:30pm - Kaibosh Food Rescue in Wellington is accepting food donations to give to people in need if businesses have surplus food they won't use.

They have social distancing protocols in place at its 11 Hopper St site in the city.

Find out more here.

3pm - We're just an hour away from the Government's update on alert levels - which you'll be able to watch on Newshub's website or by tuning in on Three.

There are several aspects weighing on the 4pm decision: spread, testing, public buy-in, compliance, source, and vaccinations.

Read what'll be going through the Government's mind ahead of their decision here.

2:35pm - One lucky woman's lockdown has become one to remember after she scooped the $11.5 million Powerball win on Sunday.

The young Auckland woman took out Powerball First Division on Saturday night. After realising she had just become Lotto's newest multi-millionaire on Sunday morning, the woman and her sister celebrated in true lockdown fashion - a trip to the supermarket, and ice creams in the car.

"We headed down to the supermarket to pick up a few things and decided to give Lotto NZ a call while we were in the carpark, just to double-check everything. When the woman on the phone confirmed that I had won $11.5 million… well, it was unbelievable. My sister and I just sat in the car screaming – it was such a cool moment," the woman said in a statement released on Monday. 

"Being in lockdown means there isn’t a lot we can do to celebrate, but I went straight into the supermarket and grabbed a few treats - we actually celebrated with ice creams in the car.

"I've always dreamed of buying my first home and am so excited to finally be able to do that! I'm very family-oriented, so I’m really excited to be able to help my family out and set them up for the future - it means so much to me. I feel so incredibly lucky - I'll never forget this lockdown, that's for sure!"

2:20pm - The list of locations of interest has again been updated with new dates, times and potential exposure sites.

They are:

  • Jetts Gym Otahuhu, 9/217 Great South Road, Otahuhu, Auckland 1062 on Monday 16 August 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm 
  • KFC Point Chevalier, 1170 Great North Road, Point Chevalier, Auckland 1022 on Friday 13 August 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, 185 Glen Gary Avenue, Auckland on Monday 9 August 7:45 am - 8:30 am
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Wednesday 11 August 3:15 pm - 3:45 pm
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Monday 9 August 3:15 pm - 3:45 pm
  • PaknSave Clendon park, 16 Robert Ross Place, Clendon Park, Auckland 2103 on Monday 16 August 7:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  • Mobil petrol station Johnsonville, 4 Johnsonville Road, Johnsonville, Wellington 6037 on Tuesday 17 August 8:20 pm - 8:35 pm
  • Clendon Dairy Clendon Park, 469 Roscommon Road, Clendon Park, Auckland 2103 on Tuesday 17 August 11:30 am - 12:00 pm.

2pm - Four people have been arrested in Northland due to two separate breaches of alert level 4 restrictions over the weekend, says Northland Police Detective Inspector Rhys Johnston.

An 18-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were arrested in Kaikohe on Sunday morning after officers observed them asleep in a car.

The man and woman had earlier been stopped at a checkpoint in Rodney and advised officers they were returning home to Whangārei after receiving medical treatment in Auckland.

They were given instructions to proceed to their home address immediately.

When the pair's car was subsequently located in Kaikohe, police made further enquiries with the two and located a number of items in the car, including methamphetamine, cash, and a machete.

They now face charges including possession of methamphetamine for supply, failing to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, and failing to comply with a search and surveillance obligation in relation to a device.

They are expected to appear in Kaikohe Court on Monday.

In the second incident, Kaitaia Police visited a residential property after witnesses reported of a lot of people coming and going from the address.

At the address, police located drug paraphernalia, cannabis, methamphetamine and cash.

A 48-year-old man and a 36-year-old woman are scheduled to appear in Kaitaia District Court on Monday, facing a range of drug-related charges.

"The actions of all of these people are incredibly disappointing and New Zealand Police will have little tolerance for those breaching the alert level 4 restrictions," Det Insp Johnston said.

"Northland Police are working hard to ensure we keep our community safe and we continue to encourage anyone who is concerned about anyone conducting criminal offending or breaching the alert level 4 restrictions to contact police via 105."

1:50pm - Police are continuing to conduct thousands of checks during alert level 4, says Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, with more than 4000 reassurance visits to essential facilities and over 6000 directed patrols.

"While compliance has generally been very good across the country, a small number of incidents continue to attract police attention," Coster said in a statement on Monday afternoon.

"Police are urging New Zealanders to do the right thing by wearing a face covering when accessing essential services. Failing to comply with this requirement puts essential workers and our communities at risk.

"While police continue to engage and encourage compliance, we will not hesitate to take swift enforcement action when necessary."

As of 5pm on Sunday, 29 people have been charged with a total of 33 offences nationwide since lockdown began. These arrests are primarily the result of protest activity.

Of the 33 charges filed, 16 are for Failing to Comply with Order (COVID-19), 12 for Failure to Comply with Direction/Prohibition/Restriction and five for Health Act breaches.

In the same period, 85 people were issued with formal warnings. Thirty-two were for Failing to Comply with Order (COVID-19), 21 for Failure to Comply with Direction/Prohibition/Restriction and 32 for Health Act breaches.

Police have received a total of 5848 online reports of rule breaches - 3526 about a gathering, 1788 about a business, and 534 about an individual.

In addition to the Online Breach Reports, a total of 4110 COVID-related calls were made to the 105 phone line.

The majority (2898) of calls were requests for information, and 1212 were to report perceived breaches.

As at 5pm on Sunday, police have issued 365 infringements nationwide.

The breakdown of these total offences is as follows:

  • Person failed to remain at current home / residence – 328
  • Person failed to wear a face covering on premises – 15
  • Person failed to comply with applicable physical distancing rule – 13
  • Obstruct/Hinder Medical Officer of Health or Person Assisting Med Officer – 6
  • Person failed to wear a face covering on public transport – 2
  • Person in control of premises failed to close as required – 1.

Over the weekend four people in Northland were arrested after police investigating two separate alert level breaches also found evidence of drug-related offending.

In Whangamatā, police had to remind a steady flow of people that the fine weather was not an invitation to take a Sunday drive to the beach, or do a recycling drop-off at the local transfer station.

And in Taupō, a mountain biker who fell on a bike track had to be winched out by rescue helicopter and taken to hospital. Police will be speaking to the biker at a later date and enforcement action for breaching restrictions will be considered.

1:30pm - Meanwhile in Ruakākā, footage of a family heading to the Bream Bay Medical Centre - dressed as dinosaurs - has emerged on social media.

1:18pm - ESR is on Monday collecting wastewater samples from sites throughout New Zealand for testing. There are no new findings to report.

On Sunday it was reported that COVID-19 had again been detected at Moa Point in Wellington and in the Auckland region, but samples taken from other sites in Wellington at Porirua, Seaview and Karori - and now from the North Shore at Rosedale and Albany - were negative for viral fragments.

Samples taken on Friday and Saturday returned no other unexpected detections anywhere else in the country.

ESR continues to test wastewater at 41 sites across the country, covering 3.7 million New Zealanders. Of the 41 current sites, 13 are in Auckland and four are in Wellington. ESR is in the process of adding additional sites.

Regarding potential exposure sites, the Ministry of Health says it will continue to update its list of locations of interest regularly, pointing out its new functions including a search box and an interactive map.

If you were at a location of interest at the specified time, please self-isolate and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing.

1:16pm - The Ministry of Health has also provided an update on the investigation into the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility in Auckland.

Public health officials are continuing to investigate those who used the atrium thoroughfare at the Crowne Plaza while the earliest identified case was in the lobby, as there is a possibility of air flow between the two spaces.

A total of six people walked in the open walkway while the case was in the lobby. Of those four have been identified and three have tested negative, and one person is in the process of getting a test.

There are two people still to be identified, which police are assisting with.

This throughfare is located inside the Crowne Plaza building and is not the outside walkway which is used to access the Huawei Centre.

It has been confirmed the case was indoors while a very small number of people walked in the open walkway, which is well ventilated.

1:15pm - The Ministry of Health has also provided an update on testing.

On Sunday, 35,766 tests were processed across New Zealand.

Testing centres in Auckland had another busy day with just over 17,000 swabs taken across the city, marking New Zealand's biggest day to date at our community testing centres.

"By calling Healthline for advice on testing, 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," the spokesperson said.

"When you go for a test, please wear a mask, scan in to the QR codes located on site and if possible take your NHI number with you. This is likely to speed up the process.

"You'll be able to find your NHI number of a hospital letter, a prescription or prescription receipt. The ministry has also established a new 0800 number to find out - 0800 855 066."

There are 16 community testing centres available for testing across Auckland this afternoon, including a new site at Pukekohe.

More than 3850 tests were processed on Sunday for Wellington and the Hutt Valley, with 11 community testing centres operating, and around 32 GPs open for testing.

The total number of COVID-19 tests processed by laboratories to date is 2,727,853.

1:14pm - Thirty-five new cases of COVID-19 have been found in the community.

Thirty-three are in Auckland and two are in Wellington. The total number of community cases in Auckland now stands at 99, while Wellington's total has increased to eight.

This brings the total number of cases in the outbreak to 107.

All of the cases have or are being transferred safely to a managed isolation facility under strict infection prevention and control procedures, including the use of full PPE, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said in Monday's statement.

"As previously indicated, it's not unexpected to see a rise in daily case numbers at this stage. At its peak last year, New Zealand had a daily total of 89 new cases," the spokesperson said.

Of the 107 cases in the cluster, 72 are already epidemiologically linked to other community cases identified in the outbreak.

"Investigations are continuing to determine whether and how the remaining 35 cases are linked to the outbreak, however most have a plausible link on initial assessment. For example, people were at a location of interest. We will continue to release this information and new locations of interest as it becomes available."

ESR is also continuing to run whole genome sequencing on cases. On Sunday, 29 samples were sequenced and all were confirmed as being linked to the Auckland outbreak.

There are three new cases in recent returnees in managed isolation facilities.

Meanwhile, the number of contacts has "increased significantly", said the spokesperson. 

As of 8am on Monday, 13,230 individual contacts have been identified - and this number will increase throughout the day, as records are fully processed. The majority of these contacts are close contacts.

Of these contacts, 6773 have been contacted by public health staff and are self-isolating, and 42 percent have had a test.

Work is underway to contact the remaining 6457 contacts.

1:05pm - Meanwhile across the ditch, New South Wales has recorded 818 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night (local time).

Of these locally acquired cases, 120 are linked to a known case or cluster - 94 are household contacts and 26 are close contacts - and the source of infection for 698 cases is under investigation.

Forty-seven cases were in isolation throughout their infectious period and 15 were in isolation for part of their infectious period. Forty-two cases were infectious in the community, and the isolation status of 714 cases remains under investigation.

12:53pm - A number of new locations of interest have been added to the Ministry of Health's list.

They are:

  • McDonalds Auckland CBD, 268 Queen Street, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010 on Tuesday 10 August 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Wednesday 11 August 7:45 am - 8:30 am
  • AUT North Campus, 90 Akoranga Drive, Northcote, Auckland 0627 on Monday 16 August 10:40 am - 4:00 pm
  • McDonalds New Lynn, 1 Memorial Drive, New Lynn, Auckland 0600 on Tuesday 17 August 6:00 pm - 10:30 pm
  • McDonalds New Lynn, 1 Memorial Drive, New Lynn, Auckland 0600 on Tuesday 17 August 5:15 am - 4:00 pm
  • Charmate Restaurant Auckland CBD, 17 Swanson Street, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010 on Tuesday 10 August 11:45 am - 12:15 pm
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Tuesday 17 August 7:30 am - 8:30 am
  • West City Mall Henderson, 7 Catherine Street, Henderson, Auckland 0612 on Sunday 15 August 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Friday 13 August 7:45 am - 8:30 am
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Monday 16 August 7:30 am - 8:30 am
  • Athletics Auckland Running Event Cornwall Park, Cornwall Park, Green Lane West, Epsom, Auckland 1051 on Saturday 14 August 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Thursday 12 August 7:45 am - 8:30 am
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Friday 13 August 3:15 pm - 3:45 pm
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Monday 16 August 3:15 pm - 3:45 pm
  • Trail Run Event Totara Park Auckland, Totara Park, 90 Wairere Road, The Gardens, Auckland 2105 on Sunday 15 August 8:30 am - 2:30 pm
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Tuesday 17 August 3:15 pm - 3:45 pm
  • Bus 007 Glen Eden to Green Bay, Auckland on Thursday 12 August 3:15 pm - 3:45 pm
  • Remuera Exchange Auckland, 2A Dilworth Avenue, Remuera, Auckland 1050 on Monday 16 August 6:40 am - 7:17 am
  • Remuera Exchange Auckland, 2A Dilworth Avenue, Remuera, Auckland 1050 on Tuesday 17 August 1:22 pm - 1:37 pm
  • AUT City Campus, 55 Wellesley Street East, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010 on Tuesday 17 August 11:40 am - 5:00 pm
  • TAPAC The Auckland Performing Arts Centre Western Springs, 100 Motions Road, Western Springs, Auckland 1022 on Friday 13 August 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm.

12:50pm - A case update from the Ministry of Health via email is expected at 1pm.

Newshb will share the case update as soon as we receive it.

12:45pm - It's believed two new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in Wellington, Stuff reports.

Citing three sources with knowledge of the situation, Stuff reports there are several new cases in the capital, including at least two but as many as five.

12:30pm - ACT leader David Seymour says the Government's impending decision regarding alert levels will come down to how "prepared it's been" - and has urged health officials to be transparent about the factors behind the possible alert level shifts. 

In a statement on Monday morning, the Epsom MP said the Government needs to be "open and transparent" about the numbers traced and tested, and what factors its decision was based on.

"People want a Government that is accountable to the people, that lays out the data it has and what it needs to see to make a decision. Will the South Island come out of level 4 if, say, 90 percent of contacts are traced and 80 percent have returned a negative test? Are we waiting for 100 percent before a region can go down an alert level?" he said.

He claims instead, the Government begins each 1pm press conference with "self-congratulations about vaccination being on track" - echoing The AM Show host Ryan Bridge's sentiment about spin earlier this morning.

"The Government should treat us like adults and tell us what criteria it will be using to make today's decision. What testing rates will it consider enough, has there been enough tracing? If these are not up to standard, what is it doing to ensure it improves?" he continued.

"Before Cabinet meets today - we should be brought into the Government's confidences about what measures it will be using to make the decision. Otherwise we're all left in the dark and crossing our fingers."

12:10pm - It's understood that university students across Auckland will begin to undergo training this week in a bid to fill staffing shortages at Auckland's under-the-pump testing stations.

Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said during Friday's press conference that the Ministry of Health has been working closely with district health boards to determine ways to fill staffing gaps - with one option being to recruit university students to assist with the swabbing process.

The Ministry of Health confirmed to Stuff that health officials have been speaking to tertiary institutions to see how health-related degree and diploma students could be trained to assist with testing.

A University of Auckland spokeswoman said the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) had approached the university and was setting up systems for students to participate. She added that it would only be available to fully vaccinated students in the Auckland metro area and students would participate on a voluntary basis.

11:55am - An Aucklander awaiting a COVID-19 test has told Newshub the queues outside the A&P Showgrounds testing centre in Pukekohe are "unacceptable".

In an email to Newshub, the man said the rate of testing is "near non-existent" at the centre, claiming it has taken 3.5 hours to move forward a few-hundred metres.

"[Unacceptable] speeds to take tests," he said.

Dedicated testion stations were set up in the south Auckland suburb over the weekend after Pukekohe High School was identified as a location of interest, joining a slew of other schools - Avondale College, De La Salle College, Lynfield College, Northcote College, McAuley High School and Western Springs College - to be directly affected by the outbreak.

11:40am - A number of additional locations of interest have been identified and added to the Ministry of Health's list this morning.

Keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest on the Ministry of Health's website.

Alternatively, you can check Newshub's list here.

11:30am - Supermarket staff say they are in the dark over shortages of meat products at Countdown this weekend.

Shoppers have taken to social media to describe empty shelves in the meat departments of Auckland's Countdown stores.

Countdown's general manager of corporate affairs and safety and sustainability, Kiri Hannifin, said a small technical issue affecting the company's meat packing and delivery in the North Island has now been resolved.

In a statement, she said customers should see meat supplies back to normal shortly, but in the meantime, there would be a limit of six packets per customer.

Read more here.

11:15am - There are fears that Auckland's fifth lockdown will force families back into hardship.

Tevita Funaki, the chief executive of Fono - a Pacific health and social service provider - said prior to the outbreak, many whānau had been getting back on their feet economically.

But the prospect of a prolonged period at alert level 4 would be a real setback for them, he said.

"We are very concerned around the level of hardship of families, I think families were starting to get back into normality."

Read more here.

11:05am - To recap, Cabinet will convene on Monday to discuss the next steps for New Zealand's lockdown. At this stage, the country will remain under alert level 4 protocol until 11:59pm on Tuesday.

However, there have been calls to shift the South Island to a less restrictive alert level as the southern regions so far remain untouched by the outbreak. 

Of the 72 cases, 66 are in Auckland, and six are in Wellington.

It will be just one of the possibilities weighing on Jacinda Ardern ahead of her decision, which will be announced at 4pm.

Six days into lockdown, here are six things weighing on Ardern ahead of Cabinet's alert level decision. 

10.18am - Several more locations of interest have been released by the Ministry of Health, all in Auckland.

  • Taco Bell Auckland CBD, 3 Shortland Street, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010 on Tuesday 10 August 12:30 pm - 1:00 pm

  • Elevator ride Car Park L6 to Level 1 SkyCity Theatre Auckland, Victoria Street & Federal Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010 on Friday 13 August 7:59 pm - 8:59 pm 

  • Starbucks Auckland CBD, 220 Queen Street, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010 on Tuesday 10 August 12:45 pm - 1:30 pm

  • McDonalds New Lynn, 1 Memorial Drive, New Lynn, Auckland 0600 on Tuesday 10 August 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm

  • Lynn Mall Shopping Centre New Lynn, 3058 Great North Road, New Lynn, Auckland 0600 on Tuesday 10 August 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm

  • Kumon New Lynn Education Centre, 3119 Great North Road, New Lynn, Auckland 0600 on Tuesday 17 August 7:30 pm - 7:45 pm

  • McDonalds Auckland CBD, 268 Queen Street, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010 on Tuesday 10 August 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

For the full list of locations of interest, click here.

9.05am - There's growing concern about a cluster of COVID-19 cases linked to an Auckland church in Māngere.

The Ministry of Health is urging members of a Samoan church to isolate and get tested after multiple COVID-19 cases have now been identified as having attended last Sunday.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has highlighted this as a location of particular importance to the outbreak.

"Several of the new cases announced to date are linked to a church service, at the Samoan Assembly of God Church in Māngere last Sunday, the 15th of August," Dr Bloomfield said at a press conference yesterday.

The cluster has spread to Wellington, too.

"There is a number of cases now around that event, including three of our cases down here in Wellington who had been at that event in Auckland."

8.29am - Several new locations of interest have been identified in Auckland, with multiple gyms and supermarkets on the list.

They are:

  • Food Village Manurewa, 235 Browns Road, Manurewa, on Thursday 12 August 10:00 am - 10:15 am

  •  Pak n Save Clendon, 16 Robert Ross Place, Clendon Park, Tuesday 17 August 9:00 am - 11:00 am

  • Jets Gym Otahuhu, 9/217 Great South Road, Otahuhu, Monday 16 August 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm

  • Countdown Takanini, 228 Great South Road, Takanini, on Monday 16 August 10:00 am - 10:10 am 

  •  Countdown Manurewa, 227 Browns Road, Manurewa, on Monday 16 August 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm 

  • KFC Glenfield, 403 Glenfield Road, Glenfield, on Saturday 14 August 10:40 am - 6:30 pm

  • KFC Mangere, Mascot Ave &, Wanstead Way, Mangere Central, on Sunday 15 August 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm 

  • Westside Fitness Henderson, 21 Catherine Street, Henderson, on Wednesday 11 August 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

For a full list of all locations of interest across the country, click here. 

8.02am -  An education expert is reassuring parents who are concerned about their children falling behind in lockdown.

NZ Principals' Federation national president Perry Rush told The AM Show lockdown is unlikely to cause long term issues to young people's education.

"There's lots of really powerful research around the absence from school that young people experience over the school holidays so when there's six, seven, eight weeks off school. The research tells us that there is a little bit of lag when school starts back in February but pretty quickly those achievement rates improve. So I don't think there is any significant challenge to young people's intelligence."

He said teachers will adjust the curriculum to suit online learning and help students stay engaged.

"It's a different curriculum. Of course, there are different learning opportunities that reflect the environment young people are in. When you don't have face to face learning there are certain things you can't do and there are certain things you can do."

7.30am - Dr Ayesha Verrall says the Delta variant of COVID-19 has changed the goalposts - and it can't be turned around with just contact tracing.

Speaking to The AM Show on Monday she said previously, contact tracing was rough to curb an outbreak of COVID-19 - but that's no longer possible.

"I don't think that's possible anymore, I think we need to be at a high alert level during an outbreak."

The Government is poised to announce its decision about the COVID-19 alert level on Monday afternoon - but Verrall is warning Kiwis not to get their hopes up for an end to the lockdown.

"We have a situation where there is a large number of locations of interest, where not everyone can be identified because they're large public spaces."

She says "tens of thousands" of Aucklanders left the city in the days leading up to lockdown - and the Government cannot possibly know where all of them are.

"We know some, but we don't know all so that's the risk we're cognizant of."


7.21am - Butchers are calling for an exemption to allow them to serve customers in stores like supermarkets.
Retail Meat NZ spokesperson Kit Arkwright told The AM Show butchers are struggling under alert level four restrictions.
While butchers are allowed to operate via contactless delivery, they aren't allowed to have in-store shopping, which Arkwright says is causing real issues.
"The reality for many butchers is that [delivery] is not a viable option. Tapping into courier services that are already stretched at the moment isn't easy."

7.10am - While Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall could not confirm any additional cases from Sunday, she told The AM Show it will get worse before it gets better.

"That's because the cases you see are the result of transmission that happened prior to lockdown - it's still possible we see a higher number of cases today than we have in previous days and it could be a few days before we see the curve start to bend down."

She confirmed there are five COVID-19 patients in hospital, none in intensive care. 

6.05am - The vaccination programme lead for the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre has apologised after Auckland's first drive-through vaccination clinic was forced to close on Sunday with more than 300 cars in the queue.
Matt Hannant told Newshub more than 1500 vaccinations were completed at the centre before it closed.

"We appreciate some people were turned away and we apologise - everyone is working as hard as they can and we've invited those who were turned away back today [Monday]."

He promises Monday will be even smoother - but urges anyone who does not have an invite to the event to stay home.

"This is invitation only, so stay home, stay safe and come down when you're invited."

5.41am -  With COVID-19 tracer app scanning now mandatory at most businesses, the hospitality industry has its fingers crossed for a shift in alert levels.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Julie White says while it's disappointing the lack of COVID-19 tracer app use has forced the onus on to businesses, she's hopeful it will lead to change.

"We welcome it, if it allows us to open our doors," she told Newshub.

"By putting in this compulsory order we hope to move quickly to a lower alert level."