Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Friday, November 26

The Government is investing $1 billion in a new testing and contact tracing strategy to support New Zealand's transition to the COVID-19 Protection Framework, but there are concerns about the efficacy of rapid antigen tests.

On Thursday, the Government announced a new billion-dollar package focused on supporting cases of COVID-19 in the community as New Zealand learns to live alongside the virus. The package includes increased support for people completing home isolation, $300 million in Pharmac funding to purchase new medicines that can treat COVID-19, and a focus on broadening the availability of testing alternatives. Rapid antigen tests will be available for the public to purchase at pharmacies from December 15, and businesses will be able to source the tests from December 1 to use in their workplaces. 

But a Kiwi study has found rapid antigen tests are nowhere near as accurate as traditional RT-PCR tests when it comes to detecting the virus, missing almost 50 percent of positive cases.

There were 178 new cases of COVID-19 to report on Thursday and one additional death - a patient in their 50s - bringing the death toll to 42.

What you need to know

  • There were 173 new cases of COVID-19 to report on Friday - 154 in Auckland, 15 in Waikato, two in Northland, two in Bay of Plenty, one in Lakes and one in Canterbury.
  • Seventy-eight people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care or high dependency units.
  • Auckland's border will open on December 15, allowing fully vaccinated Kiwis to travel to and from the region - people can also present a negative test received within 72 hours prior to departure.
  • All of New Zealand will move to the traffic light system on December 2 at 11:59pm.
  • Workers covered by the My Vaccine Pass mandate - staff working at businesses that are required to use vaccine certificates to operate - must have their first jab by Dec 3 and be fully vaccinated by Jan 17.
  • New Zealand's international borders will begin to reopen from January - from January 17 fully vaccinated Kiwis can return home from Australia without MIQ.
  • The Government is investing more than $1b in testing, tracing, investigation and support for cases in the community, with a $300m boost to Pharmac to buy new medicines to treat COVID-19 and wider use and availability of rapid antigen testing in December.
  • Participating pharmacies will be assisting with the rollout of My Vaccine Passes for people who prefer face-to-face help as the call centres are overwhelmed with demand.
  • Vaccination will be made mandatory for the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Defence Force.
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest here.

4:49pm - New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing has issued guidelines for jockeys, owners and racing fans for the summer season. 

The  My Vaccine Pass will be essential for anyone wanting to get on course as racing clubs move to operate race and trial meetings as events under the COVID Protection Framework.

There will still be some restrictions though, and we ask those attending race meetings to be mindful of these. They include, but are not restricted to:

Clubs will limit entry points to the course to allow security staff to check all those

entering have the My Vaccine Pass;

Under ‘Red’ mask wearing indoors is required (when not seating and


People are also asked not to attend, or run the risk of being turned away, if they

have cold or flu symptoms.

4:37pm - Mataura Licensing Trust staff who try and enforce COVID-19 regulations such as mask wearing are being sworn at and called Nazis Stuff is reporting.

The trust runs hotels and bottle shops in the Gore district and the unacceptable behaviour of some customers is making staff quit. 

“People just need to lay off, just lay right off. We have staff being called Nazi’s because they’re asking people to wear masks, and that is completely unreasonable," Trust president Horace McAuley told Stuff. 

“The abuse is the most difficult part of all of this for us to manage, and people are leaving hospitality simply because of that, and we’re not going to tolerate it.’’

4:17pm - There are new locations of interest in Rotorua including a supermarket. Click here for the full list

3:52pm - A post on the Official Rythm and Vines Instagram page has annoyed some concert-goers who are waiting for more information on the festival. 

"Our team is getting ready to deliver the best show on earth and are on the lookout for volunteers. We have some spots for those looking for experience, or just want to earn a ticket for a little bit of work," the post said. 

Users posted in the messages they would prefer news about the lineup instead. 

"A post about what’s happening would be nicer" said one comment. 

"Wonder when they will announce if it’s going ahead? Thought it was meant to be last week 🙄" - read another. 

Ticket holders are annoyed they don't even know if the festival will go ahead, let alone who they will see on the stages. 

"I realise they’re waiting to see if we’re at 90% vaccination rate so we can go to Amber, but people need to know so they can sort out accommodation etc. people need a bit of warning not a last minute decision! They haven’t even announced the line up!"

3:27pm - Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says he is not worried about losing police after mandating COVID-19 jabs despite about 14 percent of cops being unvaccinated. 

Both police and Defence Force staff must have had their first dose by January 17 and the second dose by March 1, under new vaccination orders announced by Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood on Friday. 

Robertson told reporters on Friday the Government is not worried about losing cops. 

"Oh, not particularly," he said. 

"As we've seen with the health and education workforces, we've ended up at the 98-99 percent level with those and there do need to be ongoing conversations with those police staff who are affected by this mandate. 

"But I'm confident as we've seen with those other workforces we'll get to similarly high levels with the police."

2:55pm - Newshub can reveal Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield advised the Government that "the rest of New Zealand could move to alert level 1" back in September. 

The Government dropped a number of documents related to the COVID-19 outbreak and their response on Friday, revealing behind-the-scenes advice from the Ministry of Health that informed Cabinet's alert level decisions. 

In a document dated September 12, Dr Bloomfield advised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Cabinet that Auckland could shift to alert level 3 while "the rest of New Zealand could move to alert level 1". 

"I consider that the outbreak in Auckland is becoming contained," Dr Bloomfield wrote in his advice. "Cabinet could agree to move the rest of the country to alert level 1, pending no escalation in Auckland's COVID-19 risk."

The Government did not shift the rest of the country to alert level 1. While it would have been welcome news, the rest of New Zealand was kept at alert level 2. 

The Government did, however, shift Auckland down to alert level 3. 

"Evidence suggests that the outbreak within Auckland is becoming contained to clearly identifiable communities but there remains a risk of undetected cases," Dr Bloomfield wrote in his advice. 

He recommended Auckland move to alert level 3 on September 16. The Government didn't move Auckland into alert level 3 until September 21. 

Read more here.

2:40pm - Porirua City Council will require all staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from January 17.

Vaccination passes will also be required at all council premises when the traffic light framework comes into force.

"We consulted with staff on whether to make COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for all staff, and the majority of feedback was strongly in favour of this move," chief executive Wendy Walker said.

"People told us they wanted to feel safe at work, and to protect family members who can't be vaccinated, like children and the immune-compromised. They also told us that they want to role model safe practices for the community we serve.

"We know these are challenging and unsettling times and our goal is to work through any issues and retain our staff in a safe workplace."

2:25pm - A school in East Auckland is remaining open despite a student testing positive for COVID-19.

It's understood the risk of transmission is considered to be low.

Farm Cove Intermediate School in Pakuranga sent an email to parents and caregivers on Friday to announce that a student had been infectious at school on Monday, according to the New Zealand Herald.

The email said students and staff who had been in close contact with the case have been given public health advice.

Those with symptoms are advised to get tested and stay off-site, the email said. Anyone without symptoms is still able to attend.

2:15pm - It's the last weekend to get fully vaccinated in time for Christmas, with more than 20 festive events happening across the city.

"With just 29 days to go, this is the last weekend for people to ensure they can be fully vaccinated for Christmas, so Tāmaki Makaurau is once again turning it on with vaccination events right across the city," a spokesperson for the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) said on Friday.

All community vaccination centres are open for walk-ins for first and second doses, with a large number of festive pop-up events to encourage uptake.

At the 'All I Want for Christmas is My 2 Vaccines' event in Manurewa, the first 200 cars that turn up on Saturday and on Sunday will receive a free Christmas hamper.

There will be live entertainment, free hotdogs and sports gear giveaways over in Ōtara at the Cook Island Sports Collective event on Saturday.

Twenty-five Catholic churches are also coming together for a big pop-up event in Māngere, involving youth groups and 120 volunteers at the Maeola Community Centre.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei will be at a Waka Ama event in Mt Wellington.

NRHCC vaccination programme director Matt Hannant says with the Auckland border opening up on December 15, people will be counting down the days until they can be reunited with whānau for Christmas.

"Let's make this Christmas as safe as possible for our loved ones by getting both doses in time for the festivities. This is the last weekend to ensure that you'll be fully vaccinated before the holiday season.

"If it's been more than three weeks since your first dose, now is the time to get your second, so you can make the most of getting out and about with a vaccine pass from next Friday."

Hannant says there are plenty of opportunities for people to go out and get vaccinated this weekend, with a number of pop-up events happening all over the city. They include:

  • St Mary's Church Campervan and Drive-through - Sun 28 Nov, 8am - 11:30am, 2134 Gt North Road, Avondale

  • Avondale Community Fale - Sun 28 Nov, 12:30pm - 4pm, 59 Rosebank Road, Avondale

  • Glenvon Community Hub - Sat 27th, 12:30pm - 4pm, 340 Blockhouse Bay Road, Avondale

  • Niuean 3rd Event - Sat 27 Nov, 9am - 5pm, LDS Church, 15 Robertson Road Chapel, Māngere

  • Cook Island Sport Collective - Drive-through    - Sat 27 Nov, 9am - 5pm, 244 East Tamaki Road, Ōtara

  • Ian Shaw Park - Waka Ama - Sat 27 Nov  9 am - 4pm, Ian Shaw Park, Panama Road, Mt Wellington

  • LDS Chapel - Lunn Ave - Sat 27 Nov, 9am - 1pm, LDS Lunn Ave Chapel, Mt Wellington

  • Massey Ave Car Park - Sat 27 Nov, 9am - 2pm.

The vaccination buses and campervans will be parked up at the following locations:

  • Papatoetoe New World Campervan - Sat 27 Nov, 11am - 1pm, 65 Saint George Street, Papatoetoe

  • All I want for Christmas is my 2 Vaccines (Bus) - Drive-through - Sat 27: 9am - 6pm, Sun 28: 12pm - 8pm, Northcrest Carpark, Manurewa Town Centre      

  • Round 2 - Free Church of Tonga (Bus) - Sat 27 Nov, 8:30-5pm, 47 Favona Rd, Māngere

  • Rosebank Campervan and Drive-through - Sat 27 Nov, 8am-11:30am, 93-123 Riverdale Road, Avondale

  • Avondale Community Gardeners Pop-up (Campervan) - Sat 27 - Sun 28 Nov, 8 am - 4pm

  • Tokaikolo Church - Pop Up – (Campervan) - Sat 27 Nov, 9am - 3pm, 148 Coronation Road, Mangere Bridge

  • Catholic Church Event (Campervan x2) - Sat 27 Nov, 9am - 4:30pm, 16 Waokauri Place, Māngere

  • Al Madinah School and Zayad College Campervan - Sat 27 Nov, 10am-4pm, 8 Westney Road

  • Volante Reserve Campervan - Sat 27 Nov, 1 pm - 3pm, Valante Avenue, Manurewa

  • Oruawharo Marae (Campervan) - Sat 27 - Sun 28 Nov, 9am - 3pm, 2 Oruawharo School Road, Oruawharo

  • Volta Park Bus - Sun 28 Nov, 10am - 2:30pm, Volta Park - Templeton Road, Clendon.

People can also walk in at any community vaccination centres this weekend, or head along to one of the 200-plus GP clinics and 130-plus pharmacies delivering vaccinations across Auckland. Full details of opening hours and sites can be found at

From today, people aged 18 and over who had their second dose at least six months ago can get their booster dose. They can book their appointment online using the Book My Vaccine website or by calling 0800 28 29 26. Boosters will be available at all community vaccination centres, and vaccinating GPs and pharmacies.

Also, people can now pre-book to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is available from Monday, November 29. Here's a link to an interactive map showing the list of vaccination sites across Tāmaki Makaurau that are offering the AstraZeneca vaccine:

2pm - There is one new location of interest as of 2pm - Mobil Te Ngae in Ngapuna, Rotorua.

For the relevant date, times and public health advice, click here.

1:40pm - Here are the regional updates on today's cases from the Ministry of Health:

Today's cases

Today we are announcing new community cases in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes and Canterbury. The case we're reporting in Canterbury today came in after our 9am cut-off and will be officially added to the case numbers on Saturday.

There are no additional cases to report today in Wairarapa, Wellington, Hawke's Bay, MidCentral or Taranaki.

One previously reported community case has been reclassified to a border case - the net increase is 172 cases.

Regional updates

We're asking anyone in the following regions with symptoms – no matter how mild – to please get tested, even if you're vaccinated. Please remain isolated until you return a negative test result. And if you're not vaccinated, your DHB or local health provider will have plenty of opportunities to make this happen.


There is one new case to report in Northland today. The case is a child who is linked to an Auckland case, who has been isolating.

A case in Ruakaka reported on Thursday has now been linked. Anyone living in or near Ruakaka with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 is urged to get a test.

In response to the Ruakaka case, a pop-up testing site is opening this afternoon at the Ruakaka Racecourse.

The pop-up site is open at the following times:

  • 9am until 3pm today
  • 9am until 3pm Saturday
  • 10am until 2pm Sunday
  • 9am until 3pm Monday.

Testing and vaccination sites open in Northland can be found via the Northland DHB.

New locations of interest in Northland continue to be added.


Today, there are 154 new cases to report in Auckland. 

There continues to be daily reviews of testing numbers and locations to ensure good coverage of at-risk areas.        

Health staff are now supporting 4,058 people to isolate at home around Auckland - this includes 1,070 cases. 


There were 15 cases confirmed in Waikato overnight - six in Huntly, four in Hamilton, three in Te Kūiti, and two in Ngāruawāhia.

All cases have been linked to known infections.

There were further locations of interest identified on Thursday across Hamilton, Huntly and Te Kūiti; these have been added to the Ministry of Health's website.

There are seven pop-up and dedicated testing sites operating across the region today in Hamilton, Ōtorohanga, Thames, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia and Te Kūiti. For more information, visit the DHB's website.

In the Waikato, health staff are now supporting 129 cases to isolate at home.

Bay of Plenty

Today we are reporting two new cases today in Bay of Plenty.

One of the cases is based in the Tauranga area and is a close contact of a confirmed case. They are already in isolation.

The second person returned a positive result after receiving a test in Tauranga, and so is being included in the Bay of Plenty case numbers. However, they usually reside in Waikato. The person will be transferred safely back to their home.

The spread of COVID-19 in the Bay of Plenty is another reminder to get tested if you're feeling unwell and get your first dose of the vaccine if you haven't already. Details of testing stations in Bay of Plenty can be found on Healthpoint.


There is one new case to report in Lakes, based in Rotorua. The case is a close contact of a previously reported case and has been in isolation.

There is good testing capacity across the region with dedicated community testing centres in Taupô, and Rotorua. See Healthpoint for locations and opening times. Testing is also available at a number of medical centres and Hauora Mâori health providers.


Today we are reporting one new case in Canterbury, however as the case was reported after the 9am cut-off, it will be officially added to the case tally on Saturday.

This person has been classified as a low risk to public health. They are a household contact of a confirmed case and are already in a managed isolation facility.

Details on where Cantabrians can seek a test are available via Canterbury DHB. People can also check if their GP is offering testing by phone call or via Healthpoint.


COVID-19 was detected in a sample collected from Kaiwaka on November 18. Processing of the sample began on November 22, however, the result was delayed due to a technical issue. Testing is currently in progress for a further sample collected on November 22.

Anyone with symptoms – no matter how mild - is encouraged to get a test. Details of testing locations are available via Northland DHB.

COVID-19 was also detected in a sample collected from Opononi on November 23 - this is believed to be linked to active cases in Hokianga.

1:34pm - Robertson says the emergence of the new variant is a "wake-up call" that the pandemic is far from over. 

He says at this stage, the discovery of the variant will not impact the Government's plans to reopen the international border gradually over the first quarter of 2022.

"If we need to take action, we will," he says, adding that the Government and health officials are keeping a close eye on any developments.

1:23pm - Robertson says if a police officer has not been fully vaccinated by the March 1, 2022 deadline, they will not be able to continue "undertaking the duties of a frontline police officer".

1:17pm - Here are the latest figures from the Ministry of Health:

More than 18,000 vaccine doses administered yesterday; 173 cases; 78 people in hospital - 7 people in ICU

There were 18,092 vaccine doses administered on Thursday, made up of 6,319 first doses and 11,773 second doses. To date, 92 percent of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 85 percent are fully vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health has now issued more than two million My Vaccine Passes. More than half of all vaccinated New Zealanders now have their pass and we wish to thank everyone who has already got theirs for their efforts.

We expect demand for My Vaccine Passes to keep increasing and we realise the importance of improving access to the pass for all New Zealanders.

From today, there is now the option to receive your pass through the post and people will also be able to go to pharmacies to request their pass. Almost 400 pharmacies around the country currently providing COVID-19 vaccinations will now also be able to help people get their vaccine pass. Those 400 pharmacies can be found on the Healthpoint website.

There has been an unprecedented number of people calling the 0800 222 478 number to get their pass, check their NHI number or set up their My COVID Record account. To help meet this demand, the Ministry has also increased our call centre capacity and there are now three call centres all operating extended hours.  

You can request a My Vaccine Pass from the website.

COVID-19 vaccine update


Total first and second vaccines administered to date (percentage of eligible people)

7,423,710: 3,866,728 first doses (92 pct); 3,556,982 second doses (85 pct)

Total first and second vaccines administered yesterday

18,092: 6,319 first doses; 11,773 second doses

Māori (percentage of eligible people)

838,182: 460,283 first doses (81 pct); 377,899 second doses (66 pct)

Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people)

488,001: 258,423 first doses (90 pct); 229,578 second doses (80 pct)

Total first and second vaccines administered to Auckland residents yesterday

4,004: 1,106 first doses; 2,898 second doses

Vaccination rates by DHB (with active cases)


Northland DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (85 pct); second doses (75 pct)

Auckland Metro DHBs (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (94 pct); second doses (88 pct)

Waikato DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (91 pct); second doses (82 pct)

Canterbury DHB (percentage    of eligible people)

First doses (95 pct); second doses (87 pct)

Lakes DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (87 pct); second doses (77 pct)

MidCentral DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (91 pct); second doses (83 pct)

Bay of Plenty DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (89 pct); second doses (79 pct)

Wairarapa DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (92 pct); second doses (82 pct)

Hawke's Bay DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (90 pct); second doses (81 pct)

Capital and Coast DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (95 pct); second doses (89 pct)



Cases in hospital

78. North Shore (19); Middlemore (24); Auckland (32); Waikato (3)

Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region wards only as of 26 November)

Unvaccinated or not eligible (44 cases / 59 pct); partially vaccinated<14 days (8 cases / 11 pct) partially vaccinated >14 days (8 cases / 11  pct); fully vaccinated <14 days (1 case / 1 pct) fully vaccinated >14 days (10 cases / 14 pct); unknown (3 cases / 4 pct)

Average age of current hospitalisations


Cases in ICU or HDU




Seven day rolling average of community cases


Number of new community cases


Number of new cases identified at the border


Location of new community cases *

Auckland (154), Waikato (15), Northland (1), Bay of Plenty (2), Lakes (1),

Location of community cases (total)

Auckland 7,242660 (2,3008 of whom have recovered); Waikato 408 (109 of whom have recovered); Wellington 18 (17 of whom have recovered); Northland 75 (39 of whom have recovered); Nelson/Marlborough 1 (recovered); Canterbury 8 (4 of whom have recovered); Taranaki 6 (all of whom have recovered); Lakes 26; MidCentral 5 (1 has recovered); Bay of Plenty 40; Wairarapa 3

Number of community cases (total)

7,832 (in current community outbreak)

Confirmed cases (total)


Historical cases

199 out of 8,792 cases since 1 January

Cases infectious in the community **

61 cases reported yesterday have exposure events

Cases in isolation throughout  the period they were infectious  **

90 cases reported yesterday have no exposure events

Cases epidemiologically linked

92 of today's new cases

Cases to be epidemiologically linked

81 of today's new cases

Cases epidemiologically linked (total)

5,911660 (8990 unlinked in the last 14 days)



Number of active contacts being managed (total):


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

66 pct

Percentage who have returned at least one result

71 pct

Locations of interest


Locations of interest (total)

180 (as at 10am 26 November)



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

See below 'Wastewater' update



Registered users (total)


Poster scans (total)


Manual diary entries (total)


Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday


** The number of cases here may sometimes differ from the total reported the previous day due to a difference in reporting time-frames and reclassifications.

1:13pm - Robertson has confirmed that the newly identified coronavirus variant spreading in South Africa is currently not in New Zealand, according to ESR.

He says the news of the variant, which is reported to be vaccine-resistant, is a good example of "why we need to be cautious".

He says there is currently "no need" for Kiwis to be alarmed, but said it indicates the pandemic is not yet over and New Zealand's response must continue to be "methodical and cautious".

He says he understands the World Health Organization is meeting overnight for their assessment.

1:09pm - People can now book in for their booster shot, Robertson said. Booster shots are available to Kiwis aged 18 and over who had their second dose of the vaccine more than six months ago.

As of today, people can also book to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, an alternative the Government has adopted for people who are hesitant to receive a mRNA vaccine or cannot medically receive the Pfizer-BioNTech drug.

1:08pm - The eighth round of the wage subsidy opened on Friday morning, Robertson said. The sixth Resurgence Support Payment has also opened for applications. The payments will go out as usual, he said, despite the transition to the COVID-19 Protection Framework next week.

As of 12pm, 13 District Health Boards have now vaccinated more than 90 percent of their eligible populations with a first dose.

1:05pm - More than half of all vaccinated Kiwis have their My Vaccine Pass, Dr McElnay says, with 2 million already issued.

She says this has been a "great effort" over the past week.

The demand is expected to increase. More channels to receive a My Vaccine Pass are becoming available, she says, reiterating the earlier announcement from the Ministry of Health.

1:03pm - Dr Caroline McElnay is providing the latest case updates. 

There are 173 new cases to report on Friday - 154 in Auckland, 15 in Waikato, one in Northland, two in Bay of Plenty and one in Lakes. 

There is also a new case in Canterbury - a known household contact who is already in isolation. They will be included in Saturday's figures.

Seventy-eight people are in hospital.

12:30pm - Here are the latest locations of interest as of 12pm:

  • Pied Piper Ice Cream, Truck Memorial Park, Tauranga
  • Tauranga Hospital, Emergency Department.

For the relevant dates, times and public health advice, click here.

12:20pm - One of the country's leading biomedical scientists has written to the Prime Minister and Director-General of Health urging chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers should be exempt from vaccination.

University of Otago's Emeritus Professor Warren Tate says he is aware of serious reactions triggered by the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in several people who have the condition. He believes some of those with the disease should be given an exemption on medical grounds.

There are an estimated 25,000 people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) in New Zealand. Tate, considered the country's pre-eminent authority on the disease, says the physiology of sufferers is profoundly disrupted and at the core of their disease is a dysfunctional immune system, making inoculation with the vaccine potentially dangerous.Most ME/CFS sufferers develop the illness as a post-viral response.

"The ME/CFS community, a good proportion of them, should be given medical exemptions because it's quite dangerous for them to have vaccinations when they've got a disturbed immune system," Tate told RNZ.

"A number of people got in touch with me and they'd had very serious effects unfortunately from taking the vaccination."

Read more here.

12:10pm - Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will be joined by Public Health Director Dr Caroline McElnay to provide an update on the COVID-19 outbreak at 1pm.

The Government has so far mandated vaccination for about 40 percent of the workforce. The latest Ministry of Health data shows 84 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.

You can watch the press conference above via the livestream at 1pm.

12pm - Bryan Adams has revealed he has contracted COVID-19 for the second time in a month. 

The Canadian singer-songwriter shared the news on social media, saying he was "off to the hospital" after flying into Italy. 

"Here I am, just arrived in Milano, and I've tested positive for the second time in a month for COVID. So it's off to the hospital for me."

Read more here.

11:45am - Economists are warning not to expect an economic bounceback as strong as last year's post-lockdown recovery, with COVID-19 now here to stay.

ASB on Friday released its latest economic forecast, subtitled 'Living la Vida COVID' - predicting inflation to keep rising over the course of 2021, the official cash rate to do the same through 2022, but house price growth to slow to a crawl. 

A record hit to the economy in the second quarter of 2020 was followed by an even greater boost in the third after the virus was eliminated and the country enjoyed the freedoms of alert level 1, with pent-up demand driving 13.9 percent GDP growth.

But this latest lockdown - at least in Auckland - has been longer, and failed to wipe out the more infectious Delta variant. 

"It's just going to take a little bit longer until we overcome this last lockdown," ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley told The AM Show. 

"Last year everything went really well - we came out of it, we went back into level 1, we had a huge amount of support from the Government and low interest rates. 

"We went on a spending and housing binge - we're just not going to see that same kind of momentum this time. We've already got about 15 television sets and three extra houses now."

Read more here.

11:30am - Work to develop comprehensive sector guidance for the COVID-19 Protection Framework, also known as the 'traffic light' system, is entering the final stages ahead of New Zealand's transition to the new framework on December 3, the COVID-19 Group said on Friday.

The COVID-19 Group, a business unit within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), has been leading cross-agency coordination over the past few weeks to make sure detailed, practical guidance, informed by public health advice, is developed for different sectors, and that important changes are consulted on. 

This includes guidance for sectors such as transport, education, sport, and local government. As part of the transition, sectors are working through the information and advice their key audiences and stakeholders need, so the move into the new framework is made easier for everyone.

Following cross-sector engagement and detailed work developing guidance for the framework's 'traffic light' settings - Red, Orange, and Green - updates have been made, including two key updates for the Red setting:

  • There will no longer be a cap of 100 people who can visit a public facility at Red at any one time (this includes zoos, museums, public swimming pools and libraries). Instead, the capacity limit will be based on the number of people who can visit based on 1m physical distancing. 
  • Gathering limits at Red, including outdoor and indoor gatherings, have been increased from 10 people to 25 people where My Vaccine Passes are not used. The limit for gatherings where Vaccine Passes are used is still 100 people.
  • Gatherings include those held at home, weddings, funerals and tangihanga, marae, social sports and places of worship.

Further information about the COVID-19 Protection Framework is available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.  

Guidance for business under the framework is available at

Information for transport operators is available at

As detailed sector guidance is finalised, agencies and organisations will be updating their websites and providing information and advice to their stakeholders.

11:20am - An independent group of experts told the Government in September that the borders should not start to reopen until the rate of vaccination is "well over" 90 percent and the lower coverage among Māori is addressed.

A letter dated September 23 from Sir Brian Roche, the head of the Government's independent continuous improvement group, said bolstering testing and contact tracing was an urgent priority. The correspondance also said the outbreak of the Delta variant had demonstrated hospitals' "very poor level of preparedness".

The letter and accompanying report have been revealed in a dump of official documents by the Government on Friday.

"Timing is critical. We need to move with urgency to ensure we do not expose the country and New Zealanders to unnecessary risk and harm," the report said.

"We are mindful that even the most conservative scenario post-reopening will inevitably involve the virus, in one form or another, making its way into the community for periods of time, or even permanently.

"Such a scenario may have previously been seen as alarmist, but is inevitable, in our view, based on what we observe from the most recent outbreak together with international experience."

Roche's letter, which was addressed to COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, said the outbreak had "exposed urgent issues with respect to New Zealand's preparedness for reconnecting". It also called for more funding to be channeled into boosting uptake among Māori - a month later, the Government announced a $120 million fund for Māori health providers.

"Vaccination coverage will need to be well over 90 percent and it is clear that our New Zealand vaccination programme is failing certain populations, most notably Māori, who are at higher risk of serious disease and death than non-Māori. Addressing such disparities is an urgent priority," Roche wrote.

"The current Delta outbreak has exposed the shortfall in proper engagement of Māori and Pacific providers in the outbreak and overall response while it has also exposed the huge potential of proper engagement even when done at pace."

Tolerance and goodwill for lockdowns and closed borders were being challenged, he warned.

"The current Delta outbreak has, to a significant extent, exposed urgent issues with respect to New Zealand's preparedness for reconnecting. Delta has fundamentally changed the model of preparedness and response and we must adapt accordingly. We do not have a 'do-nothing' option."

Read more here.

10:55am - There is one new location of interest as of 10am - the Kaitaia Town Swimming Pool.

For the relevant date, times and public health advice, click here.

10:45am - The United Kingdom is raising the alarm as a newly identified, possibly vaccine-resistant variant of COVID-19 spreads in South Africa.

On Thurday, British officials said they were concerned by the new variant, which initial reports indicate could be resistant to the vaccines currently available.

In response, Britain has been quick to enforce travel restrictions on six African countries, temporarily banning flights from South Africa and five others from Friday (local time). British travellers returning from these destinations will also be required to quarantine.

The UK Health Security Agency said the variant - called B.1.1.529 - has a dramatically different spike protein to the one in the original coronavirus, the strain current vaccines have been formulated against.

Read more here.

10:35am - Police are welcoming the "clear direction" following the announcement that all Constabulary staff, authorised officers and recruits will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"This mandate is an important step for us. While staff have taken all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, vaccination is an essential component of safety," Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said on Friday.

"In today's environment, the community has an expectation that our staff are protected from the virus and are fully vaccinated. Our work does not always allow us to stay at arm's length from the people we deal with and vaccination is the only control that can mitigate the safety risk in those situations."

The vast majority of police staff are already fully vaccinated, he said - 92.2 percent have received their first dose and 86.5 percent have had both.

All staff affected by the mandate will be contacted over the next week about the implications of the Vaccination Order, Coster said.

"It is not my desire to lose anyone from the organisation as a result of this new mandate and we will work with staff covered by the Vaccination Order to encourage them to get vaccinated."

As a result of the Vaccination Order, all Constabulary staff, authorised officers and recruits will need to receive their first dose by January 17, 2022 and their second by March 1, 2022.

In relation to staff that are already covered by the Health Order - an order that mandated vaccination for New Zealanders working in both health and education settings - the vaccination dates for those staff have been brought in line with the Vaccination Order announced on Friday.

For staff not covered by the Vaccination Order or the Health Order, the Police Executive are currently considering the COVID Exposure Assessment Framework to assess whether this announcement applies.

"I want to acknowledge all police staff for the incredible work they have been doing to support New Zealand through the challenging times in which we find ourselves," Coster said. "These are unprecedented times and professionalism and commitment to delivering our response to COVID-19 is making a real difference."

10:20am - ACT leader David Seymour says too many police officers are being assigned to enforce Auckland's regional boundary, "empowering" criminals to commit violent acts without fear of being caught.

"Violent criminals feel empowered by the knowledge Police are busy at the border," Seymour said in a statement on Friday.

According to written Parliamentary questions, 271 officers have been assigned to monitor Auckland's regional boundary, which is set to be lifted on December 15 after almost four months. 

"Violent criminals know that with police off the beat, they can carry out offences with less chance of being caught," he said.

"The Government needs to answer why it has taken police off the beat to stand at checkpoints. People in my community feel unsafe and lives are being put at risk."

10:07am - Vaccination is now mandatory for the New Zealand Police and New Zealand Defence Force in preparation for the transition to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework on December 3, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood has confirmed.

  • With the support of the organisations, additional vaccination requirements will cover sworn members, recruits and authorised officers of the New Zealand Police and all New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) staff.
  • First doses of the vaccine for workers in these organisations are required by January 17, 2022,and second doses by March 1, 2022.
  • These groups are added to the list of sectors covered by vaccination, which includes MIQ and border work, healthcare, education, and prisons.

"Vaccination is our greatest tool in keeping New Zealanders safe, so we have extended vaccine requirements to include constabulary, recruits and authorised officers of New Zealand Police, and the armed forces and civilian staff of the New Zealand Defence Force," Wood said on Friday.

"So many of the individuals within these organisations have been essential to our COVID-19 response and are already fully vaccinated. But we want to ensure that those who serve and protect our communities on a daily basis can do so without unintentionally spreading the virus."

First doses will be required by January 17, 2022 and second doses by March 1, 2022.

"We already have a very high vaccination rate in the Police and it makes sense operationally to make it a requirement for the constabulary, recruits and authorised officers who have regular contact with members to be vaccinated. This is about keeping Police safe and the community safe," Wood said.

As of Fridat, 92.2 percent of all Constabulary Police staff have received at least one dose, and 86.5 percent are fully vaccinated.

"As they are often in contact with vulnerable communities, this is the best way that we can protect our Police staff and the public from COVID-19," Police Minister Poto Williams said.

Defence Minister Peeni Henare said "it makes sense" the Defence Force are included in the mandate.

"The NZDF provide critical services to New Zealand, including assisting Police at regional borders, and supporting MBIE in resourcing MIQ facilities. It makes sense that they are included in the mandate and most of the NZDF's Regular Force are already vaccinated. Our defence forces can be deployed at any time to locations where they may come into contact with COVID-19. For example, the recent mission to Afghanistan saw our defence force personnel assisting in the evacuation of New Zealand visa holders, some of whom had COVID."

NZDF uniformed personnel are currently 98.4 percent fully vaccinated and civilian staff are 75 percent fully vaccinated through the vaccination programme delivered earlier this year. These rates do not include those who may have received vaccinations through the public health system. 

"While a number of other sectors have requested additional Government vaccination requirements we are not progressing them at this time. Vaccine mandates are very strong legal requirements that have to be carefully considered based on a clear assessment about how justifiable they are," Wood said.

"An increasingly large proportion of the population is double-dosed with thousands more getting vaccinated every day, and the simple vaccination assessment tool that will be available for businesses in mid-December will help to streamline the process."

10am - The Government has decided to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for all sworn police officers, authorised officers, and recruits, the Police Association said on Friday.

In a statement, the union said it was welcoming the legal certainty of the mandate.

"The New Zealand Police Association acknowledges the Government's decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all sworn police officers, authorised officers, and recruits," the statement said.

"The move is supported by the association because it provides legal certainty for police."

Association Vice President Mike McRandle said the association has always held the position that it is not the union's role to "make medical or moral judgements on the question of vaccination"

"The vast majority of police are vaccinated, but as a microcosm of society there will be a variety of opinions amongst members - often strong on both sides. The board has been supportive of vaccinations but has been conscious of ensuring that the legal rights of members are maintained. The mandate resets that legal position and provides clarity for members," McRandle said.

If members decide against vaccination, the association will ensure they are treated as fairly and reasonably as possible within the law, he added.

"I believe that the high level of vaccination adherence from our members puts us on solid ground in taking a stance in support of the mandate.

"Also, looking at the court cases in New Zealand and Australia we can find no precedent that would be successful in overturning the legal mandate announced by the Government, but we will continue to monitor that space."

9:40am - Medical regulatory body Medsafe has not clarified whether it will continue, or pause, the assessment of whether or not New Zealand children should be eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as the Christmas break steadily approaches.

Some experts say waiting longer for a verdict may not be a bad thing as more data emerges from the US - a nation where children aged five-to-11 are now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, one doctor says even a short delay will see hundreds more children contract the virus.

When asked directly by RNZ, Medsafe would not confirm or deny whether its assessors would be taking a two-and-a-half week break along with the rest of the agency over summer.

"Medsafe's assessors are hard-working and are dedicated to their public responsibilities. This professional commitment continues with the assessment of the vaccine for five-to-11-year-olds," a spokesperson said.

The statement did not answer a clear question: whether the data assessment would continue over Medsafe's shutdown period between December 22 and January 10.

If they do down tools, it would delay the approval of the vaccine to nearly 500,000 children.

Read more here.

9:30am - Antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 show promise, but experts warn its unlikely the medications will be available anytime soon as COVID-19 continues to creep throughout New Zealand.

Modelling predicts that in a worst-case scenario, up to 16,000 people could be testing positive per week in January. As District Health Boards brace for an influx of cases, Health Minister Andrew Little says oral antiviral medicines will play a critical role in the response.

"We know that a lot of the treatments at the moment require an injection, but actually new treatments that are emerging - molnupiravir and the new Pfizer therapeutic treatment - are taken orally, so people can actually get a prescription and administer it themselves," Little said.

"That will take a lot of pressure off the hospital system as well."

Infectious disease physician and Professor of Biochemistry at Otago University, Kurt Krause, says early data for the pills looks promising.

"The data that they've released look quite good, where they're seeing some very significant reductions in hospitalisations and very significant reductions in mortality if these medications are used early during a COVID-19 infection," he told RNZ.

However, he says the process for getting the drugs approved for safety in New Zealand via Medsafe - and supplied through Pharmac - could take several months.

"Even in a favourable case, it's looking more likely that it will be early next year before we're able to roll these medicines out, even if everything goes smoothly. If there are any hiccups it can take even longer," he said.

"It means during the initial period where things open up, and the number of cases rise, we might not have those treatments available."

Read more here.

9:20am - Patients with a range of serious conditions avoided seeking healthcare during lockdown last year, new research has found.

Some wrongly believed health services were overwhelmed and didn't want to add to the workload, while others were afraid of venturing out in case they were exposed to the virus, doctors and nurses told researchers from the University of Otago. 

A new paper published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday outlines how unprepared both patients and parts of the health sector were for the dramatic shift in operation. 

New Zealand abruptly locked down in March 2020 after modelling showed an uncontrolled outbreak of COVID-19 would easily overwhelm the health sector and potentially leave tens of thousands of Kiwis dead. It was a success, the rapid and strict measures wiping out the first outbreak. New Zealand emerged from 2020 as the only country in the OECD to have had fewer deaths than in a normal year

But in early 2020, no one knew that was how it was going to play out. Some doctors spoken to in the new study reported "dramatic decline in workload, attributed to patients mistakenly believing that medical services were overwhelmed".

"Respondents commented that patients appeared to be minimising or tolerating their symptoms, considering them too minor to justify seeking care."

The elderly, who were instructed to stay at home due to their increased vulnerability, were perhaps too careful, health professionals said.

"Elderly particularly had great fear, especially with security guards on the gates of villages, felt it was too dangerous or they weren't allowed to leave the village even for essential health," one nurse said. 

Others who couldn't do phone consults easily - such as the hard of hearing or people with limited English skills - reportedly "just sat on their medical problems and left chronic conditions untreated", a GP said.

Read more here.

9:10am - Guidance for businesses on the general rules for operating under the COVID-19 Protection Framework, also known as the 'traffic light' system, is now live on

The system will come into effect nationwide from 11:59pm on December 2. Until then, businesses should continue to adhere to the restrictions under the alert level framework.

8:55am - Vaccination against COVID-19 is safe for pregnant women and not associated with higher rates of complications, data released by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed on Thursday.

The real-world data, collected from the rollout in Britain, supports other studies around the world that the vaccines are safe to administer at any stage of pregnancy, the UKHSA said.

It found there were not substantial differences in rates of stillbirths, rates of births of babies with low birthweight and the proportion of premature births between vaccinated women and unvaccinated women.

Officials said the data were especially reassuring given that the first pregnant women to be offered the vaccine were those with underlying health conditions, who would be expected to be at a higher risk of complications.

"Every pregnant woman who has not yet been vaccinated should feel confident to go and get the jab, and that this will help to prevent the serious consequences of catching COVID-19 in pregnancy," said Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at UKHSA.

Read more here.

8:50am - Millions of Americans got their booster shots at a near record pace after the Biden administration expanded eligibility last week, but health officials concerned about climbing infections ahead of the winter holiday season are urging more to get the additional protection.

Meanwhile, many African nations are struggling with the logistics of accelerating their COVID-19 inoculation campaigns as deliveries of the vaccine to the continent finally pick up, the head of Africa's disease control body said on Thursday. Only 6.6 percent of Africa's population of 1.2 billion is fully vaccinated.

And the European Commission proposed on Thursday that residents of the European Union will need to have their booster shots if they want to travel to another country in the bloc next summer without testing or quarantine.

Here's the latest on the pandemic from around the world overnight.

8:40am - The Ministry of Health has released additional options for New Zealanders to obtain their My Vaccine Pass as demand continues to grow.

More than 2 million My Vaccine Passes have been issued since the tool was officially launched last week.

"More than 50 percent of people in New Zealand that are fully vaccinated have now received their My Vaccine Pass. The new online system we built for my Vaccine Pass has worked incredibly well with these volumes," Michael Dreyer, the Ministry of Health's group manager of national digital services, said on Friday.

"We are expecting a lot more requests in the coming days online, however it has been our call centres that have faced unprecedented demand with higher volumes experienced than vaccine bookings.

"With nearly 70,000 calls received yesterday alone to the 0800 number, we have added to our call centre capacity to support customers wanting to set up their My COVID Record, check their NHI number, or generate their My Vaccine Pass."

The fastest option to get a My Vaccine Pass is online, but for those people who need extra assistance, three call centres are now operating with extended hours. Staff can help customers with their requests and their vaccine pass can either be emailed or delivered to their address. 

The option via post is also now available.

"In addition to postal and online generation of the My Vaccine Passes, we are rolling out an option for people that prefer to deal with someone face-to-face. Over the next couple of days customers will be able to go to a pharmacy and request their My Vaccine Pass. Nearly 400 pharmacies around the country currently providing COVID-19 vaccinations will now also be able to assist people with getting a vaccine pass," Dreyer said.

Locations of participating pharmacies are listed on

Customers are asked to continue to be patient as staff at call centres and pharmacies do their best to assist with queries and help people generate their My Vaccine Pass.

If you can't get through immediately on 0800 222 478, call back later, or use the My COVID Record website if you are able to, Dreyer said.

My Vaccine Pass, which is an official record of a person's COVID-19 vaccination status, will help people access businesses and venues within New Zealand that require proof of vaccination under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework. The framework will come into effect on December 3.

8:30am - South African scientists have detected a new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and are working to understand its potential implications, they said on Thursday.

The variant - called B.1.1.529 - has a "very unusual constellation" of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the body's immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists told reporters at a news conference.

Early signs from diagnostic laboratories suggest the variant has rapidly increased in the most populated province of Gauteng and may already be present in the country's other eight provinces, they said.

South Africa has confirmed around 100 specimens as B.1.1.529, but the variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong case a traveller from South Africa. As many as 90 percent of new cases in Gauteng could be B.1.1.529, scientists believe.

"Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be," South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in a statement.

South Africa has requested an urgent sitting of a World Health Organization (WHO) working group on virus evolution on Friday to discuss the new variant.

Read more here.

8:20am - Here are the latest locations of interest as of 8am:

  • Gull Landing, Whakatane
  • Bakehouse, Taneatua
  • Fresh Choice, Ruakaka.

For the relevant dates, times and public health advice, click here.

8:15am - Friday marks day 101 of lockdown for Aucklanders as the stricken city trudges towards December 3, the day the COVID-19 Protection Framework comes into effect and rewards the fully vaccinated with a return to relative normality.

Auckland's hairdressers are now back in business, the first close-contact service to trial the new My Vaccine Pass system ahead of the transition to the framework next week. 

The city continues to record high numbers of new cases - 149 of the 178 cases reported on Thursday are in Auckland. However, 93 percent of eligible residents under Auckland's three District Health Boards (DHBs) - Auckland, Waitemata and Counties Manukau - have now received their first dose of the vaccine, with 88 percent fully vaccinated. 

The majority of hospitalisations are also in Auckland. As of Thursday, 74 of the 77 people receiving medical care for COVID-19 are currently in Auckland hospitals. 

Another death was also recorded on Thursday, bringing New Zealand's death toll to 42. The patient, in their 50s, died at Auckland City Hospital on Wednesday after being admitted almost three weeks' earlier.

8:10am - Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are nowhere near as accurate as traditional RT-PCR tests when it comes to detecting COVID-19, but they have their place, Kiwi scientists behind a new study say.

The Government announced on Thursday an end to its year-and-a-half-long ban on point-of-care RATs. In a statement, Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said "the cost of missing a case was too high" under the elimination strategy, which was why the Government wanted every test to be via the ultra-accurate but slow RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, or PCR), a type of nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT).

But with New Zealand set to enter the COVID-19 Protection Framework next week, a system designed for a return to relative normality amid a highly vaccinated population, "benefits such as accessibility, convenience and speed" need to be taken into account, Verrall said. Many countries overseas have been using RATs - which can give results in 15 minutes - since last year. Some have also adopted point-of-care NAATs that give results almost as quickly.  

Kiwi researchers wanted to see how well a range of them worked in the New Zealand context, so put them to the test - seeing how five different RATs and three NAATs performed compared to traditional PCR.

They found the RATs could miss up to 44.3 percent of COVID-19 infections, their research - published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday - revealed.

"Performance was variable dependent on the product," said study senior author Gary McAuliffe, an Auckland-based microbiologist, who noted other brands they didn't bother testing might "perform worse". 

"The advantages were an answer in 20 minutes, they are very useful for quick decision-making, and they are very suitable for testing people in hospitals to help decide on patient management pathways. There are definite advantages to rapid antigen tests in our current situation as resource constraints are less of an issue compared with PCR, particularly if an individual is able to do their own testing."

Read more here.

8am - Kia ora, good morning, and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak for Friday, November 26.