As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 Auckland community outbreak - Friday, September 10

Eleven new cases of COVID-19 have been reported on Friday, bringing the outbreak to 879.

There are now 29 "mystery cases" yet to be epidemiologically linked to the current outbreak. Six of these are cases reported on Friday. 

Meanwhile, health officials are working to determine the movements of a new case of COVID-19, a woman who self-discharged from Auckland's Middlemore Hospital before her test result had been processed. 

The patient, who had presented at the hospital for an unrelated matter on Thursday morning, answered all COVID-19 screening questions as negative, indicating she had no symptoms of the virus and had not been at a location of interest. 

However, the woman - who was later swabbed as a precaution - "took it upon herself to leave" the hospital, despite her test having not been processed. The test later came back as positive

Officials are now working to track the woman's movements, with any possible contacts urged to come forward for testing.

"Of course we are concerned where this person might have gone when they left hospital," Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare told The AM Show.

Thirty-six people who were potentially exposed to the virus are considered contacts, 17 of whom are patients isolating at the hospital. Staff who came into contact with the case have been stood down.

Seven police officers have also been stood down after coming into close proximity with the woman on Wednesday - the day before she presented to hospital.

She is the second patient at Middlemore Hospital to test positive for COVID-19 this week after being admitted for an unrelated matter. 

What you need to know:

  • Eleven new cases were reported on Friday, all in Auckland, bringing the outbreak to 879 - 288 of which have now recovered. Just one of Thursday's cases was infectious in the community
  • Twenty-seven people are in hospital with COVID-19, four of whom are in the ICU on ventilators
  • There are 29 unlinked cases, six of which are from today
  • A delivery of 250,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived from Spain this morning
  • A woman has tested positive for COVID-19 after presenting at Middlemore Hospital for an unrelated matter. The woman self-discharged before her swab was processed, with the test later returning positive
  • Officials are now working to track her movements after she left the hospital, with possible contacts urged to come forward for testing
  • Thirty-six people were potentially exposed to the virus, 17 of whom are patients now isolating at the hospital
  • Seven police officers have been stood down after coming into contact with the case the day before they went to hospital
  • Auckland remains in alert level 4 until at least September 14. The rest of New Zealand is in 'Delta level 2'
  • See all the latest locations of interest here.

These live updates have now finished. App users, click here.

6:50pm - Police have issued a statement with an update on their work at Auckland's border checkpoints along with compliance around alert level 4 in Auckland. Read it below:

Auckland border checkpoints

In the period from midnight 6th September to 11.59pm 9th September, 58,122 vehicles were stopped at the checkpoints.

Of those, 554 vehicles have been turned around, which is less than 1 percent of vehicle traffic during this period.

168 vehicles were turned around at the northern checkpoints and 386 vehicles were turned around at the southern checkpoints.

Tāmaki Makaurau compliance

Since Alert Level 4 came into place, in Tāmaki Makaurau 57 people have been charged with a total of 61 offences as at 5pm yesterday (9 September 2021).

Of these, 48 are for Failing to Comply with Order (COVID-19), 10 for Failure to Comply with Direction/Prohibition/Restriction, one with Failing to Stop (Covid 19-related), and two for Assaults/Threatens/Hinders/Obstructs Enforcement Officer.

In the same time period, 136 people were formally warned for a range of offences.

To date, Police have now received a total of 7,158 105-online breach notifications from people in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Around a third are in relation to businesses and 60 percent are in relation to mass gatherings.

Alert Level 2 compliance

Since Alert Level 2 came into place throughout the rest of the country there have been four infringements issued, as at 5pm yesterday (9 September 2021).

6:20pm - Several new locations of interest visits have been added by the Ministry of Health, including service stations, pharmacies, supermarkets and laundromats.

They can be found below:

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 Auckland community outbreak - Friday, September 10
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 Auckland community outbreak - Friday, September 10
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 Auckland community outbreak - Friday, September 10

5:45pm - Police commissioner Andrew Coster is urging Kiwis to "keep doing the right thing" as Auckland enters its fourth weekend at alert level 4, and the rest of the country is entering its first weekend at alert level 2.

"If we all stick to the health restrictions and advice, the sooner we will be stepping down the levels overall," Coster said.

"For those people in alert level 4, a huge thank you for your efforts. We know the restrictions can be challenging, but they are having an impact. 

"And this weekend, those in alert level 2 will be able to see more friends and family, and socialise - safely - for the first time in several weeks. Remember that record-keeping is mandatory for most businesses and services, as is wearing a face-covering at venues and when you cannot socially distance.

"Please help all of us stay safe by adhering to these restrictions."

5:15pm- A new study has found Kiwis are much more mindful about money since the first COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020.

The latest New Zealand Consumer Lifestyles Report by Otago University researchers found many long-standing consumer habits such as more money spent on services, greater digital adoption and more time and money spent out of the home, have been interrupted, accelerated or reversed due to the pandemic. 

Lead author associate professor Leah Watkin said she was most surprised about how 57 percent of respondents had become more mindful of their spending since the first lockdown.

The results also show 43 percent reduced their consumer spending, 52 percent started to shop locally, and 42 percent shopped online more.

"They are more committed to shopping locally and have also engaged in brand switching behaviours, such as trying new brands (33 percent), less expensive brands (38 percent) and less luxury brands (41 percent)," she said.

The only category to increase was groceries, which aligns with 54 percent of people reporting they have increased their home cooking.

"Overall, people have reduced their discretionary consumer spending on restaurants, outside entertainment and travel, which has gone into savings and also into more 'at home' spending on food and entertainment," Watkin said.

The data was collected in late 2020.

4:45pm- Auckland mayor Phil Goff is calling for a "big push" in vaccinations this weekend.

"Aucklanders have done a great job of stepping up to get vaccinated, but it's important that we keep up the momentum," he said.

"This weekend I'm asking everyone to go and get their vaccine if they can. You can book online and get an appointment on the same or the following day at one of the vaccination centres across Auckland."

He noted the two drive-through centres set up in Māngere and Henderson where appointments aren't necessary.

"If you're already booked for later in the year, check if you can bring your appointment forward to this weekend—remember to cancel your original appointment if you do this," Goff said.

"And if you're already vaccinated, talk to your family and friends and encourage them to make a booking as well."

4:15pm - The upcoming Netball series between the Silver Ferns and Australian Diamonds for the Constellation Cup has been postponed due to closure of the trans-Tasman bubble.

NNZ chief executive Jennie Wyllie said they are working with Netball Australia to reschedule.

"We are committed to keeping this series on our calendar in what are really challenging times given the respective COVID-19 status on both sides of the Tasman," Wyllie said.

"Both nations want to play the Constellation Cup as they look ahead to next year's Commonwealth Games, but we also understand the realities that this pandemic has created for international sporting events and the challenges faced with international travel."

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 27: Gina Crampton of New Zealand in action during the 2019 Constellation Cup match between the Australia Diamonds and the New Zealand Silver Ferns at RAC Arena on October 27, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty Images

3:45pm - The Ministry of Social Development says it is supporting Kiwi businesses to fill over 300 jobs in the Auckland area which are available to start immediately.

Auckland Central regional commissioner Mark Goldsmith said the jobs opportunities, which are primarily across security, seasonal agriculture, business support, customer services and transport, were positive amid the current lockdown.

On top of the 300 jobs to be filled during alert level 4, another 250 odd jobs are lined up to be filled when alert levels shift. 

Goldsmith urged job seekers interested in applying for one of the vacancies to contact 0800 779 009.

3:15pm - The beloved Te Matatini kapa haka festival is all-set to go ahead in Auckland next February, organisers have announced - but back-up plans are in place in case of COVID restrictions.

The 50th anniversary of Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tangata National Kapa Haka Festival is set to take place at Eden Park from February 22-26, 2022.

Read the full story here.

2:40pm - Four new potential exposure events have been added to the official list as of 2pm.

Two are at Caltex Truck Stop in Otahuhu, and the others are at Countdown in Sunnynook and Z Energy Petrol Station in Manurewa.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 Auckland community outbreak - Friday, September 10

2:30pm - To recap, a small number of the 29 unlinked cases are being thoroughly investigated, including the two cases identified at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital this week.

A source investigation is currently underway into two cases from the same household, which have yet to be definitively linked - these are not the two Middlemore cases.

The two cases have more than one SNP, or 'snip difference', in their genomic sequence, Dr Bloomfield said on Friday. This indicates there could be a missing link in the chain of transmission - an "intermediate case" between the two and another case they are associated with.

"Both these two cases, who are in the same household, have two different mutations, so two snips. So that suggests - it can happen, rarely - but it suggests there could be an intermediate case in between these two and someone else in the outbreak," Dr Bloomfield said.

"The testing is designed to see if we can find whether there may be someone out there who is that intermediate case."

Several locations of interest have been released on Friday as part of the Ministry of Health's investigation. One of the locations is the former vaccination centre at the Crowne Plaza in Auckland. One of the cases had visited the site on August 23.

Dr Bloomfield confirmed the potential exposure was not associated with returnees at the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility. The hotel, which has since reopened, had been closed for several weeks for a review - and the last person left the facility on August 21.

Dr Bloomfield reiterated that this a source investigation and is not contact tracing. People who were at any of the five locations of interest at the relevant times are asked to get tested immediately, but are not required to isolate - unless they are symptomatic.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 Auckland community outbreak - Friday, September 10

2:15pm - To recap, analysis of Thursday's 13 cases found all were contacts of other known cases. Twelve were household contacts. 

Just one of the 13 was infectious in the community, which Dr Bloomfield called an "encouraging" sign.

2:10pm - Health unions are calling for visitor numbers at Auckland City Hospital to be restricted immediately.

The two unions, the New Zealand Resident Doctors' Association (NZRDA) and the APEX Union - which represent over 8000 frontline health workers - are calling for Auckland DHB to immediately implement a policy that only allows visitors on compassionate grounds.

"At alert level 4, nothing short of eliminating wherever possible the risk to our members of COVID-19 entering the hospital through the front door from the community is acceptable," advocacy lead David Munro says.

"The DHB is relying on asking screening questions to prevent COVID-19 entering the hospital. That is simply not effective.

"Often people cannot accurately describe their symptoms, sometimes they may be asymptomatic, and, bluntly, sometimes they may not be entirely honest. The only sure way to screen visitors is to give them a COVID test and put the test on the fast track for a result within two hours."

It follows allegations that a visitor had sex with a patient at one of Auckland's hospitals, despite the city continuing to be under alert level 4 restrictions.

2pm - The Ministry of Health's statement with Friday's updates:

Eleven community cases of COVID-19; six new cases in managed isolation; two historical cases; more than 61,000 vaccines administered yesterday



Number of new community cases


Number of new cases identified at the border


Location of new cases


Location of community cases (total)

Auckland 862 (279 of whom have recovered); Wellington 17 (9 of whom have recovered)

Number of community cases (total)

879 (in current community outbreak)

Cases infectious in the community

One (8 pct) of yesterday's 13 cases have exposure events

Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infected

12 (92 pct) of yesterday's 13 cases

Cases epidemiologically linked

Five of today's cases

Cases to be epidemiologically linked

Six of today's cases

Cases epidemiologically linked (total)

850 (in current cluster) (29 unlinked)

Number of sub-clusters

Eight epidemiologically linked subclusters. The two largest subclusters are the Mangere church group: 374; and Birkdale social network cluster: 76.

And nine epidemiologically unlinked subclusters.

Cases in hospital

27 (total): North Shore (5); Middlemore (11); Auckland (11)

Cases in ICU or HDU


Confirmed cases (total)

3,510 since pandemic began

Historical cases, since 1 Jan 2021 (total)

136 out of 1,692 since 1 Jan 2021



Number of contacts identified (total)


Percentage who have received outbound call from contact tracers (to confirm testing and isolation requirements)

87 pct

Percentage with at least one test result

92 pct

Locations of interest


Locations of interest (total)

127 (as at 10am 10 September)



Number of tests (total)


Number of tests total (last 24 hours)


Tests in Auckland (last 24 hours)


Tests rolling average (last 7 days)


Testing centres in Auckland




Wastewater detections

No unexpected detections in past 24 hours

COVID-19 vaccine update


Vaccines administered to date (total)

4,163,418; 1st doses: 2,758,597; 2nd doses: 1,404,821

Vaccines administered yesterday (total)

61,574; 1st doses: 46,070; 2nd doses: 15,504


1st doses: 255,691; 2nd doses: 123,473

Pacific Peoples

1st doses: 163,065; 2nd doses: 83,933

NZ COVID-19 tracer


Registered users (total)


Poster scans (total)


Manual diary entries (total)


Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday


There may be some delays in providing data in some instances. On these occasions we will use data from the day before and clearly note this.

Six new cases have been identified at the border. All arrived on September 4 and tested positive due to routine testing on day three. All are quarantining in Auckland.

The six returnees travelled from Iran, Greece, the Maldives, Serbia and Montenegro, India and Greece respectively.

1:55pm - Across the Tasman, COVID-stricken New South Wales has recorded 1542 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night (local time) and nine more deaths.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the state has recorded 40,427 cases of the virus.

1:51pm - When asked if any insight can be provided into the looming alert level decision for Auckland, Robertson says officials will wait for the "very latest advice" on Monday.

He says Dr Bloomfield will provide the latest advice to Cabinet on Monday which will inform their decision.

"We wait to get the final advice before we say anything around whether we feel good, bad or otherwise," Robertson says.

He says as always, officials will consider the latest case numbers, if the cases are connected, and if testing levels are high. He says it will also be important to know as much as possible about the new cases, and officials will need to feel confident that there are no undetected chains of transmission.

"We all appreciate what Aucklanders are doing on behalf of the rest of us," he says.

"We need to not only be careful, but also make sure that when we do a job, we do it once and do it right."

1:40pm - Additional Resurgence Support Payments to support business

Businesses affected by higher alert levels will be able to apply for further Resurgence Support Payments (RSP), the Government has announced.

"The Government's RSP was initially intended as a one-off payment to help businesses with their fixed costs, such as rent. Ministers have agreed to provide additional payments to recognise the effects of an extended period of alert level restrictions," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

"This will provide cashflow to businesses and support them in meeting their ongoing obligations as we come down alert levels and while Auckland remains at higher alert levels than the rest of the country."

Applications for the next RSP will open on Friday, September 17. Ministers have agreed that there will be another two payments after that, three weeks apart, so long as the conditions that trigger the RSP apply.

The payment and eligibility criteria to qualify for the RSP remain the same, including that those applying must experience at least a 30 percent decline in revenue over seven days (for this payment commencing September 8) as a result of being at alert level 2 or higher.

The payment includes a core per business rate of $1500, plus $400 per employee, up to a total of 50 full-time equivalents (FTEs) which is a maximum payment of $21,500. Businesses with more than 50 FTEs can still apply but cannot get more than the maximum payment.

"The scheme will be available until all of New Zealand returns to alert level 1 for one month," Minister of Revenue David Parker said.

Inland Revenue encourages those applying to ensure the accuracy of the information they provide, as if it isn't correct that will delay processing.

"The economy is operating above pre-COVID levels thanks to our strong public health response. These principles will continue to guide our approach to supporting the economy, businesses and workers at this challenging time," Robertson said.

Businesses can apply for the payment by logging into their MyIR account. Further information can be found on the Inland Revenue website.

For more information on COVID-19 business support measures, including full eligibility criteria:

1:35pm - Dr Bloomfield says we are seeing a "perfect" curve as cases in the outbreak continue to drop.

When an outbreak is tailing off, the cases that do emerge are often subject to a "thorough investigation" as they could be flags for undetected transmission, he says.

This is why high testing rates are criticial to ensure no cases or chains of transmission are going undetected.

He says the higher the testing, the more confidence health officials have that the outbreak is being controlled. 

High testing, particularly in Auckland, is crucial ahead of Cabinet's decision on Monday as to whether Auckland can shift to alert level 3.

1:30pm - The Ministry of Health has released a list of five locations of interest as part of its investigation into the source of unlinked cases.

People who visited these locations of interest at the relevant times are advised to get tested immediately. There is no requirement for these people to self-isolate unless they are symptomatic.

People who visited these potential exposure sites are advised to call Healthline for further advice on 0800 358 5453.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 Auckland community outbreak - Friday, September 10

1:26pm - Addressing the Middlemore Hospital case, Dr Bloomfield says he is confident the patient was "open and honest" about their symptoms with healthcare staff and the appropriate care was provided.

Regarding the seven officers who have been stood down after coming into close proximity with the case, Dr Bloomfield says police assistance was sought to help find the patient as quickly as possible after they self-discharged.

Robertson added that police also had contact with the person on Wednesday for a different matter, which he did not elaborate on.

Dr Bloomfield says a standard swab was used to test the patient at the hospital and the correct protocol had been followed.

"It was a standard test, particular to the service and the protocol that is used in this instance. It was additional to the screen that is done of hundreds of people in this situation to identify those who might be at higher risk of having COVID."

1:21pm - Deputy PM Grant Robertson says if the "mystery cases" remain unlinked to the outbreak, it will be hard for health officials to have the confidence to move Auckland out of alert level 4.

He says Cabinet will consider a range of factors on Monday when deciding the next steps for the Auckland region.

However, the more mystery cases there are, "the more challenging it is" for health officials to feel confident, he says, as unlinked cases could indicate that chains of transmission are going undetected in the community.

Robertson says officials will "drill down" into what is known about the mystery cases to try and determine any links to the outbreak.

He says if testing rates remain high and numbers remain low, officials will have more confidence that "we are capturing what might be out there".

1:09pm - Touching on the latest Middlemore Hospital case, Dr Bloomfield confirmed the patient was transferred to Auckland's quarantine facility on Friday.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is conducting an interview with the case today to determine if there are any links to known cases or exposure events.

He confirmed staff at the hospital were wearing the appropriate PPE and those who had contact with the case have been stood down.

Thirty patients who were in the emergency department's adult short-stay ward are considered close contacts, 17 of whom are isolating in hospital. The remainder have already been discharged, but have been contacted and are now isolating at home with the support of the ARPHS.

1:07pm - On Thursday, 14,181 swabs were taken nationwide, 7974 of which were in Auckland.

"This gives us confidence about the outbreak and whether it is controlled," says Dr Bloomfield.

He says a high level of testing is critical this weekend, particularly in Auckland, ahead of Cabinet's decision on Monday as to whether the region is ready to move to alert level 3.

Officials are also widening the scope of surveillance testing, with invites sent to employers of essential workers. People should take this up, says Dr Bloomfield.

1:05pm - Of the unlinked cases, a small number are being investigated thoroughly, including the two from Middlemore Hospital.

A new location of interest is the Crowne Plaza vaccination centre, on August 23.

Advice is on website, but anyone was there is asked to get tested immediately, whether symptomatic or not.

Twenty-seven people are in hospital, four of which are in the ICU on ventilation.

1:03pm - There are 29 unlinked cases, six of which are from today.

Of yesterday's cases, all 13 are contacts of other cases, with 12 being household contacts.

Just one of today's cases was infectious in the community, which is encouraging.

1:02pm - There are 11 new cases of COVID-19 to report today, bringing the outbreak to 879 - 288 of which have recovered.

12:45pm - Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and Dr Bloomfield will provide the latest updates on the outbreak at 1pm.

You can watch the press conference live on Three or online via our dedicated livestream - you can also tune in here above the live updates.

12pm - A recap of the most up-to-date vaccination numbers.

11:45am - The plane carrying 250,000 urgently needed doses of the Pfizer vaccine has touched down in Auckland.

The additional doses were secured by the Government in a deal with Spain, the details of which were announced by the Government on Thursday.

The plane departed Madrid in the early hours of yesterday morning (NZ time).

The dlelivery is in addition to the 10 million doses originally purchased directly from Pfizer. Another scheduled shipment will arrive in October.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has not revealed the cost of the deal.

The details of a second deal with another nation, through which the Government has procured a "much larger" shipment, will be announced next week.

11:25am - A spokesperson for Counties Manukau Health has told Newshub the DHB has "no reason" to suspect the latest case at Middlemore Hospital had been "deliberately misleading" when answering the screening questions.

Earlier this morning, the Associate Health Minister implied the patient had not been entirely forthcoming with staff when they arrived at Middlemore Hospital on Thursday.

The Ministry of Health confirmed the woman - who tested positive after discharging herself from the hospital - had answered 'no' to screening questions when she presented at Middlemore Hospital for an unrelated matter.

The woman was not symptomatic and said she hadn't visited a location of interest. However, staff still swabbed her as a precautionary measure - which later returned a positive result.

Peeni Henare told The AM Show the woman had not been immediately forthcoming with health staff and more information had been gleaned throughout the duration of her visit. 

"We have no reason to believe that the patient was being deliberately misleading when answering the screening questions," the Counties Manukau DHB spokesperson told Newshub.

11:20am - Police reinforcements from around the country will arrive in Hamilton on Friday evening to support efforts at the checkpoints along the Waikato-Auckland boundary.

A total of 45 staff from the Southern, Canterbury, Tasman, Central, Bay of Plenty and Wellington districts are heading to Hamilton on Friday, a spokesperson said. Royal New Zealand Police College staff are also part of this contingent.

Thirty-two of those will travel on a chartered Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) C-130 Hercules, arriving at Hamilton Airport at 5pm.

They are the first of three groups that will rotate in to provide relief for checkpoint staff, ensuring the continued enforcement at Auckland's border.

"These officers will be accommodated in level 2 Waikato and work on the level 2 side of the boundary.  We are grateful to these officers from around the country for providing assistance during a very busy time for the upper North districts," Waikato Police District Commander Bruce Bird says.

"Our colleagues in Tamaki Makaurau still have a big job ahead with alert level 4 enforcement still a key focus for them as well as the checkpoints, which are playing a big part of the reassurance we provide to communities on both sides of the boundary."

11:05am - Victoria has recorded a further 334 cases of COVID-19 and one death in the past 24 hours.

The state, which has moved away from the elimination strategy, now has 2426 active cases of the virus.

11am - Recognised seasonal employer (RSE) workers from the Pacific Islands will be able to return to New Zealand next month, the Government has announced - but only if they've been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The return of RSE workers from Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu will start up again in October, and is the first stage of one-way quarantine-free travel to New Zealand from these countries.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor made the announcement on Friday morning.

"We want to provide certainty to the horticulture industry that we are moving forward with safe quarantine-free travel for RSE workers in time for the upcoming picking season," O'Connor said.

Hipkins says even though there have been no community COVID-19 cases in Tonga, Samoa or Vanuatu, New Zealand needs to take a "cautious approach" as "we know first-hand how quickly Delta can spread if it gets in".

As a result, the Government is putting in place additional health measures for these workers - including a requirement for them to have had at least one dose of a vaccine before departing for New Zealand.

Read more here.

10:50am - In case you missed it, a south Auckland supermarket has been visited twice this week by an infectious person.

A case was active in the community on Thursday, visiting the Manurewa Countdown between 12pm and 12:30pm.

Another visit has been logged between 12:30pm and 1pm on Tuesday.

People who were at the supermarket at these times are advised to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after the date of exposure.

"If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until you get a negative test result AND until 24 hours after symptoms resolve."

10:30am - Seven police officers have been stood down after coming into close proximity with the latest case of COVID-19 at Middlemore Hospital.

The case, who presented at the Auckland hospital for an unrelated matter, was swabbed for COVID-19 as a precaution despite answering all screening questions as negative. The woman then discharged herself from hospital while her test was processed. It later returned a positive result.

Superintendent Jill Rogers, Counties Manukau District Commander, confirmed to Newshub on Friday that officers had "dealings with this individual and another family member" on Wednesday morning - the day before the woman arrived at Middlemore Hospital.

"During this interaction, face coverings were worn by our officers at all times," Rogers said.

"Following advice from health officials, seven officers were stood down last night as a precautionary approach due to being in close proximity with these individuals.

"Police will follow further advice from health officials around when these officers can return to work."

It's understood the woman is now in quarantine after being tracked down by authorities. Officials are now working to determine her movements after leaving the hospital.

The nature of the interaction between the woman and the police remains unclear.

10:10am - At 12pm, the ACT Party will host an unofficial Epidemic Response Committee. 

The unofficial meeting will have a strong focus on the struggling hospitality industry, including up to a dozen bar and restaurant owners, as well as Marisa Bidois, the chief executive of the Restaurants Association of New Zealand, and Julie White, the chief executive of Hospitality New Zealand. 

The Unofficial Epidemic Response Committee will be streamed live on ACT leader David Seymour's Facebook page, and will be hosted by the Epsom MP as well as ACT's Small Business spokesperson, Chris Baillie.

"The ACT Party has today responded to overwhelming demand for the return of the Epidemic Response Committee (ERC) with a special unofficial committee being held at midday," Seymour said this morning.

"When the ERC was held during the first lockdown it gave scrutiny to the Government's response. Not only did Ministers and officials appear, but everyday Kiwis whose lives were turned on their heads. 

"ACT has been contacted by many in the hospitality sector who want their concerns to be heard. So today we will hold a forum, chaired by myself and ACT's Small Business spokesperson Chris Baillie, who also owns a bar and restaurant. 

"We will hear firsthand from those in the hospitality sector across New Zealand, whether they're in Level 4 in Auckland, or Level 2 around the rest of New Zealand. We will be joined by up to a dozen bar and restaurant owners and the Chief Executives of the Restaurant Association and Hospitality Association."

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have been invited to attend.

9:50am - In case you missed it, the Government says it will have to rework its bold "reopening plan" in light of the latest outbreak. 

The plan, unveiled last month, would have allowed select vaccinated Kiwis to self-isolate at home in the latter parts of this year after travelling overseas, instead of being required to enter a managed isolation and quarantine facility. The plan also outlined a phase reopening of the border in 2022, based on risk-profiling other nations. Those with high rates of vaccination and low levels of COVID-19 would be prioritised over those still battling rampant outbreaks.

But speaking to Parliament on Tuesday night, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the nature of the highly transmissible Delta variant had scuppered that initial strategy. 

"We were looking at a situation where you could stratify countries based on risk, and I think in the Delta environment, we actually have to consider whether, in fact, that's an appropriate thing to do, recognising that all countries, all people coming into the country at this point, have a degree of risk associated with them," Hipkins said.

"Obviously, at the moment, the focus is on responding to the current outbreak, but I think we will have to look again at some of that thinking around particularly the country-risk profiling - because I think Delta has changed the game."

9:30am - Public health expert Professor Nick Wilson says the rest of New Zealand should remain in alert level 2 until a purpose-built quarantine facility is operating. 

Everywhere aside from Auckland entered 'Delta level 2' at 11:59pm on Tuesday, a new-look version of the previous alert level 2 restrictions with tougher caps on gatherings and mandatory mask use for most indoor settings.

Auckland will remain in lockdown until at least 11:59pm on September 14, with Cabinet convening on Monday to discuss the next steps for the region.

Speaking to Stuff, Wilson said the more restrictive measures should remain in place for the rest of the country until a purpose-built quarantine facility is constructed at either the Ohakea or Burnham military base, with tighter controls at both regional and national borders. 

9:10am - Govt parks the expiry of licenses, WoFs and regos

As a result of the Delta outbreak, driver licences, Warrants of Fitness (WoFs), Certificates of Fitness (CoFs), vehicle licences ('regos') and licence endorsements that expired on or after July 21, 2021 will now be valid until November 30, 2021, Transport Minister Michael Wood has announced.

"While this extension won't officially be in force until next Wednesday, I wanted to provide certainty to the public and industry that we have heard their concerns," Wood said.

"Like last year's extension, we're providing this extension to give certainty to the public that they won't be issued infringement notices for using their vehicles appropriately during higher alert levels.

"Lockdown is stressful. People shouldn't have to worry about getting fined for having a recently expired WoF if driving to access essential services or as an essential worker.

"It's still the driver's responsibility to keep their vehicle roadworthy and I urge everyone to regularly check if their vehicle is safe. We're asking drivers before they set off, to give it a TWIRL – check your tyres, windscreen, wipers, mirrors, indicators, look for rust, and test your lights.

"Drivers still need to be medically fit to drive, comply with relevant restrictions and conditions on their licence and obey all road rules. Any licence suspensions and disqualifications will also continue to apply.

"For people who reside outside of Auckland, I'd encourage them to check their WoFs or CoFs are up-to-date as these can be renewed at alert levels 2 and 3. Driver licensing and testing facilities will open under alert level 2. People with tests already booked will be rescheduled to the earliest possible test once services resume.

"I've asked officials to look into how we can make temporary extensions more quickly in the future, so we can swiftly provide certainty if any further lockdowns are required."

8:55am - It appears Kiwis have been getting creative in the kitchen throughout lockdown, with bread makers and fryers the most popular items purchased online during alert level 4, according to price and production comparison site PriceSpy.

In a statement on Friday, PriceSpy revealed the top 10 most popular products during lockdown, with fryers, including air fryers, and graphic cards seeing a whopping increase in purchases.

Fryers have seen the biggest growth in popularity this lockdown, up +285 percent year-on-year.

The most popular shopping categories on PriceSpy:

  • Fryers (including air fryers) - year-on-year click data: +285 percent
  • Graphic cards - year-on-year click data: +176 percent
  • Fitness watches - year-on-year click data: +105 percent
  • Espresso machines - year-on-year click data: +99 percent
  • Bread makers - year-on-year click data: +74 percent
  • Board games - year-on-year click data: +74 percent
  • Ebook readers - year-on-year click data: +59 percent
  • Multifunction printers - year-on-year click data: +57 percent
  • LEGO - year-on-year click data: +56 percent
  • Hair trimmers and clippers - year-on-year click data: +51 percent.

Year on year click data (August 17 to September 6, 2021 vs August 17 to September 6, 2020).

"Following New Zealand's sudden move to alert level 4 last month, it's really interesting to see how consumers' shopping behaviours have once again changed. Our data indicates people are looking to buy items that help pass the time, keep them entertained and offer the opportunity to create delicious-tasting food," says New Zealand's country manager for PriceSpy, Liisa Matinvesi-Bassett.  

8:40am - Auckland District Health Board has been accused of putting vulnerable patients and a stretched workforce at risk with lenient rules for visitors during lockdown.

Two cancer patients have recounted their recent visits to Auckland Hospital to RNZ, describing the lack of strict rules as distressing.

They said there was an appalling lack of social distancing, with visitors clustered together in queues and narrow corridors.

Under alert level 4, hospitals across the country have only been permitting visitors on compassionate grounds - however, Auckland's hospitals have been letting in two visitors per patient.

"It was basically an unrestricted policy. Today they have limited the number of visitors and how long they can be in the hospital with any patient," the Resident Doctors Association national secretary Deborah Powell told RNZ.

"We're still going to see patients in the hospital and screening is still inadequate. There's no testing people before they come into the hospital, there's no enquiry around vaccination status."

Read more here.

8:30am - University of Auckland physicist and data modeller Professor Shaun Hendy is optimistic the outbreak will be eliminated over the coming weeks.

Speaking to TVNZ's Breakfast on Friday morning, Hendy said it was "certainly possible" that Auckland could shift to alert level 3 next week after four weeks in lockdown. 

"Some time over the next couple of weeks, we will eliminate it."

Cabinet will convene on Monday to decide the next steps for Auckland, the epicentre of the outbreak. Case numbers have dropped in recent days after a brief plateau, with testing numbers also seeing a welcome uptick. The region's daily testing rate plummeted over the weekend, fuelling fears that cases were going undetected in the community.

There are currently 30 cases that have yet to be linked to the outbreak, which could be another factor for Cabinet to weigh up. 

8:20am - A letter given to patients currently admitted to Middlemore Hospital's emergency department has warned them they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The letter, obtained by the New Zealand Herald, told patients the Counties Manukau District Health Board would respond with "a high level of caution".

"On Thursday, a patient in adult short stay unit ED tested positive for COVID-19. This means that the patients in their unit may have been exposed to COVID-19. We understand this creates a worrying time for patients and their whanau," says the letter.

"As a result of this incident, no patient are currently being admitted to adult short stay unit."

Patients who were in the ED unit on Thursday night are considered close contacts and will require three swabs over the next 12 days, according to the Herald.

Counties Manukau DHB chief medical officer Pete Watson told TVNZ the patient has not been vaccinated.

8:10am - Another two dates at an Auckland supermarket have been identified as locations of interest.

As of 8am this morning, two new dates have been added for Countdown Manurewa.

People who were at the supermarket between 12pm and 12:30pm on Thursday, September 9 or between 12:30pm and 1pm on Tuesday, September 7 are advised to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the date of exposure.

"If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until you get a negative test result AND until 24 hours after symptoms resolve."

7:50am - What we know about the new Middlemore Hospital case so far - 

  • The woman presented at the hospital for an unrelated matter and answered all COVID-19 screening questions as negative
  • She was assessed in the emergency department and spent a short amount of time in the adult short-stay ward 
  • The patient consented to a precautionary swab, however, decided to self-discharge before the test had been processed
  • The test later came back as positive
  • The patient was tracked down "reasonably quickly" and is now understood to be in quarantine
  • Officials are working to determine the woman's movements after she left the hospital
  • Thirty-six patients are considered as contacts after potentially being exposed to the virus.

7:32am - Henare says some vaccination providers are "closing their doors for the day" to give overworked staff a rest.

Healthcare staff on the frontline of the COVID-19 response are "very tired", he says, which is posing a challenge to the pace of the vaccination rollout.

"We're confident as we work with our health providers in our community that they're getting the vaccine doses that they require to be able to continue to roll this out," he told The AM Show.

"But I will acknowledge one of our challenges is a very tired workforce. I know some providers who are closing their doors for the day, simply to give their staff a rest."

Peeni Henare.
Peeni Henare. Photo credit: RNZ

7:30am - Henare is urging patients to be truthful to healthcare staff about their symptoms and whether they have visited any potential exposure sites.

"So it is unfortunate. The Chief Medical Officer said that for those who do come forward, we really need you to tell the truth and be quite open about the discussion with respect to what they present with, as well as where they come from, just to make sure that we can keep a check on COVID-19."

He says the patient at Middlemore Hospital who later tested positive had not been entirely up-front with staff when he arrived at the facility for an unrelated matter.

"My understanding is that as their time there drew out, we were able to draw more information from that particular person. So when they first presented, of the initial questions that they were asked, it appeared there were no COVID links - however as that person stayed a little bit longer, more came out, and those precautions were taken," Henare told The AM Show.

"And sadly they self-discharged, but we were able to track them down reasonably quickly and make sure now that we investigate where that person has been. That work is ongoing."

7:28am - The patient at Middlemore Hospital self-discharged while their test was being processed.

The patient was tracked down "reasonably quickly", Henare said, and officials are now working to determine their movements outside of the hospital.

It's not yet clear where the patient went or who they may have come into contact with.

"I understand the patient in question took it upon themselves to leave. It wasn't long after they were tracked down and brought back in, and are now in quarantine," Henare said.

He says more information will come to light throughout the day. 

"Whanau out there who might have had contact, we need you to come forward."

7:26am - The Associate Minister is providing more information on the positive case at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital. 

He says healthcare staff decided it was best to swab the patient - who had arrived at the hospital for an unrelated matter - as a precaution, despite the patient saying they were not symptomatic. 

Henare says he understands the person is now in quarantine and some patients who may have been exposed to the virus are isolating. 

"My understanding, having heard from the Chief Medical Officer for the Counties Manukau Health Board this morning, was that as they continued to investigate... this particular patient... they thought it best as a precaution just to make sure they swab and test them, only to find they were positive.

"That person I understand is now in quarantine, and those who were considered close contacts - in other words, some of the patients on the ward - are now in isolation."

7:20am - Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare will be on The AM Show shortly. He is expected to provide the latest updates on the new case at Middlemore Hospital.