As it happened: Latest on Auckland COVID-19 community outbreak - Thursday, August 19

Eleven new cases have been detected in the Auckland community, bringing the total outbreak to 21.

Twelve of the 21 cases are linked to the existing cluster and eight are under investigation - however, there are "strong leads" to suggest they are also connected. 

The last case, an Air New Zealand crew member, appears to be border-related and is unlikely to be connected to the current cluster.

The cases in the cluster have now been genomically linked to a returnee who travelled from Sydney on a managed red-zone flight and arrived on August 7. The returnee was transferred to the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility and tested positive on August 9.  They were transferred to the Jet Park quarantine facility that same day, but later became unwell and was moved to Middlemore Hospital on August 16.

Meanwhile, locations of interest connected to the outbreak have ballooned to more than 130.

Malls, supermarkets, stores, cinemas, eateries, and bars - as well as Auckland University of Technology and Avondale College - are among the potential exposure sites. There are also several playgrounds and Chipmunks in New Lynn.

What you need to know:

  • there are 21 cases of COVID-19 in Auckland
  • twelve are part of the current cluster and eight are under investigation, but there are "strong leads" to suggest they are also connected
  • the remaining case, an Air NZ crew member, is unlikely to be linked to the cluster but is border-related
  • two of the cases are hospitalised in a stable condition
  • the cluster has now been linked to a returnee from Sydney who arrived in Auckland on August 7
  • an investigation is underway to determine the missing link between the returnee and Case A
  • a family adjacent to the returnee at the Crowne Plaza facility have also tested positive
  • two high school students have also tested positive: ones at Lynfield College and the other at Northcote College. It's unknown if these are currently included in the Ministry of Health's figures
  • there are now more than 130 locations of interest
  • vaccinations resumed from 8am on Thursday and anyone aged 40+ is now able to book a vaccine
  • the vaccine is now also available to supermarket workers and 12 to 15-year-olds, who can now be booked in with their parents - or booked separately from September 1
  • click here for all locations of interest.

These live updates have finished.

9:30pm - A lot happened during day two of New Zealand's lockdown - from court apperances, arrests, to more community cases.

Here's a rundown of what went on today.

9pm - A Lynfield College student has also tested positive for COVID-19.

Similarly to Northcote College, all staff and students are required to self-isolate for 14 days, watch for symptoms, and get tested on day five and day 12.

A letter to parents from ARPHS says the student was infectious at school on August 16 and 17.

If you were last at the school on August 16, you must get tested on August 21 and August 28. If you were last at school on August 17, you must be tested on August 22 and August 29.

Anyone in the household also must self-isolate until the person returns a negative day 5 test.

Like the Northcote College case, it's currently unknown if they're among the 21 infections already announced by the Ministry of Health.

Lynfield College.
Lynfield College. Photo credit: Google Maps

8:45pm - An emergency medicine physician says he's "gravely concerned" as emergency departments across the country are already at capacity, even without a possible influx of patients infected with COVID-19. 

And specialists say our intensive care units are tightly stretched despite reassurances from the Health Ministry. 

As the Delta outbreak ramps up, there's a warning: our emergency departments are under significant strain. 

Read and watch the latest from Newshub's investigations reporter Michael Morrah here.

8:15pm - There are now several new locations of interest. They include:

  • Unichem Pharmacy Birkenhead, Birkenhead Avenue Shop 28, Highbury Shopping Centre on Tuesday 17 August 9.15 am - 9.30 am
  • Church of Christ Mt Roskill, 361 Mount Albert Road, Mount Roskill, Auckland, 1041 on Sunday 15 August 7.00 pm - 9.00 pm
  • Pak'nSave Wairau , 30-60 Wairau Road, Glenfield, 0627 on Sunday 15 August 11.00 am - 12.00 pm
  • Bus 95B or 95C Glenfield Mall to Northcote College, on Tuesday 17 August 8.27 am - 8.40 am
  • Bus 97B Birkdale to Auckland CBD, on Tuesday 10 August 11.30 am - 12.00 pm.


8pm - A Northcote College student has tested positive for COVID-19.

A letter from the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) says that all staff and students are considered close contacts and must stay in self-isolation at home for 14 days.

The student was infectious at the school on August 16 and 17.

It's currently unknown if they're among the 21 infections already announced by the Ministry of Health.

7:20pm - Batten down the hatches because experts and scientists are warning Kiwis to prepare for a lengthier lockdown.

Aucklanders Newshub spoke to are resigned to the likelihood of an extension, but for those in the south where there's still no sign of COVID-19, it's a much harder sell.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern isn't giving anything away until Friday. 

Read and watch the latest from Newshub's political editor Tova O'Brien.

6:50pm - There are now more than 130 locations of interest in Auckland alone - the Ministry of Health has just released several more.

The locations are:

  • Dress Smart, Onehunga , 151 Arthur Street, Onehunga, Auckland, 1061 on Monday 16 August 12.30 pm - 1.30 pm
  • PlaceMakers New Lynn, 17 Clark Street, New Lynn, Auckland, 0600 on Tuesday 17 August 9.00 am - 9.40 am
  • New World Birkenhead, 180 Mokoia Road, Chatswood, Auckland, 0626 on Saturday 14 August 8.00 am - 2.30 pm
  • Playground Te Atatū Peninsula, 591 Te Atatu Road, Te Atatu Peninsula, Auckland, 0610 on Wednesday 11 August 3.30 pm - 4.30 pm
  • Z Ōtāhuhu, 19 Princes Street, Ōtāhuhu, Auckland, 1062 on Saturday 14 August 4.00 pm - 4.30 pm
  • Manukau Memorial Gardens, Manukau, 361 Puhinui Road, Wiri, Auckland, 2025 on Sunday 15 August 1.30 pm - 2.30 pm
  • The Cosmetic Clinic WestCity Mall, Shop 237 West City Waitakere, Henderson, Auckland, 0612 on Friday 13 August 4.30 pm - 5.30 pm
  • Youth Practice - Avondale Primary School , Crayford Street West, Avondale, Auckland, 1026 on Saturday 14 August 4.00 pm - 8.00 pm
  • McDonald's Glenfield , Cnr Glenfield & Kaipatiki Rd, Glenfield, 0629 on Sunday 15 August 11.15am - 11.45 am
  • Stihl Shop Glen Eden, 93 West Coast Road, Glen Eden, Auckland, 0602 on Saturday 14 August 12.30 pm - 1.00 pm
  • Hoyts Cinemas - Wairau Park , 15 Link Drive, Wairau Valley,  Auckland 0627 on Thursday 12 August 6.00 pm - 8.30 pm
  • GMANA Cars & Wholesales Autos, Otahuhu, 28 Atkinson Avenue, Otahuhu, Auckland, 1062 on Saturday 14 August 3.30 pm - 5.30 pm
  • Stihl Shop Onehunga , 308 Church Street, Penrose, Auckland, 1061 on Saturday 14 August 11.00 am - 11.15 am
  • Popking Kids Indoor Playground Mount Albert, 2 Wagener Place, Mount Albert, Auckland, 1025 on Thursday 12 August 12.00 pm - 5.00 pm
  • Mitre 10 MEGA New Lynn, 5 Astley Avenue, New Lynn, Auckland, 0600 on Thursday 5 August 12.30 pm - 1.30 pm
  • Dress Smart Onehunga, 151 Arthur Street, Onehunga, Auckland, 1061 on Tuesday 17 August 12.30 pm - 1.30 pm
  • West City Henderson, 7 Catherine Street, Henderson, Auckland, 0612 on Friday 13 August 4.20 pm - 6.00 pm
  • Domino's Birkenhead, Unit A/174 Mokoia Rd, Birkenhead, Auckland, 0626 on Tuesday 17 August 5.30 pm - 5.40 pm
  • Chipmunks Playland and Cafe New Lynn, 6/2 Margan Avenue, New Lynn, Auckland 0600 on Monday 2 August 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm
  • Te Atatu Peninsula Community Centre and Library Te Atatu, 595 Te Atatu Road, Te Atatu Peninsula, Auckland, 0610 on Wednesday 11 August 3.30 pm - 3.45 pm
  • Bunnings Mt Roskill, 2 Carr Road, Three Kings, Auckland, 1042 on Monday 16 August 10.00 am - 10.30 am


6:30pm - The Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) says Wednesday was a "record day" for testing in Auckland with more than 16,000 people tested. This includes more than 6000 people swabbed at community testing centres (CTCs) and more than 10,000 taken by general practices, urgent care clinics, and mobile testing units.

Demand was still high on Wednesday, and as at 4pm, more than 4400 people had been swabbed at CTCs across Auckland.

"All 11 CTCs in Auckland are reporting wait times. Traffic management and police at several CTCs are now closing off queues to ensure our testing teams have time to test everyone already waiting before they close at 8pm," NRHCC says.

They say that on Wednesday, some of their staff experienced "verbal abuse" from people who'd been waiting to get tested.

"We understand people are anxious and that waiting can be hard but we want to remind people to please be kind. Our staff are working as hard and as fast as they can, and we are all in this together," they say.

People visiting a CTC can help speed up the paperwork that is part of the process by bring ID for every person being tested and having their National Health Index number (if they know it) ready to give to staff.

As it happened: Latest on Auckland COVID-19 community outbreak - Thursday, August 19
Photo credit: The AM Show

6:20pm - British broadcaster Nigel Farage is facing the ire of Kiwis after he slammed Jacinda Ardern for shutting down the country over one COVID-19 case.

During a segment on GB News on Wednesday, Farage ranted with exasperation about his confusion over the lockdown. 

"Jacinda Ardern, the recently re-elected Prime Minister of New Zealand, held up by so many in the world to be this wonderful, fantastic, exciting woman... But now what she's done - one case of COVID a 58-year-old man, and she's locking down the country. She's locking down the whole country for three days, including both islands - I mean work that one out - and parts of the country for a full seven days. That means everything is closed, at least that is my understanding of it."

Farage, a former UK politician, questioned "what is going on?"

Read the full story here.

5:55pm - Police have arrested five people for being in breach of COVID-19 restrictions.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says officers in Christchurch arrested three people allegedly involved in an anti-lockdown protest. A group of 10 people had gathered on the Bridge of Remembrance on Cashel Street about 1pm.

"Police engaged and encouraged the protestors to comply with alert level 4 restrictions, however, three were taken into custody when they refused to do so," Coster says.

Two men, aged 46 and 50, and a woman, aged 56, have been charged with failing to comply with a direction/prohibition/restriction (COVID-19). They are expected to appear in Christchurch District Court on Friday morning.

Two people were arrested in the Far North after refusing to comply with the requirement to wear a face covering. 

Police responded to the incident at Pak'nSave Kaitaia about 12.30pm today.

"Two people were acting in a disorderly manner toward supermarket staff and other members of the public while refusing to wear a face covering," Coster says.

"A 44-year-old man and 23-year-old woman were arrested for disorderly behaviour and breaching the Public Health Response Act. The woman was also reportedly behaving in a threatening manner," he adds.

5:45pm - The Ministry of Health has added even more locations of interest in the past hour. One of the locations dates back to August 1, and another is a kindergarten.

They are:

  • Icco Sake Bar, 601 New North Road, Morningside, Auckland 1021 on Wednesday 11 August 11.30 am - 1.00 pm
  • Countdown Botany Downs, Cnr Te Irirangi Drive &, Ti Rakau Drive, Botany Downs, Auckland 2023 on Tuesday 17 August 10.20 am - 10.30 am
  • HYPE DC Westfield Albany Mall, Shop 254/219 Don McKinnon Drive, Albany, Auckland, 0632 on Friday 13 August 5.22 pm - 5.29 pm
  • West City Henderson, 7 Catherine Street, Henderson, Auckland 0612 on Friday 13 August 4.20 pm - 6.00 pm
  • KFC Botany Downs, 452 Ti Rakau Drive, Botany Downs, Auckland 2013 on Tuesday 17 August 10.30 am - 10.40 am
  • MELBA Hillsborough , 1/602 Hillsborough Road, Mount Roskill, Auckland 1041 on Sunday 1 August 1.00 pm - 1.45 pm
  • Laundromatic - Chartwell, 27 Chartwell Avenue, Glenfield, 0629 on 15/08/2021, 5:25 pm 15/08/2021, 5:29 pm
  • Blockhouse Bay Christian Kindergarten, 76 Dundale Avenue, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland, 0600 on Wednesday 4 August 10.00 am - 11.00 am.


5:15pm - Some tourism operators are fearful that the lockdown has cut off the only market open to them - the domestic Kiwi traveller. 

Despite the Government was trumpeting a $26 million boost for the promotion of regional tourism, some operators worry if the lockdown drags on, it could be the final nail in their coffins.

Off the beaten track destinations like Waitomo were already struggling. Pre-COVID-19, 2000 visitors a day flooded into the region; on Tuesday even before Kiwis were told to stay home, Waitomo Caves had hosted just 35 people.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa CEO Chris Roberts says while it's important to keep the country safe he hopes the lockdown will be short and sharp.

"Tourism operators feel like they've been in a boxing ring for a long time, they are feeling punch drunk. This will be the final straw for some who will not survive but most are incredibly resilient," he says.

Read the full story here.

4:55pm - Along with New World Mt Roskill being a location of interest - it was visited on August 16 and 17 between 7pm and 7:20pm - New World Green Bay has now been added to the list. 

The Green Bay branch was visited on August 17 between 7pm and 8pm.

Both supermarkets were visited during panic-buying hours on Tuesday evening after the lockdown was announced.

4:50pm - Failed politician and conspiracy theorist Billy Te Kahika is temporarily banned from the internet after being bailed on charges of disobeying the Health Act.

He appeared in court on Thursday alongside a 36-year-old man. Both are charged with failing to comply with COVID-19 alert level 4 requirements by organising and attending a protest outside TVNZ's Auckland office.

The protest was against the current lockdown, which Te Kahika and his co-accused have both repeatedly criticised.

A number of people turned up to the protest which was swiftly broken up by police, who then arrested Te Kahika and his co-accused.

Read the full story here.

Billy Te Kahika was arrested.
Billy Te Kahika was arrested. Photo credit: Newshub

4:40pm - Vector says it is an essential service, it will continue to have crews working in the community across electricity, gas, fibre networks, metering and gas bottles under level 4, where necessary.

A spokesperson says they have postponed or cancelled non-essential planned work on their electricity network.

"With people now required to stay at home, we understand the need to keep the power on and to minimise any impact from outages," they say.

"However, some work is essential and will continue, in order to ensure the reliability of power or for safety reasons."

Their Ongas delivery team will also continue to supply bottled gas to customers. Vector Metering and Vector Fibre crews are deployed for critical work only.

"This means the public may see Vector employees or contractors out and about during lockdown. We can assure the public our team will be following all appropriate safety measures including wearing masks, social distancing, contact tracing and hand sanitising," they say.

"Different teams have different protocols depending on their roles, such as operating in team bubbles," the spokesperson says.

"Like the rest of New Zealand, our office-based workers are working from home, apart from our network operations teams for electricity and fibre."

4:20pm - Experts have reacted positively to news that 12 to 15-year-olds are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine,

Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, a senior research fellow at the University of Otago, Wellington's Department of Public Health, says this decision "is very welcome".

"We've seen COVID-19 outbreaks in schools before now, so it's great to know that children will be protected in the future," she says.

"There is concerning evidence coming through now about the impacts of COVID-19 infection on children, for example potential effects on the developing brain. We shouldn't be exposing our children to risk from this new virus while these effects are not fully understood."

Dr Jin Russell, a PhD student at the University of Auckland's School of Population Health, says parents will be relieved to hear this news, but hopes the Government will make it easy for eligible children to get vaccinated.

"I hope that the Government will announce strategies to make vaccination an easy option for children, including options for vaccination when schools reopen and options for children with sensory needs," she says.

Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen, the clinical director at National Hauora Coalition, says Māori and Pacific populations have a much younger age structure, so it will help those communities to be protected.

"And yes we should be unequivocal, when the data confirms that the vaccine is safe for younger age groups then we should extend the programme for those younger age groups. We need as many people vaccinated as possible."

As it happened: Latest on Auckland COVID-19 community outbreak - Thursday, August 19
Photo credit: Getty Images

4:05pm - New World Mt Roskill has been added as a new location of interest.

It was visited on August 16 between 7pm and 7:20pm, and on August 17 between 7pm and 7:20pm.

4pm - Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says he welcomes the Government's announcement the Pfizer vaccine will be available for children aged 12 to 15 years.

"Children have a right to the highest possible standard of health, under article 24 of the UN Children's Convention," Becroft says.

"At the moment, that includes being protected from this devastating virus. The best expert advice is that children and young people aged 12 to 15 should get the vaccine, in order to keep themselves safe, and to protect those around them."

He urges parents to "act responsibly" and to emphasise the benefits to their children of being vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Assistant Māori Commissioner Glenis Philip-Barbara says the vaccinations are particularly important for Māori and Pacific communities to improve their defence against the virus.

"Our communities are under-protected at the moment, and this is an opportunity not just to protect our mokopuna, but also to protect our whānau and wider community," she says.

3:55pm - The Ministry of Health has given an update on the six new cases found in MIQ facilities at the border.

The asterisks in the image below indicate that these people travelled together.

As it happened: Latest on Auckland COVID-19 community outbreak - Thursday, August 19
Photo credit: Ministry of Health

There are also two historical cases today. One person who arrived on August 13 from Serbia and Montenegro via United Arab Emirates was confirmed during a routine day zero test. The second arrived on August 12 from South Africa via United Arab Emirates was confirmed during a day three routine test.

Both are currently in a quarantine facility in Christchurch.

3:45pm - A person waiting in a COVID-19 testing queue in Wiri, south Auckland says they've been sitting in line for over six hours today.

"We arrived at 0910 to a long line and were told it would be around three hours. Six hours later we are still yet to be swabbed," they tell Newshub.

"People have been leaving their cars to go and get groceries and food etc from the nearby stores.

"If these people are symptomatic or at a location of interest (hence the need to get a test) they should be fully self-isolating until a negative result."

They say that no one at the testing site is preventing or stopping people from coming in and out, and people are "using the portaloos without masks".

"Quite a baffling situation."

3:30pm - Infectious disease modeller Shaun Hendy says after today's update that there's a strong link to the border, the estimate of the total number of cases will be "substantially smaller" and "maybe a few dozen cases" are now expected.

"The most important thing is it's a relatively new arrival. So they arrived August 7 and tested positive August 8, then went to Jet Park, so that timeline is a lot better than what we were worrying about," he tells Newshub.

"We still need to be cautious because we have had a number of exposure events over the weekend so we may well see quite a few secondary cases."

He adds there's less of a chance we're missing a lot of undetected chains of transmission.

3:15pm - In case you missed it: the Government has agreed to extend the length of time people are allowed to travel back to Auckland from Queenstown, as well as via the Cook Strait ferry, for an additional 24 hours.

Air New Zealand will operate seven extra services from Queenstown - Auckland and Queenstown - Wellington to ensure customers in the resort town can get home safely for the remainder of the lockdown period.

"We estimate there is somewhere around 600 people requiring flights, so we are confident that the additional 700 seats tomorrow will ensure that there are options for those that need it," Air New Zealand's CEO Greg Foran said.

The Interislander is also putting on additional sailings of the Aratere tonight and Friday to provide extra capacity. The Kaiarahi will stay on its normal schedule, with passenger bookings now open for Friday's sailings.

For more information and the flight schedule, read here.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 16: An Air New Zealand plane is seen at Auckland Airport on March 16, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. Air New Zealand has announced it will reduce its international capacity by 85 per cent as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic and its impact on travel demand. The airline is suspending flights between Auckland and Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Tokyo Narita, Honolulu, Denpasar and Taipei from 30 March to 30 June. It is also suspending its London–Los Angeles service from 20 March through to 30 June. Air New Zealand's Tasman and Pacific Island network capacity will significantly reduce between April and June, while domestic route capacity will be reduced by around 30 percent in April and May. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty Images

3:05pm - A person from west Auckland has told Newshub they waited at the Totara Health testing clinic in New Lynn for 2.5 hours on Thursday and only moved about 20 metres forward.

"The queues were in all directions, approximately down 10+ streets with no traffic management in place, hence no movement," they told Newshub.

The person eventually gave up and drove to the nearby White Cross centre in St Lukes and joined the line there.

"After three hours of waiting there, I had moved 200m, then a policeman told me I was unlikely to get to the front of the queue today and turned me away," they said.

"People were peeing in bushes on the side of the road. The wait times are ridiculous yet the Government urges us to get tested if we are sick.

"It is impossible!"

2:50pm - To recap, there are now 21 people linked to the latest community outbreak in Auckland.

The cluster currently consists of 12 cases, with eight under investigation - however, officials believe they are likely also linked to the cluster.

The remaining case is an Air New Zealand worker who is unlikely to be linked to the outbreak.

A genomic link has now been established between the cluster and a recent returnee from Sydney, who arrived in Auckland on August 7 and tested positive at the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility on August 9. They were then taken to the Jet Park, however they were hospitalised on August 16.

A family adjacent to the returnee also tested positive at the Crowne Plaza twelve days into their stay.

Click here for everything we know about New Zealand's 21 Delta cases.

2:35pm - Following the Government’s announcement that the period for homeward travel has been extended by 24 hours (to 11:59pm on Friday), the Interislander is putting on additional sailings of the Aratere tonight and on Friday to provide extra capacity.

The Kaiarahi will stay on its normal schedule at this stage, with passenger bookings now open for Friday's sailings, says Walter Rushbrook, Interislander's executive general manager.

"We ask people to visit our website, or ring our call centre, to make travel bookings. Only people travelling to their home should make bookings and proof of address is required at check in. We expect demand for bookings to increase and there is limited time for people to get home, so it is crucial that only those who have a valid reason for travelling make bookings," Rushbrook said in a statement.

"COVID-19 risk mitigations have been implemented at the terminals and on the ships, including wearing PPE, providing 2m distance markers, restricting food and beverage services and heightened cleaning regimes." 

After the period for homeward travel ends - and if the country remains at alert level 4 - members of the public will not be allowed to travel on the ferries unless they are essential workers or have a valid reason for travel, as permitted by the Ministry of Health. 

2:30pm - On Wednesday, Waikato Police stopped more than 300 vehicles and undertook 740 prevention-based activities, such as reassurance visits at essential services, like supermarkets and pharmacies; patrols; and checking on reports of potential breaches.

At least 100 vehicles were stopped and turned around from Manaia, but no vehicles were turned away from a checkpoint at Whangamata, which was also in place on Wednesday, says Waikato District Commander Superintendent Bruce Bird.

"Those found travelling for non-essential purposes have been spoken to, educated about the restrictions in place, and turned around. Checkpoints can last for a few minutes to half-an-hour or longer, checking that people are doing the right thing, and dealing with those travelling in breach of the order," Spt Bird said.

"Police are focused on making sure that only essential travel occurs, because the safest place for communities to be is at home."

2:25pm - Several new locations of interest have been added on Thursday afternoon, including:

  • Westfield Albany (Kmart, JB-HiFi)
  • Botany Town Centre Bus Stop
  • Brews Ponsonby
  • Subway, East Tamaki
  • Coyle Park (Point Chevalier Beach)
  • Burger King, Wairau Park
  • The Bottle-O, Glenfield
  • Countdown, Lynfield
  • Takapuna Beach Walkway / Playground
  • Bunnings Warehouse, Glenfield
  • Remuera Exchange
  • The Lula Inn, Auckland Viaduct
  • Subway, Smales Farm
  • Mitre 10 Mega, Glenfield
  • The Elephant Wrestler, Takapuna.

Click here for the Ministry of Health's full and up-to-date list of locations of interest.

Newshub is also providing information on the latest locations of interest here.

2:15pm - In regards to online breaches, police have received 684 reports of breaches since the system opened at midnight on August 17 to 5pm on Wednesday.

About a third of those were in the Auckland area.

Of those reports, 322 were regarding illegal gatherings, 320 were regarding businesses and 42 about an individual's movements.

In the same period, police have carried out more than 2500 tasks relating to compliance with alert level 4 restrictions, including reassurance visits to essential facilities, patrols, and checks following reports of potential breaches.

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty Images

2:10pm - Ardern says the results of the genome sequencing have provided an "indistinguishable" match between the outbreak and the Sydney traveller, roughly 90 percent - with Dr Bloomfield saying it's a "very close match".

2:07pm - Ardern has acknowledged the frustration for South Islanders, but reiterates there is not enough information to know for sure COVID-positive individuals have not travelled there. 

In regards to the Crowne Plaza, Ardern says camera footage will be utilised to determine the returnee's movements and how the adjacent family tested positive 12 days into their stay. However, as it is currently believed the family were infected by the returnee, Ardern says it indicates this person "had a high level of infectiousness".

Wastewater testing is underway in Queenstown, a popular hotspot for Aucklanders, however no viral fragments were detected in the samples on Monday.

Dr Bloomfield says officials have no concerns about ICU capacity and that additional ventilators have been added.

2pm - Given the increasing number of cases, Ardern says there's a "high" likelihood Auckland and Coromandel will remain in lockdown for the full seven days. However, she noted she doesn't want to speculate as it is still early days.

1:53pm - Dr Bloomfield says new data modelling estimates around another 50 cases will be detected, acknowledging that August 3 - the earliest date identified in the locations of interest - was probably well before the virus was in community.

Regarding details on the 11 new cases, Bloomfield says five of them are family members and are connected to the Avondale College community.

1:46pm - Dr Bloomfield has reiterated that 362 individuals are currently being followed up, but expects the number of close and casual contacts will escalate to "well over 1000" by end of Thursday.

The location of interest visited on August 3 - the earliest on the list - was added as a precautionary measure, he says.

The Government has responded to Air New Zealand and extended InterIslander services and flights out of Queenstown for an additional 24 hours.

Quantifying the total number of people at locations of interest is difficult, Ardern says - for an example, at a mall, there could be "many thousands of people" there at the same time as a positive case.

1:43pm - Dr Bloomfield says it is "encouraging" that close contacts of the case at Auckland City Hospital, who were prioritised, have returned negative results to date.

He says that to his knowledge, none of the 360 close contacts are located outside of Auckland.

1:38pm - Dr Bloomfield says there has been a high degree of compliance so far.

Ardern says roughly 684 breach notifications have been received online, however they are "wide-ranging" scenarios - such as employers flouting the rules.

In regards to vaccinating essential workers, Ardern says officials are looking to "expedite" the vaccination of people who are "coming into contact with people at level 4".

Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield.
Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield. Photo credit: Getty Images

1:33pm - Cabinet will meet on Friday morning regarding an update on the current alert level settings. Ardern says how the outbreak began and where it originated is now thought to be figured out, but "it is going to be a tough fight"

She reiterated that the focus is now particularly on the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility but every avenue is being chased.

1:27pm - From September 1, 12 to 15-year-olds will be eligible for vaccination. However, from Friday morning, any parents aged 40 and over who go to receive their jab can also bring along their 12-to-15-year-old(s) for vaccination. 

Supermarket workers will now also be prioritised for vaccination.

1:22pm - Dr Bloomfield has thanked New Zealanders for getting tested.

Contact tracing has detected 360 close contacts related to the Auckland cluster.

1:21pm - Testing centres are open until 8pm on Thursday in Auckland with four new pop-up clinics.

There were close to 16,000 swabs taken across Auckland on Wednesday, Dr Bloomfield said.

Additional testing capacity is available for Avondale College, as well as increased capacity in Waikato and Coromandel.

1:19pm - Wastewater samples collected from three Auckland catchments on Monday have tested positive for COVID-19 - Rosedale and a western and eastern site in Auckland. Sampling from the St George site on Tuesday, which collects water from the Waitakere area, also has tested positive.

Other sites across the country have tested negative.

1:17pm - Two cases have been taken to North Shore Hospital, one in their 20s and one in their 40s. Both are in a stable condition.

1:15pm - Eleven new cases have been identified in the Auckland community since 1pm yesterday. All are being transferred to the Jet Park.

Twenty-one cases have now been detected in the community.

Of the 21, 12 are part of the existing cluster, and eight are under investigation and are, as of yet, not formally linked - however there are "strong leads" that indicate they are connected to the outbreak, Dr Bloomfield said.

One previously reported case, the Air New Zealand crew member, is unlikely to be linked to the cluster and is therefore border-related.

1:13pm - A family adjacent to the case at the Crowne Plaza has tested positive on day 12 of their stay.

1:12pm - There were 208 staff at the Crowne Plaza at the time the returnee was there. Only one worker is overdue for testing, by less than 48 hours.

There were 200 staff working across the Jet Park from August 9-16, and two were overdue by less than 48 hours.

1:11pm - Ardern says that due to the link, it's likely COVID-19 was not in the community for long.

Officials are now focusing their search on the missing link.

Public health staff are focusing on workers at the Jet Park quarantine facility and the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility where the returnee was based.

Middlemore Hospital is not a line of investigation at this stage. The Sydney returnee was transferred there on August 16. 

1:10pm - The Prime Minister is starting with an update on the source of the Auckland outbreak.

Whole genome sequencing shows the current positive cases in Auckland are a close match to a recent returnee from Sydney, who arrived on a managed red-zone flight on August 7. 

The returnee had a day 1 test on August 8 and returned a positive result on August 9. They were transferred from the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility to the Jet Park quarantine facility that same day.

The case later became unwell and was moved to Middlemore Hospital on August 16.

12:50pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will be providing a COVID-19 update at 1pm where they will reveal New Zealand's latest case numbers.

You can watch the press conference live on Three or here on

12:45pm - A new location of interest has been added - Coyle Park (Point Chevalier Beach) on Point Chevalier Rd on Monday, August 16, 2pm - 2:45 pm.

12:40pm - Auckland City Mission is continuing to provide food parcels for individuals and families during alert level 4 lockdown. 

Missioner Helen Robinson said people who require a food parcel can call 0800 223 663 to have their needs assessed. They will then be given a time to pick up their box from an appointed address.

Takeaway bags are available for people rough-sleeping or vulnerably housed during lockdown - which replaces the sit-down meals generally served at the community dining room. 

The meals are available to pick up from 23 Union Street between 10am and midday. 

Medical assistance is also available Monday through Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm with the Mission's Calder Health Centre team.

"We truly are grateful for the support we receive – it certainly helps us keep providing services at such a challenging time," Robinson said.

12:25pm - SkyCity chief executive officer Michael Ahearne said public health authorities have advised that 240 staff are considered close contacts and therefore have been advised to self-isolate, contact Healthline and get tested. 

"SkyCity is in the process of contacting these staff to pass on public health advice," he said.

"SkyCity is currently closed, and there are a very small number of workers still on site, carrying out essential duties such as security and surveillance, and caring for a small number of guests at the SkyCity Grand Hotel.

"This morning a specialist cleaning team will arrive on site and the entire main gaming floor, all public lifts, handrails, and back of house area will undergo a deep clean. All surfaces will be sanitised and wiped down using an antibacterial product and the area will remain closed."

Ahearne said SkyCity is working with public health authorities to provide necessary information for contact tracing purposes.

"This is an anxious time for some of the SkyCity team and their whanau, and we are extremely grateful to them for their cooperation in helping us protect the wellbeing of all our people and our guests."

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

12:10pm - SkyCity has confirmed there are more than 1000 close contacts who were at the casino around the same time as a positive case.

The case had visited the casino in Auckland's CBD on Saturday, August 14 from 1:15am to 3am.

The close contacts include around 240 staff who were working on the casino floor at the time.

Anyone who was there between 1am and 3am on Saturday is required to stay home and get tested.

11:45am - A clinical psychologist has shared some of her top self-care strategies to help ease lockdown anxiety.

The uncertainty associated with burgeoning outbreaks can be a breeding ground for anxious thoughts, but Dr Victoria Thompson told Newshub it's perfectly normal to have these feelings of unease. 

"A few symptoms that are quite common with anxiety are feelings of hopelessness, unease, racing heart, butterflies in the stomach and sweaty palms," she explained. 

"People also commonly experience racing thoughts and negative thoughts about our ability to cope, like 'I can't get through another one of these' or 'this is going to last so much longer than they are saying'."

Read more about lockdown self-care strategies here.

11:35am - Snaps of the capital show deserted streets and empty roads as New Zealand endures its second day of lockdown. 

The usually bustling city now resembles a ghost down as residents abide by alert level 4 restrictions and remain indoors. 

Under alert level 4, the most severe tier of restrictions, New Zealanders are urged to stay at home as much as possible. People are permitted to leave the house for necessities, such as grocery shopping or medical care. Essential workers, such as healthcare staff, are still able to go to their workplace, but all other professions are asked to work from home where possible.

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

11:20am - Police have issued a warning to Auckland motorists as significant congestion builds outside testing centres across the city.

"Police are advising the public that there is currently significant traffic congestion near covid testing centres across Tamaki Makaurau," a spokesperson said.

"Large queues of vehicles at these testing centres is causing traffic disruption for other motorists travelling past these locations.

"As a result, Police are working with ATOC and traffic management plans are being put in place to ease this disruption."

Any motorists travelling near testing sites in Auckland - who are not seeking a test - are warned to expect some delays or to avoid the area if possible.

11:06am - Air New Zealand has asked the Government to extend its 48 hour amnesty timeframe for people who are wanting to return home for the COVID-19 alert level 4 lockdown, but are unable to due to the lack of flights. Travel editor Dan Lake reports.

10:56am - Seven new sites have been added to the locations of interest list. They are Countdown Takapuna, Z Harris Rd service station in East Tamaki, KFC Takapuna, Hoyts Cinemas in Wairau Park, Domino's Pizza in Beach Haven, and Movie Monterey in Takapuna. An additional date has also been added for Remuera Exchange. 

See below for the full list of locations, times and dates.

As it happened: Latest on Auckland COVID-19 community outbreak - Thursday, August 19
As it happened: Latest on Auckland COVID-19 community outbreak - Thursday, August 19
As it happened: Latest on Auckland COVID-19 community outbreak - Thursday, August 19

10:47am - Across the Tasman, Victoria's COVID-19 outbreak has grown by 57 cases.

10:37am - McDonald's Stoddard Rd in the Auckland suburb of Wesley has been added to the locations of interest list. Anyone who was there on Friday between 10pm and 10:30pm is asked to self-isolate and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

10:29am - The Ministry of Health has provided an update on COVID-19 vaccines:

10:19am - ACT leader David Seymour is lashing out at the Government over a lack of support for businesses amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

"The day has arrived where businesses will rightly need support from the Government after they've been forced to close but the rainy-day fund has already been raided," he said in a statement.

"There was $5.1 billion in fund three months ago but the Government has been doing its best to shovel that out the door."

10:10am - Rodney Jones, who provides COVID-19 modelling information to the Government, says the snap lockdown will likely be extended.

"It will be longer than we hoped two days ago," he told Magic Talk.

10am - Massive queues are forming at COVID-19 testing stations across Auckland after reports of long waits on Wednesday.

"Yesterday we came but it was a long queue," said one woman lining up at Auckland's Balmoral testing station. "We had to wait for three hours."

9:54am - About 70 locations of interest have now been identified in connection with Auckland's outbreak of COVID-19, with malls, bars, eateries, shops and cinemas among the hotspots. Click here for the full details on those locations of interest.

9:51am - A reminder that anyone accessing essential services is now required to wear a mask under COVID-19 alert level 4.

Those rules apply to people aged 12 and over during level 4 and includes places like supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations.

9:43am - Updates from overnight COVID-19 test results are being discussed by health officials as we speak. They will provide the latest information during a press conference at 1pm, which you can watch live on Three and in the video above.

9:33am - Experts have warned the current outbreak of COVID-19 in New Zealand could be "potentially grave".

"It's certainly possible we could be looking for a large number of cases out there that we haven't found yet," said Michael Plank, a disease modelling expert at the University of Canterbury.

"What we really want to avoid is a situation like Sydney is in, which could absolutely happen here in New Zealand," said infectious disease expert David Murdoch.

The New Lynn COVID-19 testing station.
The New Lynn COVID-19 testing station. Photo credit: Nick Estelrich/Newshub.

9:21am - Countdown has confirmed masks are a condition of entry for supermarkets across New Zealand during COVID-19 alert level 4.

Foodstuffs, which owns and operates major chains including New World and Pak'nSave, is applying the same rules.

"It will be a challenge but the vast majority of New Zealanders get it and realise that it's important for everybody to behave themselves," Foodstuffs South Island chief executive Steve Andrerson told RNZ.

9:12am - Addressing Wednesday's anti-lockdown protests, where several people including conspiracy theorist Billy Te Kahika were arrested, police commissioner Andrew Coster said it was only a very small group.

"We suspect there will be things that happen here and there," he told The AM Show. "We will deal with them as they come along."

9:02am - Speaking to Newshub at Auckland's Balmoral COVID-19 testing station, one Avondale College student said it was a nervous time.

All students and staff are considered close contacts after a teacher who went to school on Monday later tested positive for COVID-19.

"It's kind of scary because none of us want it," said one student awaiting a COVID-19 test. 

8:55am - Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield is urging people to get tested for COVID-19 if they feel unwell.

"Many of the people we were testing through yesterday were household contacts," Dr Bloomfield told The AM Show on Thursday. "My strong expectation is we will get more cases and we'll be reporting those today."

8:45am - Some of those who attended the Rethinking Housing conference at Auckland University of Techology (AUT) have been told to self-isolate, Newshub has learned. 

The conference was held on Monday and Tuesday at the AUT Events Centre and one the new COVID-19 cases was a student there, who attended a lecture on the Tuesday.

8:35am - Earlier, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield warned an surge in COVID-19 cases could be on the cards on Thursday.

Dr Bloomfield told The AM Show he'd learn more later in the morning.

"Any new cases that have come in overnight we will then report at 1pm."

8:30am - Auckland City councillor Efeso Collins is concerned people still aren't taking in all the facts about COVID-19.

He told Newshub some people are still in denial.

"I'm still getting calls and texts from people who believe this is a great big conspiracy. I'm still trying my best to listen to them because they need a chance to vent too." 

8:20am - Countdown is denying reports it won't be declining entry to anyone not wearing a mask. A spokeswoman has just sent Newshub the below statement:

Masks are a condition of entry at all our stores. We have signage up to this effect and we are also providing masks to any customer who doesn’t have one.

We are following the advice of the NZ Police that if customers become aggressive, our team members should not enforce this as it becomes too dangerous for them. We strongly hope that our team are not put in this position and that New Zealander will do the right thing and wear a mask.

We have been advocating for the Government to make masks mandatory so we are very pleased that they have.

8:10am - Infectious disease expert David Murdoch earlier said the situation was looking "potentially grave".

"The further back it goes, the more worrying it is," he told The AM Show. What we're hoping is... there's a good connection with the border. We're keeping our fingers crossed."

8am - Speaking to Newshub on Wednesday night, physics and disease modeller Michael Plank said one piece of good news was all new cases were linked to the original infection.

"But that's because we're testing close contacts of cases - it's still going to be the next few days when we really start get a sense of how big this outbreak could be."

7:50am - While Ashley Bloomfield didn't say if there were any additional cases of COVID-19 overnight, the Director-General of Health indicated an infection spke was expected.

7:40am - Earlier, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield mentioned Cabinet would meet on Friday to discuss lockdown implications. Originally, areas outside of Auckland and Coromandel were placed into a three day lockdown and no cases have been detected outside of Auckland so far.

Auckland and Coromandel will remain at COVID-19 alert level 4 for at least a week.

7:30am - Infectious disease expert David Murdoch has raised red flags about how far back the COVID-19 locations of interest go.

Some of the potential exposure sites go as far back as two weeks.

Dr Murdoch told The AM Show earlier that raises a lot of questions.

"Has this gone on a long time and us not knowing about it? Yes, it is a concern and just shows you how important it is to do the [QR code] scanning and do the testing."

7:22am - To recap what we just heard from Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield:

Dr Bloomfield did not say if there were any additional COVID-19 cases overnight, only that officials would have more information later on Thursday morning.

He told The AM Show disease modellers have suggested there will be more infections.

"They suggested between 50 and 100 cases at the time you identify the first case," Dr Bloomfield said. "So far we've found nine and that suggests we did find cases early on in this outbreak - which is good."

7:17am - Asked why officials won't provide a case update until 1pm, Dr Bloomfield said they want to have all the information collated but it's his "strong expectation" there will be more infections.

He reiterated all cases detected so far are in Auckland.

7:15am - Dr Bloomfield says an Air NZ crew member who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday is not linked to the community cluster.

7:13am - Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says he's "fully expecting" new cases of COVID-19 overnight - which will be reported at 1pm.

7:10am - Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield is on The AM Show now. Watch live here.

A line is already building the Balmoral COVID-19 testing station.
A line is already building the Balmoral COVID-19 testing station. Photo credit: The AM Show

6:54am - Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield is on The AM Show in about 15 minutes and will provide updates on any signifcant developments overnight. You can watch that live here.

6:50am - Conspiracy theorists Billy Te Kahika and Vinny Eastwood will appear in court on Thursday, each facing three charges after taking part in an anti-lockdown protest.

The pair were among four people arrested outside TVNZ's headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.

"Two men, aged 49 and 36, are due to appear in the Auckland District Court today following arrests at a protest in Auckland yesterday," police told Newshub.

6:40am - Across the Tasman, there are fears COVID-19 cases in New South Wales could soon reach 1000 per day.

Authorities warned on Wednesday Sydney's Delta outbreak hadn't peaked and must brace for more deaths, after reporting a record 633 new daily cases.

The original case in New Zealand's current COVID-19 outbreak has been genomically linked to NSW.

6:35am - Infectious disease expert David Murdoch is stressing the importance of sticking to the COVID-19 lockdown rules amid rising cases and exposure sites.

"It is a concern and obviously we're keen to see more information as it comes out," he told The AM Show.

6:28am - An update from police regarding arrests made for alleged lockdown breaches on Wednesday:

Two men, aged 49 and 36, are due to appear in the Auckland District Court today following arrests at a protest in Auckland yesterday.

They are each facing two charges under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, and one charge under the Search and Surveillance Act 2012.

A 52-year-old woman is due to appear in the Auckland District Court on August 25 facing one charge under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, and one charge under the Search and Surveillance Act 2012.

As this matter is now before the court we are unable to comment further.

6:17am - A reminder that masks are now mandatory when accessing essential services during COVID-19 alert level 4. More details on that here.

6:10am - The Auckland City Mission is urging those in need to reach out during alert level 4. Chief executive Helen Robinson told Newshub they can help in many ways.

6am - COVID-19 testing stations are bracing for another busy day on Thursday after the rise in case numbers and locations of interest. Click here to find your local testing station.

5:43am - The National Party is hurling criticism at the Government for not prioritising police for COVID-19 vaccines.

"There are more than 10,000 frontline police officers across the country who are needed to keep Kiwis safe during lockdown. These low vaccination rates are not only an unjustified risk to frontline officers but also to the public," party police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

"It is unfair on police officers who have to go out into the public to make sure the rules are being followed while facing the risk of exposure to COVID-19, these same officers then go home to their families and risk their exposure.

"Police officers need to be fully vaccinated immediately."

5:40am - Avondale College was on Wednesday closed for two weeks after one of its teachers tested positive for COVID-19.

The school says it's planning to provide distance learning from next week.

5:30am - The growing locations of interest list is concerning some experts.

"It's still going to be the next few days where we start to get a sense of how big this outbreak could be - and it's certainly possible that we could be looking at quite a large number of cases that are out there," says Michael Plank, a physics and disease modeller from the University of Canterbury.

5:15am - Here's a summary of what happened on Wednesday - New Zealand's first day of lockdown.