As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, October 13

A return to alert level 4 for Auckland is "the best and probably only chance" of avoiding the concerning predictions experts are outlining for the COVID-stricken region, according to an expert.

On Tuesday, COVID-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank warned that cases in Auckland could escalate to 160 a day by early November, based on the current trends.

Now, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, an epidemiologist and senior research fellow at the University of Otago's Department of Public Health, is calling on the Government to reintroduce lockdown in the Auckland region - despite officials more or less ruling out a return to alert level 4 restrictions.

"These trends show that it's time to talk about a circuit-breaker. A move back to alert level 4 is the best and probably only chance of reversing these highly-concerning trends that are all moving in the wrong direction. Vaccination is not going to happen fast enough to reverse these trends and we need to buy time," she said on Wednesday.

"Before deciding on Aucklanders' behalf that they're too tired of lockdowns, let's hear from Aucklanders. Let's also hear from Māori, Pasifika, people with underlying conditions, people who are marginalised, and children and their advocates. They're the ones carrying the highest risk if COVID-19 is allowed to spread before vaccination rollout is complete."

Dr Kvalsvig says ruling out alert level 4 will effectively rule out ever returning to alert level 1, the setting closest to pre-pandemic normality.

"Ruling out alert level 4 will effectively also rule out alert level 1, leaving Aucklanders in the worst of both worlds with a large number of restrictions and a large (and growing) number of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. That situation is no good for businesses either. We've seen this pattern play out again and again in multiple countries," she said.

"This is the most urgent and most important national conversation we can be having right now. At this critical point in our pandemic journey, failing to act decisively will have severe consequences for population health and wellbeing."

Professor Plank's predictions were echoed on Wednesday by Dr David Welch, a senior lecturer at the Centre for Computational Evolution at the University of Auckland. He said based on the trends, Auckland will see about 50 cases infectious in the community per day in two weeks' time - which will escalate to about 100 in a month.

"That rate of increase will soon start to put serious pressure on health systems. It will also start to stretch the abilities of the contact tracing teams to track and isolate close contacts. Publicly available estimates suggest  the contact tracing system will struggle when there are somewhere between 100 and 200 cases infectious in the community for a sustained period," he said.

Fifty-five new cases were reported on Wednesday, 53 in Auckland and two in Waikato - 26 have yet to be epidemiologically linked to the outbreak.

During Wednesday's press conference, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed both Northland and Waikato will remain in alert level 3 until at least 11:59pm on Monday, October 18.

Earlier, Hipkins had told The AM Show there were "positive" signs that Waikato was ready to join the majority of the country at alert level 2, with new infections primarily cropping up among known contacts of existing cases. However, that has since changed - the decision to extend the restrictions in Waikato has been largely based on the detection of two new cases in Hamilton, both of which have yet to be linked to the outbreak. Little is currently known about the cases, including how they contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, a truck driver who travelled to Northland from Auckland has tested positive for the virus. Two staff members and two patients have tested positive following an exposure event at North Shore Hospital's dialysis unit over the weekend. An early learning centre teacher has also tested positive. Eleven close contacts have been identified so far, six of whom are children.

What you need to know:

  • Auckland will remain in alert level 3 under step one of the Government's 'roadmap to recovery' until at least next Tuesday
  • Northland and parts of Waikato will remain in alert level 3 for a further five days until at least 11:59pm on Monday, October 18. 
  • Fifty-five new cases were recorded on Wednesday, 53 in Auckland and two in Waikato - 26 of today's cases are yet to be linked to the outbreak, including the two in Waikato.
  • Chris Hipkins says little is currently known about the two new cases in Waikato, which was a key factor in keeping parts of the region at alert level 3.
  • COVID-19 modeller Michael Plank is warning Auckland could be dealing with 160 new cases a day by November if current trends continue - but this could be stopped without going back to alert level 4.
  • A truck driver has tested positive after travelling from Auckland to Northland. The driver is under investigation but poses a "low risk". 
  • Dr David Welch says at the current rate, there will be about 100 cases infectious in the community per day in a month's time.
  • Epidemiologist Dr Amanda Kvalsvig has called a return to alert level 4 in Auckland the "best and probably only chance" at reversing the current data trends.
  • Two staff members and two patients have tested positive following an exposure event at North Shore Hospital's dialysis unit over the weekend.
  • An early learning centre teacher has tested positive in Auckland - 11 close contacts have been identified so far, six of whom are children.
  • Click here for all the locations of interest.

These live updates have finished.

8:45pm - Thames-Coromandel mayor Sandra Goudie is yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but says not opposed to getting it.

She confirmed to Newshub she currently isn't vaccinated against COVID-19 and that her preference is to receive the Novavax vaccine, which is one supplier the Government has an agreement with.

Goudie says it's her "personal choice" to receive this vaccine over Pfizer, but didn't go into further detail.

In August, she backtracked on controversial comments she made about the COVID Tracer App, saying there was a misunderstanding. After an announcement a community case had travelled to Coromandel, she said she would not normally scan in when visiting new locations and the new case would "probably not" push her to scan more either. 

"It's very hit and miss for me," she said.

"I'm quite a believer in my credit card tracking everywhere I've been. It's not a habit I've got into."

7:30pm - Pressure is mounting on the Government to expand resident visa criteria to security staff in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities.

It is believed hundreds don't qualify for a fast-tracked visa and they want the Immigration Minister to act.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's Mitchell Alexander here.

6:45pm - The Australian Department of Health has extended the pause of green zone flights from New Zealand until October 19.

All flights are being classed as red zone flights until then. A further review of this will be undertaken on October 19.

All passengers on flights originating from New Zealand up until 11.59 pm (AEST) on October 19 will need to go into 14 days of hotel quarantine on arrival in Australia and follow the requirements of the state and territory they enter, Australia's chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly says.

"As New Zealand authorities continue to address and contain this outbreak, further time is required to monitor the number and spread of new locally acquired cases of COVID-19," he says.

"This information will help to determine potential risk from people travelling quarantine-free from New Zealand to Australia with the view that green zone travel from New Zealand to Australia is enabled as soon as it is safe to do so."

6:15pm - There are four new locations of interest. They are: 

  • Pak'nSave Clendon, October 5 from 5:50pm to 6:15pm
  • Lawson Convenience Store, October 5 from 7pm to 8pm
  • Labtests Mairangi Bay Collection Centre Rosedale, October 8 from 12pm to 1:30pm
  • Old Wairoa Superette Papakura, October 12 from 5:30pm to 7pm.

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

5:45pm - Air New Zealand will transform a 787 aircraft into a special vaccination clinic to encourage Aucklanders to get vaccinated this Super Saturday.

Locals will be able to board the 'Jabaseat' flight to receive their vaccination. In addition to a behind-the-scenes glimpse of an aircraft hangar, visitors will tour Business Premier, enjoy free inflight snacks, and receive a special boarding pass to commemorate the moment.

Air New Zealand chief operational integrity and safety officer Captain David Morgan says the airline's Jabaseat vaccination clinic will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Aucklanders.

"We know Aucklanders have been doing it tough recently and we hope the idea of boarding an international aircraft for the first time in a long while will lift some spirits - while also encouraging people to protect themselves," he says.

"As New Zealand's national carrier, we're massive supporters of vaccinations. This latest push follows our mandate for all essential Air New Zealand employees to be vaccinated and recently announcing a no jab, no fly policy for those on our international flights."

To register, visit the Book My Vaccine website and select Air New Zealand Jabaseat.

5:20pm - Bay Dreams organisers have announced its January 2022 festival will be cancelled, instead promising it will return in 2023.

"As it stands, there is much uncertainty around the trans-Tasman bubble and quarantine spaces are extremely difficult to obtain; a queue of 30,000+ people are trying to gain access to a few thousand rooms. This results in a lot of uncertainty around which international artists will be able to enter NZ this summer," they say.

"At a time like this, we have two choices: we either promote something that is unlikely to proceed, or we shift into an event we can confidently bring to life for you."

Instead of the festival, the organisers say managed isolation spots have been secured for Netsky, Hybrid Minds, Friction, and Koven so far to perform at "two premium electronic events" in both Tauranga and Nelson on the same dates.

"You can still expect a world-class, outdoor summer party in your favourite holiday hotspot, and at a fraction of the price," they say.

Current Bay Dreams ticket holders will get exclusive first-access to the new shows. If any tickets remain, they will be sold to the public.

These tickets will go on sale next Wednesday after people receive their refund for their original ticket.

4:50pm - There are four new locations of interest. They are:

  • New World Southmall, October 3 from 1:37pm to 2:15pm
  • SuperValue Palomino Henderson, October 3 from 4pm to 4:45pm
  • Countdown Onehunga, October 8 from 8:30am 10am
  • Train Southern Line from Homai to Britomart, October 12 from 4pm to 5pm.

4:25pm - Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni has announced the Government has approved $13.55 million from the COVID Response and Recovery Fund to support food banks and social sector agencies.

"The response to Delta has meant there has been additional demand for social services, particularly from vulnerable families who need to self isolate," she says.

"While we have seen a downward trend in demand for emergency grants for food and other support through MSD, we know there is still need in the community. Many of the stores and resources of foodbanks have been depleted over recent weeks and additional support is now required."

The funding includes $5.5 million to support food banks, food rescue, and community food organisations across Auckland, including the New Zealand Food Network, Pacific food hubs, and the Māori collective. The remaining $8.05 million is to support 34,700 individuals and families who use the Community Connector Service.

"The Government has been keeping a close eye on the needs of Auckland's most vulnerable and has provided $24.6m in additional funding for food banks and support services since the response to the Delta outbreak began in August. Today's announcement takes that support to $38.15m," Sepuloni says.

"People who are struggling in Auckland are seeking support from both Government and non-Government agencies. Therefore, the strong food support network across the region has been vital in helping Aucklanders get through the response to Delta."

The funding will mainly be distributed throughout Auckland, but can also be accessed by other regions impacted by the current Delta outbreak.

Carmel Sepuloni.
Carmel Sepuloni. Photo credit: Getty Images

4:10pm - Have a curiosity, question, or hesitancy about COVID-19 vaccinations?

In the lead up to Super Saturday's vaxathon, Whakarongorau Aotearoa, the social enterprise that runs the COVID Vaccination Healthline, wants New Zealanders to call them up if they have any vaccine-related questions.

They can help:

  • locate where to get vaccinated
  • problem solve transport issues
  • answer any question people are curious about - and are encouraging people to not hold back because nothing is off the table
  • advise on sites that have mobility assistance, arrange sign language interpreters, and more
  • support people with needle anxiety.

You can call the COVID Vaccination Healthline team on 0800 28 29 26 for free advice from 8am to 8pm each day, and to midnight on Super Saturday. Extra staff have been brought in to help.

3:40pm - Immunologist Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu says the alert level extensions in Northland and Waikato are much needed since a high degree of risk remains, particularly from vulnerable and unprotected communities.

Dr Sika-Paotonu, who is also Associate Dean (Pacific), head of University of Otago Wellington Pacific Office, and a senior lecturer in Pathology & Molecular Medicine at University of Otago Wellington, says a general upward trend in cases in continuing, with persistent unlinked mystery cases still popping up.

"The implications for the COVID-19 situation moving forward must include a continued equity focus for approaching vaccination, testing and prevention efforts - this will help reduce barriers, improve access and build trust with vulnerable communities to ensure people get the help they need, when they need it -  whether it be the vaccine or a test or other health and support services," she says.

"The consequences of any premature changes such as easing restrictions too quickly given our vaccination rates at this time, along with the adverse health impact already seen for our vulnerable in Aotearoa New Zealand, will be dire."

Dr Sika-Paotonu urges people to get vaccinated, seek a test if needed, follow the alert level rules, and encourage those around you to do the same.

3:10pm - ACT leader David Seymour says the Government needs to reset its COVID-19 response and admit it has "made mistakes".

"Like the short sharp beginnings of the nationwide lockdown announced on August 17, four days for Northland was always delusional. It takes five days for a case to become testable, and apparently another five for some of the tests to come back," he says.

"The increases in case numbers and, crucially, mystery cases means that the Government's strategy is not working. It is on course for rapidly increasing cases, and COVID for Christmas."

Seymour says the Government should give a deadline for vaccinations, after which restrictions will be lifted. Any suburb that reaches a 90 percent vaccination rate before then should be allowed out of alert level 3 or 4 restrictions immediately.

"The Government should then get relevant people around the table in each sector and host all-in 'sprints' to help reduce transmission, hospitalisation and death in all activities. That would be an honest response that New Zealanders deserve. The only question is how many more days will Ardern keep spinning?"

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub.

2:40pm - A new location of interest has been added for Kerikeri - the first potential exposure event to be listed for the Northland town.

Anyone who visited AA Driver and Vehicle Licensing in Kerikeri between 3:15pm and 3:45pm on Tuesday, October 5 is asked to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after the date of exposure. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until a negative result is returned AND for 24 hours after symptoms resolve.

2:30pm - Here's an update on Waikato DHB's COVID-19 response:         

Today there are two new community cases of COVID-19 in the Waikato. The region has a total of 37 cases. 

Location of COVID-19 cases 

  • Raglan - 18
  • Hamilton - 16
  • Cambridge - 2
  • Kawhia - 1.


Note: an additional Hamilton case has been added. This refers to an older case who was in Auckland at the time of detection but who normally resides in Waikato. Public Health management of this case has now been transferred to Waikato DHB and the case will now be included in the Waikato numbers.  

The two new cases identified today are members of the same household. Public Health staff are now working to confirm links to other Waikato cases.  

New locations of interest in Hamilton and Raglan have been added to the Ministry of Health website:

Waikato DHB and its provider partners are gearing up for the nationwide Super Saturday vaccination event on 16 October. Details of activities in Waikato will be promoted on the DHB website and Facebook page. 

There will be pop-up vaccination sites across the region with prizes, food and other incentives to encourage people to come down and bring their friends and whānau. We are also aware that some people still have questions about being vaccinated, and this is a good opportunity to come along for a no pressure chat with a health professional to get some more information. 

  • Total tests processed in Waikato on Tuesday 12 October: 2980 

People can also get tested on appointment at GP practices across the region, including designated GP practices that take enrolled and non-enrolled patients. See Healthpoint for a full list of options. 

It is important that our testing facilities are available for those priority individuals who meet the criteria for seeking a test at this time. This allows us to rapidly investigate whether there has been any community spread.  

Anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms, is following guidance relating to a location of interest or has been directed by Healthline or a GP should seek a test immediately. 

Otherwise, people should call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or their GP for guidance before seeking a test.  

COVID-19 testing centres 

The availability of community testing centres is based on our assessment of demand and may change daily. Locations for community testing are updated in this advisory, on our website, on Healthpoint and on our Facebook page as soon as they are confirmed for the next day.  


Raglan Area School, Norrie Ave, Raglan 

Wednesday -  Sunday, 10am - 1pm 


Founders Theatre car park 

Entrance off Norton Road 

8am - 4.30pm 

Claudelands Event Centre 

Gate 3, Brooklyn Road 

10am - 6pm 

Te Kohao Health

951 Wairere Drive, Hamilton East 

Wednesday - 10am - 4pm 

GP practices 

General practices across the Waikato are testing patients and designated GPs are testing non-patients also. See Healthpoint for a full list of GPs offering COVID-19 testing or call your GP to check. COVID-19 tests are free. Please ring first to make an appointment. 

Update on COVID-19 vaccinations in the Waikato DHB region 

Reporting on vaccination rates is provided at TLA level. This data is as at 10am, October 13, 2021. 

Territorial local authority  

1st doses  

2nd doses  

1st doses as a pct of eligible population 

Fully vaccinated as a pct of eligible population 


Hamilton City 






Hauraki District  






Matamata-Piako District  






Otorohanga District  






Ruapehu District  






South Waikato District  






Thames-Coromandel District  






Waikato District  






Waipa District  






Waitomo District  






Waikato region 






Data at SA2 level (approximately equivalent to suburb) is available via the Ministry of Health.  

Vaccination data 

  • To date (as at 9am), 492,651 vaccinations have been delivered in the Waikato
  • 285,488 first doses have been administered
  • 207,163 second doses have been administered 
  • On Tuesday, October 12, 7436 vaccinations were delivered across the Waikato. 

Pop-up vaccination sites and vaccination clinics 

There are number of pop-up vaccination centres operating across the Waikato this week in North Waikato, Hamilton and surrounds, Waipa, South Waikato and Ruapehu district. 

  • Mobile vaccination clinics are rolling out across the takiwā with regular visits to locations through to the end of the year. The schedule is on the Waikato DHB website and will be regularly updated with more dates and locations.   
  • Also visit the Waikato DHB FB page for up to date mobile vaccination clinic locations. 
  • In Hamilton and elsewhere in the Waikato, you can get your vaccinations at GPs, pharmacies, mobile sites and at our vaccination centres. There's lots of options, so come along and meet the friendly vaccination teams. 
  • Walk-in appointments are available at many vaccination sites across the Waikato. 
  • People can now also bus free to and from their vaccination appointment if they show proof of their booking. See for more details. 

Update on changes to hospital services 

To help protect our patients, staff and community as our Public Health service investigates these cases, Waikato DHB is limiting the number of people at our facilities.  

A restricted visitor policy was put in place from Sunday afternoon in response to the two new community cases. The full policy can be viewed on our website

From October 4, non-urgent face-to-face outpatient appointments, community services and surgeries have been deferred. Wherever possible we will be shifting appointments to phone and/or telehealth options. 

DHB staff will be contacting affected individuals with urgent procedures to confirm their appointments are going ahead or to provide details for telehealth. 

Anyone who is not contacted prior to their appointment should please assume it has been deferred and they will be contacted at a later date to reschedule as required.  

2:20pm - Gisborne District Council wants to remind the community about the additional measures still in place while the region remains under alert level 2.

Kiwa Pools (old Olympic Pools) is only open for those who have booked a lane in the undercover pool, a spokesperson for the council said in a statement on Wednesday. Children can't be dropped off at the pools as there is no recreational swimming available during these school holidays.

The library is open, but masks are a must and there is a maximum stay of 30 minutes.

Most library resources can be accessed online at

Parking remains free but is limited to the maximum time allowed in the area. In the CBD this is two hours. Parking wardens will continue to make sure people don't overstay. They'll also be checking to ensure all vehicles are up-to-date with their warrants and registrations.

The council's customer service counters remain open in Fitzherbert Street. However, the Te Puia Springs office remains closed.

Masks are mandatory and social distancing of two metres is required when using any council facility.

For more information on services and facilities under alert level 2, see the council's website.

2:15pm - 55 community cases of COVID-19; more than 72,000 vaccines administered yesterday

Fifty-five new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday, 53 in Auckland and two in Waikato, both of which have yet to be linked to the outbreak.

Here is the Ministry of Health's full statement with Wednesday's updates:



Number of new community cases


Number of new cases identified at the border

No cases

Location of new community cases

Auckland (53); Waikato (2)

Location of community cases (total)

Auckland 1,665 (1,172 of whom have recovered); Waikato 37 (one of whom has recovered); Wellington 17 (all of whom have recovered)

Number of community cases (total)

1,719 (in current community outbreak)

Cases infectious in the community  

12 of yesterday's cases have exposure events (40pct)

Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infectious  

31 of yesterday's cases (60pct)

Cases epidemiologically linked

29 of today's 55 cases

Cases to be epidemiologically linked

26 of today's 55 cases. Interviews are ongoing to determine how they're linked  

Cases epidemiologically linked (total)

1,612 (in the current cluster) (75 unlinked from the past 14 days)

Number of sub-clusters

16 epidemiologically linked subclusters. Of these, four are active, one is contained and 11 are dormant. There are 14 epidemiologically unlinked subclusters. Of these, four are active, one is contained and nine are dormant.

Cases in hospital

32 (total): North Shore (3); Middlemore (16); Auckland (11); Waikato Hospital (1); Palmerston North Hospital (1)

Cases in ICU or HDU


Confirmed cases (total)

4,400 since pandemic began

Historical cases, since 1 Jan 2021 (total)

169 out of 2,585 since 1 Jan 2021



Number of active contacts being managed (total):


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


Percentage with at least one test result


Locations of interest


Locations of interest (total)

394 (as at 10am, October 13)



Number of tests (total)


Number of tests total (last 24 hours)


Tests processed in Auckland (last 24 hours)


Tests rolling average (last 7 days)


Testing centres in Auckland




Wastewater detections

No unexpected detections in the last 24 hours.

COVID-19 vaccine update


Vaccines administered to date (total)

5,975,273; 1st doses: 3,480,716; 2nd doses: 2,494,557

Vaccines administered yesterday (total)

72,683; 1st doses: 17,396; 2nd doses: 55,287


1st doses: 353,840; 2nd doses: 224,718

Pacific Peoples

1st doses: 221,524; 2nd doses: 151,625

Vaccines administered to Auckland residents to date (total)

2,172,921 1st doses: 1,248,744 (87pct); 2nd doses: 924,177 (65pct)

Vaccines administered to Auckland residents yesterday (total)

23,049: 1st doses: 4,427; 2nd doses: 18,622

NZ COVID-19 tracer


Registered users (total)


Poster scans (total)


Manual diary entries (total)


Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday


Dialysis unit, North Shore Hospital

Following a previously reported exposure event at the dialysis unit adjacent to North Shore Hospital, a total of two patients and two staff members have now tested positive for COVID-19.  

Staff are also undergoing rapid antigen testing before the start of each shift, with all results this morning again negative.

A number of staff in the unit are considered close contacts and have been stood down as a precaution.  

All appropriate steps are being taken to manage potential risk while maintaining dialysis services to this group of renal patients.

All patients are being screened on arrival at the unit. Full PPE precautions are being taken within the unit, which is being intensively cleaned between each group of patients.

Truck driver

An Auckland-based truck driver who travelled to Northland for work purposes on October 9 has tested positive for COVID-19.

The case is currently being assessed to identify risk and any exposure events.  

While the case investigation is still in the early stages, initial information suggests a limited scope of exposure in Northland, given alert level 3 precautions within the delivery sector.  

Advice will be provided to businesses involved, but at this stage, there is no evidence of significant risk to the region from this case. Any locations of interest will be listed on the Ministry of Health website.

Northland testing and vaccination centres

In Northland, 13,905 doses of the vaccine were given yesterday - 11,385 first doses and 2520 second doses. To date, there have been 113,067 first doses and 82,692 second doses of the vaccine administered in Northland.

For testing, the region saw 1765 tests completed yesterday, taking the total since October6  to 7045.

Today there are seven community testing sites and eight community vaccination centres operating.

Community testing is available at:

  • Kaitaia – Kaitaia Hospital, 29 Redan Road (9am-4pm)  
  • Kerikeri – 1 Sammaree Place (9am-4pm)  
  • Ohaeawai - Ohaeawai Rugby Clubrooms, (10am-5pm)
  • Whangarei – Rock and Roll car park, Pohe Island (9am–4pm)
  • Whangarei - Kamo, 20 Winger Crescent (9am –4pm)
  • Ruakākā - Race Course Peter Snell Road, Ruakākā (10am-3pm)  
  • Dargaville – Dargaville Hospital (9am-4pm).

Community COVID-19 vaccination centres are operating at:

  • Kaitaia – The Old Warehouse Building, 11 Matthews Ave (10am-5pm)
  • Kerikeri - 1 Sammaree Place (10am-5pm)
  • Omapere – Community Clinic (9am-3pm)
  • Panguru – Roving Van (9.30am-3pm)
  • Ohaeawai - Ohaeawai Rugby Clubrooms, (10am-5pm)
  • Moerewa - Rugby Club, Simpson Park (9am-4pm)      
  • Whangarei – Northland Events Centre (8am-7.30pm)
  • Dargaville - 22a Normanby St (10am-2pm).

Waikato update

There are two new community cases in Waikato today who are members of the same household in Hamilton. They are being transferred today to a local quarantine facility.

At this stage, the cases are unlinked but interviews will be carried out today to help determine any links to known cases. Two workplace exposure events have been identified but Hamilton residents are encouraged to please keep checking the Ministry's website for any locations of interest.

Vaccination rates in Waikato remained high yesterday with 7434 people getting a dose. There were 2980 tests processed in Waikato yesterday.

2:05pm - Parts of Waikato, Northland staying at alert level 3

Here's a press release from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins about Cabinet's decision to keep Northland and parts of Waikato in alert level 3 for a further five days.

The parts of Waikato that have been in alert level 3 and Northland will remain in alert level 3 for a few more days, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday.

Auckland remains at alert level 3, Step 1.

"Based on the latest public health information, ministers have decided that maintaining the status quo in Northland and parts of the Waikato is the safest course of action," Hipkins said.

"This will be reviewed by Cabinet on Monday, October 18. 

"The Waikato has done a phenomenal job in getting tested and getting vaccinated. However, this morning we were informed of two new cases that are as yet unlinked to the existing cluster.

"Health believes the risk from these cases – a couple – is low and there will be few locations of interest. However we need to assure ourselves that there is not undetected transmission before lowering alert levels. Genome sequencing is underway and will hopefully shed new light on these cases.

"Unfortunately, we still don't have confidence we have a full enough picture of the situation in Northland.  

"Getting information from the two cases who travelled around the region while infectious and are now in quarantine, remains slow-going.

"We may not get any further information from contact tracing interviews so are now relying on other sources of information to piece together their movements.

"The best thing people in Northland can do right now is to get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19, even if these are mild. Over the last week, more than 7000 swabs have been taken. That's encouraging but to shift alert levels with high confidence we need even more testing over the next five days.

"It's also great to see Northlanders coming out to get vaccinated. There have been 19,691 vaccinations in the past seven days – that's more than double the previous week.

"It's really important to keep this going. When we see a high level of testing and vaccination, this gives us more confidence to move down the alert levels.

"Since the start of the Delta outbreak, of 158 people hospitalised, only three of those were fully immunised. This is the protection that the vaccine provides, and it is imperative that everyone who is eligible gets vaccinated as soon as possible.

"If you have any contact with any positive cases, visited a location of interest or have any symptoms, get tested as soon as possible."

Key points:

  • In alert level 3, you should stay home. Most people are not permitted to travel. Those who can, must carry evidence that they are permitted to travel.
  • You can't travel into another alert level 3 or alert level 2 area without evidence of permitted travel across boundaries.
  • The north and south Auckland checkpoints remain in place and people need to have evidence of their permitted reason to travel ready to be checked by police. Most people permitted to travel out of the Auckland region will need evidence of a COVID-19 test.
  • Police are out in force patrolling the Waikato alert level 3 boundary. Those who are permitted must carry evidence that they are permitted to travel.
  • At every airport in the alert level 3 areas, officials are checking that passengers have evidence of permission to travel. At Auckland Airport, most people who are permitted to travel out of the Auckland will need evidence of having a negative test.

1:58pm - Hipkins says as far as he is aware, there haven't been any issues with people in Waikato not being forthcoming with information. 

The two new mystery cases in Waikato are "underpinning" the decision to keep parts of the region in alert level 3, he says.

He once again suggested that possible contacts of the woman who tested positive after travelling around Northland may be reluctant to come forward due to the nature of the exposure events.

He said he "wouldn't want to speculate" when asked if this was due to possible contacts engaging in criminal activity. 

"It is possible that the activities that people were engaged with in Northland means they have some wariness of coming forward, they're concerned about potentially exposing some other aspects of their lives they don't want to... I just want to reiterate we won't use any information obtained through this process for those purposes, and that includes [that] we won't be sharing them publicly unless there's a very good reason to do so," he said.

There have been reports and speculation that the woman in question is a sex worker - however, officials have not explicitly confirmed this, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying earlier this week there is "no evidence" to suggest that is her profession.

When asked again by a reporter if he could confirm the woman is indeed a sex worker, Hipkins said that is "not the information" he has been given.

"There's a lot of speculation about that, but that's not the information that I have."

1:55pm - There are reports that My COVID Record has been overloaded with users after Dr Bloomfield announced earlier in the press conference that the website is now accessible.

1:53pm - COVID-19 is "spreading in Auckland", Hipkins says, and cases are cropping up in communities outside of the initial suburbs of interest.

High testing is fundamental to controlling the outbreak, Dr Bloomfield says, as is compliance with the restrictions.

1:44pm - The Government is not considering a "circuit-breaker" alert level 4 lockdown in Auckland despite suggestions by experts, says Hipkins.

He reiterates that the Government's switch to a more suppression-based approach does not mean they have "given up on driving COVID-19 out of our community".

"Elimination" is not necessarily the same as "eradication" and people often mistakenly conflate an elimination strategy with zero cases, which is not the technical definition, he says.

1:36pm - Police are assisting with the search for a confirmed case in Auckland who public health teams have been unable to contact. 

Authorities are working to track down the individual so they can be transported to MIQ.

1:32pm - Hipkins says health officials "don't know much" about the two unlinked Waikato cases at this stage.

The three cases reported yesterday were known contacts and were already isolating.

"We have seen it relatively contained up until today," he said.

The two cases have been detected in Hamilton.  

1:26pm - Hipkins has reiterated that the COVID-positive truck driver who travelled to Northland from Auckland did not play a "significant factor" in Cabinet's alert level decision for the region.

Most of the sites the driver delivered to were closed. There was one site where there was some "low-level exposure", he said.

"It's not a huge risk."

1:18pm - Hipkins says officials are concerned that people who could have been infected in Northland are reluctant to get tested.

"People who could have been infected may be reluctant to come forward and get tested," he said.

"Any information will only be used for the purpose of stamping out COVID-19, it will not be used for any other purpose."

He said these people may be unwilling to come forward out of fear of being identified. 

1:15pm - Hipkins says a key factor in the decision to keep Waikato in alert level 3 is the two latest cases that currently remain unlinked to the current outbreak.

"At this stage, we don't know how they were infected, we don't have yet a full understanding of who might be involved in the chain of transmission," he said.

Regarding Northland, Hipkins said officials "still don't have confidence that we have a full enough picture of the situation" due to the challenges in obtaining information from the COVID-positive women who travelled around the region last week. He says inquiries with the women have been "slow-going". 

1:12pm - A new milestone has been reached in the vaccination campaign - more than six million doses of the vaccine have now been administered nationwide. About 75 percent of eligible Kiwis have had at least one dose.

My COVID Record is also now accessible to the public at Users can view their vaccination record when they create a MyHealth account. The function is currently available for those aged 16 and over.

From late November, people will be able to access vaccine certificates for use both locally and overseas. 

1:10pm - Both Northland and Waikato will remain at alert level 3 for a further five days, until at least 11:59pm on October 18.

1:08pm - Regarding the COVID-positive truck driver who travelled to Northland from Auckland, Dr Bloomfield says it is a "low risk journey". The driver travelled on October 9 between 3am and 12pm and delivered to a number of places, many of which were closed.

An early learning centre teacher has tested positive in Auckland - 11 close contacts have been identified so far, six of whom are children.

Two staff members and two patients have tested positive following an exposure event at the North Shore Hospital dialysis unit over the weekend.

1:06pm - The two new cases in Waikato are members of same household in Hamilton - these cases have not yet been linked to others in the outbreak based on initial interviews, but those are ongoing.

Regarding the second woman to test positive who travelled to Northland from Auckland last week, there have been no further exposure events identified.

1:04pm - Of today's cases, 26 are unlinked. Ten of yesterday's cases also remain unlinked.

There are 32 people in hospital, six of whom are in the ICU or HDU. One is being ventilated. All are in Auckland aside from one in Waikato Hospital and one in Palmerston North Hospital.

1:03pm - There are 55 new community cases of COVID-19 to report on Wednesday - 53 in Auckland and two in Waikato.

12:55pm - There are some new locations of interest and potential exposure events - see below:

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, October 13
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, October 13

12:40pm - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will provide the latest updates on the outbreak at 1pm.

You can watch the press conference live on Three or above via our livestream.

12:20pm - The National Party's Social Development and Employment spokesperson, Louise Upston, says the Government needs to explain how two women were granted a travel exemption by the Ministry of Social Development to travel from Auckland to Northland last week.

"There must be accountability for what appears to be a gross error in judgment," Upston said on Wednesday. 

"How can it be that people willing to move heaven and earth to take safety precautions are denied exemptions every day, yet people who've been uncooperative with authorities are given carte blanche to cross boundaries?

"For days the Government has kept New Zealanders in the dark about how these two women could cross the boundary. It appears, on the face of it, that negligence by the Ministry of Social Development may be responsible for putting New Zealanders at further risk of COVID."

Last week, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the first woman - who returned a weak positive result for COVID-19 earlier in the week before being confirmed as a case on Thursday - had used false information in her application for a travel exemption.

The woman was already in Northland by the time her travel exemption document was flagged as fraudulent, Hipkins said. It was revoked on October 5 during a routine check. The exemption was under the 'social services' category.

The woman, who travelled extensively across the region, has not been cooperating with authorities.

The second woman was identified by health officials shortly after and was eventually located by authorities in west Auckland on Monday. She tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

12:10pm - Here's a checkpoint compliance update from the police:

Since alert level 3 came into place, 20 people have been charged with a total of 21 offences in Tāmaki Makaurau, Northland and parts of the Waikato as of 5pm on Tuesday.

Of these, 16 were for failing to comply with order (COVID-19), two were for failure to comply with direction/prohibition/restriction, two were for assaults/threatens/hinders/obstructs enforcement officers and one was a Health Act breach.

In the same time period, 24 people were formally warned.

Police have received a total of 3581 online breach notifications relating to businesses, mass gatherings or people in Tāmaki Makaurau, Northland and parts of the Waikato.

Checkpoint figures

As of 11:59pm on October 12, a total of 626,086 vehicles had been stopped at the checkpoints on Auckland's northern and southern boundaries, 8453 of which were turned around.

On Tuesday, 23,118 vehicles were processed at the checkpoints, with 196 of those vehicles turned around.

A total of 27 out of 4632 vehicles were turned away at the northern checkpoints on Tuesday, while 106 vehicles out of 18,486 were turned around at the southern border.

As of 11:59pm last night, 33,521 heavy vehicles had been stopped, 1127 of which were turned around after attempting to leave Tāmaki Makaurau - 20 of those were turned around on Tuesday.

11:50am - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has dismissed reports that people can cross Auckland's boundary without proof of a negative test, contradicting official websites. 

Questions have been raised about how two women who travelled to Northland - and later tested positive for COVID-19 - were able to cross Auckland's northern border. It's understood falsified documents were used to pass through the checkpoint, however Newshub's Michael Morrah suggests it could be because proof of a negative test isn't required

"Well no, you absolutely have to prove that you've had a negative test result, that's what the law says," Hipkins told The AM Show on Wednesday. 

But that contradicts several official websites. The Unite Against COVID-19 site clearly states evidence of a COVID-19 test is required for workers crossing alert level boundaries - but "you do not need evidence of a negative result". 

The same goes for the Ministry of Health website, which states that "proof of test" is required of workers crossing alert level boundaries, but "you don't have to wait for the test result, just provide evidence that you've had a test". 

Read more here.

11:35am - An epidemiologist and senior research fellow at the University of Otago's Department of Public Health says a return to alert level 4 for Auckland is "the best and probably only chance of reversing" the concerning trends in the ongoing outbreak.

On Tuesday, University of Canterbury Professor Michael Plank said that if the current trends continue, Auckland will be recording 160 cases per day by early November. That sentiment was echoed by Dr David Welch, who said based on the current modelling, there will be roughly 100 cases infectious in the community each day by next month.

Speaking on Wednesday, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig said it's time for Auckland to return to alert level 4 to help contain the escalating case numbers. 

"These trends show that it's time to talk about a circuit-breaker. A move back to alert level 4 is the best and probably only chance of reversing these highly-concerning trends that are all moving in the wrong direction. Vaccination is not going to happen fast enough to reverse these trends and we need to buy time," she said.

"Before deciding on Aucklanders' behalf that they're too tired of lockdowns, let's hear from Aucklanders. Let's also hear from Māori, Pasifika, people with underlying conditions, people who are marginalised, and children and their advocates. They're the ones carrying the highest risk if COVID-19 is allowed to spread before vaccination rollout is complete."

Dr Kvalsvig says ruling out alert level 4, or a return to the elimination strategy, will effectively rule out ever getting back to alert level 1.

"Ruling out alert level 4 will effectively also rule out alert level 1, leaving Aucklanders in the worst of both worlds with a large number of restrictions and a large (and growing) number of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. That situation is no good for businesses either. We've seen this pattern play out again and again in multiple countries.

"A far better option would be for the Government to put multiple protections in place for those experiencing hardship including benefits and payments, funding for workforces, Pātaka Kai (local food-sharing initiative), emergency support for mental health, housing, and safety from violence, and many other resources. With substantial support measures in place, movement restrictions can be made tolerable for people while chains of transmission are being stamped out.

"This is the most urgent and most important national conversation we can be having right now. At this critical point in our pandemic journey, failing to act decisively will have severe consequences for population health and wellbeing. Any decisions made now need to be highly transparent and guided by the widest possible consultation with the people of Aotearoa."

11:15am - A worker at Steve Taylor Tyre Service in Kamo, Whangārei says he has returned a negative test result after the shop was visited by a COVID-positive truck driver on Saturday.

On Wednesday morning, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told The AM Show that health officials are investigating after the truck driver travelled from Auckland to Northland for work.

The worker told Newshub on Wednesday that both he and the driver had worn masks and maintained a physical distance when a delivery of tyres were dropped off on Saturday morning. He confirmed he has tested negative.

Steve Taylor Tyre Service has not been listed as a location of interest.

11:05am - Here's a recap on the latest vaccination data:

11am - The Ministry of Health has a guide on how to have a "positive and respectful conversation" with friends and whānau about the vaccine. 

Read the pointers here.

10:45am - University of Canterbury Professor Michael Plank says it is still too early to tell if phase one of the Government's three-step roadmap for Auckland has contributed to a significant increase in transmission, but even a small rise in cases caused by the relaxed restrictions "could spell big trouble".

"It's essential people play it safe and stick to the rules: keep it outdoors and wear a mask," he said on Wednesday.

Professor Plank has doubled-down on his prediction that Auckland could be recording 160 cases each day by early November if the current trend continues. He says the number of new cases is approximately doubling every 12 days. 

"It's very clear the outbreak is growing at present. All the key indicators have been trending upwards in the last two weeks, including total cases, unlinked cases, cases infectious in the community and the number of contacts. On the current trend, the number of new cases is approximately doubling every 12 days. If that continues, we would be seeing around 160 new cases per day by early November," he said.

"Because we still have a lot of people who aren't yet fully vaccinated, that level of cases would mean a large number of people needing hospital treatment."

Plank says increasing vaccination rates will help to slow transmission over time, but until that point, there is a danger that too many new cases could overwhelm the contact tracing system, leading to further acceleration.

"Over time, increasing vaccination rates will help to slow transmission down and hopefully turn the tide on the growth of cases. However, in the meantime there is a danger that too many cases could mean our contact tracing system struggles to keep up with demand, leading to an acceleration in cases. 

"This means we need to do everything possible to minimise community transmission, particular in the next few crucial weeks as we get more people double-dosed."

10:25am - Dr David Welch, a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland's Centre for Computational Evolution, says data modelling indicates that in about a month's time, there will be roughly 100 cases infectious in the community each day.

It echoes the stark prediction made by Professor Michael Plank, who suggested on Tuesday that by early November, roughly 160 cases will be recorded per day.

"The number of cases in Auckland is rising, with the reproduction number R now well above 1. The consensus estimate is that R is currently around 1.3," Dr Welch said on Wednesday.

"At that level it takes about two weeks for cases to double, so where we currently see about 25 new cases [that are] infectious in the community every day, in two weeks we can expect to see about 50, and 100 in a month. 

"That rate of increase will soon start to put serious pressure on health systems. It will also start to stretch the abilities of the contact tracing teams to track and isolate close contacts. Publicly available estimates suggest that the contact tracing system will struggle when there are somewhere between 100 and 200 cases infectious in the community for a sustained period."

He says the worrying predictions indicate that public health officials need to channel "renewed effort" into their suppression strategy. Case numbers need to be lower and vaccination rates need to be higher before the Government proceeds with phase two of its three-step roadmap for Auckland, he added.

"All this indicates that renewed effort needs to go into suppressing transmission. To safely loosen restrictions further (such as to the proposed Step 2 of the Auckland roadmap), community transmission needs to be lower and the number of fully vaccinated people much higher.

"The border restrictions and careful monitoring of regions outside of Auckland can work to keep those areas safe and open. If cases are detected in regions currently in level 2, rapid moves need to be made to stop the spread and eliminate the virus from the region. Failure to do so risks extensive local spread and could make local elimination very difficult. 

"As we have seen in Auckland, if transmission is established in a region then alert level 3 may only be enough to suppress transmission, not eliminate it. The implication is that if other regions see sustained transmission, they may be stuck in level 3 for a long time like Auckland is."

10:10am - There are several new potential exposure events in Auckland as of 10am.

They are at Porchester Road Superette in Papakura, Countdown on Henderson's Lincoln Road and Seasons Market in Mt Wellington.

For full details and advice, click here.

9:50am - An expert says the impacts of the increased freedoms for Auckland will not be evident for "a couple of weeks", suggesting the fluctuations in case numbers have not been caused by the recent easing of restrictions.

Under phase one of the Government's three-step roadmap for the region, Aucklanders are allowed to meet with one other household, outdoors, with no more than 10 people present. Social distancing and masks are required.

"When alert levels or other transmission interventions change, it takes time for the effect of those interventions to flow through into things that we can observe, such as the number of new detected cases or the number of hospital admissions,"

"With moving to Step 1 of Auckland's three-step plan, we'd again expect it to take a couple of weeks for the effect of the transmission environment to flow through into observable consequences like new reported cases and hospital admissions," Dr Dion O'Neale, the principal investigator at Te Pūnaha Matatini and a lecturer at the University of Auckland, said on Wednesday.

"Part of the reason for this is that there is an incubation period after infection, before people develop symptoms. Also, even with Delta, exponential increases start off looking like a slow rate of growth, when there are initially only a small number of cases infecting a few new people each. This quickly transitions into very rapid growth if there are not sufficient interventions to suppress transmission."

He says while Auckland adjusts to its new freedoms under phase one, it would be "risky" to relax restrictions further.

"During this period, while the consequences of changing the transmission environment are still uncertain, it would be risky to make further changes that create additional transmission risks," he said.

Dr O'Neale believes that if any transmission did occur during the anti-lockdown protest in Auckland on October 2, those infections would now be active.

"Nine days is long enough ago that we could start to see any potential transmission from the protest showing up as new symptomatic cases, and it is now 11 days since the protest. Only contact tracing, however, will be able to say what the actual consequence of the protest was," he said. 

"If no one at the protest was infectious at the time, it may not have led to any additional cases. It was nonetheless an unnecessary and potentially dangerous transmission risk."

9:30am - Nanogirl Labs has partnered with the Ministry of Education to target education staff and encourage them to get the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the mandate deadline.

On Monday, the Government announced the vaccine will become mandatory for all New Zealand teachers and school staff by the end of 2021. 

To drive vaccine uptake among education staff who are unsure about getting the jab, Nanogirl Labs and the Ministry of Education will host a series of informative and interactive webinars.

Nanogirl Labs co-founder and science-communicator Dr Michelle Dickinson, who will host the first event on Wednesday, said the aim is to ensure critical staff feel supported and empowered to get the vaccine.

"We really believe that creating safe forums such as this are pivotal right now to ensure that all teachers and school staff have the tools they need to navigate through the scientific research, jargon and data to make the right decision for themselves and for their community," she said.

9:05am - Some Northland leaders are calling on the Government to take harsh action against the two women who travelled to Northland last week before testing positive for COVID-19. 

The first woman is being uncooperative with health authorities, while the second is cooperating after being tracked down by police.

Their actions sparked an alert level 3 lockdown in Northland, which will last until at least Thursday night.

Former MP and Tai Tokerau Border Control (TTBC) founder Hone Harawira told the NZ Herald on Wednesday tightened borders were needed.

"We need to slam the f****** door on Auckland. Let's focus on us and healing ourselves."

8:50am - Judith Collins says if National was in power, the upper North Island would be out of lockdown as soon as rapid tests were available and there were enough ICU beds to handle an outbreak.

While that sounds like it might take a while, she insists that unlike the Government, the National Party has a plan. 

Read the full story here.

8:20am - The Ministry of Health has announced several new locations of interest visits, all of which are in Auckland:

  • New World Devonport
  • Z Silverdale Service Station
  • Countdown Newmarket
  • Countdown St Johns
  • Pak'nSave Mt Albert
  • Countdown Henderson
  • Countdown Kelston 
  • Mount Roskill Fresh Supermarket
  • Seasons Market Mt Wellington
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, October 13
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, October 13

8:05am - Omaha Beach Golf Club & Community Centre has confirmed one of its members has COVID-19.

The club said in a post to its Facebook page that the member had contracted the virus while in Auckland and tested positive on October 9.

They had been at the club on October 6 and 8.

"They followed all health and safety protocols while playing golf, and maintained a safe distance from others while at the club," the post said.

"Identified close contacts of the infected person will be/have already been contacted by the contact tracing team. If you have not been contacted and told you were a close contact, then you are not one."

8am - When asked if Northland will stay at alert level 3 following the news of a truck driver testing positive, Hipkins said that was't necessarily the case.

"It will depend on the nature of the risk that might have been identified in the last 24 hours or so," he said.

"As of yesterday, we hadn't seen anything necessarily that would stop the move that we had signaled earlier in the week."

And for the Waikato, he said it was "really encouraging" and the region could move down to alert level 2.

"We are seeing cases trickle in from the Waikato but they are all contacts of known cases. It would appear at this point is that they feel reasonable comfortable they have got a ring around this outbreak."

7:45am - Hipkins confirmed an investigation is underway into a new positive COVID-19 case - a truck driver.

"We did have a result in last night around a truck driver who has travelled from Auckland up into Northland," he said.

"There is a case investigating going on about that at the moment to identify if there is any additional risk out of that.

"Obviously people in the freight/logistics industry do take measures to keep themselves and their customers safe. That is what the case investigation will look at."

7:35am - Since the start of the Delta outbreak, 8500 more people have ended up on the benefit, Ministry of Social Development figures show.

While job losses have been nowhere near as severe as the first lockdown in March last year, many thousands of whānau are still struggling to make ends meet, as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.

Read the full story here.

7:23am - Hipkins said he acknowledges Auckland's lockdown is "really hard going" but wouldn't confirm if he would be willing to take a pay cut, along with other MPs, to show solidarity.

Chris Hipkins.
Chris Hipkins. Photo credit: The AM Show

7:16am - Hipkins said he is not aware of any positive cases overnight.

7:15am - Hipkins said it was "very encouraging" the second woman who travelled to Northland is cooperating with health authorities.

7:13am - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has told Morning Report the Ministry of Social Development approved, and then revoked, the border exemption of two women who travelled to Northland before both testing positive for COVID-19.

He said there was a degree of error in granting the exemption which was corrected but only after the pair had crossed the border.

7am - When asked if she would support a pay cut for MPs while Auckland remains in lockdown, Judith Collins said she wasn't against the idea.

"We've done that before and it didn't seem to make much difference. I personally don't have a problem with that," she told The AM Show.

Host Ryan Bridges questioned if National was in power right now, when would Aucklanders be out of lockdown?

"Once we get in place the ICU beds and we get in place rapid antigen testing and we get those things... We actually have a plan to get those in place - the Government hasn't," Collins replied. 

"They've sat on their fingers for the past 18 months, sitting around saying, 'Gosh, aren't we clever? We lock people down.' 

"That's the only thing they have a plan for, which is to lock people down. It is really important we get as many people vaccinated as possible, but as part of that we also need to have all the other protections in place."

6:30am - National Party leader Judith Collins says Kiwis "aren't mushrooms and shouldn't be left in the dark" around the Government's COVID-19 plan.

"What we should be doing is knowing that there is some certainty and that there is a plan. Because what we're seeing at the moment is no plan from the Government, no release of the health information on which they say they base their alert levels, and we've got people in Northland, Auckland and Waikato in a state of almost perpetual wondering what's about to happen. It is simply not good enough - where is the plan?"

She says the Government needs a plan, needs to implement that plan, and make sure the public knows that plan. But for now she says the Government has a "wishlist".

National leader Judith Collins.
National leader Judith Collins. Photo credit: Getty Images

6:20am - Between September 1, 2020 and July 11, 2021, 117 returnees in MIQ facilities were caught attempting escape or venturing into out of bounds areas.

A list obtained under the Official Information Act by RNZ shows the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment recorded 'absconding, attempted absconding or unauthorised access' incidents roughly once every three days, across 30 different MIQ hotels.

The Crowne Plaza in Auckland had the highest number of incidents, with 13 in total including four in an 11 days period in October 2020.

Second highest on the list was Distinction Hamilton, where there were nine incidents recorded.

Read the full story here.

6am - The AM Show is on now. 

National leader Judith Collins is on at 6:25am to answer questions about New Zealand's COVID-19 strategy and vaccinations. 

Then at 7:10am, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins will provide a COVID-19 update.

And at 8:10am, Newshub Digital managing editor Mark Longley is on to talk about his experience getting COVID-19 and the five-day delay he experienced in getting his test result back.

You can watch the show here at or on Three or listen on Magic Talk.

5:50am - A Northland tyre company says a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 visited its Kamo premises.

In a Facebook post on Monday evening, Steve Taylor Tyre Service Ltd said the shop has closed for a deep cleaning and to test all its personnel.

"Please be advised that one of the Auckland transport trucks, used by Steve Taylor Tyre Service Ltd, has reported an employee testing positive for COVID-19. The employee was on site at our Kamo premises last Saturday, 9th October," the post says.

"Guidance is being sought from the Ministry of Health NZ to determine next steps in relation to reopening and isolation requirements."