Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Saturday September 18

Aucklanders will be hoping this is their final weekend at level 4 as Cabinet is due to decide on Monday if the city can drop down to level 3.

Twenty new cases were announced on Saturday, all in Auckland and with just one not yet linked to the wider outbreak.

What you need to know

  • Twenty new cases were announced on Saturday, all in Auckland, one has yet to be epidemiologically linked
  • Seven of Friday's 11 cases were infectious in the community  
  • There are now 1027 cases in the current outbreak, 625of whom have now recovered
  • School holidays remain unchanged for the Auckland region
  • You can see the latest locations of interest here.

These live updates have now finished.

4:10pm - We have one new location of interest: Countdown Mangere in Mangere Mall on Sunday September 12 between 12:55pm and 2:15pm.

4:05pm - Sunny weather in Auckland has proven tempting for people wanting to get out in the city, still under alert level 4, police say.

"The vast majority of people are doing the right thing, however our staff have noticed the Tamaki Drive/Mission Bay area has been particularly busy.

"We need people to stick to the rules to allow all of us to drop down the Alert Levels sooner.

"Four people from Ōtāhuhu were given Covid infringements today after being seen fishing together at Mission Bay.

"We would remind people that only essential travel is permitted under Alert Level 4, and you must keep it local."

4pm - Police say two people have been arrested after breaching the southern border checkpoints "using false documents" and travelling to Taupo. 

"A message was put out to local Police staff in Taupo which included vehicle registration details.

"A Constable finishing her shift yesterday afternoon noticed the vehicle, and called for further Police staff to attend to assist.

"Local health authorities were advised, and the pair were arrested and summonsed to appear in court.

"They have since returned to Tāmaki Makaurau."

3:30pm - In case you missed it earlier, Andrew Little says once the current outbreak of COVID-19 is quashed, he doubts New Zealand will ever have to lockdown again. 

Auckland is currently at level 4, and will be until at least the middle of next week, when it's hoped the city can drop down to level 3 and get stuck into some greatly-missed takeaways

"So far, the numbers in the last few days are looking right, but we'll just have to see what the numbers for the next couple of days look like," the Health Minister told Newshub Nation on Saturday morning. 

Read more here.

3pm - On the vaccine front, 60,480 doses were administered on Friday - 33,048 were first doses and 27,432 second doses. That means New Zealand has now administered 4,630,806 doses, of which 3,049,241 are first doses and 1,581,565 second doses.

2:30pm - Here's a list of locations of interest added so far on Saturday:

Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Saturday September 18
Photo credit: Ministry of Health.

1:55pm - According to the Ministry of Health, of Friday's 11 cases, seven were infectious in the community (64 percent), while four were in isolation throughout their infectious period.

1:34pm - The case numbers in New South Wales continue to soar with 1,331 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Two cases were acquired overseas, and 25 previously reported cases have been excluded following further investigation. The total number of cases in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic is 50,730.

Six people with COVID-19 – four women and two men died.

1:27pm - Ten people are in hospital with three in ICU. Middlemore has the most patients with six, three are in Auckland and one in the North Shore.

1:20pm - While the rise in cases might have surprised people only one has not been epidemiologically linked, which is a little ray of hope. Nineteen of the thenew cases are household or known contacts

1:17 PM - There are  20 new cases in the community today the Ministry of Health says.

Ministry of Health statement: 

There are 20 new community cases today. 19 of these are household or known contacts and only one of these remains unlinked. Interviews are underway with that person to determine how they are linked to the current outbreak. As noted yesterday, we are expecting some fluctuations in case numbers at this point in the outbreak. 

12,427 tests were taken yesterday, including more than 7,000 swabs taken in the Auckland region, and more than 1,500 essential worker tests. We have also had over 1,000 saliva tests since Monday with the majority in the last 48 hours. Over 400 employers will be instigating saliva testing for almost 4,500 employees across New Zealand. 

Testing at high levels in Auckland remains an essential part of our outbreak response to detect every community case and stop onwards transmission.  

We continue to urge anyone in Auckland with cold or flu symptoms, no matter how mild, to come forward to be tested. 

In addition, both people with and without symptoms who live in a suburb of interest are asked to get a test. These are: Mt Eden, Massey, Māngere, Favona, Papatoetoe, Ōtara, Manurewa. 

1:10pm - No news yet from the Ministry of Health as Aucklanders wait with bated breath to see if the downward trend in case numbers will continue today.  The late and great Tom Petty summed up the agony of waiting the best. 

12:50pm -  COVID-19 modeller Sean Hendy has told the Herald there is a danger of level 4 fatigue setting in. 

"You could persist at level 4 and stamp this out, I'm pretty sure that'd would be the case," Hendy told the Herald

"On the other hand, everybody's a bit over level 4, people need a bit of light at the end of the's probably worth taking a calculated risk."

12:47pm - After a slow start the vaccination rate in the capital has surged. Wellington is now third in the national vaccination rankings, up from sixth RNZ reports. 

Business manager and pharmacist Victor Chong said it began vaccinating a month ago, and is doing more than 200 bookings and walk-ins a day.

 Pharmacies like Unichem Wellington Central on Lambton Quay are now central in the race to vaccinate before another Delta outbreak.

Business manager and pharmacist Victor Chong said it began vaccinating a month ago, and is doing more than 200 bookings and walk-ins a day.

12:27pm - Act leader David Seymour told Newshub Nation the Government needs to realise it can't prevent all deaths as it starts to open the country up if the vaccination push is suucessful.  

"Well, 30,000 people die in New Zealand every year," he told host Tova O'Brien. 

"The truth is that we cannot prevent all deaths. The important question here is how much more are we prepared to spend to prevent a COVID death than deaths from car crashes, deaths from cancer? Because at the moment, the money we're spending on COVID, we can't spend on preventing those other kinds of deaths."

12:17pm - The Otago Daily Times is reporting police are investigating another Aucklander who allegedly breached the border and travelled to Queenstown. 

"‘Police are following up with the person involved to determine if any breach of the Health Act has occurred," police told the ODT.

The news came via a tip-off to the media outlet, and the person allegedly attended a gathering in Queenstown and stayed at an Airbnb.

12:00pm - Health Minister Andrew Little has told Newshub Nation once the current outbreak of COVID-19 is quashed, he doubts New Zealand will ever have to lockdown again. 

"So far, the numbers in the last few days are looking right, but we'll just have to see what the numbers for the next couple of days look like," Little told Newshub Nation on Saturday morning. 

Whatever vaccination rate we end up achieving by the end of the year, Little says it's unlikely lockdowns - as effective as they have been to date - will be the go-to to fight future outbreaks. Especially not nationwide.

"There may well be some [regional] limitations for large and extensive, out-of-control outbreaks. Again, we just don't know. But the idea of a level 4 lockdown, I think once we get through this, I'd be surprised if we ever see a level 4 lockdown again. Level 3 becomes problematic too.

"But depending on the nature of outbreaks of the future, restrictions might have to be put in place. I think what's most important is we get our response correct from the health system so that we can minimise disruption to people."

Read the full story here