As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Sunday, August 29

Eighty-three new community cases of COVID-19 were reported on Sunday, which is the largest daily increase of New Zealand's Delta outbreak.

But most of the country is on track to move out of alert level 4 at the planned time of 11:59pm on Tuesday. Auckland will remain under a stringent lockdown beyond that time, given the super city is the epicenter of the outbreak.

What you need to know:

  • Eight-three new community cases of COVID-19 were reported on Sunday, bringing the outbreak total to 511
  • Thirty-four people are in hospital, two of which are in ICU in a stable condition
  • Most of New Zealand will move to alert level 3 on Tuesday night, but Northland and Auckland will stay at level 4
  • Nearly 33,000 individual contacts of COVID cases have been identified, the majority of which are close contacts
  • The latest locations of interest can be found here and a map of them can be found here.

These live updates have finished.

7:45pm - Jacinda Ardern warns New Zealand businesses will be hit by Auckland remaining in alert level 4.

With everywhere south of Auckland moving to alert level 3 on Tuesday 11:59pm, businesses south of New Zealand's biggest city need to be prepared for their supply chain to be affected.

"This is going to be an area where even though a business is operating at level 3 it may be complicated by some parts of the country that continue to have that higher alert level because they will continue to be able to only operate with all of those level 4 restrictions," Ardern says.

"So it may interrupt the supply chain, it may interrupt delivery. But I expect those parts of the country to understand that we are doing that to keep everyone as safe as possible and to try to get everyone back to normal as quickly as possible."

Read the full story here.

7pm - With New Zealand 12 days into its nationwide lockdown, it's bringing the temptation of online shopping. 

With Father's Day just a week away and people looking for the perfect gift, level 4 means only essential goods can be delivered.  

But there is the suspicion online shoppers may be flouting the rules by picking up and dropping off Trade Me purchases from each other's letterboxes and front lawns.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's Karen Rutherford here.

6:15pm - Headquarters bar in central Auckland has just been named as a location of interest.

It was visited on Saturday August 14 from 11:30pm to 1:30am.

6pm - It's time for Newshub Live at 6pm for the latest on the outbreak. Watch online here or tune in on Three.

5:30pm - Of the 34 people in hospital at the moment due to COVID-19, 30 are Samoan and two are Māori.

None of those hospitalised are fully vaccinated and just eight of the 34 have had one dose.

A higher number of women are in hospital - 21 women compared to 13 men.

And Delta is affecting younger people too. Seven of those in hospital are in their 30s, four in their 20s, and one is under the age of 20.

Read the latest from Newshub's health correspondent Lucy Warhurst here.

5pm - ACT leader David Seymour is slamming the Government for "barely changing" the NZ COVID Tracer app since Bluetooth capability was introduced in December.

It comes after Newsroom reported that the Government hasn't used Bluetooth tracing to check whether people have been exposed to any new cases since the first day of the outbreak.

"Ashley Bloomfield's excuse that none of the 400+ cases are in a demographic likely to use Bluetooth contact tracing beggars belief. What did he mean by that? There appear to be a large number of young people amongst the cases, does he not know they have smartphones?" Seymour says.

"The real problem is that contact tracers are reportedly not even asking contacts to upload their Bluetooth data. It's difficult to imagine how a response could be more incompetent or a Government could be more blasé about the costs they're putting onto New Zealand."

He says that Dr Ashley Bloomfield's comment that he'd "give contact tracers a nudge" about using Bluetooth data would "be quite funny" if New Zealand wasn't in lockdown.

"How is it possible that Bluetooth contact tracing was not a major priority when it became clear Delta would outrun manual tracing," Seymour says.

"The Government should have been engaged with the developer to constantly upgrade the app. I get more upgrades on my Instagram app than my NZ COVID Tracer App."

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: The AM Show

4:30pm - Over in Australia, New South Wales has exceeded its previous new daily cases recorded.

A total of 1218 community cases were reported on Sunday and six more people have died.

The state of Victoria recorded 92 cases, which is the highest number in nearly a year.

4pm - A woman in the Rodney area was found to have forged a mask exemption note on Friday, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says.

An officer on compliance patrols stopped and spoke with the woman, who is in her 20s, in a supermarket who wasn't wearing a face covering. She pulled out a document claiming she was exempt, but this was found to have been forged.

Charges under the Crimes Act and breaching the Health Order are being considered, Coster says.

Since level 4 came into effect, 103 people have been charged with a total of 111 offences nationwide as at 5pm yesterday.

Of the 111 charges filed, 72 are for failing to comply with the COVID-19 order, 25 for failing to comply with direction/prohibition/restriction, 11 for Health Act breaches, and three for assaults/threatens/hinders/obstructs enforcement officer.

In the same time period, 293 formal warnings were issued. Of these, 106 were for failing to comply with the COVID-19 order, 106 for failing to comply with direction/prohibition/restriction and 84 for Health Act breaches.

Since August 19, police have also issued infringements for COVID-19-related breaches. As of 5pm yesterday, 1829 infringements have been issued. They are: 

  • Person failed to remain at current home/residence - 1679
  • Person failed to wear a face covering on premises - 41
  • Person failed to comply with applicable physical distancing rule - 58
  • Obstruct/hinder medical officer of health or person assisting medical officer/failing to comply with the COVID-19 order - 19
  • Person failed to wear a face covering on public transport - 5
  • Person in control of premises failed to close as required - 5
  • Person in control of workplace failed to display QR code - 12
  • Person organised a gathering in an outdoor place - 6.

Police have received a total of 11,816 online breach notifications so far. Of these, 7233 were about a gathering, 3471 were about a business, and 1112 were about a person.

3:30pm - National's COVID-19 response spokesperson Chris Bishop says the Government's "incompetent and negligent" vaccine contracting is coming back to haunt them.

He says Ardern's comment earlier on Sunday that "it's not about running out of vaccines, it's about having a little less demand" is an "unbelievable" thing to say.

"New Zealanders have shown an encouraging enthusiasm to go and get vaccinated. Most Kiwis know that vaccinating as many people as possible as quickly as possible is the way to avoid more lockdowns and to reconnect to the world," Bishop says.

"New Zealand's vaccine roll-out has been the slowest in the developed world. Now it is starting to ramp up, there is a real risk we will run out of vaccines and the Prime Minister says demand needs to lessen.

"This is incompetence on a grand scale. Right at the moment demand is surging, the Government can't meet that demand."

Although data on vaccine stock from the Ministry of Health hasn't been updated for this week, for the week ending August 22, there were over 400,000 doses available for distribution.

"Chris Hipkins said in May that all of New Zealand's Pfizer stock was meant to be delivered by September. What happened to that commitment?" Bishop says.

"This lockdown happened because our vaccination rate was way too low. Now the Government looks like they want to slow down the very roll-out that will help avoid more lockdowns in the future."

Chris Bishop.
Chris Bishop. Photo credit: Newshub.

3pm - As New Zealand makes its way through the current outbreak, more becomes known about the cases and how the disease is spreading each day.

The country is nearing two weeks in level 4 and has recorded 511 cases so far in the outbreak.

Here's a breakdown of COVID-19 in New Zealand, including where people are catching the virus and how lockdown is helping to limit the spread.

2:30pm - Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi has launched a petition to stop the establishment of more MIQ facilities in Rotorua.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says he's exploring the idea of adding another MIQ facility in Rotorua, but Waititi says the city is being unfairly targeted.

"Te Arawa Iwi and Rotorua locals, as the receiving communities of MIQ facilities, are the key stakeholders in this debate and they must be listened to," Waititi says.

"Forty percent of the Rotorua population is Māori. The negative impact of these Government decisions are significantly higher for Rotorua just because our people are at greater risk of falling through all of the gaps."

He says that another MIQ facility means it will take longer for Rotorua to rebuild its economic capacity in the tourism sector and increases health and safety risks for the community.

"We understand that our country needs to be part of the solution for this COVID crisis and Rotorua has been that solution for long enough," Waititi says.

"They have had their turn and it is now time for another region to step up. Maybe the Government should turn its view towards Queenstown."

1:57pm - Dr Bloomfield says there were certainly cases of community transmission in the first days of level 4 lockdown as people who weren't aware they were infected were outside. 

"There almost certainly were... early on in alert level 4... didn't know [they had COVID] and they infected others," Bloomfield said. 

"What's really critical is the last five to seven days... at this stage, we have no sense there are people out... where there may have been an infection."

"That is not to say that there isn't that behaviour that we haven't seen or detected through transmission which is why we will keep enforcing and repeating the rules," Ardern added

1:47pm - The Ministry of Health says 77,965 vaccines were administered on Saturday. Of these 55,779 were first doses and 22,177 were second doses.        

More than 3.28 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date.  
Of these, over 2.1 million are first doses and more than 1.14 million are second doses.

More than 194,133 Māori have received their first vaccination. Of these, more than 104,146 have also had their second vaccinations.

More than 125,495 doses first doses have been administered to Pacific peoples. Of these, more than 70,754 have also received their second doses.

1:44pm - Ardern says there has been a fresh delivery 320,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and she will be in a position to give a further update next week. 

She urged all New Zealanders to "act cautiously" and "really keep our game high" - due to infectious nature of Delta.

Dr Bloomfield says NZ COVID cases would be at "New South Wales-type numbers" now if we didn't enter alert level 4.

"We're really still at a critical point right now," Ardern said.


1:37pm - Ardern says there was discussion with iwi leaders ahead of decision to keep Northland in alert level 4 with Auckland.

Dr Bloomfield says we can expect a "highish number" of cases in the next few days but that's to be expected - most of the transmission occurring within households and not in the community.

1:27pm - Ardern urges AUT students to check locations of interest, "particularly difficult" site to contact trace.

Ardern acknowledged the "hugely unsettling" impact of COVID-19 on New Zealanders.

"It's OK to feel overwhelmed, to feel upset or even to feel frustrated - because this situation is often all of those things.

"There are places you can go for support and help even while you're living with restrictions."

She urged anyone needing support to go to the Ministry of Health and COVID-19 websites.  

The PM said there was help available for victims of sexual or domestic violence and if you don't feel safe in your house you could leave to get help. 

"If you feel in an unsafe environment you do not need to stay at home or in your bubble... if you feel in danger, call 111."

1:24pm - PM believes COVID transmission has occurred at 21 locations of interest so far. 

1:21pm - The Prime Minister says more than three-quarters of Saturday's reported infections were contacts of known cases and over half were household contacts.

"This once again shows how infectious Delta is."

Ardern says four essential workplaces have had COVID-19 transmission among staff during the latest outbreak.

"If we need to tighten up our restrictions further, we will."

1:10pm - Dr Bloomfield said going hard and early has paid dividends so "please continue to do your bit."

1:07pm - Dr Bloomfield says wastewater testing in Christchurch has so far given negative results.

As of 10am on Sunday, there were 32,771 contacts of COVID-19 cases formally identified, Dr Bloomfield says.

Of those, 26,473 - about 80 percent - have been followed up by contact tracers.

Dr Bloomfield says about 85 percent of all identified contacts have been tested for COVID-19.

1:00pm - There are 83  new cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand Dr Ashley Bloomfield says bringing the total number of cases to 511. Of the new cases 82 are in Auckland and 1 is in Wellington. 

There are now 496 active cases in Auckland and 15 in Wellington. 

Thirty-four people are stable in hospital and two are stable in ICU.  

12:20pm - A drive-through Covid-19 vaccination clinic will be held in Taupō this week Lakes DHB said in a statement.   

The event takes place on Friday 3 September and Saturday 4 September in the Taupō Events Centre car park at 26 AC Baths Ave, Tauhara, Taupō.

The immunisation hub at Totara St will be closed for these two days. 

Lakes DHB expects to administer 1200 doses each day. 

"This is a community partnership and local iwi will have a special code for Māori residents to book. A similar event was held successfully in Tūrangi from August 25 to 27, with almost 900 doses administered. 

"Anyone who has an appointment booked for the Totara St site will be contacted and advised to attend the drive-through. 

"The drive-through will run from 10am to 3.30pm for booked appointments only. This is not a drop-in facility. Road closures will be in place."

12:07pm - Stuff has translated information around the latest COVID-19 outbreak into Samoan.

Pacific Island people form the highest percentage of the population affected by the outbreak of the Delta Variant and there has been criticism information has only been available in English. 

You can read the translated information here

11:47am - The Ministry of Health says 73 of the 429 current Auckland cases of COVID-19 are essential workers RNZ reports. 

Between August 18 and 27 55 percent of positive cases were considered to be infectious while in the community a spokesperson told RNZ

11:30am -  Spokesperson for COVID-19 response Chris Bishop says in a statement the raw numbers are not enough. 

"The Ministry must release more sophisticated information like other jurisdictions do. New Zealanders are entitled to know what is going on," Bishop said. 

There are five pieces of information that should be released daily:

1.     A further breakdown of the raw number of total contacts, specifically listing how many of the high risk “close plus” contacts have been tested and what the test results show.

2.     Much more detail about the number of cases each day, including if they are household contacts, if they contracted Covid-19 from or at a location of interest, an essential workplace, or if the source is presently unknown.

3.     How many essential workers have tested positive and how many were infectious in the community.

4.     Whether there has been community transmission of Covid-19 outside of a household bubble since the lockdown.

5.     What the current estimated effective “R” is.

"Many people are becoming anxious that, this far into lockdown, our daily case numbers continue to rise. These rising case numbers may not be cause for concern if the public can see that the bulk of our cases are in fact household or other close contacts."

- The Ministry of Health has updated the locations of interest list adding the Mount Terrace apartments in central Auckland. 

The full list can be viewed here 

10:43am - Professor Michael Baker has warned New Zealand may never get back to level 1 as we know it.

Speaking on Sunday Morning on RNZ the epidemiologist also said the current outbreak may top 1000 cases. 

"It may be tough to get back to alert level 1 in New Zealand...I don't think we'll be going back to level 1 as we know it," Baker told RNZ. 

10:33 -  Newshub camera operator Nick Estelrich has reported queue of up to five hours at the Ellerslie Racecourse testing centre. 

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Sunday, August 29
Photo credit: Newshub

10:27am - The Ministry of Health is investigating after an MIQ worker at the Four Points Hotel in Auckland has tested positive for COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson told Newshub The worker is "possibly linked to the community outbreak.

"There will be Whole Genomic Sequencing undertaken to confirm their source of infection.

"Auckland Regional Public Health Service is identifying a small number of close contacts. Workers in MIQ facilities wear appropriate PPE."

10:00am - The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield will update the country on the latest Delta-variant COVID-19 cases. You can watch them on Three of online. 

Saturday saw 82 new cases and with numbers expecting to rise today we could be in for one of the country's biggest ever totals. A quick scan of Google shows April 5 2020 was the previous biggest with 89 new cases. 

Cabinet will meet again tomorrow to decide how long Aucklanders are likely to stay at level 4. Many experts are picking it could be a long time until residents of the country's biggest city are able to get a takeaway coffe or a haircut. 

9:44am - Whāngarei District Mayor Sheryl Mai is urging Cabinet to reconsider its decision to keep Northland in COVID-19 alert level 4 with Auckland.

Mai says Northland residents aren't happy about being lumped in with Auckland's extended lockdown, while the rest of New Zealand moves to alert level 3 at 11:59 on Tuesday.
She argues Wellington has community COVID-19 cases and they don't, yet Northland is staying in level 4.

"It would be fair to say that there are a few grumpy people," she told Newshub.

"There seems to be a bit of an anomaly between how they've treated Wellington and how they're treating Whāngarei or Northland for that matter because we have no cases here."

9:37am - Cartoonist Rod Emmerson is offering free colouring in sheets for your kids. 


9:17am - COVID-19 modeller Rodney Jones told the NZ Herald the infection curve is bending but not fast enough. 

"We had a terrible week last week - this looks like next week will not be any better."

He warned the ferocity of the Delta variant meant we might have to come up with something more than level 4. 

8:57am - Queenstown and Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult told Newshub business owners in the popular tourist destination are frustrated at still being at level 4 despite no cases on the South Island. 

The region, which relies heavily on tourism, has been badly hit by the pandemic and being shut down over the ski season has dealt another blow to the local economy. 

"It is fair to say I have had a large level of push back from business and accommodation providers who really don't see the reason why we are at level 4. 

"There have been no cases in the South Island and it is time to ease the handbrake." Boult told Newshub  

"I understand the need to act for the greater good of New Zealand, but it is time to let some activity begin." 

He also told locals to obey the rules so they don't have an extended lockdown like Auckland. 

Being back in level 4 during the ski season has dealt another blow to the Queenstown economy.
Being back in level 4 during the ski season has dealt another blow to the Queenstown economy. Photo credit: Newshub

8:40am - With the country locked down for a second weekend many parents will be running out of ideas as to how to keep their beloved offspring amused. 

Those simple words  'what are we going to do today' can send shivers down the spine of locked-down parent. 

Newshub Lifestyle editor Sarah Templeton has done a guide to keeping your children entertained from home this weekend. 

Read her full guide here

8:20am - Two new COVID-19 locations of interest have been added to the list overnight.

They include Northcote College and a class at the Auckland University of Technology.

Both were already potential exposure sites but have been re-added due to COVID-19 cases visiting at different times to the ones previously listed.

7:55am - Age Concern Auckland chief executive Kevin Lamb is warning older people are facing their biggest mental health crisis due to COVID-19.

So far, the Delta outbreak has dodged rest homes other than one staff member north of Auckland testing positive earlier this week.

Lamb told Newshub people are terrified.

 "What we're seeing a lot of, particularly this time around, is heightened levels of fear and anxiety - a real sense of concern among the older population of, 'what's going to happen this time around? Is it safe to go out at all?'" 

7:25am - The head of the gaming machine association is warning hundreds of community projects will suffer because no money is going into pokies during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Figures from the Department of Internal Affairs show nearly $1 billion was recorded in gaming machine profits over the past year.

But Gaming Machine Association chair Peter Dengate-Thrush said under lockdown, householders are taking their dollars to online gambling sites based overseas - which means less money for community initiatives.


7am - It appears Auckland's COVID-19 locations of interest list is easing off.

Two new locations were added to the list on Saturday night; Northcote College and a class at the Auckland University of Technology.

But some earlier named locations have been removed from the list due to being more than two weeks old.

There remains 495 active locations of interest.

6:30am - Health expert Des Gorman is reassuring the public as COVID-19 infections rise.

Dr Gorman, a medical professor from the University of Auckland, told Newshub a spike is exactly what's expected.

"The numbers will go up and people shouldn't be alarmed by that, because if there's an infected person then they're going to infect everyone in their household - that one infected person will infect five others so we were always going to see an uptick in cases."