Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Friday, November 12

There are currently no plans to put Taranaki into lockdown after six cases were detected there on Thursday, Grant Robertson says.

The Ministry of Health announced the cases late on Thursday night, reporting one as having been admitted to Taranaki Base hospital. All six are clearly linked and there is also a link to the Auckland outbreak being investigated.

The results likely explain why wastewater samples from the town have been coming back positive over the last week.

What you need to know:

  • There were 201 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday - 181 in Auckland, 15 in Waikato four in Northland and one in Taranaki. The other five Taranaki cases will be recorded on Saturday
  • Eighty-five people are in hospital, 11 of whom are in the ICU or HDU.
  • Ninety percent of New Zealanders aged over 12 years have now had their first dose and 80 percent are fully vaccinated. 
  • The top of Northland moved to alert level 2 on Thursday night
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest here.

These live updates are now closed.

6:10pm - The daughter of a man who was COVID positive and died at home say the system "failed" their family and "needs to change" to ensure no one else goes through what her father endured. 

She says her father was coughing up blood, had pain in his feet and hands and called Healthline - but was told it was "just normal covid symptoms" 

His feet were burning, his hands were burning, he was coughing and he had said I think I'm coughing up blood and he had a lot of lethargy," she said.

"He was really tired. The last four or five days, he was just in bed."

Read Michael Morrah's full story here

5:27pm - An unvaccinated mother in the UK says she doesn't regret refusing the COVID-19 jab - even after her premature baby died with the virus. 

Katie Leeming caught the virus in October and while she initially felt fine, she grew concerned after her baby stopped moving. 

The 22-year-old went to hospital, where doctors decided she had to deliver early because the baby had an issue with its heart rate. Her baby was born 14 weeks' premature and weighed just 2lb 30oz. The baby tested positive when she was born and was moved to a neonatal unit.

Sadly, the baby's heart rate and oxygen levels declined and the family decided to switch off her life support. 

4:47pm - Schools in New Zealand will be able to call the police if unvaccinated teachers or staff turn up for work, the NZ Herald is reporting

A notice in the Ministry of Education gazette said if unvaccinated staff members show up for work at school it is an offence. 

"The staff member will be committing an infringement offence if they have not had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and are onsite 15 November. This means they may be liable for a fine.

"If staff do turn up on site after this date, we encourage school leaders to deal with this in the usual manner you would if other inappropriate people were to turn up on site."

4:27pm - Auckland businessman Murray Bolton says he has been "inundated" with requests for assistance from desperate, double-vaccinated and COVID-negative Kiwis trying to get through New Zealand’s broken MIQ system after his own successful court challenge, but that MBIE remains obstructive and “refuses to face reality”.  

"My lawyers have been absolutely inundated with requests for assistance from people from all walks of life, both trapped in New Zealand and overseas,” Mr Bolton said. “A number of people clearly have grounds for self-isolating on their return which fit with the purposes of the government’s health orders and the law as outlined by the High Court in its decision on my judicial review. But they are still facing an obstinate bureaucracy that refuses to acknowledge the law or the reality of the virus in New Zealand."

"The stories are heart breaking. There are so many accounts of personal loss brought about by this broken system, the furthest thing you would ever expect to see from the kind of society we like to think New Zealand is." 

Bolton recently won the right to isolate at home following a business trip to the US. 

Murray Bolton
Murray Bolton Photo credit: Getty Images

4:00pm - Dr McElnay on Friday also urged people not to dither if they felt like they were getting sicker.

"This is a serious virus and none of us can afford to underestimate it. If you or your loved ones are being cared for in the community and you feel that your or their conditions is deteriorating, please don't leave it to chance that you'll improve. Please reach out as soon as possible or ask someone to do so on your behalf."

She said cost should be  no concern - not only is hospital care free, but so are ambulance trips for confirmed COVID-19 cases. St John for example, a charity, normally charges close to $100 per trip. 

"Our hospitals are ready to help, and have the best infection prevention and control measures in place to keep you and your loved ones safe… 

"People have died this week and this is tragic for their friends and family. This is a very real reminder that the more people that get COVID-19, sadly the more deaths we are likely to see. It is a sad reminder that COVID is potentially fatal, and this is particularly true if you're unvaccinated."  

3:37pm - Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay has pushed back against claims understaffing at Auckland hospitals is limiting the number of COVID-19 patients who can be cared for. 

On Friday, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) raised concerns about staffing levels at hospitals in the Auckland Metro DHBs, saying it's putting patient care at risk.

There are more than 1700 hospital beds across Auckland and more than 100 ICU beds. But NZNO Lead Organiser Christina Couling said while there might be enough beds, there aren't enough nurses. 

"The strain on Auckland health care workers right now is enormous. Each of the three Auckland DHBs has 300-400 nursing vacancies at present and, on top of this, members say a lot of staff are taking sick leave which puts even more pressure on those remaining at work.

"Auckland hospitals may be at less than 100 percent bed capacity, but in many cases there are not enough staff to provide the care required for patients who are seriously unwell with quite complex needs."

When asked about the NZNO claims, Dr McElnay said Auckland DHBs have assured her they can manage the cases. 

"I base my statements on the conversations that we have had with the District Health Boards and the chief executives there and the senior managers there, and that's what they have been telling us: with the numbers that we are seeing, and what we project in the near-term, we do have the capacity." 

3:00pm - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described New Zealand's zero-COVID strategy as "very strict" during a Q&A with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for APEC. 

Merkel appeared alongside Ardern virtually on Friday for the Q&A hosted by Microsoft president Brad Smith, who asked the two "great leaders" what their biggest challenges were in responding to COVID-19. 

Read the full story here

2:37pm - Today's cases, the second-highest total we have seen, pushed the number of infected people in this outbreak over the 5000 mark. A total of 5196 people have been infected in this Delta outbreak, 4,961 of them in Auckland.

2:30pm - There are six new locations of interest as of 2pm:

Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Friday, November 12

2:00pm - In some good news for the nation's children, Grant Robertson said Santa's annual trip delivering presents around the world won't be affected by COVID-19. 

One would hope Santa is fully vaccinated by now.

1:52pm - Dr McElnay said there is enough capacity in ICU for the current number of COVID-19 patients. Hospital ICUs were currently at 70 percent. 

Robertson added they are confident about the capacity in ICU. 

Robertson also said of the 81 patients currently in hospital, 51 were not vaccinated. 

1:47pm - Dr McElnay says Medsafe has received an application from Pfizer to approve the vaccine for 5-11-year-olds. 

She didn't have a timeline on when that might be approved, but they would be doing it under urgency. 

Robertson said there were several steps required including Cabinet approval.

1:37pm - Robertson reaffirmed the Government has made a commitment to allow Aucklanders to leave the city over Christmas, but they need a system to be able to do that. 

"We need a system that can support and back that up." He said that might be the entire country going into the traffic light system. 

1:30pm - The Ministry of Health has made a plea for people to reach out if they need medical help:

"We are very aware of the grief and hurt being experienced by whānau who have recently lost loved ones to COVID-19.

"If you or your loved ones are being cared for in the community and you feel your – or their – condition is deteriorating, please don’t leave it to chance that you’ll improve. Please reach out as soon as possible, or ask someone to do so on your behalf. This is the advice given to everyone who is being cared for in the community.

"Hospital care is free and ambulance services are free for those with COVID-19. Our hospitals are ready to help and have robust Infection, Prevention and Control measures in place to keep people safe.

"People have died this week and that is tragic for their friends and family. This is a very real reminder that the more people who get COVID-19, the more deaths we are likely to see. It is also a sad reminder that COVID-19 is potentially fatal, and this is particularly true if you’re unvaccinated."




1:25pm - Police have released their latest compliance update: 

Since Alert Level 3 came into place, 63 people have been charged with 72 offences in Tāmaki Makaurau, Northland, and parts of the Waikato, as at 5pm yesterday (Thursday 11 November 2021).

Of these, 53 were for Failing to Comply with Order (COVID-19), 11 were for Failure to Comply with Direction/Prohibition/Restriction, two were for Assaults/Threatens/Hinders/Obstructs Enforcement Officer, two were for Failing to Stop (COVID-19 related) and four were for Health Act breaches.

In the same time period, 48 people were formally warned.

Police have received 7,511 105-online breach notifications relating to businesses, mass gatherings or people in Tāmaki Makaurau, Northland, and parts of the Waikato.

Alert Level 2 compliance update:

Sixty four people have been charged with 69 offences in Alert Level 2, as at 5pm yesterday (Thursday 11 November 2021).

Of these, 61 are for Failing to Comply with Order (COVID-19), four for Failure to Comply with Direction/Prohibition/Restriction, three for Failing to Stop (COVID-19 related), and one is for Assaults/Threatens/Hinders/Obstructs Enforcement Officer.

In the same time period, 26 people have been warned – 14 for Failure to Comply with Direction/Prohibition/Restriction and 12 for Failing to Comply with Order (COVID-19).

One person has received a youth referral for Failing to Comply with Order (COVID-19).

To date, Police have received 3,129 105-online breach notifications relating to businesses, mass gatherings or people in Alert Level 2.

Checkpoint figures:

As of 11.59pm yesterday, 1,291,102 vehicles have now been stopped at the checkpoints on Auckland’s northern and southern boundaries, with 13,528 vehicles having been turned around.

28,963 vehicles were processed at the checkpoints yesterday with 174 of those vehicles being turned around.

A total of 38 out of 5942 vehicles were turned away at the northern checkpoints yesterday, while 136 vehicles out of 23,021 were turned around at the southern checkpoints.

As at 11.59pm last night, 86,336 heavy vehicles have been stopped and 1795 of them have been turned around attempting to leave Tāmaki Makaurau, with 23 of those turned around yesterday.

It’s important to remember that travel across an alert level boundary remains restricted and you will be turned away if you don’t have the required evidence for permitted travel, as outlined on the COVID-19 website.

1:20pm - Grant Robertson says more than 700,000 people have signed up to MyCOVIDRecord, which is where vaccine certificates will be found. Those who haven't signed up, should join, he says.

Robertson says one of the six Taranaki cases was vaccinated. A member of the family visited Auckland to pick up another member of the family and bring them to Taranaki, he says. He is unsure why they were reluctant to get tested, but they were asked to get tested over the last week and declined. However, as a member became more unwell, that "resistance dropped away".

At this time, the advice is not to put Taranaki into lockdown, Robertson says. That's because it's known how the virus came to be in Stratford and that it is confined to the household. But more information is being gleaned and the advice could be updated. It's a similar situation to the cases in Christchurch.

1:15pm - Here are the figures from the Ministry of Health:

COVID-19 vaccine update  
Total first and second vaccines administered to date (percentage of eligible people) 7,146,396: 3,779,577 first doses (90%); 3,366,819 second doses (80%)
Total first and second vaccines administered yesterday 22,794: 6,285 first doses; 16,509 second doses
Māori (percentage of eligible people) 432,062 first doses (76%); 338,442 second doses (59%)
Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people) 250,660 first doses (87%); 213,175 second doses (74%)
Total first and second vaccines administered to Auckland residents yesterday 5,512: 1,511 first doses; 4,001 second doses
Vaccination rates by DHB (with active cases)  
Northland DHB (percentage of eligible people 132,038 first doses (82%); 113,280 second doses (70%)
Auckland metro DHBs (percentage of eligible people 1,325,139 first doses (92%); 1,212,985 second doses (85%)
Waikato DHB (percentage of eligible people 316,077 first doses (88%); 276,942 second doses (78%)
Taranaki DHB (percentage of eligible people) 88,103 first doses (86%); 74,783 second doses (73%)
Canterbury DHB (percentage of eligible people 449,487 first doses (93%); 389,458 second doses (81%)
Cases in hospital 85 (including 3 still being assessed): North Shore (19); Middlemore (28); Auckland (35); Waitakere (2); Taranaki Base Hospital (1)
Average age of current hospitalisations 53
Cases in ICU or HDU Eleven
Number of new community cases 201
Number of new cases identified at the border One
Location of new community cases Auckland (181), Waikato (15), Northland (4) *Taranaki (1)
Location of community cases (total) Auckland 4,916 (1,837 of whom have recovered); Waikato 218 (81 of whom have recovered); Wellington 17 (all of whom have recovered); Northland 39 (9 of whom have recovered); Nelson/Marlborough 1 (recovered); Canterbury 4 (1 of whom has recovered); Taranaki 1
Number of community cases (total) 5,196 (in current community outbreak)
Confirmed cases (total) 7,945
Historical cases 191 out of 6,132 cases since 1 January
Cases infectious in the community** 44 of 176 cases reported yesterday have exposure events
Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infectious** 132 of 176 cases reported yesterday have no exposure events
Cases epidemiologically linked 92 of today’s 201 cases
Cases to be epidemiologically linked 109 of today’s 201 cases
Cases epidemiologically linked (total) 4,089 (in the current cluster) (755 unlinked from the past 14 days)
Number of active contacts being managed (total): 4,832
Percentage who have received an outbound call from contact tracers (to confirm testing and isolation requirements) 76%
Percentage who have returned at least one result 71%
Locations of interest  
Locations of interest (total) 122 (as at 10am 12 November)
Number of tests (total) 4,400,869
Number of tests total (last 24 hours) 30,653
Tests processed in Auckland (last 24 hours) 11,683
Tests rolling average (last 7 days) 25,323
Testing centres in Auckland 18
Wastewater detections See below
NZ COVID Tracer  
Registered users (total) 3,359,029
Poster scans (total) 496,984,661
Manual diary entries (total) 19,971,987
Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday 2,664,440

1:10pm - Regarding the resthome in Avondale, an additional resident has tested positive on top of the two cases already there. The new case has been admitted to Auckland City Hospital, Dr McElnay says.

One of the six Stratford cases remains in hospital, with the other five isolating at home. These cases are linked to the Auckland outbreak. Five locations of interest and five close contacts have been identified. These cases likely explain the positive wastewater in the town over the last week.

There are 15 new cases in Waikato, with four linked to previous cases. The remainder are being investigated, Dr McElnay says. The cases were identified in Hamilton and Otorohanga.

COVID was detected in wastewater in Taupo on November 8. An additional sample was taken on Wednesday and the results are pending. 

Three of the four new Northland cases are close contacts of previous cases. 

1:05pm - Dr McElnay tells reporters there are 201 new cases in the community. Of these, 181 are in Auckland, 15 in Waikato, four in Northland and one in Taranaki. The five other Taranaki cases will be reported on Saturday.

She says anyone isolating at home should reach out for medical help if they need it and should not leave it to chance that they will recover. It comes after a number of deaths amongst those isolating at home over the last week.

There are 85 people in hospital with COVID-19, with 11 in ICU or HDU. The health system can cope with these and forecasted numbers of hospitalisations, Dr McElnay says. There are more than 1700 hospital beds across Auckland and more than 100 ICU beds. Overall hospital occupancy is at 86 percent and ICU occupancy is 70 percent and ventilator occupancy is around 15 percent.

Two actions to limit the load on hospitals - get vaccinated and continue to abide by alert level restrictions, Dr McElnay says. Anyone needing care should seek it and not delay.

She says there are almost 3000 peole isolating at home, including 1382 cases across 929 households 

12:50pm - The press conference will start at 1pm. The livestream should begin in the video above soon. 

12:35pm - As we get ready for the latest case update, here's a reminder of the figures from Thursday: 

Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Friday, November 12

12:15pm - There's several new locations of interest, with a number found in Stratford:

  • Unichem Mackays Pharmacy Stratford - Tuesday, November 9 between 11:45am and 12:15pm / Wednesday, 10 November between 9:45am and 10:45am / Thursday, November 11 between 9:15am and 9:45am
  • New World Stratford - Thursday, November 4 bteween 9:45am and 10:30am

There's also a location of interest in Hawera in Taranaki:

  • Bunnings Warehouse Hawera - Tuesday, November 9 between 9:30am and 10:30am

Find the full list here.

11:55am - The most common pre-existing condition in Kiwis who've died whilst infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 to date is cardiovascular disease, data released by the Ministry of Health on Friday shows.

Earlier this week Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the ministry would now separate deaths determined to be the result of COVID-19 from those where the person was infected with the virus, but the exact cause of death is to be established. 

"The clinical criteria will continue to be guided by WHO definition which is basically to report any death where the person had an acute COVID-19 infection regardless of what the cause of death might be," Dr Bloomfield explained on Wednesday. 

The change came a day before it was confirmed a man shot and killed last week tested positive for the virus after his death - which is being counted, for now, in the official COVID-19 figures while police investigate.

Find the data here

11:40am - Just a reminder that deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and the Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay will hold a press conference at 1pm with the latest COVID update. You can watch that above or on Three.

11:10am - National's Judith Collins says the Government "is just making things up as it goes", noting revelations on Friday morning from Newsroom that the Prime Minister is considering moving the entire country into the traffic light system at the end of November, when Auckland is meant to move there. 

Collins says this "begs the question as to why the 90 per cent target for every DHB was launched only two weeks ago". 

"Was it just a play for time to get something as simple as vaccine certificates ready?

"It appears the DHB target was needed to simply hide the fact that New Zealand couldn’t move to the traffic light system when it was announced because the Government needed to buy an extra month to get vaccine certificates and legislation ready. Instead, we have this weird charade of the Government setting a target and then just a few weeks later walking it back."

"Either that, or the Prime Minister has belatedly realised what most people knew already – that it will be extremely difficult for every DHB to get to 90 per cent, and those who have done the right thing and gotten vaccinated don’t want to held back by the few who won’t."

10:55am - A senior Labour MP has blamed COVID-19 for the party's recent drop in the polls, but expects it to "bounce back" once the alert level restrictions are lifted. 

Two polls in the past fortnight had Labour down significantly - Talbot Mills (formerly UMR) putting them on 41, down 5 percent and their lowest score since before COVID-19 emerged; while Curia had Labour on 39, down 6 percent. 

"I think everyone's over COVID," Labour MP David Parker told The AM Show on Friday.

"They know that we're in a transition from border protection to vaccine protection, caused by Delta, but it's hard. I think that's essentially what's behind it. I think things will bounce back a bit once we're through this stage of this transition from border protection to vaccine protection. It's going well." 

Read more here.

10:35am - Rural doctors are concerned a potential wave of COVID-19 infections will overwhelm isolated health clinics, who don't have the resourcing, staff or support from district health boards (DHBs) required to handle it effectively. 

Experts at the University of Otago interviewed 17 senior rural doctors on how they've handled COVID-19 to date, and problems that might arise should the virus arrive in their communities. 

While there was relief there hadn't been a widespread outbreak to stress the system, as there have been in other countries where rural death rates are higher than in the cities, they fear what's to come. 

"It was common to feel both forgotten by the DHB and at the same time overwhelmed by masses of often contradictory information that was not always relevant to their situation," the New Zealand Medical Journal, which published the research on Friday, said in a statement.

Read more here.

10:15am - There is one new location of interest:

  • Kmart Te Rapa, Hamilton - Wednesday, November 3 between 3:15pm and 5pm

10am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is considering moving all of New Zealand into the new 'traffic light' framework with Auckland to help drive up COVID-19 vaccination rates. 

The Government announced the new traffic light system to replace the alert levels last month. It would come into force once 90 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated across each DHB, but Auckland could shift sooner given its high rates. 

While that's great for Auckland given its months of lockdown, Ardern has acknowledged in an interview with Newsroom's Jo Moir that there is little incentive for people in alert level 2 to get vaccinated, because there are fewer freedoms for them under the traffic light system. 

In alert level 2 Wellington, for example, unvaccinated people are free to enter any premises they choose. But when Wellington enters the traffic light system, suddenly people will be forced to prove they've been vaccinated to enter gyms, gigs, and more.  

Ardern told Newsroom shifting all of New Zealand into the new traffic light framework when Auckland does "could play a role in helping us drive rates up".

Read more here

9:50am - The Freedom and Rights Coalition continues to threaten a "Great Gridlock" on Saturday if the Government doesn't drop all vaccine mandates, scrap the traffic light system, move the country to level 1 and remove the Auckland border.

The group, founded by Destiny Church's Brian Tamaki and behind recent anti-lockdown protests, says it is giving the Prime Minister until 2pm to make the changes or it will cause "chaos" with "rolling gridlocks" across the nation over multiple days.

"This chaos on key arterial routes in our cities and towns will be reflective of the social chaos we are currently suffering under across this nation, at the hands of this Labour government. This present government is taking us in the wrong direction."

9:35am - About 2600 people will be eligible to exit their managed isolation hotel on Sunday when stays for international arrivals are shortened to seven days, followed by three days isolation at home.

Returnees are wrapping their heads around the logistics and guidelines for the two-part isolation - which epidemiologist Michael Baker thinks is redundant in Auckland.

Compared to a normal day in MIQ, officials estimate there will be eight times the normal number of departures on Sunday.

Read more here.

9:10am - From Sweden all but giving up on testing to Ukraine looking at extending vaccine mandates, here's all the COVID-19 developments from around the world overnight.

8:55am - The top of Northland has moved back to alert level 2. Cabinet approved the shift on Monday and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had this to say at the time about the decision: 

"We’ve seen very high testing rates in the Far North, tripling in the last seven days, and 10 to 15 percent of the population has been tested. We do have additional cases today, but the view and advice of the director-general is that these could be managed through ongoing contact tracing and testing."

There were eight cases in Northland on Thursday. The region is sitting at 82 percent first dose and 70 percent second dose.

8:40am - Six people in the small community of Stratford have tested positive for COVID-19 after a person from Auckland visited the Taranaki town, the local Mayor has confirmed.

Speaking to The AM Show on Friday morning, Stratford District Mayor Neil Volzke said that link has now been confirmed.

"We've managed to find the source - it's a person who visited the area from Auckland. We're a bit lucky in the sense that we've got onto this fairly quickly and hopefully we can contain it within a fairly small number of people," he told The AM Show.

"It's certainly a concern."

Read more here

8:25am - Speaking to RNZ, Taranaki DHB medical officer of health Dr Jonathan Jarman says 2284 tests have been conducted since last Friday and "we finally found them". He says the family who have tested positive in Stratford were "very reluctant to get tested".

In the end, Dr Jarman says, the family realised they were potentially facing a "serious illness", with one member saying it was "the sickest they have ever been".

"I think then the penny dropped and they agreed to testing," he says.

Two of the family members had been in Auckland at the end of October. Three are adults and three are children, who haven't been to school during their infectious period.

"They are a group of people who have kept to themselves. We are doing the contact tracing at the moment. They haven't been using the contact tracing app."

There will be one or two locations of interest in Stratford released later on Friday, but Dr Jarman says "all of Stratford should consider itself as a location of interest". Anyone with symptoms should get tested.

He can't say if the family members were vaccinated.

Dr Jarman says there are likely to be more cases so people should be getting vaccinated.

8:05am - There are two pop-up testing stations in Stratford on Friday, as well as testing at the local medical centre. 

There is one at the War Memorial car park from 10am to 2pm, and a second on Broadway opposite the clock tower from 11am to 3pm.

7:45am - Austria is days away from placing millions of people not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 on lockdown, as daily infections are at a record high and intensive-care units are increasingly strained, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said on Thursday.

Around 65 percent of Austria's population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, national statistics show. Austria has the lowest vaccination rate of any Western European country apart from tiny Liechtenstein, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data.

Many Austrians are sceptical about vaccinations, a view encouraged by the far-right Freedom Party, the third-biggest in Parliament.

Read more here.

7:30am - Labour's David Parker says his party's drop in two recent political polls can be put down to people being "over COVID". He expects Labour to bounce back "once we are through this stage of this transition from border protection to vaccine protection, which is going well".

He says some people say the Government's response is too fast, while others believe it is going too slow. He notes New Zealand has the lowest death rate in the OECD and this week has seen retail open up in Auckland.

National's Simon Bridges says the result is "partly COVID", but it "is what is underneath COVID". He says people believe the Government "talks a big game", but "the delivery just isn't there". 

7:15am - Speaking to The AM Show, Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke says the six cases are a "concern". While the community was expecting a case, it's the high number that is surprising. He says the cases are all from one family.

"There is a degree of containment there."

The "source" is a person who "visited the area from Auckland", Volzke says. He is unsure why they were visiting Stratford. They tested negative before visiting the town, but tested positive upon return to Auckland.

There will be work on understanding any locations of interest on Friday morning, the mayor says.

If people have any symptoms, they should get tested, he says.

7:05am - The Taranaki DHB is reminding residents the local hospitals are still operating with alert level 2 protocols. 

"We know some people may be feeling unsure about attending their hospital or healthcare appointments following the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Stratford, but everything remains open and it's business as usual so please attend unless you hear directly from us.

"The visitor policy at Taranaki Base and Hāwera hospitals is still the same at Alert Level 2 - one designated visitor per patient, one support person for people attending hospital appointments and no children under 12 years except by prior arrangement.

"At Alert Level 2 support people are not permitted to accompany ultrasound patients into the scan rooms, but are welcome to sit in the waiting room until completion.

"We will consider exceptions so please contact the clinical nurse manager of the department or ward in question. We still need to minimise visitors into our hospitals and keep 2 metre distancing. Please help keep everyone safe by wearing a face covering if you're coming into our hospitals."

6:55am - The Auckland City Mission - Te Tāpui Atawhai says it is "worried about not meeting demand at Christmas" due to the growing need for support "created by COVID restrictions".

Staff are concerned up to 9000 food boxes and tens of thousands of presents won't be able to be supplied to families who may otherwise go without. 

"Their concerns come as they continue to meet demand for food parcels which has more than quadrupled since before COVID-19 reached Aotearoa's shores."

The Mission is now giving out 1600 parcels a week, up from an average of 450 a week in pre-COVID times. Between August 18 and November 5, 20,779 parcels have been distributed, feeding more than 82,000 people. 

Missioner Helen Robison expects increased need over summer after months of lockdown.

"We are currently supporting more people and families than we ever have before.  We know that will translate to more families than ever before relying on us to provide some joy this Christmas," she says.

"Not only are more people struggling, but the lockdown means that people who usually collect food and gifts to help haven't been able to do that.  We will find a way but are once again asking generous Aucklanders to help us, help those families in the city who would otherwise go without - because everybody deserves a Christmas Day."

Last year the Mission gave out 30,000 gifts and 9,000 Christmas food parcels to Aucklanders who would otherwise have gone without. 

You can find more information on how you can help the Mission support people who need it most, here.

6:45am - Here's the latest DHB by DHB vaccination rate breakdown, including doses up until Wednesday night. Note Taranaki's 86 percent first dose and 73 percent second dose.

Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Friday, November 12

6:30am - Hospitals are holding one-on-one interviews with workers holding out on the COVID-19 vaccine to try to persuade them to get it before they lose their job.

From Tuesday, any district health board (DHB) worker who has not had a first vaccine dose will be stood down unless they have had an exemption.

But the vaccine mandate goes much further than the 80,000 employees, covering all contractors and volunteers, making it a huge logistical job for DHBs.

That included tens of thousands of people contracted to make hospital meals, provide linen, drive patients or build negative pressure rooms.

Read more here.

6:15am - Amongst all ethnicities, Taranaki has a first dose vaccination rate of 86 percent, with 4010 more people needing to get their first jab to hit 90 percent. On second doses, the region sits at 73 percent. 

Looking in more detail, the Stratford North area is 84 percent first dose and 72.4 percent second dose, Stratford Central is 82.5 / 70.3, and Stratford South is 82.1 / 68.8. 

6am - Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke spoke to Newshub late on Thursday after learning of the new cases in his community. 

"I am a little shocked to be honest. To have six cases in one go is pretty incredible. I am sure that will be a real concern to everyone in our community," he said.

"On the other side of it, there is an element of relief because we have now managed to find the source of the COVID we have had in our wastewater for the last week or so."

Volzke said the cases are closely linked and a link to Auckland has been identified. Newshub understands the cases are members of the same family. 

The mayor said COVID was always likely to get to the town, but the large number of cases in one day was surprising. 

"I think the view is that it is inevitable. It is a matter of when rather than if. So I don't think that will be a surprise, but the number will be. [I am] very concerned. That is a substantial number of people in a small community… to find that we have six cases in one hit is pretty devastating."

He understands that the family members have been staying at home since becoming unwell. 

"Those people who have been infected hopefully haven't been out and about to the extent you'd normally imagine people do."

His message to the community is to "stay calm" and get tested and vaccinated.

5:45am - Kia ora, good morning, and welcome to Newshub's live updates for Friday.

After a series of wastewater detections over the last week, six cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the small Taranaki town of Stratford.

In case you missed it, here's the Ministry of Health's Thursday night statement confirming the results: 

The Ministry of Health is reporting six people with COVID-19 in the Taranaki town of Stratford, including one in hospital.

All six cases are clearly linked and there is also a link to the Auckland outbreak which is being further investigated.

All were tested today and returned positive results this evening.

One person was admitted to Taranaki Base hospital this evening for COVID-19 related reasons.

Interviews are underway this evening and contact tracing will be underway tomorrow.

The affected people are currently isolating at home.

Today’s results are likely to explain the recent wastewater detections in the town – the most recent was reported Tuesday 9 November.  Any locations of interest will be publicised once determined.

Anyone in Stratford, or any recent visitors to the town with COVID-19 related symptoms, no matter how mild, should get tested.

Testing details for tomorrow and the weekend:

  • Stratford pop-up clinic at the War Memorial car park Fri-Sun from 10-2pm daily.
  • Taranaki Base Hospital Fri 9am-3pm, Sat 10-3, Sun 10-3 (hours can be extended if needed)
  • Hawera Hospital, Fri-Sun 10am-1pm

The vaccine hubs are open in New Plymouth and Hāwera on Saturday and Sunday and there are several pop-up clinics in the community.

Taranaki DHB will be advising on testing and vaccination centres that will be available in Stratford tomorrow.

For a full list please visit  TDHB - COVID-19 vaccine.