There are 24 new COVID-19 cases in the community on Sunday - all of which are located in Auckland.
Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said of the 24 new cases, 19 are household contacts. Twelve were already in quarantine when they tested positive while the other nine were isolating at home.
Three cases are unlinked to the current outbreak, including a man who was remanded in custody at Mt Eden Prison on Friday night. He travelled to Auckland from Thames and health authorities have found a "tentative" link to the current COVID-19 outbreak.
McElnay said the Ministry of Health expects there to be a number of new cases in the coming days as many of the recently recorded cases come from large households.
"What we know about Delta is it is more infectious so we do expect more household contacts to subsequently test positive," she said.
What you need to know
- Twenty-four new cases were announced on Sunday, all in Auckland. Three have yet to be epidemiologically linked
- There are now 1050 cases in the current outbreak, 671 of whom have now recovered
- There are 13 cases in hospital - one in North Shore, seven in Middlemore and five in Auckland Hospital. Four cases in ICU or HDU.
- The Ministry of Health has confirmed there was a positive detection of COVID-19 in a wastewater sample from Pukekohe collected on 15 September. The result is believed to be linked to known cases in the area.
- The Government has announced it is funding $36 million for research into COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The new Infectious Diseases Research Platform is expected to boost Aotearoa New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and preparedness for future pandemics.
- The pause on managed isolation bookings will be lifted on Monday, starting with 3000 rooms released through a new randomised booking system.
- Cabinet has made an in-principle decision to move Auckland to alert level 3 at 11:59pm on Tuesday, September 21. The rest of the country is currently in alert level 2
- You can see the latest locations of interest here.
These live updates are now over.
3:15pm - Immunologist Professor Graham Le Gros says the Government's $36 million funding for research into COVID-19 and other infectious diseases is "very good news".
"[It's] a much needed investment in the skill-sets and technologies that will be needed to protect New Zealand against the ongoing COVID19 pandemic," he said.
"We have so much work to do to get on top of COVID-19 and to be in a position to respond to future pandemics. This coming together of national expertise in infectious diseases will secure New Zealand’s future resilience."
Dr Matthew Parry, a senior lecturer in the Dept of Mathematics and Statistics and Associate Dean International (Sciences) at University of Otago, said the research platform is "very well thought out".
"[It] will have immediate and sustained benefits for New Zealand’s response to infectious diseases. It is money well spent. I am also delighted to see a commitment to further vaccine research," he said.
3pm - Whānau Ora and Associate Health (Māori Health) Minister Peeni Henare has acknowledged two milestones in the rollout of the vaccination programme for Māori.
- More than 50 percent of eligible Māori have received their first dose
- As well as that, 25 percent are now fully vaccinated
"This means over 285,000 of eligible Māori have had their first dose. This is fantastic news and demonstrates that the whānau-based approach we have taken across the roll-out is working," Henare said.
"The success of vaccination rates increasing in our Māori communities is due to the mahi being led by our Māori Health Providers and Whānau Ora Provider Network. They are leading a whānau-centred approach, providing outreach in hard-to-reach communities and taking the extra step to ensure the needs of our whānau are met.
"I want to mihi to all the kaimahi across the motu who are working hard to support our whānau. Thank you so much for all you’ve done and continue to do for our people."
Henare particularly acknowledged the three leading district health boards - Southern (58.7 percent), Capital and Coast (58.4 percent), and Tāmaki Makaurau (52.8 percent).
"But there is still more mahi to be done. That is why I am proud to support the work the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency and Te Whānau o Waipareira’s Fight for your whakapapa campaign launching today.
"Te Whānau o Waipareira have led an innovative whānau-first vaccination response in Tāmaki Makaurau despite the challenges of the alert level 4 lockdown. They quickly set up drive-through vaccinations and allowed walk-ins to enable whānau to come at times convenient to them, and now are leading the rollout of the 'Shot Bro' bus across hard-to-reach communities.
"Starting Monday the 08004MAORI phone line will operate 7 days a week between 8am-8pm, while also using popular Auckland radio stations and social media platforms to keep whānau updated on where the mobile vaccination bus will be in the community."
He said while the figures are cause for celebration - "we cannot afford to become complacent".
"It is vitally important that Māori continue to get themselves vaccinated not just for themselves, but for their kaumātua, their tamariki, and their communities.
"My number one message is come forward, get vaccinated. Once you are vaccinated, this helps make sure that you and your friends and whānau have the best protection against COVID-19."
2:40pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reassured Aucklanders that a shift to level 3 is still possible even with a slight spike in cases over the last two days.
"What we are seeing is the ongoing ramifications of Delta being highly infectious and infecting people across households sometimes in a domino effect," she said during the 1pm update on Sunday.
"We might have had a positive case days and days ago then slowly those family members become infected come through as positive cases. I know that makes people anxious when they see those numbers but they don't always tell the full story but it does tell us that Delta's tail is long and hard."
Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay said her team is quietly confident that the outbreak is under control.
"We will be preparing advice today, which looks at an outbreak as a whole and as I said on Friday, we are still cautiously optimistic that the vast bulk of this outbreak is under control, we are just dealing with a long tail."
2:25pm - The Government has announced it is funding $36 million for research into COVID-19 and other infectious diseases
The new Infectious Diseases Research Platform is expected to boost Aotearoa New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and preparedness for future pandemics.
"The lack of a dedicated infectious diseases research fund has been a longstanding gap in our domestic science capabilities,"Associate Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Dr Ayesha Verrall said.
"When the pandemic hit, scientists either volunteered time to support the COVID-19 response, or received ad hoc grants for small pieces of research. To address this, we are investing $36 million over three years in a new programme of research to sustain the contribution of cutting-edge science to the response."
The main priority areas of the research include improving prevention and control and further vaccine research, and improving our management of infectious diseases.
Reducing the impact of infectious diseases on Māori and Pacific people, and promoting the development of our next generation of pandemic scientists, are key drivers of this work," Verrall said.
"This important investment will enable us to sustain the valuable contribution scientists make to the COVID-19 response, improve capability and prepare for future pandemics. It will generate practical collaborations between scientists, the health system, and the pandemic response."
1:58pm - Police say they are still seeing a few isolated incidents of people making deliberate attempts to breach the restrictions and cross the alert level boundary.
One person attempted to travel through the Mercer checkpoint on Saturday with an exemption they had written themselves. Checks by staff revealed that no efforts had been made to obtain a legitimate travel exemption and they were subsequently warned and turned around.
One couple presented a letter to staff at the Mercer checkpoint which stated that they had completed COVID tests yesterday. Staff made enquiries and soon realised the location the couple said they were tested at was closed yesterday. The couple were turned around and directed to get a test at an open facility.
A vehicle attempted to bypass the Pukekawa checkpoint yesterday by cutting through paddocks. Staff with local knowledge caught up with this vehicle further south of the checkpoint heading toward Huntly. They were turned around and issued with an infringement notice.
1:38pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Mt Eden prison treats incoming prisoners like people coming across New Zealand's border with rigorous COVID-19 testing through to day 12 of their time there. They also wear masks and staff wear PPE.
She said while there isn't a formal link between the case and the outbreak, there is a "tentative" link involved in the prisoner case, and authorities are still investigating.
1:30pm - The Ministry of Health has issued a correction to its 1pm COVID-19 statement, confirming only three cases are not yet epidemiologically linked to the cluster.
1:27pm - One of the new cases reported on Sunday is a man, who is unlinked to the outbreak, who was remanded in custody at Mt Eden Prison on Friday night.
He travelled to Auckland from Thames with another person who is now in isolation and is being tested today.
Two locations of interest have been added to the Ministry's location of interest website.
Four police staff are now isolating due to contact with the new case. On top of them, five corrections staff and six prisoners are also isolating.
The case is being co-operative, McElnay said.
1:18pm - Of the 24 new cases, 19 are household contacts. Twelve were already in quarantine when they tested positive while the other nine were isolating at home.
Three cases are unlinked to the current outbreak, McElnay said.
She said the Ministry of Health expects there to be a number of cases in the coming days as many of the new recent cases come from large households.
"What we know about Delta is it is more infectious so we do expect more household contacts to subsequently test positive."
1:12pm - The Ministry of Health has confirmed there was a positive detection of COVID-19 in a wastewater sample from Pukekohe collected on 15 September. This follows a positive detection on 8 September and non-detection on 10 September. The result is believed to be linked to known cases in the area.
1:10pm - There are 13 cases in hospital - one in North Shore, seven in Middlemore and five in Auckland Hospital.
There are four cases in ICU or HDU.
1:07pm - There are six cases which are yet to be epidemiologically linked to the outbreak, while 18 have been linked.
1:05pm - There are no new cases at the border on Sunday.
The 24 new cases are all located in Auckland, bringing the number of cases in the current community outbreak to 1050.
Of Sunday's cases,14 were in isolation throughout the period they were infectious.
1:01pm - There are 24 new community cases in Auckland on Sunday.
12:45pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay are expected to provide an update on the current COVID-19 outbreak at 1pm.
You can watch the livestream on Three, online and in the video slot at the top of this article.
11:40am - Auckland mayor Phil Goff has put out a statement as the city wakes up to another day in alert level 4 lockdown.
"Nothing is certain in a COVID-19 world, but there is one thing I am sure of: Aucklanders have what it takes to beat this outbreak, and we are getting it done."
Cabinet is set to review the alert level settings this week although an in-principle decision has been made that Auckland will move down to alert level 3.
11:15am - No new locations of interest have been added by the Ministry of Health on Sunday so far.
The location visits added on Saturday include: Countdown Mangere Mall Mangere, Z Central Parade Mount Maunganui, Idlewild Superette Mangere, Chemist Warehouse Ronwood Centre, and Blue Sea Laundromat Manukau.