As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, September 6

All of New Zealand, outside of Auckland, will move to alert level 2 at 11:59pm on Tuesday. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield made the announcement while also introducing new 'Delta 2' rules to help prevent the spread of Delta if it gets into the community.

There will be additional distancing requirements and a cap on the number of people in establishments.

Also on Monday, 20 new cases of COVID-19 were reported for the third consecutive day, bringing the outbreak to 821.

Of the 20 cases, all of whom are in Auckland, five were infectious while in the community. Fifteen have already been epidemiologically linked.

Forty people are currently hospitalised with the virus across Auckland, with six in the ICU. The majority of the patients - 18 - are receiving treatment at Middlemore Hospital, a facility that came under-fire on Monday morning after it was revealed that a symptomatic patient, who later tested positive for COVID-19, had not been isolated while awaiting his test results. 

The positive case was confirmed by Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson earlier on Monday, who told Breakfast that the man, who was hospitalised for an unrelated issue, had shared a room with three others at the Edmund Hillary Block surgical ward - including a 91-year-old patient. Staff who may have been exposed to the virus are being contacted and tested, he said, however all were wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).

ACT leader and Epsom MP David Seymour says the 91-year-old, who he has been in contact with, is "extremely aggrieved" by the "carelessness" of staff, who failed to isolate the patient while awaiting his test results. The elderly man, who is fully vaccinated, was put in danger by the poor processes, Seymour told Newshub.

What you need to know:

  • A man at Middlemore Hospital who has tested positive for COVID-19 is understood to have spent hours in a ward alongside other patients and staff while awaiting his test results
  • Twenty new community cases have been reported on Monday, with the outbreak now standing at 821 - 804 in Auckland and 17 in Wellington
  • One-hundred-and-fourteen people have now recovered
  • Auckland remains at alert level 4 while the rest of New Zealand is at level 3, although all of Aotearoa outside of the super city will move to level 2 at 11:59pm on Tuesday
  • Forty people are in hospital, six of whom are in intensive care
  • Click here for the latest locations of interest - a map can also be found here.

These live updates have finished.

7:05pm - Air New Zealand has made changes to its domestic network between September 8 and September 14 in response to the alert level changes.

Chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty says that while the airline is well versed at navigating the various alert level changes, it may take a couple of days for some offerings to return to normal.

"It's encouraging to see the rest of NZ move to alert level 2. Our customers can expect to see our lounges in Wellington, Christchurch, and the regions reopen, and valet services resume in Christchurch," she says.

"In line with the Government's announcement, Wellington, Christchurch and regional lounges will be operating with a capacity limit."

Food and beverage service on board remains suspended.

For people in Auckland, or those who no longer wish to travel, Air New Zealand has extended its COVID-19 flexibility policy for domestic travel out to October 31. This means, in addition to allowing a waiver of the change fee, customers can place their booking in credit if their travel plans have changed.

Customers will be required to wear masks within airports, lounges and on all flights.

6:55pm - Auckland Pride says while they are encouraged by the Government to keep communities safe, the announcement of update alert level 2 guidelines has "substantial implications" for the live events sector.

"In response, Auckland Pride are calling on the Government to provide specific funding for Creative NZ to complement existing financial support, and to fill the gaps in resourcing the creative industries at alert level two," they say.

Executive director of Auckland Pride Max Tweedie says it is "critical" the Government empowers Creative NZ for extra support for artists to ensure the industry isn't decimated by COVID-19.

"While we support the need for increased restrictions, the Govt must ensure the burden doesn't fall on our artists."

6:25pm - Epidemiologist Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, from the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago Wellington, says it's great that masks are being recommended in schools.

"It's good to see an increasing commitment from Government to protect children given rising concerns about the impacts of COVID-19 on children. Our children are still largely unvaccinated and extremely vulnerable to ongoing outbreaks," she says.

"The current outbreak has included a large number of children from multiple schools, with thousands in quarantine after being identified as close contacts. Outbreaks in the community are extremely disruptive for children and they perpetuate our poor record of inequities in infectious diseases in children."

Kvalsvig hopes that in the coming days there will be practical advice for schools to support them implementing mask-use in "an appropriate and child-centred way". She also wants to hear more about improving ventilation in classrooms that will help prevent viral spread.

"While structural changes to school buildings will take time, simple measures like opening windows whenever feasible will help to prevent spread of a number of respiratory infections and will also improve children's learning and concentration," she says.

6:10pm - There are two new locations of interest. They are: 

  • McKinnon Street Superette, Wednesday 25 August from 1 pm - 1:15 pm
  • Richmond Road Pharmacy Grey Lynn, Monday 30 August from 1:45 pm - 2:15 pm.

6pm - It's time for Newshub Live at 6pm for the latest on the COVID-19 outbreak. You can watch live here or by tuning in on Three.

5:45pm - The Government's move to introduce saliva testing as additional surveillance testing technology is welcome but long overdue, National's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

He says the Roche-Simpson report recommended the urgent rollout of saliva testing a year ago but the Government has been "inexplicably slow" to make use of it.

"The Government belatedly approved its use midway through this year for MIQ workers but only a few hundred tests have been completed," Bishop says.

"Today's move to introduce saliva testing as an additional testing technique for essential workers crossing the Auckland boundary is welcome but should have been underway a long time ago."

He says it is "ridiculous" that people have had to wait in line for hours for a nasal PCR test

"With Delta the aim should be to test as many people as possible as quickly as possible. This means making use of private sector saliva testing providers like Rako, as well as rapid antigen tests," he says.

"Yet again the Government has been caught out with minimal planning for a Delta outbreak. A smart Government would have moved to introduce saliva testing and rapid antigen testing far sooner than now."

Chris Bishop.
Chris Bishop. Photo credit: Getty Images

5:30pm - Professor Michael Plank, of Te Pūnaha Matatini and the University of Canterbury, says the additional measures at Delta 2 are important because the movement of essential workers and goods poses a risk that a case could leak out of Auckland.

"No boundary is watertight and just because most regions have remained COVID-free up to now doesn't guarantee a case won't pop up in future," he says.

"If this does happen, alert level 2 conditions mean the virus will be able to spread more easily. Preventing superspreading events, which were a big factor in the size of Auckland's outbreak, is key to avoiding a similar outbreak happening elsewhere.

"The other key factor in detecting any outbreak early is high testing rates. So, it's crucial for everyone with any symptoms to get tested immediately no matter where you are."

Plank says the recent downward trend in cases is promising, and if New Zealand keeps doing what it's doing, "we have an excellent chance of eliminating this outbreak".

"But there is work still to be done and, as experience in Australia shows, if we give Delta an inch it will take a mile," he says.

"In the next phase of this outbreak, the biggest danger is relaxing too soon. So, we need to get this right the first time because with Delta we might not get a second chance."

5:20pm - Federated Farmers is urging farmers and their staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says while dairy farms are currently busy with calving and workforces are short, their health and that of their staff and families is important.

"If it's possible to combine getting a jab with a trip into town for the next supermarket shop, or to pick up supplies from Farmlands or Wrightsons, try to make it happen. It's part of being a good boss," Lewis says.

"If your nearest urban centre has a walk-in vaccination centre, or a GP clinic is willing to take a short-notice booking, you might even send in a staff member with a few dollars to pick up a morning or afternoon tea shout for the rest of the team."

5:10pm - Restaurant Association CEO Maris Bidois says the industry is united in its desire to fully open their businesses in a way that keeps staff and customers safe.

"We know that we can do this, but we do need to work together to ensure that we're all sticking to the rules," she says.

"Whilst our businesses outside Auckland appreciate the opportunity to open up their shop fronts once more, it is under even greater restrictions than previously further reducing revenues.

"We would like to see more support for business owners by way of targeted fiscal assistance to help them cover their fixed costs and compensate for their revenue losses."

5pm - The press conference has now finished. To recap:

  • all of New Zealand outside of Auckland will move to level to at 11:59pm on Tuesday
  • Auckland will be in level 4 until at least next week - these setting will be reviewed on Monday
  • additional rules come with Delta 2, including mandatory mask-wearing in indoor venues
  • many indoor venues are limited to 50 people while outdoor spaces can have up to 100 people.

4:56pm - Dr Bloomfield says they want to be certain there are no mystery cases in Auckland before the city moves down alert levels.

Ardern says the border has been critical in making the level 2 decision and for Auckland they want to see a "good sense of containment".

4:50pm - Ardern says she can't predict how long most of the country will spend at level 2.

She says every decision is made based on data in front of them and it will come down to health advice.

Dr Bloomfield says a big focus this week is on Auckland to get confidence around control there.

4:45pm - Ardern says it was "with good reason" David Seymour faced backlash for sharing an early access vaccine code for Māori online.

She says that it's important for everyone to get vaccinated, so locally, health providers will use tools to help them get the vaccine.

In terms of the next steps for New Zealand's alert levels, Ardern says they will soon begin looking at what level 1 will look like.

4:42pm - On Northlanders who are transiting through Auckland, Ardern says they will need evidence of where they are going and why.

These people are also asked to "keep moving through".

On cancer patients whose surgeries have been cancelled, Dr Bloomfield says this would have happened with full clinical oversight. Additionally, any surgery that goes ahead would be done if it was deemed to have been able to be done safely.

4:36pm - Ardern says she acknowledges the cap on venues and distancing requirements will be tough, but they will keep up the support they can access.

She adds that they will try to get back to normality as soon as possible and it isn't the plan to stay in level 2 for a long time.

4:34pm - On the Middlemore Hospital patient who later tested positive for COVID-19, Dr Bloomfield says they present with symptoms that aren't typical COVID symptoms.

He says the person should have been isolated and the hospital is going back to review why they weren't.

Ardern wonders if there should be a widening of symptom checks given this case.

Dr Bloomfield says he understands there will be concerns and the hospital is looking into it.

4:31pm - Dr Bloomfield says everything the Ministry of Health advised to Cabinet around Delta level 2 was adopted.

Ardern says the only minor difference was around who could travel over a level 4 boundary.

"What we're also doing is learning in real time," Ardern says. She adds they are looking at other countries and are listening to experts.

4:29pm - Masks are recommended but not a requirement at schools, Dr Bloomfield says.

Ardern says schools are different to hospitality venues because schools have consistency of attendance.

4:26pm - Dr Bloomfield says he isn't nervous about the level 2 and 4 border.

Only people who really need to cross the border will be able to do so and they mustn't have symptoms.

Ardern says you should only move if you are eligible to work at level 4, so that's reduced down the number of reasons people from Auckland can move.

4:24pm - Moving to level 2 is progress but it comes with a warning, Ardern says.

She warns that the job is not done. While the country is in sight of elimination, we can't drop the ball yet.

In terms of whether these new restrictions will carry into level 1, she says they will take a look at that time.

4:21pm - Ardern says other things about Delta have caused changes to alert level settings.

There will be two changes at level 2. There will be a limit of 50 people for indoor gatherings, such as hospitality or event venues; outdoor venues can have up to 100 people, keeping in mind rules around being seated and separated. The second change is indoor public facilities like gyms and libraries must have a two-metre space rule.

4:18pm - Ardern says New Zealand is not out of the woods yet.

There will be changes at level 2 given the Delta variant. A face covering will be mandatory at public locations, but it can be taken off at hospitality venues. Staff must wear masks though.

Delta is twice as transmissible, so wearing mask is important, Ardern says.

She also reinforces scanning in or record rules: You must scan at bars, restaurants, cinemas, concerts, churches, and hairdressers.

Traditional contact tracing can't keep up with Delta, Ardern says, so scanning is the best way to trace outbreak.

4:15pm - All of New Zealand outside of Auckland will move to level 2 at 11:59pm on Tuesday.

Ardern says these changes mean there will be a level 4 and level 2 boundary. She says this will work, but there will be challenges for Northland and these issues are being worked through.

Northlanders will be allowed to move through Auckland, but it will have to be direct.

Schools can reopen from Thursday morning.

4:14pm - Case numbers are coming down but still cases attached to outbreak, Ardern says.

Some are unlinked or mystery cases, and these matter, she says. This is because they want to know if there are cases going undetected in the community.

4:09pm - Dr Bloomfield says the goal this week is to "improve confidence" that there is no leakage of COVID outside of Auckland and that there is no undetected COVID in the community.

He says employers will be worked with to ensure workers don't go to work if they are sick. There will also be more regular surveillance testing in hospitals where COVID patients are staying, and also MIQ facility staff testing will be increased.

This means there will be twice-a-week testing for at least the next two weeks.

Weekly testing of workers crossing boundaries is being worked on too, Bloomfield says.

They have started engaging with employers. He says these people won't have to stay at home while they wait for a result, unless they have symptoms. 

There will be spot checks for proof of test.

Testing will be available as a nasal swab, but they are working with a provider to enable saliva testing to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

4:05pm - Ardern and Dr Bloomfield have arrived.

Dr Bloomfield is talking about today's COVID-19 numbers, which were announced at 1pm.

He thanks COVID cases for moving into quarantine facilities, saying "it's a sacrifice and a commitment".

3:58pm - Ardern and Dr Bloomfield are about two minutes away from making their update.

You can watch that live here or follow along on this page.

3:40pm - We're about 20 minutes away from Ardern and Dr Bloomfield making an announcement on alert levels in New Zealand.

You will be able to watch this on Newshub's website or on Three. This page will also be updated live.

While Auckland is expected to remain in level 4 until next week - these settings are set to be reviewed next week - the alert levels for the rest of the country could be eased.

3:10pm - A drive-through vaccination centre will open north of Albany on Auckland's North Shore on September 8.

It will operate from 8:30am to 4pm Wednesday to Sunday each week until the end of alert level 3, whenever that may be in the city.

It will initially provide up to 400 vaccinations per day, with the potential to increase to 1600 per day over the coming weeks, the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) says.

It will be by appointment only and invitations will be sent to those living nearby who are yet to receive their first dose.

"We are very pleased to be able to offer a new drive-through vaccination option to people living in the north of the metro Auckland region," says Dale Bramley, CEO at Waitematā DHB.

"The new drive-through will help us to vaccinate more people closer to home, and provides a great new option for people wanting to get vaccinated safely along with their bubble."

Matt Hannant, who is programme director at NRHCC, says they've found that people like being able to drive up, stay in their own cars and bring people from their bubble with them to be vaccinated at the same time.

"We are initially inviting people living nearby who are yet to get their first dose, as one dose still offers you a high level of protection and can help to prevent you getting very sick if you do get COVID-19," he says.

"We'll then open up to the broader public, who will be able to make their bookings online, and we will share further information on this shortly."

2:45pm - Misinformation surrounding the deworming drug Ivermectin is "frustrating" and possibly "dangerous", says the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.

The medicine is being touted as a purported treatment of COVID-19, despite there being no scientific evidence to support the claims.

In a statement on Monday, the College of GPs - a professional body and postgraduate educational institute that sets standards for general practice in New Zealand - warned Kiwis to be discerning with the information they consume, particularly around untested and unapproved treatments for COVID-19.

The body is "strongly recommending" New Zealanders not to take the deworming drug, noting there is currently no evidence to support that it's effective as a coronavirus treatment.

"The spread of misinformation is frustrating and can be highly dangerous," says Dr Bryan Betty, the College's medical director.

"The use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 is being researched through clinical trials but it is very important to note that at this point there is no evidence that supports the use of this medicine in the treatment of COVID-19.

"Simply put, off-label use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 is strongly not recommended."

General practitioners, who are often the first point of contact for people seeking trusted health information, have a responsibility to provide patients with clear evidence-based advice, which they are taking very seriously, he said.

"I’ve had reports of some patients very unhappy that their GP won't prescribe them Ivermectin for COVID-19, which is the right call. GPs are medical specialists and have an understanding of medications and their effect; trust us."

The most reliable way in New Zealand for people to protect themselves and their whānau against COVID-19 is through vaccination. All vaccinations are free and available to anyone currently in New Zealand, regardless of their immigration status.

2:35pm - Chronically ill people taking immunosuppressant medication say they're struggling to access reliable information about how COVID-19 vaccines might interact with their drugs, with some saying they're choosing not to vaccinate at all.

One man even says he was told to do a Google search for information when he rang his specialist health line.

Mark*, a 48-year-old Wellington man taking the widely-used Pharmac-funded immunosuppressant drug ciclosporin, says he's spent six weeks trying to find out how to manage his medication schedule with the vaccine, and has now chosen not to be vaccinated until he can get a firm answer.

"I'm no Siouxsie Wiles but I know enough to know that COVID affects your immune system quite badly, and here we are being asked to [get a vaccine] that interacts with your immune system and I'm on immunosuppressant drugs," he told RNZ.

"Obviously I have questions and concerns about interactions."

Read more here.

2:20pm - To recap, four additional locations of interest have been identified.

The Ministry of Health's page of potential exposure sites was updated again at 2pm, however no further locations, dates or times have been added.

Of the 20 new cases reported on Monday, five were infectious in the community - meaning there will be potential transmission sites associated with their movements.

Here is the official advice for the four new locations of interest:

  • Puhinui Pharmacy, Papatoetoe - Friday, August 27, 12pm - 1pm: Stay at home, test immediately as well as 5 days after you were exposed at this location of interest. Please continue to stay at home until you receive a negative day 5 test result. Record your visit online or call Healthline so our contact tracers can get in touch.
  • Whenuapai Gardens & Orchard, Otahuhu - Sunday, August 29, 1:30pm - 1:40pm: Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after you were exposed at this location of interest. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until you get a negative test result AND until 24 hours after symptoms resolve
  • Richmond Road Chemist, Grey Lynn - Monday, August 30, 1:45pm - 2:15pm: Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after you were exposed at this location of interest. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until you get a negative test result AND until 24 hours after symptoms resolve
  • Countdown Pharmacy, Mangere East - Wednesday, September 1, 11am - 11:15am: Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after you were exposed at this location of interest. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until you get a negative test result AND until 24 hours after symptoms resolve.

2pm - "It's really important that we keep COVID-19 testing levels up in Auckland! If you've been to a location of interest (at the specified times) or have cold, flu or other COVID-19 symptoms, please get a test," says Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

"Call your GP, iwi health provider or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing".

Check the locations of interest here.

Find a testing location near you:

1:40pm - ACT leader David Seymour is facing backlash on Twitter after he suggested using an access code specifically for Māori to bypass making a booking for vaccination.

Seymour shared images of an email he says was sent to some Kiwis encouraging them to get a jab at The Trusts Arena in west Auckland. The email purportedly informed the recipients that if they used a "priority access code for Māori", they would be able to show up at the vaccination centre without needing to secure a spot. 

"Good news. If you're worried about vaccination waiting times, you no longer need to make an appointment," Seymour captioned images of the email, which display the "priority access code for Māori". 

Seymour faced backlash over the post, with users pointing out that Māori vaccination rates are lower than the rest of the population. 

The latest Ministry of Health data shows 116,490 Māori have had two doses, out of more than 1.3 million New Zealanders, representing just over 8 percent of the fully vaccinated. 

Seymour argued in an earlier press release that the distribution of vaccines should not be based on ethnicity. 

"I've heard of many people who have had appointments cancelled or have had to wait weeks for vaccinations bookings. Why should some be able to jump the queue, and others have to wait for weeks?"

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi says prioritising Māori was never about excluding anyone, branding Seymour's attempt to "sabotage" the stategy as "dangerous".

Read more here.

1:20pm - Newshub's graph tracking the daily case numbers since the outbreak began.

1:10pm - Meanwhile, New South Wales has recorded a further 1281 cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths.

1:03pm - The Ministry of Health's full statement:

Twenty community cases of COVID-19; three new cases in managed isolation; one historical case; almost 3.9 million vaccines administered to date.

 As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, September 6
 As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, September 6
 As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, September 6
 As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Monday, September 6

*This denominator may fluctuate due to additional contacts being identified and/or the Ministry excluding records, for instance duplicates, following further contact tracing investigations.

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.

New cases identified at the border

  • Arrived on September 1 from Serbia and Montenegro via the UAE, tested positive due to routine testing on day three and is staying in Auckland
  • Arrived on September 1 from Serbia and Montenegro via the UAE, tested positive due to routine testing on day three and is staying in Auckland
  • Arrived on September 2 from the UK via Singapore, tested positive due to routine testing on day one and is staying in Auckland.

Historical case identified at the border


  • Arrived on August 28 from Afghanistan via the UAE, tested positive due to routine testing on day three and is staying in Auckland.


1:02pm - There are 20 cases of COVID-19 to report today, the third consecutive day in which 20 new infections have been recorded.

12:55pm - The Ministry of Health will providing the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak in a statement at 1pm. 

The statement will reveal how many new cases have been detected in the past 24 hours - 20 new infections were recorded on both Saturday and Sunday respectively.

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

12:35pm - As Cabinet meets to consider a "strengthened" alert level 2, the Director-General of Health is keeping a close watch on testing numbers and is preparing advice on making sure COVID-19 doesn't spread beyond Auckland. 

Cabinet will meet on Monday to discuss whether it's safe for most of New Zealand, with the exception of Auckland, to shift down to alert level 2, given no cases of COVID-19 have been detected outside the city since Friday. 

Dr Ashley Bloomfield told a press conference on Sunday the Ministry of Health was preparing advice on a "strengthened" alert level 2 framework, but he wouldn't give much away in terms of what's under consideration. 

"He will be considering whether there need to be any tweaks to level 2," said Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson. "All of that advice is still to come to the Government."

The major consideration is how Auckland, which isn't due a review of its current alert level 4 settings until next week, could coexist with the rest of the country at alert level 2 - something which hasn't happened before. 

"We also have to be considering the different alert level statuses we now have," Robertson said. "That will be part of Dr Bloomfield's advice as well."

So what are the "two things" Ashley Bloomfield wants to achieve in stamping out Delta? Read more here.

12:15pm - Four new potential exposure sites have been added to the Ministry of Health's list of locations of interest at 12pm.

They are:

  • Puhinui Pharmacy, Papatoetoe
  • Countdown Pharmacy, Māngere East
  • Whenuapai Gardens & Orchard, Ōtāhuhu
  • Richmond Road Chemist, Grey Lynn.

You can keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest in Newshub's infographic below. Click on the 'Added' column heading to sort by most recent.

12:05pm - A public health expert says more time in lockdown is needed for Auckland, but the region should "hopefully" move quickly down the alert levels once health officials are satisfied the outbreak is under control.

Speaking to RNZ on Monday morning, Otago University Professor Nick Wilson echoed calls for the rest of New Zealand to move to alert level 2, but noted extra precautions - an 'alert level 2.5' - would be the best-case scenario.

He says once officials have enough assurance that Auckland's outbreak of the Delta variant is under control, the region should be "moving rapidly down the levels". 

He also agreed that masks should be made mandatory in all indoor settings, including secondary schools and workplaces, with tighter caps on indoor gatherings. 

Wilson suggested that as 'super-spreading' settings, bars, nightclubs, gyms and churches should not open under 'alert level 2.5'.

"It might just be a matter of a week or so at alert level 2-plus, before moving down to the old alert level 2, but it would still be good in that old alert level 2 to have things like widespread mask use," Wilson said.

11:55am - Across the Tasman, Victoria has recorded an additional 246 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, with now more than 1600 active cases in the state.

Last week, state officials announced they would be ditching the elimination strategy after consecutive lockdowns and would instead focus on bolstering the vaccination rate.

11:45am - In case you missed it, ACT leader David Seymour has spoken directly to a 91-year-old patient who shared the same ward as a COVID-positive case at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital.

The elderly man, who has underlying health conditions, was in a ward with two other patients when a fourth patient, who was presenting symptoms of COVID-19, was brought in. It's understood the symptomatic patient, who had been hospitalised for an unrelated matter, was left in the room with the others for up to five hours while awaiting his test results.

"The 91-year-old, who doesn't want to reveal his identity, said the man clearly had symptoms, but wasn't isolated from other patients until his test returned positive," Seymour said on Monday.

"We understand how much pressure doctors and nurses are under at the moment, it's winter, there's COVID, and there are enormous shortages of skilled people, partly due to the border being closed.

"The patient was put into a general ward despite being symptomatic enough to test for COVID, and left there for hours awaiting a test result. 

"It is now critical that the risk of a hospital-wide outbreak is managed appropriately.

"To think there would be so much carelessness in a hospital, will frustrate people who have been carefully following the rules."

A patient has tested positive at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital after spending hours on a ward with three other patients.
A patient has tested positive at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital after spending hours on a ward with three other patients. Photo credit: File

11:35am - An announcement regarding the country's alert level settings will be held at 4pm.

Cabinet will convene ahead of the press conference to consider the latest information on the outbreak.

Auckland will stay at alert level 4 for at least another week, while the rest of the country anticipates a possible shift from alert level 3 to alert level 2.

If the restrictions are lessened, there is talk the Government may introduce additional measures to toughen alert level 2.

11:25am - Speaking to Newshub on Monday morning, ACT leader David Seymour said there appears to be no reason why New Zealand, excluding Auckland, should not shift to alert level 2 on Tuesday. 

Cabinet is convening on Monday to discuss the current alert level settings, with all regions - aside from Auckland - sitting at alert level 3. Auckland, as the epicentre of the outbreak, remains in lockdown.

Seymour says if the Government does decide to keep the rest of New Zealand at level 3, it will only show it has "no confidence in its own contact tracing ability".

There has been talk of the Government toughening the second tier of restrictions to add extra protections, including the possibility of masks being mandated. This has been dubbed 'alert level 2.5'.

Seymour says he hopes "sensible provisions" - guided by the "best science and technology" - will be introduced to allow Kiwis to "get on with their lives" while keeping COVID-19 under control. 

"It's not good enough that their testing, tracing and vaccination programmes are so bad, an endless lockdown is our only solution to an outbreak," he told Newshub.

The Epsom MP, a vocal critic of the ongoing reliance on lockdowns, says the Government should have been better prepared for an outbreak of the Delta variant.

"The Government had 18 months to prepare for another outbreak and several months to adjust to the realities of Delta... it's unforgivable that our only real response is a level 4 lockdown in Auckland, just as it was 18 months ago."

11:15am - Auckland authorities are calling on residents to keep up the vigilance after testing rates plummeted in the Super City, the epicentre of the ongoing outbreak.

The low testing rates are fuelling concerns that some infections are going undetected, with just 20 new cases recorded on both Saturday and Sunday respectively.

In a tweet on Sunday, the Ministry of Health reiterated that anyone who has been at a location of interest at a specified time, or is displaying cold or flu-like symptoms, should be seeking a test.

"Please call your GP, iwi health provider or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing," it said.

Auckland's Civil Defence Emergency Management retweeted the message on Monday.

"A plea from our colleagues in the health sector. Please share this important advice, contact details and links."

10:55am - ACT leader David Seymour has called for a review into the "sloppiness" at Middlemore Hospital that allowed a symptomatic patient to remain in contact with other patients and staff while awaiting their test result.

The person, who was admitted to hospital for an unrelated matter, was tested for COVID-19 after presenting clear symptoms of the virus - but staff failed to isolate the patient while their swab was being processed.

"The hospital should have triaged a person with clear COVID-19 symptoms away from general patients, and certainly shouldn't have left him symptomatic awaiting a test result for hours in a room with other patients and staff walking in and out to the rest of the ward," Seymour told Newshub.

A 91-year-old patient on the same ward as the case, who Seymour has spoken to directly, is "extremely aggrieved" by the "carelessness" of the situation, he said.

"Thankfully the [elderly] man has been vaccinated... but he's been needlessly put in danger by poor process that the Prime Minister constantly browbeats the rest of the country to be careful about," Seymour continued.

He said although he understands the pressure healthcare staff are under - which needs to be alleviated - Middlemore Hospital should "fully review its procedures" after the blunder.

"It's incredible that 18 months into a pandemic they could be this sloppy."

10:45am - ACT leader David Seymour says a 91-year-old who was on the same ward as a COVID-positive patient at Middlemore Hospital is "extremely aggrieved" by the carelessness.

The positive case was not isolated from staff and other patients while awaiting their test result, despite being symptomatic. 

Seymour, who has been in contact with the 91-year-old directly, says the patient has been put in danger by "sloppy" procedures. 

The 91-year-old, who is fully vaccinated, is now concerned of a wider outbreak at the south Auckland hospital.

"It defies explanation that someone so symptomatic was put in a ward with elderly patients and then left there for hours while awaiting their test result," Seymour told Newshub on Monday.

"This episode shows how much pressure our doctors and nurses are being put under, but also the hypocrisy of a Government that tells New Zealanders they must maintain very tight controls because there is no margin for error, then has massive margin for error in its own hospitals."

"[The elderly patient is] extremely aggrieved there should be so much carelessness… he's worried about the threat of a wider outbreak."

10:25am - A vaccination centre operating next to the Crowne Plaza managed isolation facility in Auckland is now being shut down, according to a report by Newsroom.

A review of the Crowne Plaza is currently being undertaken after it was revealed that there were two public walkways in and around the facility, with one situated next to the exercise area - allowing bystanders to share the same airspace as returnees in managed isolation.

It was confirmed two weeks ago that a Sydney returnee who had stayed at the Crowne Plaza was almost certainly the index case genomically linked to the Auckland outbreak. The returnee arrived from New South Wales on August 7 and was moved to the Jet Park quarantine facility on August 9 after testing positive for the Delta variant.

The Crowne Plaza has since been closed for cleaning and a full review, with work also being underaken to close the gap between perspex barriers and the roof inside the atrium, which is located next to the public thoroughfare.

Newsroom has now revealed that a vaccination centre next to the facility is being shut down. A spokesperson for the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre told the outlet the clinic will close on Tuesday, with a new centre opening on Graham St on Wednesday with greater vaccination capacity.

10:10am - Infectious disease expert David Murdoch told Newstalk ZB he is expecting a shift in alert levels outside of Auckland this week as Cabinet convenes on Monday to discuss the current settings.

There have been indications that alert level 2 will be toughened to introduce extra layers of protection, such as masks possibly being mandated.

Murdoch told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking he was optimistic that Auckland would also shift to alert level 3 restrictions next week, which allows businesses to begin trading with contactless collection.

10am - No additional locations of interest have been identified this morning.

The Ministry of Health's extensive lost of potential exposure sites was last updated at 10am, however, the latest location of interest remains the 323 bus from Mt Wellington to Otahuhu, which was added at 6pm on Sunday.

Fourteen sites were either added or updated on Sunday, including Pak'nSave in Clendon, Countdown in Northcote, Pak'nSave in Westgate and Waterview Superette and Lotto.

9:23am - The Ministry of Health says the positive case at Middlemore Hospital was asymptomatic and had been admitted to hospital on Saturday due to abdominal pain. 

They were assessed overnight, including a CT scan, and moved to the ward before testing positive for COVID-19. 

In a statement to Newshub, the ministry said officials are working to determine the patient's movements since arriving at the hospital and any staff who may have been exposed are being contacted. Deep cleaning has been undertaken where necessary.

"Counties Manukau Health takes any potential COVID exposure very seriously and adopts a high level of caution," the ministry said. 

"As a result, a number of staff who may have been exposed are being asked to self isolate at home until contacted by Occ Health, who are working with ARPHS."

9:16am: The Government has confirmed the alert level announcement will be at 4pm. The stand up will be live-streamed on Three and 

While Auckland will be staying at alert level 4 for at least another week, those outside of Auckland could see a drop in levels. 

9:06am: Compassion Soup Kitchen in Wellington says it's seeing the highest sustained demand in its 120 year history due to COVID-19. 

"We learned last year that lockdown brings with it an increased demand for our service, but we did not imagine we'd be serving this many meals daily," Compassion chief executive Dr Chris Gallavin said.

"Within the first few days of level 4, we were providing 230 meals a day and now we are serving around 220 meals a day, seven days a week – quite possibly the most sustained demand we have seen in our 120 year history."

8:47am: A patient at Middlemore Hospital is upset about the lack of communication about a recent positive COVID case. 

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told Newshub the positive case was just five doors down from her but she was only told about it after she asked. 

"I'm in the surgical ward currently at Middlemore Hospital. When I asked a nurse at 9pm what was happening I was told they were in PPE due to 'suspected exposure' to COVID.

"I checked social media at 9.15pm last night straight after the nurse left and saw an article on 1 News that there was a positive case in the ward and this article was published at 8.30pm. Half an hour before I asked the nurse what was happening.

"I asked another nurse at 10.30pm if there was a positive case in the ward and she confirmed that there was. I'm super surprised at the lack of communication between staff and patients in this ward," she said. 

She was also concerned because she was near the positive case's room when he arrived and left, which she told the nurses. 

"I've told two nurses. I haven't been tested.

"The communication is just bad. Like I found out from Facebook there's a positive case in the ward, six hours after the person left."

8:32am: Aucklanders have been put on notice over low testing numbers. 

COVID-19 swab numbers have been falling fast and Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson wants to see that change. 

Robertson told RNZ all contacts and anyone with symptoms should get tested. 

"Even if it's a runny nose or aches and pains, we'd like you to get a test."

Read more here

8:23am: The Government will decide whether to loosen restrictions for everywhere outside of Auckland today. Tourism and hospitality businesses are holding out hope for a drop to alert level 2 but an expert warns it's likely to be more like level 2.5. 

Professor Nick Wilson told RNZ a "level 2 plus" needed to have tighter rules.

"That includes requirements for mask wearing in all indoor settings outside the home and better QR code scanning requirements," he said.

"Ideally, we'd actually keep some of the super-spreading settings such as bars and nightclubs closed, until there's a safer time to move further down the alert levels."

Read more here

8:15am: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has again reiterated its Delta outbreak can't be fully eliminated. Instead Morrison said if they achieve vaccination targets, Australia may soon be able to open interstate travel. 

"Everyone can make plans for a family Christmas, with all our loved ones at the dinner table, cracking bonbons and bad jokes together," Morrison told the Sunday Herald Sun.

For all the latest COVID-19 news from across the globe click here

8:09am: Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson has confirmed a patient at Middlemore Hospital has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Robertson says the person was in the ward for several  hours while symptomatic. He told Breakfast all staff were wearing PPE.