As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, September 13

Auckland will stay in alert level 4 until at least September 21 at 11:59pm.

This comes after 33 new community cases of COVID-19 were announced on Monday, mere hours before the announcement.

The 33 new cases, all of which are in Auckland, brings the outbreak to 955. Of the 955 cases, 928 have been epidemiologically linked, with 17 currently considered "mystery cases". These unlinked cases are concerning for health officials as they could indicate there are undetected chains of transmission in the community - meaning the outbreak has yet to be fully contained.

Just one of Monday's cases has yet to be epidemiologically linked to the current outbreak.

Of the 20 new cases reported on Sunday, seven (35 percent) were infectious in the community and therefore have associated exposure events. The remaining 13 had been in isolation when they contracted COVID-19.

As of Monday, 21 people are in hospital with COVID-19, four of whom are in the ICU.

Just 8657 tests have been processed in the last 24 hours, 4250 of which were performed in Auckland. This is a significant dip compared to recent testing figures, which Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, says is the most important number - the higher the testing rate, the more confidence health officials have that no cases are going undetected. 

What you need to know

  • Auckland is staying in alert level 4 until at least 11:59pm on September 21
  • Thirty-three new cases were reported on Monday, all in Auckland, bringing the outbreak to 955
  • Seventeen "mystery cases" have yet to be epidemiologically linked, including one from Monday
  • Twenty-one people are in hospital, four of whom are in the ICU
  • Of the 38,681 contacts identified, 87 pct have been contacted by contact tracers, with 92 pct receiving at least one test result
  • The Government has finalised a deal with Denmark to procure 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine
  • You can see the latest locations of interest here - a Pak'nSave and Chemist Warehouse in Manukau are the most recent potential exposure sites to be added.

These live updates have finished.

8pm - There wasn't much action at the Mangere COVID-19 testing site on Monday, where the only lines were the orange road cones, and just a few turned out at the Wiri centre. But a month into level 4 restrictions and with rising cases, there are calls for a change of tactic. 

"Clearly we need to do something differently to actually crush this outbreak," says Auckland University Professor of Medicine Des Gorman.

Just over 4000 Aucklanders got tested on Sunday. The Ministry of Health says this month it's tested around 14,000 essential workers including health staff, supermarket workers, staff from dairies, petrol station attendants and courier drivers and will soon start checking if people crossing the Auckland border have been tested.

But it is not proactively testing randomly in the community. Experts say we need to hunt out the pockets of hidden community transmission.  

"The best way to find out is community surveillance. The most obvious place to capture people is at the supermarkets," said Prof Gorman.

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

7:35pm - Police have charged 71 Aucklanders with a total of 75 offences since alert level 4 began until yesterday.

Of these, 59 are for Failing to Comply with Order (COVID-19), 13 for Failure to Comply with Direction/Prohibition/Restriction, one for Failing to Stop (COVID 19-related), and two for Assaults/Threatens/Hinders/Obstructs Enforcement Officer.

In the same time period, 165 people were formally warned for a range of offences.

To date, Police have received a total of 7867 online breach notifications relating to businesses, mass gatherings or people in Auckland.

7pm - The lawyer for an Auckland man and his partner who police say could be charged for flouting alert level 4 lockdown rules to fly to Wanaka says she will be seeking name suppression for her clients. 

Police say the pair, a 35-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, used their essential worker exemption to get through Auckland's southern boundary at Mercer on Thursday.

They drove to Hamilton, boarded a commercial flight and travelled to Queenstown via Wellington. Police say once there they rented a vehicle and drove to Wanaka where the man's family has a holiday home.

The 35-year-old man's mother is a high profile public official in Auckland.

Rachael Reed QC says her clients will not be making any comment.

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

6:45pm - Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, an immunologist and senior lecturer of pathology and molecular medicine at the University of Otago, Wellington, says the current vaccination levels need to continue rising to help keep everyone safe from COVID-19.

"Acceleration in vaccination efforts for Pacific and Māori communities has been realised more recently by community-driven Pacific and Māori-led events and activities held around the country to improve vaccine accessibility and vaccination rates - it is hoped more of these events will continue moving forward," she says.

"It is encouraging to know more of the unlinked cases have subsequently been accounted for, although mystery cases persist and are being picked up through surveillance and community testing efforts rather than through contact tracing, which is of concern."

Dr Sika-Paotonu says it is important for everyone who needs it to get a COVID-19 test.

"It is critical that those who are unwell and require hospital or emergency care, don't put off coming forward for the medical care needed," she says.

"We cannot become complacent - there is too much at stake for everyone."

6:30pm - Police say the couple who travelled from Auckland to Wanaka last week were dobbed in through the online reporting tool.

The couple reportedly crossed the alert level 4 boundary after providing an exemption on September 9, drove to Hamilton Airport and boarded a commercial flight where they travelled to Queenstown via Wellington. Once there, they rented a vehicle and drove to Wanaka.

Police say after the pair was spoken to by officers, they said they would return to their usual place of residence.

They add they are now considering charges under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020.

6:15pm - There are new locations of interest, including several train journeys.

They are:

  • Blue Sea Laundromat Clover Park, Saturday 11 September from 7:00 am - 7:15 am and Saturday 11 September from 1:00 pm - 1:15 pm
  • Western Train Line Grafton to Fruitvale Road, Thursday 9 September from 8:27 am - 8:50 am and Friday 10 September from 8:27 am - 8:50 am
  • Western Train Line Fruitvale Road to Grafton, Thursday 9 September from 8:56 pm - 9:20 pm and Friday 10 September from 9:26 pm - 9:50 pm
  • Western Line Train Grafton station to Fruitvale station, Saturday 11 September from 8:47 am - 9:10 am
  • Western Train Line Fruitvale Road to Grafton, Saturday 11 September from 8:56 pm - 9:20 pm
  • Dawson Road Pharmacy Clover Park, Thursday 2 September from 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm and Friday 10 September 4:45 pm - 5:15 pm
  • Pak'nSave Botany, Saturday 4 September from 9:04 am - 9:30 am
  • Bus 70 Customs Street East to Grafton Train Station, Thursday 9 September from 8:11 am - 8:20 am.

6pm - It's time for Newshub Live at 6. You can watch that here or on Three.

5:55pm - Professor Michael Plank, of Te Pūnaha Matatini and the University of Canterbury, says he "fully supports" the Government's decision to extend Auckland's time in level 4.

"The recent emergence of 'mystery cases' suggests there may be a small number of cases in the Auckland community we haven't found yet. If Auckland moved to alert level 3, these cases could trigger a resurgence," he says.

"Model results show that it could take up to two weeks for us to see the effect of this resurgence in our case numbers, by which time the number of people infected could be much larger. This would set us back weeks."

Plank says a crucial factor in building confidence that the outbreak is contained over the next week is community testing, and he urges anyone with symptoms to get tested immediately.

"Don't wait to see if it gets better. Don't think it can't be COVID because you've been vaccinated. Don't chalk it down to a cold. Colds have actually become less widespread in the last few weeks due to the lockdown. So, if you do feel unwell, it could very easily be COVID."

5:35pm - Police have arrested a small number of people near checkpoints at Auckland's borders who have been flouting the rules and found to be in possession of drugs, including methamphetamine and cannabis.

Yesterday, two men, aged 36 and 52, were stopped in their vehicle at Auckland's southern checkpoint at Mercer travelling south, police say.

While they both produced travel exemption notices, officers at the checkpoint noticed the smell of cannabis coming from their vehicle and they were questioned further.

It was then found they were not travelling for essential purposes and both were found to be in possession of over 2kgs of cannabis.

The men were charged with Possession for Supply and Failing to Comply with the COVID-19 order and are due to appear in the Manukau District Court today.

Then, near a checkpoint on State Highway 1 north of Auckland, one man was arrested after two officers found he was possessing methamphetamine. 

Police say he was found running along train tracks trying to evade the checkpoint separating the Auckland and Northland regions. 

A 29-year-old man was arrested, issued with an infringement for breaching the level 4 alert restrictions and has been summonsed to appear in court on a drug charge next month.

5:25pm - National Party leader Judith Collins and COVID-19 response spokesperson Chris Bishop say the Government had "no choice" but to extend Auckland's lockdown because of its "ongoing failures".

"We must stamp out this current outbreak of Delta and that means there is no alternative to the continuation of the lockdown, hopefully for just one more week,"Collins says.

"But all Kiwis – Aucklanders especially – deserve a proper explanation about why they have been put in this position in the first place.

"This lockdown will now be the longest ever since COVID hit New Zealand, making a mockery of the Prime Minister's claims at the start that it would be 'short and sharp'."

Collins says Auckland is in lockdown and the rest of the country at level 2 for two reasons: the country's vaccine rollout and the Government not preparing for Delta.

"The Prime Minister spent most of this afternoon's press conference telling people to go and get vaccinated, which must be infuriating to the thousands of New Zealanders who have been keen to get vaccinated since the start of the year but who haven't been able to due to one of the developed world's slowest vaccine rollout," she says.

"New Zealand was slow to sign contracts with vaccine suppliers, slow to approve the vaccine, and slow to order. We complacently sat on our hands while the rest of the world got on with the job of getting as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible."

Bishop says the current outbreak has "exposed the Government's lack of planning" for Delta.

"The Government went into self-congratulation mode for most of this year, and didn't make the investments needed to get ready for Delta, even while it was raging around the world," he says.

"Saliva testing has taken a year to roll out, rapid testing is banned in New Zealand, and contact tracers have done a heroic job with limited resources. Only recently have we moved to do audits of MIQ facilities in light of the Delta variant.

"Government ineptitude around preparation for Delta and over vaccines has left New Zealand no choice but to continue the lockdown."

5:15pm - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is urging those in the city to stay the course and stamp out COVID-19 by continuing to follow the level 4 rules and by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

"Aucklanders have made a massive effort over the past four weeks to keep New Zealand safe from COVID-19 and I want to thank everyone for their hard work," he says.

"Another week in lockdown will be really tough for our communities and for businesses, but it is absolutely necessary if we are to once again beat the virus and return to life with fewer restrictions."

Goff says the Delta variant has "changed the game", which means it's taking longer than it previously did for case numbers to come down.

"We've come this far, let's finish the job. If you haven't already done so, get vaccinated as soon as possible - this is the best way to protect everyone against COVID-19 and reduce the likelihood of further lockdowns," he says.

"If we all keep working together we can once again eliminate COVID-19 and rejoin the rest of New Zealand at a lower level of restrictions."

Phil Goff.
Phil Goff. Photo credit: Getty Images

5:10pm - The Restaurant Association says Auckland remaining at level 4 is "inevitable but not desirable".

CEO Marisa Bidios says the financial drain is taking its toll on business owners and their employees.

"With no assurance of a wage subsidy extension into level 2 for Auckland based businesses and severely restricted trading even when we do arrive there, our businesses are having to make extremely difficult decisions to hang on for another week," she says.

"What continues to be pushed under the carpet is the crippling losses that so many industries unable to operate at levels 4 and 3 are facing."

5pm - That annoucement has just finished. To sum up briefly:

  • Auckland is staying in level 4 until 11:59pm next Tuesday, September 21
  • the rest of New Zealand remains in level 2
  • an in-principle decision has been made for Auckland to move to level 3 next week.

4:58pm - There were seven exposure events in cases reported yesterday.

Dr Bloomfield says only three were after people had been told to isolate. One location was a testing centre and others were things they were allowed to be doing.

4:55pm - Will we still be using lockdowns into the summer?

Ardern says no one wants them and they're used because all Kiwis were vulnerable and there was no effective treatment. Now we have vaccines that can be used, but the Government needs Kiwis to take them up, she adds.

4:50pm - Ardern was challened on her comments saying lockdown would be short and sharp.

She says they have made an in-principle decision on Auckland and says people expect the Government to make decisions with the information in front of them.

4:45pm - Ardern says they were always concerned about misinformation on vaccinations, but they're seeing an increase in the number of people willing to get the jab.

On compliance with lockdown rules, Ardern says she isn't considering incentives for people who follow the rules.

4:39pm - Ardern was asked whether she will need to level with Kiwis that elimination won't happen.

She says as long as you know where cases are coming from, it's possible, and mystery cases will continue to be monitored.

4:34pm - On the couple who used their essential worker status to leave Auckland and go to Wanaka, Ardern says she has no further information on them.

She says it is currently sitting with police and her general comment is that "everyone needs to play their part" and "the rules are not there to be gamed".

She says she's unsure how they came to the authorities' attention.

4:31pm - There are some concerning cases Ardern has previously mentioned.

There is a case in Mt Eden that they're trying to do more source testing on. There are also some cases that have come into Middlemore Hospital that the Government wants to know more about how they fit into the cluster.

4:27pm - The rise in case numbers today is because of the number that are in households.

Ardern says seven cases today are in just one household - and Delta spreads in households.

These new cases were among contacts they had already identified, and about 16 percent become cases by their day 12 tests.

4:23pm - Ardern says the status of the outbreak in Auckland at this point does still present risk.

She points to examples of using the reasons for movement to get through the border, which is why restrictions are still needed.

On mystery cases, she says not all of them are concerning and only three or four are discussed in a lot of detail where a lot of investigation is going into.

On vaccinations, Ardern says she's heard discussion among modellers that vaccination rates will make a difference even in the short term.

"If you are a mystery cases, I want you to be vaccinated," she says.

4:18pm - Dr Bloomfield says the "signs are good": the lockdown is working, testing is at good levels, and just a small number of cases are being investigating to ensure there's no ongoing community transmission.

Ardern says she wants this week to be used "wisely" to continue surveillance testing.

She adds that lockdowns will be used as a first resort while vaccination in underway, but then they will listen to experts about what the next phase will look like.

Dr Bloomfield says New Zealand is vaccinating at a great rate and people have recognised the threat of COVID-19.

4:11pm - Ardern says the breakdown of cases unlinked versus household contacts will be reported.

She is also asking people to please stay locked down to "get us over the line"

In terms of locations of interest, they are generally people going to the supermarket. Ardern urges people to reduce the risk by nominating one person per household to do the shopping and also to get tested if you have any symptoms.

Her final ask is to get vaccinated. She says if people have an appointment for October, they should look online to see if earlier spots have opened up.

4:07pm - Cabinet has agreed that Auckland will stay in level 4 until 11:59pm next Tuesday, Ardern says.

4:03pm - Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield have arrived.

Ardern has acknowledged the 33 new cases today and says only one case is currently not linked to the cluster. There are also seven cases in one household.

"One of the hard things about Delta" is that it spreads through homes, she says.

3:50pm - We are about 10 minutes away from the Government's announcement on Auckland's alert level.

You'll be able to watch that on Newshub's website or on Three. You can also follow along with the updates on this page.

3:30pm - A vaccine team lead in Auckland is urging more people to seek out walk-in vaccination centres.

Joshua Levy, who works at Bargain Chemist Manukau, says they're only getting 50 to 100 walk-ins each day when they have the capacity to take up to 450 during alert level 4.

"We just need the people to come in and get vaccinated and we hope people come in to get vaccinated, because this is how you're going to get us out of this lockdown," he tells Newshub.

Levy says numbers have dipped from maximum capacity since about week two of lockdown and people are very surprised when they visit and don't need to wait around for their vaccination.

"I've worked many, many hours a week and one of the biggest comments we get is, 'I'm surprised how quiet it is'," he says.

"People are just shocked about how quiet it is in our clinic when the demand is so high across Auckland."

Levy says there are plenty of places that offer walk-in vaccines and some people won't realise how close these are to their home.

He encourages people to seek out nearby vaccine clinics to help protect themselves and the people around them, and also to get Auckland out of lockdown.

3:10pm - Health authorities are urging more Aucklanders to get swabbed to help the region's fight against COVID-19 after a drop in testing over the weekend.

Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) lead and Counties Manukau Health chief executive Fepulea'i Margie Apa says Aucklanders have already made an extraordinary effort to go out and get swabbed.

"Once again, Aucklanders have heeded the call to get tested in record numbers during this outbreak with more than 270,000 people tested for COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak. This equates to 16 percent of the Auckland population.

"I want to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone in Tāmaki Makaurau for this incredible effort and for playing a vital role in our national effort to stamp it out.

"The hard work isn't done yet. We need more people to get a free COVID-19 test to protect yourself and your whānau and to ensure we have no undetected community spread. We are seeing COVID-19 positive cases in tamariki so if you're coming out for a COVID-19 test, please bring the whānau too.

"We have continued to see a small number of unlinked positive cases -  these are cases where the person has not visited known locations of interest, has not already been identified as a contact of a positive case, and they have not always had typical or obvious COVID-19 symptoms.

"We want to cast a wide geographical net around the location of known clusters and unlinked cases so we particularly want to see more families and household bubbles from seven Auckland suburbs of interest come out to get tested."

The suburbs are:

  • Mt Eden
  • Massey
  • Māngere
  • Favona
  • Papatoetoe
  • Ōtara
  • Manurewa.

Anyone in Tāmaki Makaurau with any symptoms of COVID-19 should get a test, even those with very mild symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • new or worsening cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • sneezing and runny nose
  • temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste.

Aucklanders should also call Healthline or their GP for advice if they have any other, less common symptoms, such as diarrhoea, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, malaise (a general feeling of discomfort, illness or unease), chest pain, abdominal pain, joint pain or confusion and irritability.

People without symptoms from the suburbs of interest are also encouraged to get tested to help health authorities a level of assurance. People who don't have symptoms and get a one-off test for surveillance purposes don't need to be isolated while they wait for the result.

Margie Apa adds: "Auckland is doing it tough - we all want to see the end of this outbreak and move down alert levels. You can help get us there by getting a COVID-19 test if you have any symptoms or if you live in a suburb of interest and get a one-off asymptomatic test."

2:35pm - Several new potential exposure events have been identified.

These are:

  • Countdown Manukau - Tuesday, August 31, 9:32am - 10am
  • SuperValue, Flatbush - Friday, September 3, 5:54pm - 6:30pm
  • Countdown, Mangere East - Thursday, September 9, 10am - 10:45am
  • Mascot Dairy, Mangere - Tuesday, September 7, 8pm - 8:15pm.

People who visited these locations at the relevant times are asked to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the date of possible exposure. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until a negative result is returned - and for 24 hours after symptoms resolve.

You can keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest via the Ministry of Health's official list.

2:15pm - Seven suburbs in Auckland will be the focus of testing and contact tracing efforts this week as health officials try to crack the city's mystery cases.

Health officials are on the hunt for the virus in Mt Eden, Massey, Māngere, Favona, Papatoetoe, Ōtara and Manurewa. 

The Prime Minister will reveal whether the region will shift to alert level 3 during a post-Cabinet press conference at 4pm - however, most experts agree that Aucklanders should prepare for more time in lockdown.

2:05pm - An Auckland man who allegedly travelled to Wānaka illegally during the region's ongoing lockdown is the son of a high-ranking public official, Newshub understands.

The man, 35, and a 26-year-old woman crossed Auckland's alert level 4 border using essential worker exemptions before driving to Hamilton Airport. The couple then flew to their holiday home in Wānaka.

Newshub has learned the man is the son of a senior official.

Speaking on Monday, Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said he felt "pretty filthy" about the couple's actions.

"Folk doing these things are not only a danger to the health of people in this part of the world but we are also holding onto our economic livelihood by our fingernails at the present time.

"If we ended up in another lockdown situation like Auckland is going through at the present time, it would be the end of a lot of businesses in our part of the world. 

"It's a very selfish thing to do."

Read more here.

1:50pm - Whether the Super City shifts to alert level 3 or remains in lockdown, Aucklanders' lives will still be on hold and businesses will suffer, says ACT leader David Seymour.

In a statement on Monday, released ahead of Cabinet's looming alert level decision for Auckland, the Epsom MP called on the Government to introduce weekly Resurgence Payments under alert level 4, alert level 3 and for the hospitality industry under alert level 2.

He also called for the introduction of self-testing kits to boost Auckland's flagging testing rate, with just 4250 swabs taken across the region on Sunday. He says the hassle of driving to a testing centre during lockdown is deterring people from getting swabbed.

"There still hasn't been enough testing to ensure that there isn't still community transmission," Seymour said.

"To avoid flying blind, the Government should be rolling out new testing, and not just saliva... It should, as a matter of urgency, remove the absurd ban on New Zealanders importing self-tests. Self-testing is widely used offshore and should be legalised in New Zealand so that Government and business alike can roll it out here.

"There should not be 5000 tests in Auckland every day. There should be tens of thousands, but the Government will not achieve that sustainably if people have to drive to a centre and have a swab stuffed up their nasopharyngeal tract.

"The cost of ongoing lockdowns is too high to sustain just because the Government isn't sure. We need to get with the programme and use the same technology as the rest of the world to test more for greater certainty."

1:40pm - The Opposition is calling on the Government to outline a plan for New Zealand's disabled population, with National's Disability Issues spokesperson, Penny Simmonds, saying the community is disadvantaged by barriers to getting tested and vaccinated. 

"Our disabled population cannot continue to be left out of the vaccination and testing programmes in this country," Simmonds said on Monday. "Almost one-in-four Kiwis identify as living with a disability, yet there's a massive gap in our vaccination and COVID-testing options.

"A lack of public transport to and from vaccination points, long periods waiting in queues and busy, over-stimulating environments just aren't suitable for many disabled people.

"Barriers to getting our disabled population vaccinated and tested means we have a significant number of people in our communities, often with compromised health, in an incredibly vulnerable situation.

"Disability advocates have also told me that many isolation facilities are just not accessible to the disabled, and with carers not allowed in to provide people with support, I'm hearing that disabled people in the community are fearful of getting tested."

Simmonds says there should be priority queues in place for people living with disabilities as well as the option of quiet spaces, in order to shorten wait times and make the experience more comfortable.

"A mobile unit which can go into the homes of people who can't physically get to vaccination centres also needs to be established and saliva testing should be made available as soon as possible," Simmonds continued.

"Our disabled population cannot continue to be left out of the vaccination and testing rollout - the risks are just too high."

1:30pm -  "Whatever it takes" must be the approach to south Auckland's vaccination programme, says Manurewa-Papakura Ward Councillor Daniel Newman, who is calling for more tailored public health campaigns and school-based vaccination programmes to boost uptake in the city's southern suburbs.

The announcement of the Government's agreement with Denmark to procure 500,000 additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine is offset by the "lingering tail" of the highly infectious Delta variant, Newman said on Monday.

He says "whatever it takes" is the necessary approach to ramp up vaccination rates among Māori and Pacific people, including more initiatives such as direct-to-whānau mobile vaccination and school-based programmes. He also suggests tailoring campaigns to different neighbourhoods. 

"Day after day we see a significant group of people in communities across south Auckland respond to the offer of a free Pfizer vaccination with either hesitation or indifference," Newman said.

"However, the truth is the vaccination programme has not been designed by Māori and Pacific health providers; it has come into south Auckland later than it should have been; and our community is facing a longer lockdown than any other region of the country, which points of the embers of COVID-19 smouldering away right here.

"The public information campaign needs to be redesigned to be led by role models that people trust; and it needs to be tailored to be localised to individual neighbourhoods. Vaccine events need to be properly supported with welfare services to meet the needs of vulnerable families.

"If we do not have a workable plan for the roll-out of vaccination programmes tailored for every secondary school by Monday, October 18 - the start of Term Four - we will have missed arguably the best opportunity to quickly and effectively target the largest catchment of students who could otherwise be the key influence within their respective bubbles to get vaccinated at the same time."

1:15pm - Meanwhile, COVID-stricken New South Wales has recorded 1257 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night (local time), as well as seven additional deaths.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the state has recorded 44,485 cases of the virus.

"From today, people across NSW who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed more freedoms," the state's health department said. 

Across NSW, 78.5 percent of the over-16 population has received a first dose of a vaccine, and 46.2 percent are fully vaccinated.

1:06pm - There are 33 new community cases to report on Monday.

Here is the Ministry of Health's full statement:

Thirty-three community cases of COVID-19; three border cases in managed isolation; more than 4.3 million vaccines administered



Number of new community cases


Number of new cases identified at the border


Location of new cases


Location of community cases (total)

Auckland 938 (3601 of whom have recovered); Wellington 17 (12 of whom have recovered)

Number of community cases (total)

955 (in current community outbreak)

Cases infectious in the community

Seven (35 pct) of yesterday's 20 cases have exposure events

Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infected

13 (65 pct) of yesterday's 20 cases

Cases epidemiologically linked

32 of today's cases

Cases to be epidemiologically linked

One of today's cases *

Cases epidemiologically linked (total)

928 (in current cluster)  

Number of sub-clusters

Eight epidemiologically linked subclusters. The two largest subclusters are the Mangere church group: 381; and Birkdale social network cluster: 76.

There are nine epidemiologically unlinked subclusters.

Cases in hospital

21 (total): North Shore (4); Auckland (7); Middlemore (10)

Cases in ICU or HDU


Confirmed cases (total)

3,593 since pandemic began

Historical cases, since 1 Jan 2021 (total)

137 out of 1,775 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)

126 (as at 10am 13 September)



Number of tests (total)


Number of tests total (last 24 hours)


Tests rolling average (last 7 days)


Tests in Auckland (last 24 hours)


Testing centres in Auckland




Wastewater detections

No unexpected detections in past 24 hours

COVID-19 vaccine update


Vaccines administered to date (total)

4,325,490; 1st doses: 2,862,765; 2nd doses: 1,462,725

Vaccines administered yesterday (total)

33,866; 1st doses: 20,490; 2nd doses: 13,376


1st doses: 265,875; 2nd doses: 128,017

Pacific Peoples

1st doses: 172,628; 2nd doses: 88,493

NZ COVID-19 tracer


Registered users (total)


Poster scans (total)


Manual diary entries (total)


Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday


New cases identified at the border

  • Arrived from Serbia and Montenegro via the UAE on September 4 and tested positive on day seven 
  • Arrived from India via the UAE on September 7 and tested positive on day zero.

Historical cases identified at the border

  • Arrived from Denmark via UAE on September 7 and tested positive on day zero.

* 32 of the 33 cases reported today are epidemiologically linked. The one case yet to be linked is a person who presented to Middlemore Hospital on Saturday. There are seven others in their household. All seven are included in today’s 33.

** Four previously reported historical cases now have an ‘active’ health status – they have now been removed from our tally, which is why the number has reduced.

Testing reminder

Testing nationwide remains an essential part of our response to this outbreak, in particular providing confidence for understanding the extent of any spread of COVID-19.

We are continuing to remind people across Auckland to get tested, especially if you live in and around Massey, Favona, Henderson, Ōtara, Papatoetoe, Māngere and Manurewa.


12:50pm - The Ministry of Health will release a statement with the latest updates at 1pm.

Newshub will publish the statement as soon as we receive it.

12:20pm - Another location of interest has been identified, as well as one new potential exposure event at an existing location.

Otara Mini Supermarket is the latest location to be added to the list, with three possible exposure events on Friday, September 3 and Wednesday, September 8.

Another possible exposure event has been added for Countdown in Botany Downs on September 4.

11:55am - The Opposition's COVID-19 Response spokesperson says "it is ridiculous" the Government is opting not to offer vaccinations in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities.

In a statement on Monday, National's Chris Bishop said answers to written questions reveal the Government is currently not considering the possibility of vaccinations in MIQ - despite leading epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker saying it's imperative to "increase every opportunity to vaccinate everyone in New Zealand".

"This is a common sense idea and most New Zealanders will have assumed it was happening already," Bishop said. "We need to be vaccinating as many people as possible as quickly as possible and when better to do it than when people are staying for 14 days in managed isolation? 

"Surely it is possible for the vaccination programme to have a rolling group of people dedicated to vaccinating people in MIQ."

Bishop says he has been contacted by a number of people who are shocked that vaccinations aren't available to those staying in MIQ.

"I urge the Government to sort this silly situation out. With thousands of people going through MIQ each week and then going back out into the New Zealand community, surely we should be giving people the option to protect themselves by getting vaccinated as quickly as possible."

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Health said vaccinations are not being offered in MIQ "at this stage" due to logistical and practical limitations.

A spokesman told Stuff it would be difficult to provide sufficiently ventilated space for 15 minutes of post-vaccination observation while maintaining infection control requirements in a MIQ setting.

The spokesman added that sites currently don't have the storage and refrigeration facilities required for vaccines, and MIQ nurses would require further training to administer the jabs. 

11:35am - "Mystery cases" may have dashed hopes of an alert level shift for Auckland, with a number of experts warning residents to prepare for an extended lockdown - but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has painted a more optimistic picture, suggesting the end might still be in sight.

While daily case numbers have continued to remain in the double-digits, with 20 recorded on Sunday, Ardern said it's important to remember that most are household contacts.

"I would just remind people that within some of those numbers, you'll see that often we are still seeing household contacts coming through," Ardern said during the press conference on Sunday. 

"We've gone out and looked at how many close contacts we have who aren't yet required to have their day 12 test, and we do still expect a proportion of them to come back with COVID. Now, they're all safely isolated, but it does give you a bit of an idea that we do still expect to keep seeing those numbers."

There are still about 350 very close contacts who are in their 14-day isolation period - and Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said about 16 percent of them will return a positive test result on day 12. 

"This indicates both the importance of keeping people in isolation for the full 14-day period, but it also shows we could expect around another 50 cases just from our very close contacts across the outbreak who remain in isolation and are still to return that day 12 test."

Ardern also noted that health officials know where the "vast majority" of cases are coming from, which is a positive sign.

"We have to remember we still know where the vast majority of our cases are coming from. This is a simple and important reminder because it's an indication of the general control that we have with this outbreak," she said. 

"We have high testing rates in those suburbs where we do have some concern that we might have cases we've not yet found."

Dr Bloomfield added "there is no widespread community transmission in Auckland" and "there has been good rates of testing" among key geographical areas, including Mt Eden, Massey, Māngere, Favona, Papatoetoe, Ōtara, and Manurewa.

Read more here.

11:20am - Meanwhile across the Tasman, Victoria has recorded 473 new locally acquired cases in the past 24 hours to midnight (local time).

There are now more than 3500 active cases in the state, which battled back-to-back outbreaks and consecutive lockdowns before deciding to drop the elimination strategy.

More than 2.86 million doses of the vaccine have been administered across the state, which has a population of 6.681 million.

11:10am - National Hauora Coalition clinical director Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen says the Delta variant is exploiting "weaknesses in our society", with overcrowding and healthcare inequities fuelling its spread among vulnerable communities. 

Dr Jansen says communities with poorer-quality housing and lower incomes will be hardest-hit by the variant, which is highly transmissible and more infectious than previous strains.

"The virus is now travelling in younger adults, adolescents and children, it is travelling in communities with more housing overcrowding, it is reaching communities where traditional public health messaging and traditional contact tracing approaches are less acceptable," Dr Jansen says.

"We are seeing more families who have more complex social needs being COVID-positive. This is very, very different to the early outbreaks, and requires some very dedicated and well-resourced responses.

"This is a significant challenge for communities that have been made vulnerable because of lower income, lower employment, and poorer quality housing. We must collectively double-down on supporting communities that are most affected."

10:50am - The Queenstown Lakes District Mayor is calling for action to be taken against the "selfish" Auckland couple who travelled to Wanaka during lockdown.

The couple - a 26-year-old woman and 35-year-old man - crossed Auckland's alert level 4 border using essential worker exemptions, drove to Hamilton Airport, and flew to their holiday home in Wanaka.

Speaking to Newshub on Monday, Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said he feels "pretty filthy" about their actions.

"Folk doing these things are not only a danger to the health of people in this part of the world, but we are also holding onto our economic livelihood by our fingernails at the present time," he said.  "If we ended up in another lockdown situation like Auckland [is] going through at the present time, it would be the end of a lot of businesses in our part of the world. It's a very selfish thing to do.

"If people are determined to break the rules, they'll find a way, but I am interested in knowing what sort of thing can be done to stop this sort of thing happening in the future."

Police have confirmed the couple will be prosecuted for breaching the current Health Order, by failing to return to their place of residence within the alert level 4 area after leaving for approved essential personal movement.

The pair will be issued with a summons to appear in court in the coming week.

10:30am - A quick outline of what can be expected today - at 1pm, the Ministry of Health will put out a press release with the latest developments, including today's case numbers. Newshub will publish those updates as soon as they are available.

There will not be a press conference at the usual time of 1pm. Instead, Cabinet will be convening at 1pm to review the current alert level settings, including the big decision as to whether Auckland is ready to shift to alert level 3. Most experts are warning Aucklanders to brace for more time in lockdown, with Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson telling The AM Show this morning that the number of unlinked cases is "cause for concern".

A post-Cabinet press conference will then be held by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at 4pm, where the alert level decisions will be revealed. 

As usual, you will be able to watch the press conference live on Three or online via our livestream, which will be available to watch above. We'll also be providing live updates throughout the announcement. 

10:10am - A new potential exposure event and location of interest have been identified by health officials.

These are:

  • Pak'nSave, Manukau - Thursday, September 2, 11am - 12:45pm
  • Chemist Warehouse, Westfield Manukau - Tuesday, September 7, 9am-12pm.

Anyone who was at the supermarket at the relevant time is asked to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the date of exposure. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until a negative result is returned - and for 24 hours after symptoms resolve.

Anyone who was at Chemist Warehouse is asked to stay at home and get tested immediately, as well as five days after the date of exposure. Continue to stay at home until a negative day five test result is returned. Record your visit online or call Healthline so contact tracers can get in touch.

9:55am - Top US health officials believe Pfizer's vaccine could be authorised for children aged 5-11 years old by the end of October, two sources familiar with the situation say.

The timeline is based on the expectation that Pfizer, which developed the shot with Germany's BioNTech, will have enough data from clinical trials to seek emergency use authorisation (EUA) for that age group from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) towards the end of this month, the sources said. They anticipate the FDA could make a decision on whether the shot is safe and effective in younger children within three weeks of the EUA submission.

A decision on whether to authorise a vaccine for younger children is eagerly anticipated by millions of US citizens, particularly parents with children who started school in recent weeks amid a wave of infections driven by the Delta variant.

In New Zealand, the vaccine is currently only available to those aged 12 and over.

Read more here.

9:45am - An Auckland hospitality business owner has slammed the "inequity" of the Government's wage subsidy scheme, saying the city's struggling businesses aren't getting "the same luxury as the rest of the country".

While any part of the country remains in alert level 3 or 4 - Auckland - employers in alert level 2 zones can still apply for the wage subsidy, if they can prove the ongoing lockdown in Auckland is having a significant impact on revenue.

However, when Auckland does eventually shift to alert level 2 - and no regions remain at alert level 3 or 4 - the wage subsidy scheme will likely become obsolete, depriving Auckland's businesses of the same support currently available to the rest of the country.

Sam Ansley, the owner of Auckland bars Everybody's and Roxy, told The AM Show the system is unfair.

"We feel there is a real inequity in the current system the Government is doing in terms of the wage subsidy rollout," he said.

"At the moment, the inequity that exists is - when we are in level 3 or 4 and [staying] up most nights wondering how are we going to pay our bills, the rest of the country in level 2 gets the benefit of wages subsidies, because of the fact that we are in level 3 and 4.

"When we come out of four, five, six, eight weeks of lockdown - and have nothing left because cash reserves are nil and our relationship with our landlords are frayed and our suppliers are at us - we don't have the same luxury as the rest of the country of wage subsidy support."

Read more here.

9:30am - Today's "bubble walk" forecast:

9:15am - Improving ventilation in schools should be a high priority to reduce the risk of transmission in the classroom, says Dr Jin Russell, a developmental paediatrician and PhD candidate in epidemiology.

Speaking to RNZ's Morning Report, Dr Russell urged teachers to keep the windows and doors open as much as possible when the weather permits. 

"Even if you can open windows just a crack, it really does improve ventilation... ventilation seems to be just as effective, in emerging evidence, as masking."

Dr Russell has even floated the idea of installing carbon dioxide monitors in the classroom to alert teachers to poor ventilation. 

9:10am - Genesis Energy says saliva testing for essential workers at Huntly power station during alert levels 3 and 4 provided a level of assurance that staff were healthy and the plant could remain operational.

Nearly 1300 samples were collected for processing between August 17 and September 8, the country's first full day at alert level 2 - excluding Auckland. 

Genesis chief operations officer Nigel Clark says many days saw around 100 samples taken, with a peak of 120 samples on the busiest day.

"Our essential workers were happy to support each other in taking part," said Clark. "They welcomed the step up in safety precautions to ensure Huntly continued to generate power for New Zealanders during lockdown."

Clark says the saliva testing regime was implemented to ensure COVID-19 was caught before it could threaten staff or the operation of the plant. It provided another layer of protection alongside precautions such as rostered bubbles, crew separation at shift changes, and a dedicated cleaner for the control room.

"Huntly is a critical part of New Zealand's energy network - it simply has to keep running, and the only people who can operate it are those who work there," says Clark. 

"Saliva testing gave us a level of assurance that our staff were healthy and the plant could remain operational. We're grateful to those staff who stepped up to be trained in sample collection, and to everyone on site for being willing to take part in the testing regime."

9am - More than 1.5 million doses of the vaccine have now been administered in metro Auckland, with almost 74,000 vaccinations recorded in the city from Friday to Sunday this weekend, says the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC).

Auckland's one-millionth first dose was also recorded on Sunday, the NRHCC said.

The weekend in numbers

  • Almost 74,000 total vaccinations across Auckland metro (Friday-Sunday)
  • Over 14,000 administered through the Airport Park-and-Ride and Trusts Arena vaccination sites
  • Over 3700 vaccinations delivered at a four-day pop-up event run by the Fono and the Tongan Health Society
  • Over 700 vaccinations at an Auckland University vaccination event for in-residence staff and students. The event continues until Tuesday.  

NRHCC clinical director Dr Anthony Jordan said it was pleasing so many Aucklanders had responded to the call to get vaccinated this weekend.

"We have opened up our Airport Park-and-Ride drive-through and the Trusts Arena to enable those who don't have an appointment yet to get vaccinated now. We want these sites to continue to be busy to ensure everyone is vaccinated as soon as possible," he said on Sunday evening.

"If people would prefer to go to our community vaccination centres, GPs and pharmacies they also have bookings available. Across our sites we have ongoing availability this week at the Otara, Takanini, Auckland CBD, Epsom and Tamaki Vaccination Centres and we would encourage people to book into these sites by going to"  

8:50am - Leading epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker has doubled-down on his stance that Auckland should remain in lockdown - for now.

Speaking to Breakfast on Monday morning, the public health expert said Auckland is doing a "remarkable job" at stamping out the virus, but suggested the region is not ready to move to alert level 3. 

"Basically what we have to see is no more [unexpected] cases in the community," he said. 

"Obviously move down alert levels if we have a few cases every day, as long as those cases are known contacts - the trouble is these are people we don't know about.

"This is the end of this outbreak in Auckland - we just have to persist for a few more days."

Dr Collin Tukuitonga, an associate professor of public health at the University of Auckland, also told Breakfast more certainty is needed before shifting Auckland out of lockdown.

"We're likely to see a long tail... one day you see 13 cases, the next day you see 20, and we don't know how long this will go on for," he said. "The Delta variant seems to easily get out of hand."

Noting the continued detection of "mystery cases", Tukuitonga suggested it is "highly unlikely" Auckland will move to alert level 3 on Tuesday.

8:45am - In case you missed it, here's a full wrap of Sunday's developments.

Twenty new cases of COVID-19 were recorded, eight of which have yet to be epidemiologically linked to the outbreak - boosting the number of "mystery cases" to 34.

No staff or patients have tested positive in relation to the three cases at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also announced the Government's deal with Denmark to procure an additional 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Read more here.

8:35am - A pop-up vaccination centre at the University of Auckland is now accepting walk-ins.

The clinic will run from Saturday, September 11 to Tuesday, September 14 to provide vaccinations to the 2300 students and staff currently living in the university's halls of residence.

Eligible students and staff were invited to make a booking using a unique code. Nearly 400 staff and students were vaccinated on Saturday and from Monday, the centre is open more widely, including for walk-ins. 

The centre, located in the Owen G. Glenn Building, is operated by staff from FMHS and approved vaccinators from the Campus Pharmacy.

8:30am - One immunologist says even when this outbreak is eliminated, it is "highly likely" another will follow - and the Government needs to prepare for a scenario where the elimination strategy does not catch up with the Delta variant.

"We need to prepare for the time that elimination does not catch up with the Delta virus, and New Zealand will have to swing into action to keep the vaccinations up - e.g. Ministry of Health vaccinators linking with Māori and Pacific providers, and reinforcing the nursing capability of ICUs and infrastructure for dealing with potentially sick people. Even if we catch up with this outbreak, it is highly likely there will be others," says Professor Graham Le Gros, the director of the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and the programme director of Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand.

"It's not that New Zealand is not trying hard enough, it's just that the Delta variant does not play by the rules - it's a virus constantly able to change infection strategy and change the degree to which it induces symptoms. Also, in future we will have to trust that the vaccinated immune system of a healthy human is the only thing able to protect against the worst effects of the virus."

He says the ongoing restrictions at the border are not sustainable - and elimination "is not the long-term strategy for a country the size of New Zealand".

"Elimination is not the long-term strategy for a country the size of New Zealand, and with its level of interdependence on travel and shipping with the rest of the world. But in the short-term, the elimination approach is appropriate and will help us to vaccinate as many New Zealanders as possible," Professor Le Gros says.

"Also, we need to keep an eye on the horizon for how vaccines are now being trialled in the over five-year-olds, so in the foreseeable future we will be able to consider full vaccination of the population."  

8:20am - The continued detection of mystery cases is "concerning", says another expert, and is likely to affect the possibility of an alert level shift in Auckland. 

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, an immunologist and senior lecturer in Pathology & Molecular Medicine at the University of Otago Wellington, says the 34 unlinked cases reinforce the importance of remaining vigilant. 

"The detection of mystery cases unlinked to the current outbreak is concerning, and likely to affect the potential for a shift in alert levels for the Auckland region," Dr Sika-Paotonu said.

"The unlinked cases highlight the need for everyone to remain vigilant as the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus cannot be allowed to run rampant within our communities - we've seen other countries punished for their delayed actions."

She has echoed health officials' calls for Aucklanders to continue getting tested.

"It is critical that those who need to have a COVID-19 test still come forward to have this done, and should not be afraid to do so. Additionally, for those who are unwell and require emergency care and attention at this time, it is important to seek medical help as needed."

8:10am - One promising sign is that Auckland's 'test positivity rate' is trending downwards, says Dr Matthew Parry, a senior lecturer at the University of Otago's Department of Mathematics and Statistics. 

"A promising sign is that the 'test positivity rate' in Auckland is trending downwards. The test positivity rate is the ratio of the number of positive tests to the number of tests that were performed on a given day," Dr Parry said.

"When we combine this information with the number of new cases, which is also trending downwards, this gives us some confidence that the testing levels in Auckland are high enough to support our elimination strategy."

8am - No new locations of interest have been identified as of 8am. 

The last potential exposure events were added at 6pm on Sunday.

The full list can be viewed here. You can also keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest via Newshub's infographic below. Click on the 'Added' column to organise by the most recent additions.

7:30am - Robertson has also addressed Professor Michael Baker's suggestion that the Government should not risk a move to alert level 3 while mystery cases are still cropping up.

Last week, the epidemiologist suggested officials should keep Auckland in lockdown until mystery cases have not been recorded for several days. Robertson says that theory is "not necessarily true" - but did note that officials need to see the number of unlinked cases "reduce down".

"Not necessarily. I have great respect for Michael and the work that he does, but we look very closely at each of these individual mystery cases... that eight [new mystery cases] will have reduced down significantly just overnight, I guarantee it, because during the day yesterday there would've been conversations with those people, connections would've been made to other parts of the outbreak, and they're no longer considered mystery cases.

"As Dr Bloomfield said yesterday, we've got three sub-clusters where we're still seeing cases coming around the outside of those that we want to make sure we're bringing in and we've got direct links to. It's a handful of cases that concern us in that regard, so I wouldn't necessarily say that was true, as Michael is pointing out.

"I would say the more [mystery cases] we have, the more concern we have."

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, September 13
Photo credit: Getty Images

7:20am - Robertson says he knows how hard lockdown is for Auckland, but it remains the best way of "getting on top of the virus". 

"It is a battle, but it is one we are winning. We need to do the job properly," he says.

"We don't have widespread community transmission. Level 4 is tough for everyone... but we know it gives us the best chance at getting on top of the virus and breaking chains of transmission - that is happening, but there are still a few cases at the edges.

"We will look carefully at the evidence and we will move down alert levels as soon as we can."

He says officials will be informed with the latest advice from the Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, ahead of their decision on Monday.

"We will listen to the advice we get today and lay out a clear plan for Auckland."

Regarding calls for purpose-built quarantine facilities, Robertson says the Government is looking at a range of options and is considering whether to continue using the existing facilities, modify them, or construct new ones.

"They have served us very well... we will look at those options."

7:17am - Robertson says officials are not only interested in overall case numbers, but particularly the 34 "mystery cases" that have not been immediately connected to the outbreak.

"We reduce those every day... but while we've got those there is some cause for concern," he says.

However, he says health officials do not believe the unlinked cases are evidence of "widespread" community transmission going undetected in the community.

"We've just got to get our hands around the full outbreak."

7:15am - Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson is on The AM Show.

He says he won't give an indication of where officials are sitting regarding the looming alert level decision for Auckland on Monday afternoon. 

"We give ourselves the very, very latest information and as much time as possible. Dr Bloomfield comes into our Cabinet meetings to talk us through the advice.

"I'm not going to make that decision now or give a view on what is more or less likely."