As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, November 16

A record 222 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded on Tuesday, as well as the COVID-related death of a patient in their 70s at Auckland City Hospital.

Of the 222 cases, 197 are in Auckland, 20 are in Waikato, two are in the Lakes District, two are in the Wairarapa and one is in Northland. Ninety-one people are currently in hospital, with seven in intensive care or high dependency units.

Meanwhile, the Waikato region is set to return to alert level 2 at 11:59pm. Aucklanders are awaiting more certainty regarding the Government's plan for the tightly controlled regional boundary, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promising residents they will be able to escape for Christmas. The future of the border is expected to be reviewed by Cabinet on Wednesday.

What you need to know

  • A record 222 new cases have been recorded on Tuesday - 197 in Auckland, 20 in Waikato, two in Lakes District, two in Wairarapa and one in Northland.
  • Ninety-one people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care or high dependency units.
  • The two cases in Wairarapa are based in Masterton - one was formally announced on Monday. 
  • A patient in their 70s has died due to COVID-19 at Auckland City Hospital.
  • Waikato will move to alert level 2 at 11:59pm on Tuesday.
  • From Tuesday, people who work in the education, prison and health and disability sectors must have received their first dose of the vaccine.
  • A pupil at Pakuranga Heights School was infectious for five days while they attended school.
  • The mandatory isolation period for fully vaccinated cases and close contacts has been reduced from 14 days to 10. 
  • More than 14,000 people still have yet to be invoiced for their stays in MIQ prior to March 24, 2021, it has been revealed.
  • Kiwi kids aged five-to-11 could get the vaccine early next year if approved by Medsafe and Cabinet, says Dr Bloomfield.
  • Auckland's regional boundary is expected to be reviewed by Cabinet on Wednesday.
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest here.

These live updates have finished.

9pm - As COVID cases continue to climb so does the number of close contacts - but less than half have been tested. 

There are more than 5600 known contacts. Of these contacts, only 72 percent have been contacted meaning more than 1500 have had no contact.

And only half have been tested - which means there are 2670 contacts without a test.

The system is under pressure and a COVID modeller warns it's a "worrying sign".

Read and watch the full story from Newshub political reporter Amelia Wade here.

8:45pm - The Government is set to announce on Wednesday how Auckland's border will operate over summer.

Newshub understands the majority of traffic leaving Auckland will likely be spot-checked, meaning no vaccine or testing checkpoint queues.

But roads to under-vaccinated areas and therefore riskier places - like Northland, for instance - may have stronger border checks. 

Here's what we know ahead of the Government's announcement.

8:15pm - Māori are bearing the brunt of the Delta outbreak, with one doctor saying they've been left out of the team of five million.

Of the 222 new cases on Tuesday, more than half are Māori. And with Māori vaccination rates so low, there are fears that number will rise.

"Based on the most recent numbers today [Tuesday], the modelling would tell us that if cases continue at this rate, we could be looking at 6800 cases by Christmas," Dr Rariwi Taonui tells Newshub.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's Demelza Leslie here.

7:45pm - There is a positive COVID-19 case at Glenavon School in Blockhouse Bay.

In a letter to parents, the school says it will remain open on Wednesday because all potential close contacts - both staff and students - have been identified.

"There have only been 20 to 30 students onsite during level 3 in three different classrooms around the school, so the number of contacts is very small," the letter says.

"We ask that the privacy of the family involved be respected during this time and our best wishes go out to them for a speedy recovery."

7:30pm - Newshub understands vaccination will not be absolutely necessary for summer travel, with a negative test a possible alternative. 

On Wednesday, the Government will unveil its systems for summer - and while there will be a vaccination or test requirement for travel out of Auckland, don't expect to see police checkpoints everywhere. 

No matter if you're planning to hit the road or spend the holidays at home, everyone is hanging out for the Government to give us a steer on summer.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub political reporter Jenna Lynch here.

6:30pm - A young mother who's 32 weeks pregnant and has COVID-19 says she's appalled that health authorities took more than four days to tell her she'd contracted the virus. 

She only found out after taking herself to an emergency clinic. 

She wasn't vaccinated - a decision she deeply regrets - and now has a message for anyone else who's hesitant: get your vaccine if you want to avoid what she's gone through.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's investigations reporter Michael Morrah here.

6pm - It's time for Newshub Live at 6pm for the latest on the COVID-19 outbreak. Watch online here or on Three.

5:45pm - Pakuranga Heights School is closing until Monday after a student tested positive for COVID-19.

The primary school pupil was infectious at the school for five days from November 8 to 12.

Principal Fintan Kelly says those who have been in close contact with the COVID-positive person now have public health advice on self-isolation and testing.

The advice from the school for everyone else is:

  • Watch for symptoms and if any develop, get tested immediately and stay at home
  • Watch for symptoms of COVID-19 
  • If you develop any of the following symptoms, no matter how mild, ring Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor, and get tested.

5:30pm - Forty-one percent of surveyed Early Childhood Council (ECC) members say they'll lose at least one teacher because of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

"Thirty-three percent of members surveyed say the'’ll lose one or two teachers, and 10 percent say they'll lose between three and five. This is a huge issue for centres who must maintain teacher-child ratios or send children home," says ECC CEO Simon Laube.  

"It's a difficult situation for everyone - vaccination mandate conversations can be extremely sensitive and difficult for both unvaccinated individuals and the managers and centre owners, with direct implications for the tamariki they care for."

Fifty-three percent of ECC members surveyed say they're actively recruiting teachers, with 69 percent saying they've received low quality applications, or had no suitable candidates apply.  

"We will start to see more centres needing to downsize the number of children they cater for, pointing to the need for a centralised plan for dealing with the teacher shortage," Laube says.

"Many centres are at breaking point and we've had reports from some members that they will now be closing permanently."

5pm - Cardiologists at the Northland District Health Board say they're aware that some patients with heart problems have declined getting vaccinated because they're concerned about the potential risk of myopericarditis.

Three cardiologists, Dr Marcus Lee, Dr Raewyn Fisher, and Dr Karthigesh Sree Raman, say they endorse vaccinations for all their patients and urge all unvaccinated patients to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

"Myocarditis from the vaccine is rare (two to 10 cases per 100,000 doses), and usually only mild or moderate in severity," the trio say.

"Patients with underlying cardiac issues who get infected with COVID have a substantially increased risk of requiring an admission to ICU or dying from COVID.

"The small risk of myocarditis from the vaccine does not justify people not having the vaccine, the risk from COVID for you is much higher."

4:30pm - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was met with jeering in Parliament after she defended allowing crowded shopping at malls in Auckland but not socially distanced outdoor dining. 

Retail has been allowed in Auckland since last week when the city moved to alert level 3, step 2, which also allows public venues like museums to open. But hospitality must remain closed, even if it's socially distanced and outdoors. 

National leader Judith Collins asked Ardern in Parliament on Tuesday why "thousands of people are allowed to go shopping at Sylvia Park in Auckland but an Auckland restaurant cannot serve people in their outside dining area".

Ardern replied: "Taken across as a whole, the profile of hospitality is just different to retail. And that's been recognised throughout this pandemic."

Her response was met with what House Speaker Trevor Mallard described as a "barrage from at least 15 members" of the Opposition. 

Read the full story here.

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

  • Countdown Fenton St Rotorua, November 13 from 8am to 10:30am
  • Z Fenton Street, November 13 from 9:30am to 11am
  • BP Tauhara Road, Taupo, November 14 from 10am to 11:30am.

3:35pm - ACT leader David Seymour says Jacinda Ardern has "tied herself in knots" trying to explain when New Zealand might move to the new traffic light system.

"Asked three times [in Parliament], she could not answer the most basic question: At what level of vaccination is the traffic light system safer than the current alert level system? It's implausible that the Prime Minister does not have a number," Seymour says.

"Jacinda said earlier this week: 'There is a strong view coming through from the Ministry of Health that we should consider moving to the protection framework (traffic light system) earlier because it provides greater protection for New Zealanders than we even see with the current alert level system.'"

Seymour says today in Parliament, she couldn't say what rate of vaccination is needed to have that greater protection.

"At one point, Jacinda also said: 'The COVID protection framework cannot operate unless you have COVID vaccinated individuals in the community.' Every community has COVID vaccinated individuals, some have already reached 90 percent vaccinated," he says.

"The third time she was asked, Jacinda resorted to saying the target is 90 percent. That's contradictory.

"Jacinda has previously said that she won't put a specific number on it, then it was 90 percent, then she said that she'll decide on 29 November."

Seymour says the "inescapable conclusion" is that Ardern is playing for time because "neither the vaccine pass, nor the laws behind it, are ready".

"The traffic light system is not being held up by Aucklanders' or most regions' vaccination rates. Once again the real problem is that the Government was not ready for Delta."

3:05pm - As reported earlier, there were 222 new cases announced today - a new record.

But beyond the case numbers, there's how many hospitalised people are vaccinated, the locations of new cases, how many New Zealanders are vaccinated, and more.

Here's a breakdown of the Ministry of Health's latest COVID-19 update.

2:25pm - Anti-vaccination and anti-mandate protesters surrounded the Labour Party offices in New Plymouth earlier on Tuesday afternoon.

According to reports, the protest kicked off at Taranaki Base Hospital at 11am. An hour later, the demonstration moved to the New Plymouth District Council buildings.

The protesters then congregated outside the Labour Party offices on Gill St shortly after 1pm, however no MPs were in the building at the time. The crowd was monitored by police and had dispersed by 2pm, according to reports.

Some of the demonstrators were seen carrying placards emblazoned with anti-mandate messaging, while others waved the New Zealand flag.

2:20pm - There is one new location of interest as of 2pm - Noodle Canteen on Taupo's Tuwharetoa St.

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

2:10pm - An MP has described the Lakes District Health Board's ability to cope with a Delta outbreak as "a disaster waiting to happen" after it was revealed there are only four fully staffed intensive care beds in Rotorua.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay is calling on the Government to urgently increase intensive care capacity in the area, Stuff reported on Tuesday. Seven cases of COVID-19 have been detected in Lakes District since Saturday.

Lakes District Health Board (DHB) chief executive Nick Saville-Wood told Stuff the biggest challenges are staff resourcing and low vaccination rates.

A Ministry of Health spokesman said all DHBs have undertaken "significant planning and preparation work" to manage an outbreak, while Health Minister Andrew Little said he is confident DHBs are equipped to care for an influx of COVID-19 patients.

Lakes DHB confirmed to Stuff it has six beds in its intensive care unit, of which four were resourced. There are also six coronary care unit beds - four of which were also resourced. The DHB said it has 16 ventilators and 14 were resourced.

McClay said in his view, the Government hasn't acted with the necessary urgency over the last 18 months to prepare for widespread outbreaks. If more cases emerge, he is concerned hospitals in the Lakes District will struggle to cope, putting strain on the workforce.

1:55pm - Labour MPs are on high alert after Chief Whip Kieran McAnulty was confronted by an anti-vaccination protester last weekend, who accused the Government of genocide. 

And McAnulty is not alone. COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, MP for Remutaka, revealed his electorate office has been "the target of repeated and ongoing attacks by anti-vaxxers". 

McAnulty, MP for Wairarapa, told reporters ahead of Labour's caucus meeting at Parliament on Tuesday that he'll be speaking to parliamentary security about how to ensure MPs are safe.

"We're going to be talking to Parliamentary Service security today about what provisions we might be able to put in place for the safety of our members. But that's not just for our members - it's across the board," McAnulty said. 

"I think there are a few things that we could do to preserve the safety and do what we can to look after our members here but I'll have a yarn with them and see what they've got in mind. Members get provisions for security systems in their primary residence. I think that should be extended to their Wellington residence as well. 

"We often park outside our flat in Wellington with our branded car. It's not going to take too much effort to figure out where MPs stay in the city. Just stuff like that. There's no doubt in my mind that things have escalated now so let's take it seriously."

McAnulty said he has also received death threats since a video of him being confronted by an anti-vaxxer was posted online

Read more here.

1:50pm - As Auckland's vaccination programme shifts to a community-based approach, there will be changes to the city's vaccination sites as staff are deployed to support the outbreach efforts of both District Health Boards and Māori and Pacific partner providers. 

Four of the community-based vaccination centres will close, Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) confirmed on Tuesday.

However, vaccination centres led by Māori and Pacific partner providers will remain open, recognising the crucial role these sites play in their communities - including those in Pukekohe, Manurewa, Takanini, Papakura, Ōtara, Westgate and Henderson.

The success of the drive-through vaccination model will also mean the main drive-through site at Auckland Airport park and ride will remain open until at least March 2022. The Mt Wellington, Birkenhead and Orewa sites will also remain open, NRHCC said.

The four sites scheduled to close are:

  • Albany (November 29)
  • Epsom
  • Highbrook
  • and the CBD (all from December 19).

Full details of upcoming events and where people can still be vaccinated across metro Auckland are available at Ongoing support will also continue to be provided to those who have difficulties accessing vaccination sites due to transportation or mobility issues, including a free taxi service to all sites or access to in-home vaccinations (both available by calling the helpline on 0800 28 29 26).

1:45pm - With almost 90 percent of eligible Aucklanders now fully vaccinated, the vaccination programme for Tāmaki Makaurau is transitioning to a more extensive community-based outreach approach to make it easier for people to get their jabs, the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC) said on Tuesday.  

This will include more than 100 pop-up events leading up to Christmas in locations across the region, ranging from schools through to stadiums and community centres.

This week, events will be taking place at schools in Manurewa and Māngere, Trusts Arena in west Auckland, as well as in Pakiri and the Port Albert boat ramp in the north.

As well as the greater emphasis on outreach events, dozens more primary care providers are preparing to join the vaccination programme alongside more than 200 general practices and 120 community pharmacies, which are already administering vaccinations in all corners of the city.

Primary care providers have already delivered more than one million doses across Auckland. Increased focus on community outreach has seen these teams vaccinate more than 23,000 people the last three weeks. This includes:

  • over 900 in-home vaccinations
  • over 2000 vaccinations across disability providers
  • over 500 vaccinations of students, staff and families at specialist schools
  • over 2000 vaccinations at emergency and transitional housing
  • 15,000 vaccinations by the community vaccination buses and;
  • 2500 vaccinations via the community campervan teams.

"With over 300 primary care sites now providing vaccinations, we also have lots of capacity to deliver booster shots from later this month, while still being able to free up our staff to do more local events and outreach work, like in-home vaccinations and visits to boarding houses," NRHCC vaccination programme director, Matt Hannant, said on Tuesday.

"People have been responding really well to local events led by local community and school leaders, as well as the street-by-street approach for our campervans and buses.

"We encourage everyone who hasn't yet had a vaccination, or is due a second dose, to head down to a local event or your local GP or pharmacy and get vaccinated ready for summer. This will enable you to enjoy everything the Auckland region has to offer as soon as we move to the new traffic light system, from haircuts and cafes through to gyms and music events."

1:20pm - Here's a breakdown of the key developments on Monday:

  • A record 222 new cases have been recorded, of which 197 are in Auckland, 20 are in Waikato, two are in Lakes District, two are in Wairarapa and one is in Northland - these figures include the first case in Wairarapa, announced on Monday, and the fourth case in Taupō, also announced on Monday.
  • Public health officials are currently investigating a common link between cases reported in Taupō, Tararua and Masterton.
  • The new case in Northland is currently located in Auckland, but has a residential address in the north. They are linked to another case within the same household.
  • Of the 20 cases in Waikato, nine are from Ōtorohanga, seven are from Hamilton, one is from Te Awamutu, one us from Te Kuiti, and two are awaiting confirmation. Twelve are known contacts already in isolation and a further two have now been linked. Investigations into the remaining six are underway.
  • One of the two new cases under the Lakes District Health Board is a person in Taupō who was first announced as a case on Monday. The second case also lives in Taupō and is a close contact of another case. All cases in Taupō are linked.
  • There are no new cases in MidCentral to report today. The two confirmed cases in Tararua remain in isolation in the same household.
  • One of the two new cases in Wairarapa lives in Masterton and was first announced on Monday. The second case is also based in Masterton and both are currently in isolation. These cases were identified through targeted testing after one of the Taupō cases visited Masterton on the weekend of November 6 and 7. Public health staff are continuing to investigate links to known cases.
  • To date, 90 percent of eligible New Zealanders have had their first dose and 81 percent are fully vaccinated.
  • Ninety-one people with COVID-19 are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care or high dependency units - one person remains in Whangārei Hospital in a stable condition.
  • There are three people receiving care for COVID-19 at Waikato Hospital, including two who were transferred from the community isolation facility last night. 
  • Of the 222 cases, 87 have yet to be epidemiologically linked - 135 have links to existing cases.
  • There are no new unexpected detections of COVID-19 in wastewater samples.
  • There is one new COVD-related death to report - a patient in their 70s has died at Auckland City Hospital after being admitted on November 11 and subsequently testing positive.
  • Twenty-one residents and four staff members at Edmonton Meadows Care Home in Henderson, Auckland have tested positive - five of the residents are receiving appropriate ward-level care at Auckland hospitals.  

1:08pm - There are 222 new cases of COVID-19 to report and one death. Here is the full statement from the Ministry of Health: 

More than 21,000 doses of vaccine given yesterday; 91 people in hospital & 7 in ICU; 222 community cases; 1 death

There were 21,442 first and second vaccine doses administered yesterday, made up of 7,764 first doses and 13,678 second doses. To date, 90 pct of New Zealanders have had their first dose and 81 pct are fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccine update


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

7,233,783: 3,806,051 first doses (90 pct); 3,427,732 second doses (81 pct)

Total first and second vaccines administered yesterday

21,442: 7,764 first doses; 13,678 second doses

Mâori (percentage of eligible people)

790,847; 440,732 first doses (77 pct); 350,115 second doses (61 pct)

Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people)

472,636: 253,329 first doses (88 pct); 219,307 second doses (76 pct)

Total first and second vaccines administered to Auckland residents yesterday

5220: 1584 first doses; 3636 second doses

Vaccination rates by DHB (with active cases)


Northland DHB (percentage of eligible people)

249,110; 133,430 first doses (83 pct); 115,680 second doses (72 pct)

Auckland metro DHBs (percentage of eligible people)

2,563,224; 1,331,444 first doses (93 pct); 1,231,780 second doses (86 pct)

Waikato DHB (percentage of eligible people)

600,549; 318,170 first doses (89 pct); 282,379 second doses (79 pct)

Taranaki DHB (percentage of eligible people)

166,810: 89,393 first doses (88 pct); 77,417 second doses (76 pct)

Canterbury DHB (percentage of eligible people)

848,028: 451,514 first doses (94 pct); 396,514 second doses (82 pct)

Lakes DHB (percentage of eligible people)

149,435: 79,896 first doses (85 pct); 69,539 second doses (74 pct)

MidCentral DHB (percentage of eligible people)

256,418: 135,925 first doses (89 pct); 120,493 second doses (79 pct)

Wairarapa DHB (percentage of eligible people)

69,606: 37,037 first doses (89 pct); 32,569 second doses (79 pct)



Cases in hospital

91 (up from 90 yesterday – includes 5 cases being assessed); North Shore (23); Middlemore (23); Auckland (38); Waitakere (3); Whangarei (1); *Waikato (3)

Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region wards only; excludes people still being assessed and the Waikato case)

Unvaccinated or not eligible (50 cases / 61 pct); partially vaccinated <14 days (8 cases / 10 pct) partially vaccinated >14 days (11 cases / 13  pct); fully vaccinated <14 days (3 cases / 4 pct) fully vaccinated >14 days (8 cases / 10 pct); unknown (3 cases / 4 pct)

Average age of current hospitalisations


Cases in ICU or HDU




Number of new community cases


Number of new cases identified at the border

No cases

Location of new community cases

Auckland (197), Waikato (20), Northland (1), **Wairarapa (2), ***Lakes (2)

Location of community cases (total)

Auckland 5626 (2001 of whom have recovered); Northland 47 (15 of whom have recovered); Waikato 260 (90 of whom have recovered); Lakes 8; Taranaki 6; MidCentral 2; Wairarapa 2; Wellington 17 (all of whom have recovered);

Nelson/Marlborough 1 (who has recovered); Canterbury 4 (3 of whom have recovered),

Number of community cases (total)

5973 (in current community outbreak)

Confirmed cases (total)


Historical cases

194 out of 6914 cases since 1 January

Cases infectious in the community

54 of 163 cases reported yesterday have exposure events

Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infectious

109 of 163 cases reported yesterday have no exposure events

Cases epidemiologically linked

135 of today's 222 cases

Cases to be epidemiologically linked

87 of today's 222 cases

Cases epidemiologically linked (total)

4609 (in the current cluster) (866 unlinked from the past 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)

72 pct

Percentage who have returned at least one result

53 pct

Locations of interest


Locations of interest (total)

93 (as at 10am 16 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

There are no new unexpected detections



Registered users (total)


Poster scans (total)


Manual diary entries (total)


Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday


* Two of the Waikato hospitalisations included in this update were notified after the Ministry's 9am cut-off time.

** This includes the first Wairarapa case announced on Monday.

*** This includes the fourth case in Taupō announced on Monday.

Death of a patient in their 70s

Sadly, today we are reporting the COVID-related death of a patient at Auckland City Hospital.

The patient, who was in their late 70s, was admitted to hospital on November 11 and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

Our thoughts are with the patient's whānau and friends at this deeply sad time.

We would also like to acknowledge the team at Auckland City Hospital and all healthcare workers for their continued hard work and dedication.

Today's cases

Today we are reporting new cases in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Taupō and the Wairarapa.

Public health officials are currently investigating a common link between cases reported in Taupō, Tararua and Masterton.

Northland update

There is one new case included in Northland's case numbers today. The case is currently in Auckland but has a residential address in Northland. This case is linked to another case within the same household.

One person remains in Whangārei Hospital in a stable condition.

There were 1059 swabs taken throughout Northland on Monday.

Anyone with symptoms, even if they are mild and they are vaccinated, is urged to get tested. Testing locations in Northland can be found via the Northland DHB.

There were also 968 people vaccinated in Northland on Monday, including 396 first doses and 556 second doses.

Vaccination centres open in Northland today can be found on the Northland DHB website.

Auckland update

Today, there are 197 cases to report in Auckland.

There are 18 community testing centres available for testing across Auckland today. The testing centres at Northcote, Balmoral, Wiri and Ōtara continue to operate extended hours to increase access to testing.

We are continuing to urge anyone in Auckland who is displaying any symptoms, no matter how mild, to get tested - even if they are vaccinated - and remain isolated until they return a negative result.

Public health staff are now supporting 4416 people to isolate at home around Auckland - this includes 2023 cases.

Edmonton Meadows Care Home update

Twenty-one residents and four staff members of Edmonton Meadows Care Home in Henderson have tested positive since the start of the outbreak.

Five of the residents who tested positive for COVID-19 are receiving appropriate ward-level care at Auckland hospitals.  

Waikato update

There have been 20 new cases confirmed in Waikato overnight. Nine of the cases were from Ōtorohanga, seven from Hamilton, one from Te Awamutu, one from Te Kuiti, and two are awaiting confirmation.

Of the cases, 12 were known contacts already in isolation and a further two have now been linked. Investigations into the remaining six are underway today.

There are three people currently receiving care for COVID-19 at Waikato Hospital, including two who were transferred from the community isolation facility last night. Public health staff in the Waikato region are now supporting 338 people to isolate at home, including 92 cases and 246 contacts.

There are eight dedicated testing centres operating today across Waikato with sites at Huntly, Ōtorohanga, Te Kuiti, Thames, and Hamilton. There were 3218 tests processed on Monday and 1827 vaccinations administered.

Lakes update

Today we are reporting two cases of COVID-19 in the Lakes DHB region.

One of these cases is a Taupō case which was first announced by the Ministry on Monday. It is officially being added to today's numbers.

The second case also lives in Taupō and is a close contact of another case. All cases in Taupō are linked.

We are encouraging anyone with COVID-related symptoms in the region to get tested. Testing is available today in Rotorua and Taupō. Please check the Healthpoint website for details.

On Monday, 1016 tests were carried out across the region and 1026 doses of vaccine were administered, including 549 first doses and 465 second doses.

Across the region, 79,896 of people have had at least one dose of vaccine and 69,539 have had two doses.

Midcentral update

There are no new cases in Midcentral to report today.  

The two confirmed cases in remain in isolation in the same household.

The Ministry is continuing to encourage testing for anyone with mild symptoms of COVID-19 in Tararua and ask people to check the locations on interest on the Ministry of Health's website.

Testing remains strong across the region and there are a number of locations available today. For more information, please go to Healthpoint and check out Midcentral DHB Facebook page.

On Monday, 747 tests were carried out across Midcentral and 1196 vaccines were administered across the region. For a full list of vaccination centres in the MidCentral region, please visit Healthpoint.

Wairarapa update

Today we are formally reporting two cases in Wairarapa – one of which we first announced on Monday.

Both cases are based in Masterton and are currently in isolation. These cases were identified through targeted testing as part of follow-up of a visit to Masterton by one of the Taupō cases on the weekend of November 6 and 7.

Public health staff are continuing to investigate links to known cases.

People in Wairarapa are advised to check the Ministry's website for any locations of interest and if they have symptoms, even if they are mild and they are vaccinated, get a free COVID-19 test at your nearest medical practice. Please check Healthpoint for details.

As investigations continue, additional locations of interest at sites in Wairarapa will be added to the Ministry of Health's webpage if they are identified.

On Monday, 511 tests were carried out across the region. Across the region, 36,873 of eligible people have had at least one dose of vaccine and 32,393 have had two doses.

Wairarapa is only 247 doses away from seeing 90 percent of its eligible population having had their first dose of vaccine.

12:55pm - We are standing by for the Ministry of Health's update at 1pm, including the latest case numbers.

12:40pm - In case you missed it, here's a full recap of the vaccination briefing fronted by Dr Ashley Bloomfield this morning. 

12:30pm - A teacher says she's refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, claiming the mandates are a "human rights issue".

Rachael Mortimer is the Head of English and Social Sciences at a south Canterbury school. She says she has a blood condition which means getting the vaccine is dangerous for her - despite her not being eligible for an exemption. 

"I actually have a blood condition which has a peer-reviewed study on it talking about how if I take the vaccine, I am at higher risk of developing blood clots. So that puts me in a really bad position considering there have been quite a few people with blood clots from this vaccine," she told Newshub.

"I can't get an exemption, I've tried that. The criteria is too narrow so even with this blood condition I don't qualify. I am in a rock and a hard place: do I go and get this vaccine which could potentially do major damage to me, or do I lose my job? And my health is a little bit more important to me." 

While there have been rare examples of people developing blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, that is not the case with Pfizer - which is the main vaccine New Zealand is using in its rollout. 

Read more here.

12:20pm - Across the ditch, the Australian state of Victoria has recorded 797 new cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths in the past 24 hours. New South Wales has recorded 212 new cases and two deaths.

12:10pm - There are three new locations of interest as of 12pm:

  • Cotton On, Masterton
  • Stirling Sports, Masterton
  • Bells Produce, Kaitaia.

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

12pm - There is no press conference at 1pm today. Instead, the Ministry of Health will release a statement with the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak. The statement will be published to the live updates as soon as it is available.

11:50am - Aucklanders desperate to make the most of the upcoming festive season are already booking up slots with their favourite hospitality operators across the city.

"We've spoken to a number of members over the past couple of weeks who have told us that demand is ramping up with bookings being taken for small gatherings, as well as private dining rooms and whole venues," Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois said on Tuesday.

"Our businesses are desperate to make the most of the short window of time they have available to them and have taken forward bookings in the hope that their doors will be open.

"Auckland members, particularly those in the CBD, are reporting increasing interest from locals who are hopeful that they'll be allowed to get out and socialise with friends, family and colleagues before the summer break.

"There is a general feeling that December will be a busy time so in a bid not to miss out on reservations, businesses and diners alike are planning ahead."

Bidois said Auckland's hospitality sector has a "very short window of time" to make up for three months of closed doors before locals escape the city for the summer break - depending on when Auckland's strict regional boundary is lifted.

"They want to be sure that they maximise any interest from diners while they can," she said.

"We are anxiously waiting to hear when hospitality will be able to open and business will have to wait until they are given the go ahead. However, the financial pain these businesses are experiencing is sadly real and the opportunity to have some solid trading in December will certainly help to ease some of the burden these businesses are shouldering."

11:35am - During the briefing on Tuesday morning, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said it's likely children aged five to 11 will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in the first quarter of 2022 - if Medsafe and Cabinet approve the vaccine for use among the age group.

11:30am - In case you missed it, Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, and his colleeagues held a briefing earlier this morning regarding vaccination rates and their impact on the COVID-19 response, including hospitalisations.

Here's a recap on what they covered:

Reducing risk of death and severe illness

The UK office for national statistics has just released data showing the age-adjusted risk of death is 32 times higher for unvaccinated people compared to the vaccinated, Bloomfield said.

"That is a profound difference. There are very few things I can think of in my public health and medical career that have been so protective and reduced the risk of death so much with such a simple and cheap intervention."

New Zealanders who have been vaccinated are doing themselves a huge favour, he said.

However, the increase in the proportion of vaccinated people creates a "counterintuitive thing" where more and more vaccinated New Zealanders are contracting COVID-19, he noted.

Bloomfield said not long ago there was a roughly equal split between vaccinated and unvaccinated cases.

At that time, based on 10,000 people, about half of the unvaccinated would become symptomatic cases, leading to 250 hospitalisations. On the other hand, more than 90 percent of vaccinated people do not develop symptoms.

"Even if... the virus does come in contact with them, their body is able to get rid of it before they become infected or infectious to others," he said.

With 90 percent of a 10,000 population fully vaccinated, there would be 500 cases and 50 hospitalisations among the unvaccinated. There are a larger number of cases among the vaccinated population - "it's just simple maths, but even then less than half the number of hospitalisations amongst those cases", he said.

He says the key thing is vaccination greatly reduces the likelihood that someone will become a symptomatic case, greatly reducing the chance of hospitalisation or death.

Professor Nikki Turner said the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is one of the best in the world - if not the best - in terms of performance, and we now have extensive international data to corroborate that. The side-effect profile has been clearly delineated.

"The data is really clear, that if you catch COVID [without vaccination], one in five people will have it severely and need support in hospital to breathe. Around 1 to 2 percent will die, and from the more recent data over 50 percent still have symptoms up to six months later."

Regarding concerns about myocarditis - which can be a side-effect of the vaccine - the risk of developing that from the disease is about four times higher than the very low risk of developing it from a vaccine, Prof Turner said.

Turner referred to a study overseas that analysed transmission within households. A vaccinated person who catches COVID-19 is two-thirds less likely to transmit the virus to a person in their household than an unvaccinated person, the study indicates.

Turner also reiterated that the vaccine does not provide lifelong immunity - the protectiveness wanes about four to six months after the second dose, studies indicate. This demonstrates the importance of booster shots, especially among more vulnerable groups, such as the elderly. 

Equity in vaccinations

Tamati Shepherd-Wipiiti said he wants to celebrate some of the firsts for vulnerable communities, including overseas in America and Canada.

He said disability communities are doing really well, and there was a 3 percent to 4 percent increase in uptake on Super Saturday, the nationwide vaccination drive last month.    

Pacific organisations are smashing their targets, supported by churches and DHBs, he added.

Shepherd-Wipiiti noted that in Northland, DHB clinics are vaccinating about 48 percent of the population, while hauora are covering 25-28 percent, and GPs and pharmacies about 22 percent - equating to about 77 percent of Māori receiving their first dose and 61 percent being fully vaccinated.

There is a large number of rangatahi who need to get vaccinated but there has been a sizeable increase, he said.

Before Super Saturday, Māori vaccinations averaged about 2000 to 3000, and that has since increased to about 5000 a day.

He says the key question is whether there will be another nationwide 'vaxathon', but noted "the second movie is never as good as the first".

Shepherd-Wipiiti will be hosting a "fried bread Friday" in Kaiti, Gisborne to encourage vaccination uptake.

- RNZ / Newshub.

11:20am - After more than 90 days of lockdown, customers are being welcomed back inside Auckland Council libraries across the region from Wednesday, November 17.

"It is a really exciting day for our libraries team. They have been wanting to get back to what they love and do best, which is serve the public. They have done a fantastic job to get to this point," Councillor Cathy Casey, the deputy chair of Auckland Council's Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee, said on Tuesday. 

All 56 Auckland Council libraries will re-open for normal opening hours from Wednesday. Click-and-collect services will still be available at all sites from the main desk inside.

Public computers and printing will be available, as well as public Wi-Fi across all libraries from 9am to 8pm.

However, no staff-led programming, room bookings, 'book a librarian' sessions or Justice of the Peace services are available at this time. Research centres will also not be staffed. Assistance with accessing the research collections will be provided. Requests for in-depth, one-on-one research assistance will continue to be provided by phone and online. Manukau Research Centre will remain closed. 

For full details, visit OurAuckland.

11:10am - Counties Manukau Health is urging the community to remain vigilant, follow the rules and get fully vaccinated as the Government signals an easing of public health restrictions.

Dr Pete Watson, the Chief Medical Officer at Counties Manukau Health, is asking everyone in the community to have a plan in place in the event they contract COVID-19, with modelling suggesting that hospital admissions will peak at the end of November.

"Vaccination will help prevent most people from becoming critically unwell and needing hospitalisation with COVID-related illnesses, but it doesn't mean you won't contract the disease and be off work or school for a period," Dr Watson said on Tuesday.

"It is important people have a plan and know what they will do if they become unwell from COVID. We all need to think about who our support person would be, how we might get food and supplies, and it's always a good idea to have some medication like paracetamol or aspirin at home ready to take if you need it."

With Counties Manukau on its way to achieving 90 percent vaccination among its eligible population, Dr Watson is imploring the community to keep up the hard work.

"COVID-19 may find you, so we want everyone to protect themselves, their whānau and wider community and get vaccinated. If anyone does become unwell with cold or flu like symptoms, we urge them to call their doctor, Medical Centre or Healthline and follow their advice," he said.

"And if you do test positive for COVID-19, stay home and isolate from others, monitor your symptoms and call for medical advice if they change for the worse, such as becoming breathless from mild exertion like walking from one room to another at home."

Counties Manukau Health has provided some tips:

  • Protect yourself and others - get vaccinated and follow the public health guidance for social distancing, mask wearing, handing washing, etc.
  • Prepare your plan - consider things like who will be your support person, how you will isolate, and have some pain relief like paracetamol or aspirin at home.
  • Using your plan:
  •     if you become unwell, get a test and stay home
  •     follow the advice from your GP, Medical Centre or Healthline, and monitor your symptoms
  •     check in with your support person at least daily
  •     pain relief and drinking plenty of water will help if you develop minor symptoms like a cough, headache, and a mild temperature.
  • Change your plan - if your symptoms change and include feelings of breathlessness, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea, call your GP, Medical Centre or Healthline and follow their advice.
  • Go to hospital or call 111 if you feel very unwell. 

10:55am - Federated Farmers has provided a checklist to help New Zealand's farmers be prepared for the possibility of a family member or staffer testing positive for COVID-19.

As vaccination rates increase and New Zealand transitions to living alongside the virus, the agri-sector and Ministry for Primary Industries have been working together to ensure farmers are prepared, Federated Farmers, a lobby and advocacy group for farmers and rural communities, said on Tuesday.

The latest initiative is a checklist to help farmers prepare, including everything a neighbour or staffer would need to know should key people have to leave the farm for MIQ or hospital - right down to the names of dogs and where their food is located.

The checklist is available on the Federated Farmers website and was put together with the help of DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, NZ Pork, Deer Industry NZ, Poultry Industry Association of NZ and the Egg Producers Federation of NZ.

"It’s only a matter of time before we get more positive cases of COVID-19 turning up on farm," Federated Farmers' national board member and employment spokesperson, Chris Lewis, said on Tuesday.

"Distance from health and other facilities, workforce shortages and the need to continue to look after animals and crops raise all sorts of complications.

"As DHB Medical Officers of Health will be making the decision on whether it’s practicable for a farmer or key farm staff member to self-isolate on the farm, evidence of pre-planning and preparedness will be an important factor."

In a webinar hosted by Federated Farmers, Southern District Health Board Medical Officer of Health, Dr Michael Butchard, emphasised that being fully vaccinated is the "very best defence" if a COVID-positive farmer or key team member hopes to self-isolate on the farm.

Immunologist and Otago University associate professor, James Ussher, told the webinar a fully vaccinated person has a 75-80 percent lower chance of being infected with the virus.

"If you don’t get infected, you can’t pass it on to other people. So it’s about protecting yourself and protecting others."

The checklist can be downloaded from the Federated Farmers website.

10:45am - Speaking at a briefing regarding vaccination rates on Tuesday morning, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the aim of vaccinating 90 percent of New Zealand's eligible population is a milestone, not a target - and acknowledged it is a higher goal than what the Government initially imagined.  

"We're often asked, 'why 90 percent?'" Bloomfield said.

He explained that data modelling indicates that inoculating 90 percent of the eligible population will provide a very high level of protection, which is imperative to managing the ongoing outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.

10:40am - Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, has held a briefing regarding vaccination rates and the impact of inoculation on the COVID-19 response, including hospitalisations. 

Dr Bloomfield was joined by Professor Nikki Turner, Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre, and Tamati Shepherd-Wipiiti, GM Equity for the COVID-19 Vaccine Immunisation Programme.

You can watch the briefing here.

10:35am - The National Party is accusing the Government of "incompetence on a grand scale" after it was revealed more than 14,000 returnees who stayed in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) were not invoiced for their stay.

National's Chris Bishop uncovered the data after asking COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins via written parliamentary questions in October

Hipkins said at the time, MIQ estimated "around 14,366 returnees are still to be invoiced for stays prior to 24 March 2021" and in addition, "there are approximately 7759 returnees for whom officials have not yet been able to determine whether, or how much, they should be charged".

The minister said the liability for these returnees added up to about $36.2 million on top of the $138.9 million in invoices that had been issued to returnees to that date.

The reason invoices were not issued came down to "incomplete or inaccurate data", according to Hipkins, who said a "new, more streamlined platform has been implemented". 

On Tuesday, joint head of MIQ, Chris Bunny, told Newshub it took "the recovery of the money owed for MIQ stays very seriously". 

"Fundamentally it is taxpayers money and people should repay what they owe. It is our intention to invoice all those we are able to. The $36.2 million is an estimate of how much those invoices are worth, however we will not know the exact number until we have completed the invoicing. We expect this to be completed early in the New Year," he said.

Read more here.

10:25am - In case you missed it, the mandatory isolation period for fully vaccinated cases of COVID-19 has been reduced from two weeks to 10 days, while fully vaccinated close contacts are only required to isolate for seven.

Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall, an infectious diseases expert, said the change reflects the "different transmission dynamic of the Delta variant", a highly infectious strain of COVID-19.

"If you are vaccinated and catch COVID-19, by day 10 of infection you will pose a very low risk of passing on the virus - and do not need to isolate for as long as someone who's unvaccinated," Dr Verrall said on Tuesday. 

Read more here.

10:15am - There are more than 14,000 people who stayed in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) prior to March 24, 2021 who still haven't been invoiced, National's COVID-19 Response spokesperson, Chris Bishop, said on Tuesday, slamming the Government's "incompetent management".

Figures released to Bishop through written parliamentary questions to COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins have revealed that "around 14,366" returnees have yet to be invoiced for stays in MIQ prior to March 24, 2021. Additionally, officials have yet to determine whether or not approximately 7759 returnees should be charged - or how much they should pay.

The unsent invoices equate to more than $36 million in missing fees.

"These are incredible figures and reveal what a complete shambles the MIQ system is. The total liability owed to taxpayers is approximately $36.2 million," Bishop said.

"There are thousands of people who still haven't been invoiced for stays six, and even nine months ago. Even more incredibly, there are thousands of people the Government doesn't even know whether to charge or not.

"This is incompetence on a grand scale and we need answers from the Government as to why the system is so shambolic. MIQ was set up in a hurry so some teething problems could be expected, but it's now been running for 18 months.

"What a shambles."

On Tuesday morning, Newstalk ZB revealed invoices for close to 14,400 people have not been issued due to "incomplete or inaccurate [MIQ] data", despite these people having left MIQ months ago.

The written questions to Hipkins show there were problems with invoicing before the system was "streamlined" on March 24. It was around this date Hipkins said he was sending out debt collectors to track down money owed to the Government from returnees yet to pay their bills, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Bishop believes it's unlikely officials will be able to recover all of the missing money and much of it will have to be written off.

10am - Paid parking is set to resume in Gisborne, but Saturdays will remain free up until Christmas.

From Monday, November 22, parking charges will apply once again in Gisborne's city centre, a spokesperson for Gisborne District Council said on Monday.

"There has been no charge for parking in our CBD since the country went into alert level 4 on August 17 this year. It has stayed free through each alert level change," the spokesperson said. 

"But from Monday, don't forget to pop some money back in the meters again or use the 'pay by plate' system. The same hourly rates apply and our parking wardens will be back to patrol the meters."

Paid parking applies only between Monday and Fridays as the Council will continue to offer free parking on Saturdays up until Christmas.

9:45am - A leading women's health expert says breast cancer research has been put on hold for the past three months due to COVID-19 and the consequences will be devastating.

The head of Medical Genetics at Auckland University Professor Andrew Shelling says patients will suffer as a result.

Read the full story here

9:28am - Auckland mayor Phil Goff says high vaccination rates are key to Aucklanders being able to travel over summer.

"When we open up, we want to do so in a way that doesn't take us down the track of other countries - whether it's Victoria or New South Wales across the ditch or a country like Ireland… same size as us, they've lost 5500 people [to COVID], and a whole lot of people who have suffered terribly with long COVID," he said.

"We want to do it safely, but we know we have to open up and vaccination is the key to do that."

9:22am - A teacher at Auckland's Baradene College has tested positive for COVID-19. 

The teacher was infectious while at school last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, according to NZ Herald.

8:40am - Many schools are bracing for fewer staff today - as the COVID vaccine mandate kicks in.

Papatoetoe High School principal Vaughan Couillault has had to send seven stand-down letters to staff who are yet to comply.

But he says the end-of-year timetable offers some reprieve.

8:20am - People who are fully vaccinated will now spend less time isolating if they get COVID-19 or are a close contact of a case.

The isolation period for fully vaccinated COVID-19 cases in the community has been reduced from 14 days to 10 days, and must include 72 hours symptom-free.

The isolation period for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated COVID-19 cases will remain 14 days, including 72 hours symptom-free.

"If you are vaccinated and catch COVID-19, by day 10 of infection you will pose a very low risk of passing on the virus - and do not need to isolate for as long as someone who’s unvaccinated," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said.

"That's because the amount of viral, genetic material declines faster in fully vaccinated people.

"Vaccination also helps prevent a person with COVID-19 from becoming seriously ill and reduces the likelihood they’ll end up in hospital. It is the greatest protection we have against the virus."

Under the changes, household contacts of a COVID-19 case will self-isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status, because this group is at highest risk of contracting the virus.

"This change reflects the different transmission dynamic of the Delta variant," Verrall said.

Close contacts who are fully vaccinated need to self-isolate for 7 days. Close contacts who are partially vaccinated or not vaccinated need to self-isolate for 10 days.

8:09am - Auckland mayor Phil Goff says the Government needs to give Aucklanders certainty over when the border is opening. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to make a border announcement on Wednesday, and Goff says it cannot come soon enough for some businesses. 

"What I hope and what I expect will come out of that is a decision that sometime pretty early in December, Aucklanders will be able to travel again.

"I understand the Government's position, it's pretty tough for them. You open the border up and Aucklanders leave to go across the rest of the country and guess what, they take COVID with them… We're also in a situation now where we have got a very high percentage of our population vaccinated, and you just cannot keep a third of your country locked down forever. 

"There are businesses that are just on the edge and they can't go on much longer, the hospitality industry, they're looking forward to opening up."

8:01am - Over 40 year olds in Britain are being urged to get a booster shot if they want to save Christmas.

Europe has again become the epi-centre of the pandemic and there are fears it could spread to the UK.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson refuses to rule out a winter lockdown. 

7:47am - Around 2000 healthcare workers are still unvaccinated after the deadline to get the first dose passed on Monday.

From today no one can work in healthcare unless they've had at least one dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer jab or a Government exemption. 

Read the full story here.

7:32am - The Auckland Mayor is crossing his fingers that supercity residents can leave the region for Christmas.

The region has now been in lockdown for three month and there are more than 90 people in hospital with COVID-19.

Phil Goff says he hopes the Government sticks to its promise of allowing movement across the boundary in early December. 

7:22am - Fully vaccinated people who test positive for COVID now only have to isolate for 10 days. But unvaccinated people still need to isolate for the full 14 days. 

7:09am - China is battling the spread of its biggest COVID-19 outbreak caused by the Delta variant. Meanwhile, Cambodia became the latest country in Asia on Monday to end strict quarantine and travel measures for vaccinated arrivals, giving hope to businesses in the pandemic-hit tourism industry.

Read all the latest from around the world here

6:43am - With Māori COVID-19 vaccination rates trailing behind, a group of street heroes have pulled together making sure no whānau are left behind.

Māori doctors, community leaders, and more have been heading to the streets of south Auckland to engage and connect to our most vulnerable and korero kānohi ki te kānohi (face to face).

COVID vaccinations operations lead Summer Hawke says they're being led by their hearts but also by the data.

"They're the suburbs that we have the most Māori left to vaccinate," she says.

These areas include Papakura, Manurewa and Māngere.

Read the full story here

6:31am - Government believes only 0.2 percent of students are currently impacted by the education sector vaccine mandate. 

Workers returning to campus must have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 jab before today.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says only a tiny minority of schools are affected by staffing issues. 

6:28am - Medical professionals are frustrated over a lack of support after an increase in COVID hospitalisations.

Ninety people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care or high dependency units.

Sarah Dalton from the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists says they are facing 'extremely trying' conditions and aren't adequately staffed or paid. 

It comes after the New Zealand Nurse Organisation raised concerns there aren't enough nurses to deal with an influx in COVID patients. 

6:23am - The Auckland City Mission is worried they won't be able to meet the need for help over Christmas because it is already so high.

Missioner Helen Robinson says she's never seen this level of need before. 

"It's more than I have seen in my entire career."

She said they are distributing four times more food parcels now than February 2020, and they are worried they won't be able to keep up over Christmas.

"I've genuinely never seen this level of need before and I am concerned we will have to turn people away." 

6:16am - Waikato residents are being warned not to take their new liberties for granted.

The region will move down to COVID-19 alert level 2 at midnight tonight, allowing hospitality and close contact businesses to resume operations.

But Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate says that doesn't mean people should let their guards down.