Coronavirus: What we know about New Zealand's seven community COVID-19 cases

New details have emerged about New Zealand's latest community COVID-19 outbreak, which has now expanded to seven cases and is confirmed to be of the highly contagious Delta variety.

The new information comes just 24 hours after it was announced a man from Auckland's North Shore had contracted the disease, though things have escalated markedly since then.

As well as the growing case numbers, New Zealand has been plunged into lockdown, the list of locations of interest has grown and genome sequencing has established a link to virus-ravaged New South Wales.

Here's everything we know about the outbreak and our seven cases so far.

Who are New Zealand's seven COVID-19 cases?

The first community case announced was a 58-year-old man who lives in Devonport on Auckland's North Shore and travelled to the Coromandel township last Friday.

He was symptomatic on Saturday and his infectious period is considered to have started last Thursday. He lives with his wife, who is fully vaccinated and has returned two negative tests. They've both been self-isolating.

On Tuesday morning, four more people were reported as having contracted the disease.

One is a 20-year-old co-worker of the original case, and the remaining three are his North Shore flatmates - one a fully vaccinated Auckland City Hospital nurse, 21, another a teacher at Avondale College, 25, and the third a 29-year-old man.

Coronavirus: What we know about New Zealand's seven community COVID-19 cases

The nurse and teacher went to work on Monday, and both workplaces have issued health advisories to protect staff, patients and students. Some of the flatmates also visited a nightclub and a church over the weekend.

During Wednesday's 1pm COVID-19 update, two more cases were announced - one a 21-year-old female and the other a 19-year-old male who are friends and spent time with the existing cases. 

All six of the cases announced on Wednesday are based in Auckland and are epidemiologically linked to the Devonport man.

How likely is this COVID-19 outbreak to get bigger?

At this point, it's still too early to tell how large this outbreak will become - but it is highly likely to get bigger.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said as much at the 1pm update on Wednesday,  telling reporters officials were "absolutely anticipating more cases".

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the modelling available so far suggests the cluster could grow to "between 50 and 120 cases" - but the key is finding those cases as quickly as possible.

Sixteen close contacts have been identified so far, and Dr Bloomfield said some of the infected young people have been "out and about". He warned there will be a large number of potential exposure sites.

However the virus had not been picked up in wastewater testing, the most recent results of which were obtained on August 11 - a sign COVID-19 probably hasn't been circulating in the community for weeks.

What about the NSW connection?

The Devonport man has been genomically linked back to Australia and the New South Wales outbreak - which suffered another record-breaking day of 633 new local cases on Wednesday.

However genome sequencing has not yet found a match between the original case, or any of the cases from Sydney in managed isolation facilities (MIQ).

There have been three positive cases from Sydney since July 1 - one detected on August 9 on day one in New Zealand, and two others on August 15 on day three. They're currently being genome sequenced.

New South Wales Premier announced 633 new community cases on Wednesday - the most the state's ever seen in a single day.
New South Wales Premier announced 633 new community cases on Wednesday - the most the state's ever seen in a single day. Photo credit: Getty Images

Ardern says the possibility of the outbreak originating in hospital has been discussed, noting a case from New South Wales had been admitted to hospital - but the timing didn't line up.

Dr Bloomfield says there's no evidence to suggest the outbreak could have originated with this patient.

Where are the locations of interest?

On Tuesday night, Dr Bloomfield revealed there were an initial 23 locations of interest - 13 in the Coromandel, where the Devonport man and his wife had visited last week, and 10 in Auckland.

However that list is likely to expand with the emergence of new cases.

Among the notable new locations is the Church of Christ in Freemans Bay and the SkyCity Casino, which was attended by a case on Saturday evening.

The Ministry of Health currently has the details for 16 of the locations of interest on its website, with more being added as the details are confirmed.