As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, November 24

New Zealand will move to the COVID-19 Protection Framework next week, with December 3 officially marking 'Freedom Day' for Aucklanders after three months of restrictions. 

Hairdressers in Auckland will be able to open their doors from Thursday, November 25, in order to test the new 'My Vaccine Pass' system. Vaccine certificates will play a crucial role in the new framework, rewarding the fully vaccinated with a return to relatively normal life.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced New Zealand's international borders will begin to reopen in January. From January 17, fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers will be able to travel from Australia without managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) on arrival. Foreigners will be allowed to enter New Zealand from the end of April.

What you need to know

  • There are 215 new cases of COVID-19 to report on Wednesday - 181 in Auckland, 18 in Waikato, three in Northland, 12 in Bay of Plenty and one in Canterbury.
  • Eighty-seven people are in hospital, eight 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.
  • Hairdressers will be able to open in Auckland from November 25 to trial the My Vaccine Pass system.
  • 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.
  • The Government has launched its official My Vaccine Pass verification technology, the NZ Pass Verifier.
  • The Government is facing criticism from Opposition parties for rushing to pass the legislation for the COVID-19 Protection Framework under urgency, bypassing the select committee process.
  • Vaccine certificates are now available to download via My COVID Record.
  • New Zealand's international borders will begin to reopen from January.
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest here.

These live updates have finished.

9:05pm - Hospitals are feeling the pressure after nearly 1500 District Health Board (DHB) staff were left without jobs because of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.

Kaitaia Hospital has had to cancel two weeks of surgeries after a key worker refused to get vaccinated.

"They've had to, for a short period, cancel general anaesthetic surgery, so they can still do surgery that doesn't require anaesthetic," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says.

That's 32 patients who've had their operations cut after someone in the surgical team "wasn't prepared to be vaccinated".

A temporary replacement will start next week so surgeries can resume.

But there are fears other small communities could be in a similar situation as DHBs lose staff because of the vaccine mandate.

"One person down can make a really big gap and we can't always guarantee there'll be locum cover to fill that gap," says Sarah Dalton, executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's Alexa Cook here.

8:45pm - Professor Nikki Turner says she is "keen" for Kiwi children to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Medsafe has received the paperwork from Pfizer to approve the vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds, and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says children could get vaccinated in quarter one next year.

"There's two reasons for considering children's vaccinations. One is to protect their whanau, but the other is because the numbers game will be big," Turner says.

"And that's what you've seen in other countries, where they're beginning to get control over COVID in other age groups, and then it runs through the children."

In New Zealand, 0 to 9-year-olds have made up 18 percent of cases and 7 percent of hospitalisations in the Delta outbreak.

For some parents, the wait means months more of anxiety.

"I'm really keen to get them vaccinated and safe at school," parent Hannah Denton tells The Project.

But Professor Peter McIntyre, from the University of Otago's Department of Women's and Children's Health, says at the moment, the "most important thing" is for as many adults as possible to get vaccinated.

"In New Zealand, just as is the case in Australia and the US, [children] have become a bigger percentage of the cases, and that's partly because of Delta being more infectious and partly because the success of vaccines means that there's fewer cases in the older age groups," he tells The Project.

8:10pm - The Government's traffic light law was just rammed through Parliament at record speed - passed in under 24 hours.

But an employment lawyer says there's a major mistake that'll ban businesses from displaying their vaccination status. 

Despite the Ministry of Health working up draft 'fully vaccinated' posters set for summer, the Government has accidentally made displaying them illegal.

"Wanting to put a nice sticker on the window saying 100 percent vaccinated come on in - technically under the wording of this legislation that is an offence," Bridget Smith, Partner at SBM Legal, told Newshub. 

Smith says the bit of law which says businesses can't disclose the vaccination status of their employees doesn't have a consent caveat, meaning even if their employees agree, businesses can't advertise they're all fully vaccinated. 

"What you would call an unintended consequence of a piece of legislation that has been drafted very quickly," Smith says. 

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

7:50pm - ExportNZ says it welcomes the Government's announcement on when New Zealand’s border will begin to reopen, but for tourism operators, it says revised isolation measures mean they may miss out on business still.

ExportNZ director of advocacy Catherine Beard says she is pleased the Government has "taken a step in the right direction".

"We have been calling for dates to be announced so that businesses can plan their travel, so this will be welcomed by exporters," she says.

"Today's announcement will allow exporters to start reconnecting to their customers, get back out into the world and win more work."

Beard says while ditching MIQ is the right move, the requirement that all arrivals still spend seven days in self-isolation leaves the tourism sector with little to celebrate.

"We're looking at welcoming international travellers back to NZ from 30 April. We need to focus on how our COVID recovery efforts can support a high-value industry designed for short-stay, adventurous travellers."

Bears adds that New Zealand will have large COVID-related debts to pay back, "and supporting our business community to bring in foreign exchange earnings will make a significant difference".

"We also look forward to welcoming international business people back into New Zealand as we have been missing some key technical skills that have been holding up projects and investments in new technology and equipment."

7:30pm - Struggling Kiwi tourism businesses are disappointed by the border announcement.

They're not happy about the self-isolation requirement and the mayor of our tourism capital is calling it "a killer".

Tourism providers on the West Coast have been hanging on by a thread waiting for the borders to reopen. On Wednesday the future became clearer.

"Finally a date we've been waiting for what seems an eternity to give us some assurity about what's happening and going forward," Fox Guides CEO Rob Jewell says.

But the desire to return to normal hasn't resulted in a rush on vaccinations here. Around 900 Coasters are yet to receive their first vaccine dose.

"We're getting down to the hard-to-reach now we are hearing the anti-Government sentiment and a lot of push back from the people who just aren't into it," Grey District Mayor Tania Gibson says.

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's Kaysha Brownlie here.

6:45pm - ACT leader David Seymour says Labour needs to "stop milking gratitude" for giving citizens freedom and start explaining why restrictions are justified.

"It has the relationship between citizens and government back to front, and it's covering the fact the Government's systems aren't ready," he says.

"When the government wants to restrict our freedoms, it needs to justify them. What is the justification for preventing people from freely entering New Zealand and letting them self-isolate?

"Where is the cost-benefit analysis for closing the border to Australia until next year? We know that there is no greater risk than letting people move around New Zealand.

"What is the justification for knee-capping the tourism industry for another four months? As with all these decisions, no comparison of costs and benefits is given."

Seymour says there's no justification for the delay, except that the Government "is not ready". He adds it's like how the traffic light system "was never about vaccine rates" but instead about the Government getting systems ready.

"The truth is that home isolation has been disastrous so far. People have been without contact, and even died. The Government does not have the systems in place for home isolation. There are a million New Zealanders overseas, so many of the team of six million must miss Christmas," Seymour says.

"Professors Michael Baker and Nick Wilson from the University of Otago have pointed out that a shopper at an Auckland supermarket is more likely to give you COVID-19 than a fully-vaccinated negative tested traveller from, say, Canada.

"Aucklanders will be able to move around New Zealand from December 15, but not foreigners who are less of a risk. There is no longer any logic in restricting New Zealanders', or other citizens', freedoms to enter the country."

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub.

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

  • Unichem Pharmacy Greerton, November 19 from 1:45pm to 4pm
  • Domino's Pizza Greerton, November 20 from 12:05pm to 1:20pm
  • BP Gas Station Gate Pa Tauranga, November 20 from 1:15pm to 2:30pm.

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

5:40pm - Air New Zealand says it welcomes the news that New Zealanders will be able to travel to and from Australia from mid January and the rest of the world from mid February.

In line with the Government's requirements, all Air New Zealand customers will need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure and must complete seven days home isolation upon arrival into New Zealand.

"Today's announcement signals the beginning of the return to international travel. This is incredibly exciting news for New Zealanders at home and overseas and we can't wait to welcome our customers back on board," says Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty.

"We've kept our operation ready for this, so look forward to seeing the tens of thousands of Kiwis who'll be making plans to board our aircraft soon.

"A date for travel is the certainty that Air New Zealand has been waiting for, and while it would have been nice to reunite friends and families this side of Christmas, customers will now have the confidence to plan reunions and holidays into the New Year."

Geraghty says the airline is hopeful the plans to reopen the border to all customers globally can be brought forward.

"We can be ready before late April to fly visitors from around the globe and we're hoping New Zealand's success with vaccinations will see that decision reviewed and brought forward in the New Year."

Air New Zealand will readjust its schedule to reflect the border plan for trans-Tasman and global travel.

Quarantine free 'green' flights from Australia and New Zealand from January 1 to 16 will be cancelled, and customers will be reaccommodated on other services or have their fares placed into credit. The airline continues to operate a reduced schedule of flights into Sydney and Melbourne and 'red flights' from Australia into New Zealand for those with MIQ spots.

Customers are encouraged to use the airline's self-service options to adjust their booking or place their fare into credit.

Those wanting to book to travel can do so via the Air New Zealand website where customers with credits can also use them as a form of payment.

5:10pm - The Waikato DHB has organised a vaccination weekend this weekend, with pop-up vaccine sites, drive-throughs, prizes, extended hours, music, and kai on offer to encourage Māori whānau and all who have not had their shot.

Waikato's kaupapa Māori providers, the DHB, community houses, councils, and churches are all doing their part to help Māori reach 90 percent vaccination rates. 

Chair of Waikato-Tainui, Linda Te Aho, encourages whānau to come out and get vaccinated so they can continue to enjoy these sorts of events as summer approaches and at the same time, protect their whānau and friends.

Currently, 90.1 percent of the overall Waikato population have received their first dose and 81.4 percent are fully vaccinated. But only 79.5 percent of their Māori population have received their first dose, needing a further 7102 people to reach the 90 percent first dose target.

"We can go a long way to achieving this milestone in one weekend if we go all-in," Te Aho says.

People can go to around 20 events across the region this weekend without a booking. Anyone aged over 12 who hasn't been vaccinated yet or had their first vaccination at least three weeks ago can drop in and get vaccinated on the spot.

Across the different locations there will be free food, entertainment, spot prizes and more, plus the chance for people to do their bit to protect their community, whānau and themselves.

More information on the weekend's events is here.

4:40pm - The long-awaited announcement on when Aotearoa's borders will reopen to the world was made on Wednesday afternoon and it's not entirely good news for Kiwis here and overseas.

Minister for COVID-19 Response, Chris Hipkins, announced "fully vaccinated New Zealanders will find it easier to come home from January 2022."

The announcement included three key dates for the reopening of our borders amid the pandemic. But what do they mean for you?

Read the full story here.

4:25pm - National's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says the Government's Bill that gives effect to the traffic light system shows a Government that is "contemptuous of Parliament, contemptuous of the New Zealand people and contemptuous of the rule of law".

"Respected public law scholars like Dr Dean Knight have called the Bill a 'constitutional disgrace' and they are right," Bishop says.

"In under 24 hours the Government has rammed a Bill through Parliament under urgency to give itself the power to regulate broad swathes of New Zealanders' lives. Forty percent of the New Zealand workforce will purportedly be covered by a vaccine mandate but the legal power to do this has had basically no scrutiny."

Bishop says National got a copy of the Bill on Monday night.

"There has been no select committee scrutiny and no public submissions. There is no Regulatory Impact Statement. Policy papers relating to the Framework and the Bill won't be available until late January 2022," he says.

"This is a disgraceful way to make important law. The Government had plenty of time to get the details of the Framework right and get the legislation into the Parliament so it could be scrutinised."

He says the urgency of the Bill shows that the Government had "no plan for Delta".

"The Government assumed elimination would work, and when it failed it had no back-up plan. Since August the government has been scrambling, making it up week by week. The framework was only announced in October and legislation only started to be drafted after that," he says.

"There are real concerns about the way the legislation has been drafted. Enormous, broad powers are given to the government and massive parts of the framework are simply being left to Ministers and officials to sort out later.

"This is incompetence and arrogance on a grand scale. Parliament and the people of New Zealand deserve much better."

Chris Bishop.
Chris Bishop. Photo credit: Newshub.

4:10pm - There are four new locations of interest. They are:

  • Unichem Greerton, November 15 from 3:45pm to 5pm
  • Baker Bob's Bakery and Cafe Tauranga, November 19 from 10:05am to 11:27am
  • New World Brookfield, November 19 from 12pm to 1:30pm
  • Caltex Petrol Station Western Hills, November 23 from 10:15am to 10:30am.

3:50pm - The Human Rights Commission says a human rights and Te Tiriti lens is "urgently needed" on the implementation of the traffic light system.

"The challenge is balancing the duty to protect peoples' right to health and life while also protecting the right to freedom of movement and assembly," says chief commissioner Paul Hunt.

"It is a difficult and at times contentious balance between competing rights, but we must not shy away from the fact that human rights and Tiriti obligations must not be undermined in times of national emergency."

The Commission is releasing a series of briefings on the human rights and Tiriti implications of the new protection framework to aid the public and policy makers.

The briefings are available here:

"Human rights and Tiriti can help to ensure implementation of all measures are effective, balanced, fair, reasonable, non-discriminatory, proportionate and subject to independent review. The Government must honour this if it wishes to retain the public’s trust and confidence," Hunt says.

The briefings provide background on the protection framework, as well as the general and specific human rights and Tiriti conditions on the use of vaccination passes that must be met.

The Commission says urgent legislation being debated in Parliament may bring the new traffic light system into effect in a matter of weeks, and yesterday it asked for the legislation to be given proper scrutiny.

"The 11 general conditions outlined in the briefings should be the bare minimum check on the new legislation and its implementation," Hunt says.

"New measures to manage and limit movement will help to prevent the spread of the Delta variant but need to be in proportion to risk and able to be reviewed."

3:20pm - Auckland Council's 42 pool and leisure centres will require all Aucklanders aged 12 and over to be fully vaccinated in order to use the facilities, under the red and orange protection framework levels.

As Auckland moves into the protection framework on December 3, gyms, group fitness, and recreation centres will open to those with COVID Vaccination Passes. Pools, meanwhile, will reopen on December 6, giving extra time for them to be recommissioned and heated, and for summer lifeguards to be inducted and for staff to renew their poolside training.

These new settings will apply to all council-run and council-contracted facilities, including YMCA, Community Leisure Management and Belgravia Leisure centres.

"After close to 100 days of lockdown, Aucklanders will welcome being able to return to pools and leisure centres around the region to get some exercise, enjoy sports and reconnect with friends," says Mayor Phil Goff.

"A vaccination requirement for staff and everyone using our facilities will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading and will keep our communities safe. It will also act as a strong incentive to those not yet vaccinated to get it done as soon as possible."

Councillor Alf Filipaina, chair of the council's Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee, says as has been the case since COVID-19 emerged last year, the health and safety of their staff and customers is the top priority.

"Vaccinations play a critical role in keeping Aucklanders safe from COVID-19 and is the best way of protecting our people against the virus," he says.

"The anticipated move next week to the Government's new COVID-19 Protection Framework means we have had to seriously consider how we reopen our pools and leisure centres safely.

"Under the Red and Orange levels of the CPF, facilities such as gyms, group fitness, cafés, swim school and events cannot open without the mandatory use of vaccine passes for all customers and staff."

2:50pm - National's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says the Government's "panicked" MIQ announcement isn't enough and Jacinda Ardern is preventing Kiwis coming home for Christmas.

"This timetable to open New Zealand to the world is truly pathetic. Yesterday Chris Hipkins admitted that not a single fully vaccinated traveller from Australia to New Zealand in the last three months has tested positive for COVID after arriving into New Zealand. There is no reason why the trans-Tasman Bubble should not be open right now," Bishop says.

"The Government's announcement that New Zealand citizens and permanent residents can skip MIQ when travelling from Australia from January 16 does nothing for Kiwis who want to come home for Christmas.

"Likewise the announcement does nothing for tourism. Australians can't even come to New Zealand until April, and the requirement for one week's self-isolation in New Zealand will put many off."

Bishop says the requirement for a week's self-isolation in New Zealand isn't proportionate to the risk, since Kiwis can travel to the likes of NSW without any self-isolation or quarantine.

The big announcement is just a small step forward for Kiwis in Australia – but only from January. What is the rationale for partly reopening the border to New Zealanders in Australia only in January 2022? Why can't it be done now?" he says.

"Only yesterday Air New Zealand cancelled hundreds of flights so the airlines are clearly ready to go and there is clearly demand."

He adds that MIQ needs to end now.

"National's petition to end MIQ is nearly at 100,000 people and continues to grow as people wake up to the stupidity of having thousands of people isolate at home with COVID in New Zealand while fully vaccinated travellers without COVID go into MIQ.

"The Prime Minister calls fully vaccinated travellers to New Zealand 'cumulative risks' and likens them to 'striking matches in a forest'. National thinks they are people with rights and it's about time the Government recognised them."

2:10pm - Here are the latest locations of interest as of 2pm:

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, November 24
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, November 24
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, November 24

1:30pm - Here's the regional updates from the Ministry of Health regarding Wednesday's cases:

Today's cases

Today we are announcing new community cases in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Canterbury. There are no additional cases to report today in Lakes, MidCentral, Wairarapa or Wellington.

Information on today's cases is included in the regional updates below. Anyone living in these areas with symptoms, no matter how mild, is urged to get tested – even if they are vaccinated – and remain isolated until they return a negative result. A full list of testing centres can be found on the Healthpoint website.

Regional updates


There are three new cases being reported in Northland today, two in Kaitaia (one unlinked) and one in Whangarei. The Whangarei case and one of the Kaitaia cases are close contacts of existing cases and were already isolating.

There are several new locations of interest for the Northland region listed on the Ministry website here.

Testing and vaccination clinics operating today are listed on the Northland DHB website.


Today, there are 181 new cases to report in Auckland. 

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

Public health staff are now supporting 4524 people to isolate at home around Auckland - this includes 1578 cases. 


There are 18 new cases being reported in Waikato today. One of those is being cared for at Waikato Hospital.

There are seven pop-up and dedicated testing sites operating across Waikato today in Hamilton, Tokoroa, Putāruru, Ōtorohanga, Thames and Te Kūiti

In the Waikato region, public health staff are now supporting 139 cases to isolate at home.

Bay of Plenty

Today we are reporting 12 new cases today in the Bay of Plenty, bringing the region's total number of cases associated with this outbreak to 53.

Six of the cases are known close contacts and were already in isolation. Interviews with three of the cases are underway to determine the source of their infection, which includes a case in eastern Bay of Plenty.

In response to the detection of the case in eastern Bay of Plenty, additional testing is being carried out today at the Waimana Club Rooms from 1pm until late.

Testing will also be available from the Whakatāne War memorial tomorrow from 9am to 4pm. Further information on testing in the region will be updated on the Bay of Plenty DHB Facebook page.

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.


The one case being reported in Canterbury today has been deemed historical and is no longer considered infectious. They are a close contact of a previously reported case.

1:26pm - Here's an update from the Ministry of Health on the vaccination status of patients who have died in the outbreak to date:

We will now be reporting on the vaccination status of those who have died with COVID-19 in the current outbreak. These numbers will be published on the Ministry of Health website and updated as privacy considerations allow.

There is sometimes a lag between the deaths being reported publicly and their inclusion in the Ministry of Health’s official numbers. Of the 15 deaths recorded by the Ministry of Health in the current outbreak to date, we can report that 10 were unvaccinated, two had one dose less than 14 days before they contracted COVID-19 and three were fully vaccinated (at least 14 days prior to contracting COVID-19).

There is clear evidence that vaccination greatly reduces the likelihood people will end up in hospital or die from COVID-19. A British Medical Journal study reported last month, based on research carried out in Scotland, that Pfizer vaccine was 90 percent effective in preventing death from COVID-19 – where most infections were caused by the Delta variant.

1:25pm - Here's the full statement from the Ministry of Health about Wednesday's cases:

More than 18,000 vaccine doses administered yesterday; 215 cases; 87 in hospital - 8 in ICU

There were 18,880 first and second vaccine doses administered yesterday, made up of 6,496 first doses and 12,384 second doses. To date, 92 percent of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 84 percent are fully vaccinated.

As of 9am today, more than 1,664,000 million requests for a My Vaccine Pass had been processed.

COVID-19 vaccine update


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

7,386,242: 3,853,592 first doses (92 pct); 3,532,650 second doses (84 pct)

Total first and second vaccines administered yesterday

18,880: 6,496 first doses; 12,384 second doses

Māori (percentage of eligible people)

827,488: 455,625 first doses (80 pct); 371,863 second doses (65 pct)

Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people)

484,507: 256,975 first doses (90 pct); 227,532 second doses (79 pct)

Total first and second vaccines administered to Auckland residents yesterday

4,125: 1,179 first doses; 2,946 second doses

Vaccination rates by DHB (with active cases)


Northland DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (84 pct); second doses (74 pct)

Auckland Metro DHBs (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (93 pct); second doses (88 pct)

Waikato DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (90 pct); second doses (82 pct)

Canterbury DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (94 pct); second doses (86 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 (82 pct)

Bay of Plenty DHB (percentage  of eligible people)

First doses (88 pct); second doses (79 pct)

Wairarapa DHB (percentage of eligible people)

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

Hawkes Bay DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (90 pct); second doses (80 pct)

Capital and Coast DHB (percentage of eligible people)

First doses (94 pct); second doses (89 pct)



Cases in hospital

87 (including 3 still being assessed): North Shore (21); Middlemore (27); Auckland (37); Waikato (1); Rotorua (1)

Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern  Region wards only as of 24 November)

Unvaccinated or not eligible (47 cases / 57 pct); partially vaccinated<14 days (7 cases / 9 pct) partially vaccinated >14 days (7 cases / 9  pct); fully vaccinated <14 days (0 cases / 0 pct) fully vaccinated >14 days (15 cases / 17 pct); unknown (6 cases / 7 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 (181), Waikato (18), Northland (3), Bay of Plenty (12), *Canterbury (1)

Location of community cases (total)

Auckland 6,939 (2,287 of whom have recovered); Waikato 379 (108 of whom have recovered); Wellington 18 (17 of whom have recovered); **Northland 72 (39 of whom have recovered); Nelson/Marlborough 1 (recovered); Canterbury 8 (4 of whom have recovered); Taranaki 6 (all of whom have recovered); Lakes 24; MidCentral 4; Bay of Plenty 30; Wairarapa 3

Number of community cases (total)

7,484 (in current community outbreak)

Confirmed cases (total)


*Historical cases

199 out of 8,435 cases since 1 January

Cases infectious in the community***

74 of 202 cases reported yesterday have exposure events

Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infectious***

128 of 202 cases reported yesterday have no exposure events

Cases epidemiologically linked

97 of today's 215 new cases

Cases to be epidemiologically linked

118 of today's 215 new cases

Cases epidemiologically linked (total)

5660 (920 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)

68 pct

Percentage who have returned at least one result

   73 pct

Locations of interest


Locations of interest (total)

162 (as at 10am 24 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

No unexpected results



Registered users (total)


Poster scans (total)


Manual diary entries (total)


Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday


* A case reported today in Canterbury is deemed to be historical (see below).

** One previously reported Northland case has been reallocated to Counties Manukau DHB, which means the net increase today is two.

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

1:20pm - Here are the details about the phased reopening of New Zealand's international border:

  • Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to New Zealand from Australia without staying in MIQ from 11:59pm on Sunday, January 16, 2022.
  • Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to New Zealand from all other countries from 11:59pm Sunday, February 13, 2022.
  • All fully vaccinated individuals will be able to travel to New Zealand from April 30, 2022 onwards, with the re-opening staged over time.
  • The Very High-Risk classification for Indonesia, Fiji, India, Pakistan and Brazil will be removed early next month.

Fully vaccinated New Zealanders will find it easier to come home from January 2022, with foreign nationals to follow from April onwards as the Government removes the requirement for managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) for most travellers, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced on Wednesday.

"Closing our border was one of the first steps we took to keep our country safe from COVID-19 and it'll be the last thing we open up, following our transition into the traffic light protection framework system and lifting of the Auckland boundary," Hipkins said.

"We have a clear, simple and safe plan, including a mandatory period of self-isolation. The border will open in three steps and all travellers not required to go into MIQ will still require:

  • a negative pre-departure test
  • proof of being fully vaccinated
  • a passenger declaration about travel history
  • a day 0/1 test on arrival
  • a requirement to self-isolate for seven days, and
  • a final negative test before entering the community.

"We are making this announcement today to give families, businesses, visitors and airline and airport companies certainty and time to prepare. It's very encouraging that as a country we are now in a position to move towards greater normality.

"We always said we'd open in a controlled way, and this started with halving the time spent in MIQ to seven days. Retaining a seven-day 'isolate at home' period for fully vaccinated travellers is an important phase in the reconnecting strategy to provide continued safety assurance. These settings will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand."

Here are the three steps for when travellers can enter New Zealand without entering MIQ:   

  • Step 1 – opening to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and those residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under our current settings from Australia from 11:59 pm on January 16, 2022 (provided they have been in Australia or New Zealand for the past 14 days).
  • Step 2 – opening to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and those residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under our current border settings, from all but Very High-Risk countries, from 11:59pm on Sunday, February 13.
  • Step 3 – opening to fully vaccinated foreign nationals (possibly staged by visa category), from April 30 onwards.

"Some people and businesses want us to start to open up before Christmas, and that's understandable, but others want us to be more cautious. We acknowledge it's been tough but the end of heavily restricted travel is now in sight," Hipkins said.

"There continues to be a global pandemic with cases surging in Europe and other parts of the world, so we do need to be very careful when reopening the border.

"In the end, we've done what we've always done, and that is to follow expert advice – which continues to show us the border is our biggest risk for new cases. For example, our current outbreak which now has over 7000 cases associated with it, stems from a single traveller traveling from Australia to New Zealand.

"A phased approach to reconnecting with the world is the safest approach to ensure risk is carefully managed. This reduces any potential impacts on vulnerable communities and the New Zealand health system.

"Our dates for opening of borders logically follows the bedding in of the traffic light system, the lifting of the Auckland border, time for regions to get their vaccination rates higher still and for booster shots to be rolled out.

"Further details on how self-isolation will be implemented will be made available in December, and include guidance on how people can travel from their arrival airport to their location of self-isolation and requirements for the places where they can self-isolate.

"This does not mean the end of MIQ as a system, which was always intended to be temporary at this scale and has served us incredibly well – with more than 190,000 people brought home since our borders closed in March 2020. There will continue to be a role for it in the foreseeable future." 

1:15pm - A number of children under the age of 12 have been hospitalised with COVID-19, Dr Bloomfield said. During the outbreak, 42 have been assessed at hospital and 19 have spent at least 24 hours or longer to receive treatment. Of those, one was aged five to 12, six were aged one to four, and 12 were aged under one.

1:13pm - There are 215 new cases to report today - 181 in Auckland, 18 in Waikato, three in Northland, 12 in Bay of Plenty, and one in Canterbury. A comprehensive breakdown of the cases will be provided shortly.

There are currently 87 people with COVID-19 in hospital.

Regarding the vaccination status of the 15 people who have died with COVID-19 during this outbreak, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed 10 were unvaccinated, two were partially vaccinated - they had their first dose less than 14 days before contracting COVID-19 - and three were fully vaccinated, and had their second dose more than 14 days before their diagnosis.

1:09pm - Hipkins confirmed that Indonesia, Fiji, India, Pakistan and Brazil will be removed from high-risk designation from early December and travellers from these nationswill be enter on the same basis as others.

Papua New Guinea remains classified as a very high-risk country. 

1:07pm - Chris Hipkins has taken the podium.

Fully vaccinated New Zealanders "will find it easier to come home from January" he says. Foreign nationals will follow from April.

The opening of the border will take place in three steps, with travellers to self-isolate at home for seven days on arrival.

  • From 11:59pm on January 16, fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to New Zealand from Australia without entering a managed isolation and quarantine facility (MIQ) on arrival.
  • From 11:59pm on February 13, fully vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible travellers can travel to New Zealand from all other countries.
  • From April 30, all fully vaccinated individuals will be able to travel to New Zealand from any country in a staged re-opening.

Travellers will be required to present a negative pre-departure test, proof of vaccination and a passenger declaration to ensure they haven't been in a high-risk country in the last 14 days. They will also be required to return a negative test before entering the community.

12:55pm - Pacific communities across the nation have rolled up their sleeves and played their part to reach a major vaccination milestone - 90 percent  have now had their first vaccination, Aupito William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Health, said on Wednesday.

"Reaching this milestone reflects the work Pacific Health Providers and other community leaders have put into reaching people in our Pacific communities across Aotearoa to support the vaccination drive, by door-knocking, going to workplaces and places of worship to vaccinate," he said.

"However, we still have work to do to reach those who are yet to receive their first dose, and also to encourage our communities to get their second dose, which will help us be able to get back to doing all the things we enjoy over the coming summer.

"We know that giving Pacific people and Pacific providers a say to lead in the delivery of vaccination services is what works for our communities. That innovative approach by Pacific providers using our Pacific language­ and cultural intelligence has been embraced by everyone."

Targeted initiatives have included pop-up vaccination events, community outreach activity, a special 0800 booking number staffed by Pacific language speakers, and vaccination buses targeting harder-to-reach communities and areas where vaccination rates are low.

"And over the last year the Ministry of Health, in partnership with the Ministry of Pacific Peoples, has set up Pacific community roadshows and online fono across the country with the involvement of Pacific youth. These forums saw robust discussion about misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine hesitancy in the community," Sio said.

"We have also ensured that we have content in the nine Pacific languages on our Unite Against COVID-19 website, and targeted Pacific content in our communications campaigns.

"The Ministry of Health has also commissioned research to better understand Pacific peoples' attitudes towards the COVID-19 vaccination, which helps to further refine our approach towards addressing vaccine hesitancy and misinformation amongst Pacific communities.

"In the meantime, I encourage everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand who has had their first dose to book their second dose if they haven't already, by visiting or by calling Healthline. We want all our communities to be protected against COVID-19."

12:50pm - It's expected COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins will reveal an announcement regarding the international border during the 1pm update. Tune in live now above or via our livestream here.

12:10pm - There a number of new locations of interest in Mt Maunganui. See below for the details:

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, November 24
As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, November 24

11:55am - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will front a press conference today at 1pm. You can watch the briefing live via our livestream, which will be available to view above these updates.

11:40am - Pacific health providers are finally taking the lead in caring for people with COVID-19 who are self-isolating in Auckland.

Until now, Pacific people with COVID-19 have been initially contacted by the Ministry of Health or District Health Boards before referral, frustrating Pacific-led health teams who are forced to take a back seat.

Now, a small pilot has started to look at switching up the process. South Seas Healthcare is first up, taking the lead with two families this week.

Chief executive Lemalu Silao Vaisola-Sefo said they would contact people as soon as they tested positive and remain in touch, making sure they are equipped with basic necessities including food, housing, and other welfare needs.

His teams had taken a lead role in caring for, and containing, one of the largest clusters of this outbreak - the Assembly of God cluster - but that was only after they were given the go-ahead by health authorities.

He said it's important Pacific teams are making contact from the start with those who are self-isolating.

Speaking the same language or having a cultural understanding ensures important information, like what to do to keep safe and how they can get help, is effectively communicated.

Read more here.

11:25am - More and more school-aged children are contracting COVID-19, with 36 percent of the 4828 active cases being 19 or under.

Almost one in five, or 18.5 percent, of infections are in children aged nine or younger, up from 12.7 percent at the start of September.

Of the 7268 people that have tested positive since the outbreak began in August, 1342 have been aged between zero and nine and 1237 have been aged between 10 and 19, according to Ministry of Health data.

Children and young people aged from zero to 19 have accounted for 10 percent of all hospitalisations - during the outbreak, 27 children aged nine and under have been hospitalised with the virus so far.

As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, November 24
Photo credit: Ministry of Health

11:10am - There are no new locations of interest to report so far on Wednesday - the latest were added at 6pm on Tuesday. Here's a recap:

  • Paengaroa Country Store, Te Puke
  • Far North Pharmacy Ltd, Kaitaia.

As always, the relevant dates, times and public health advice can be found here.

11am - Police figures indicate more than a four-fold increase in violence and disorder in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) hotels this year, compared to 2020.

In the 10 months from January 12, police logged 259 callouts to the hotels and laid just four charges, compared to just 57 incidents in the nine-and-a-half months prior.

Unions and MIQ officials say the largest increase has been in the three months since the Delta outbreak began, which saw an influx of cases and their contacts being transferred to the facilities.

The callouts include 154 reports of drunk, disruptive, abusive or physically aggressive guests, 69 family harm incidents and 36 of threatened or attempted self-harm.

Last year, there were 25 reports of family harm and 22 of threatened or attempted self-harm.

The figures come after MIQ staff were warned earlier this month not to walk through the hotels alone and to take a security escort when visiting certain guests.

Police Association president Chris Cahill said there had been a definite change in the behaviour that officers are seeing at MIQ hotels.

"There's lot of people who are a lot angrier and a lot less likely to follow directions that police have to deal with, and certainly alcohol continues to be a significant problem," he said.

The behaviour could be linked to people being taken to the facilities at very short notice in stressful circumstances, Cahill said.

Despite the 259 reported incidents, the police laid just four charges - two for disorder and two for family harm.

Cahill accepted that figure was low, but said officers had to tread carefully where COVID-19 could be present and focus on "settling the immediate situation".


10:45am - Indian New Zealanders are among the most highly vaccinated in the country.

More than 200,000 Indian New Zealanders have heeded the call to get vaccinated against COVID-10. The ethnic group makes up the largest eligible Asian population and has one of the highest uptakes of the vaccine per capita among ethnic groups, according to Ministry of Health data.

The Indian population is so highly vaccinated, it has made a mockery of the projected figures based on the 2020 population of health services users: 103 percent of those eligible have had their first shot, and 97 percent are fully vaccinated. The figures outperform health service user expectations across all age demographics and DHBs.


10:35am - This week in 1918, roughly 9000 people in New Zealand died from the influenza pandemic - since COVID-19 arrived on our shores last year, 40 deaths have so far been linked to the virus.

The 1918 influenza pandemic, also known as the Spanish Flu, was sparked by the spread of the exceptionally deadly H1N1 influenza A virus, which is estimated to have killed 50 million people worldwide near the end of World War I. 

It was 100 years later when the deadliest respiratory virus pandemic since the Spanish Flu took hold: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which began in December 2019 and is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. It has so far claimed more than 5 million lives worldwide.

Similar to 1918, Māori have been disproportionately affected. Māori make up 43 percent of all cases of COVID-19, despite representing about 15 percent of the population. In 1918, the death rate among Māori was more than eight times that of Pākehā. 

The glaring difference between the two pandemics is vaccination. More than 90 percent of the eligible population have now had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, less than two years after the virus arrived in New Zealand.

This week in 1918, New Zealand reached peak mortality during the influenza pandemic - here's how it compares to COVID-19.

10:20am - A senior lecturer at the Auckland University of Technology's Department of Public Health is calling for greater engagement between health officials and Pacific people, saying the Government has struggled to communicate its directives to Pasifika communities.

Christmas is a time for extended social gatherings among Pasifika communities, Dr Jalal Mohammed said on Wednesday. As the Government steamrolls its legislation for the COVID-19 Protection Framework through Parliament, Dr Mohammed is concerned that official communication with Pacific people has been lacking, possibly putting their communities at risk - particularly with socialising set to increase.

"The 'traffic light' system will be met with welcome and caution within Pacific communities. The Christmas period is a time for extended social gatherings within Pacific communities across the country. These gatherings will include multi-generational community members, including those under 12 who are exempt from the testing requirement," Dr Mohammed said.

However, with the vaccination rate among Pasifika remaining lower than that of the general population, he says it's imperative that "caution is exercised" to protect these communities from widespread transmission. He says the Government should be engaging with community leaders and religious figureheads to ensure the public health messaging is communicated and understood.

"The confusing messaging around the 'traffic light' is a missed opportunity to engage with Pasifika communities in a time where social gatherings within the community are expected to increase," he said.

"I would like to see more engagement with Pasifika leaders, religious and community organisations to ensure messaging that is easily understood by the community to mitigate some of the risks of virus spread - particularly in regions where Pasifika vaccinations are low."

10:05am - An expert is warning of "wide-reaching consequences" if less vaccinated communities are "left behind" as New Zealand steamrolls ahead with the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, an immunologist and senior lecturer of Pathology & Molecular Medicine at the University of Otago Wellington, says it's imperative vaccination rates continue to increase across all age brackets, geographic locations and ethnic groups to offer widespread protection. 

She says it's inevitable that the spread of COVID-19 will accelerate when New Zealand transitions to the 'traffic light' system next week, which will allow businesses to reopen with restrictions in place and allow the fully vaccinated to resume a relatively normal life, but with vaccine certificates in play.

"With more people interacting and getting out and about coming into close contact with each other, there's a risk that this will promote and accelerate spread of the virus - especially for those who are vulnerable to COVID-19, and those who remain unvaccinated, including our children," Sika-Paotonu said on Wednesday.

"Areas remain where there is lower COVID-19 vaccination coverage... It is critical that vaccination levels continue to increase across age groups, geographic locations and all ethnic groups to help keep everyone safe from COVID-19."

She says Māori and Pacific communities are particularly at risk given the lower rates of vaccination. She warns that if people are left behind by the Government, there will be "wide-reaching consequences".

"High double-dose vaccination levels for Māori and Pacific peoples of at least 90 to 95 percent will still be needed to help keep our most vulnerable communities safe from COVID-19," she said.

"Leaving anyone behind and unprotected, given the adverse health impact already seen for the most vulnerable in Aotearoa New Zealand, will have wide-reaching consequences. It has been devastating to hear of the recent deaths and passing away of individuals in hospital and while in isolation during this Delta outbreak in Aotearoa New Zealand – with sympathies and condolences respectfully extended to all family, whānau and aiga at this time."

9:50am - Foodstuffs, the grocery company that owns New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square, says it is considering making vaccination mandatory for specific roles in its business.

It comes after Countdown announced on Tuesday it would be requiring all 21,000 of its staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 10.

In a statement to Newshub, Emma Wooster, the corporate affairs manager for Foodstuffs New Zealand, said the company's management is currently "considering the part vaccines play" in its co-ops and is consulting on the roles that "may need to be performed by people who are vaccinated".

"Looking after our people and customers is a top priority for us and since the outbreak of Delta in our communities, we have been doing all we can to to protect them. As New Zealand shifts from an elimination strategy against COVID-19 to preparing for the ongoing management of COVID-19 in our communities, we want to continue to do everything we can to create safe workplaces for our team and a safe place for New Zealanders to shop," Wooster said.

"This is even more important in an essential service business like ours... We're now considering the part vaccines play in our co-ops and we're consulting on the roles that may need to be performed by people who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

"Customers aren't required to be vaccinated to shop with us in store. No decision will be made until the consultation period is complete and we've had a chance to consider all the feedback."

9:40am - A student at Mount Maunganui Intermediate School has tested positive for COVID-19.

On Wednesday morning, parents at the school were sent an email confirming a student had tested positive for the virus.

In the email, principal Melissa Nelson said she had spoken with the Ministry of Health on Tuesday night and had been advised to keep the school open.

"Our school is staying open based on international and local evidence and experience, the risk of COVID-19 transmission within school settings is considered low," the email said, as reported by the New Zealand Herald.

All students who had been in the classroom with the confirmed case were contacted overnight and asked to stay at home and isolate, according to the email.

These students will receive direct instructions from the ministry on Wednesday regarding testing requirements. They will not return to the school until they have followed the directives.

9:25am - Disposable masks, washed and re-worn, still offer better protection than a triple-layered cloth alternative, a group of New Zealand researchers say.

The study concluded that disposable masks could be put through a washing machine 10 times and still outperform three layers of cotton.

On the streets of central Auckland, many people have chosen fabric alternatives over disposable masks, including Nora, who was wearing one dotted with colourful flower patterns.

"You don't need to waste [the mask] all the time... You don't have to throw [them] away and it's very fashionable, very cute," she said, adding that it's also more comfortable.

Nelson-based microbiologist Richard Everts said it was a "false benefit" to seek comfort over protection as some fabric masks consist of thin layers and may not fit the face well.

The research project lead said the performance of single-use commercial medical masks are the result of decades of research.

"We found that commercial masks, even when you wash them 10 times, were better than the fabrics - even when you had three layers of fabric, one on top of the other, the commercial masks were still better."

Read more here.

9:15am - Judith Collins has described the rushing through of the COVID-19 Response (Vaccinations) Legislation Bill as "law by fiat", saying the Government has failed to let the public know "what it entails" or why it's needed. 

The legislation, which will allow the Government to formally create the 'traffic light' system, can be read in full online. It comes after months of the Opposition calling for the Government to set a date beyond which lockdowns won't be used. The new system, which goes live on December 3, does just that - lifting most restrictions for the vaccinated and businesses which operate using vaccine passes.

The bill passed its first two readings on Tuesday under urgency - the first with support from Labour, the Greens and ACT, and the second without ACT. National and Te Pati Māori opposed it both times.  

"We're actually opposed to this. It's a ridiculous piece of lawmaking," National Party leader Collins told The AM Show on Wednesday.

"It's basically law by fiat, rather than by democratic responsibility and letting people know what it entails."

Collins said she quizzed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on how a region can move between settings - for example, from red to orange to green - under the 'traffic light' system.

"She had no answers on it," Collins told The AM Show. "If she doesn't understand it, why would this legislation be rushed through Parliament without any select committee process, without anybody getting to know the details of what it is that they are wanting to do?"

transcript of the questioning in Parliament shows Ardern at first told Collins "the most important factor will be vaccination levels", but "also readiness and the ability of the health system to manage cases as they arise - so predominantly health measures, but that's not solely the factors we'll take into account".

Read more here.

9:05am - To recap, hairdressers and barbers in Auckland will be able to open from Thursday, November 25 to undertake a trial of the My Vaccine Pass system.

This means fully vaccinated Aucklanders can visit their hairdresser or barber as long as they book in advance and have downloaded their My Vaccine Pass. Hairdressers will be able to use the NZ Verifier Pass app, officially released on Tuesday, to verify their customers' passes.

Staff must also be fully vaccinated and operate as they would under alert level 2 - with masks and maintaining a 2m distance between customers. More information on operating close-contact services can be found here.

Hairdressers and barbers have been chosen to trial the vaccine pass system as there are fewer staff employed and typically, numbers in the space are limited by the availability of chairs and hairdressers. Distancing between customers can be easily maintained.

8:55am - Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer has staunchly condemned the Government rushing to pass the legislation for its COVID-19 Protection Framework, skipping the lengthy select committee process.

The Government is hoping to pass the bill under urgency in time for December 3, the day the new framework officially comes into effect across New Zealand - but Opposition parties are not happy with the process.

There are concerns the legislation will not face sufficient parliamentary and public scrutiny, with Ngarewa-Packer telling MPs the rushed process is unacceptable.

Speaking at Parliament on Tuesday night after the bill passed its first two readings, the Māori Party co-leader accused Labour of continuing to "divide, marginalise, and, indeed, demonise" Māori communities.

"They opened up traffic light systems knowing Māori are still stuck at the roadworks," she said.

"Shame on you, Labour, for undermining the democratic and tino rangatiratanga process of tangata whenua in this way."

Māori are the group with the lowest rates of vaccination, with only 65 percent fully vaccinated nationwide.

8:50am - The Government risks inflaming distrust in the state and entrenching anti-vaccination views through its "mad scramble" surrounding the new 'traffic light' system, Opposition parties say.

MPs have been called back to Parliament on Wednesday morning to continue an urgent debate over legislation paving the way for the 'traffic light' system, which will replace the alert level framework from December 3.

The bill passed its first two readings under urgency on Tuesday night and Labour hopes to finish all stages by the end of the day, skipping the lengthy select committee process.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday night, National's COVID-19 Response spokesperson, Chris Bishop, said the legislation had been "thrown together hastily" and dropped with little analysis and no time for public scrutiny.

Bishop said Labour had pushed ahead with a "repugnant process" instead of trying to get its critics on side.

"The people who are opposed to vaccine passports, their views will be entrenched and solidified by the very quick passage of this bill," he said.

"You are actually just entrenching the divide in society between those who are opposed to mandates and those who are opposed to passports."

Read more here.

8:40am - For a breakdown of Tuesday's developments, you can read the Ministry of Health's full statement below.

8:30am - Opposition leader Judith Collins has lambasted the Government for rushing to pass the legislation for the COVID-19 Protection Framework under urgency, a move that will see the Bill bypass a parliamentary select committee - omitting both Parliament and public scrutiny

Speaking to The AM Show on Wednesday morning, Collins said the National Party is staunchly "opposed" to the legislation being rushed through Parliament without the scrutiny of the select committee process.

"We're actually opposed to this. It's a ridiculous piece of lawmaking. It's basically law by fiat, rather than by democratic responsibility and letting people know what it entails," she said.

Collins also accused Jacinda Ardern of not understanding the 'traffic light' system, a three-step framework that has been dogged by questions since it was announced.

"If she doesn't understand it, why would this legislation be rushed through Parliament without any select committee process, without anybody getting to know the details of what it is that they are wanting to do? It was incredibly rushed and typical of the policy on the fly - this is now law on the fly," Collins said.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission is also seeking assurance that the legislation for the 'traffic light' system will be fully scrutinised. As the system will bypass a select committee, it omits Parliament and the public's ability to review and address human rights implications and Treaty of Waitangi obligations, Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt Hunt said.

8:20am - An update shows 1.8 percent of all District Health Board (DHB) workers have been stood down, resigned or had their employment terminated after refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to data from Monday, November 22, out of a workforce of around 80,000, a total of 1028 people have now been stood down, 92 have resigned and 341 have lost their jobs. This includes 52 doctors, 518 nurses and 90 midwives.

In a statement, lead DHB chief executive Rosemary Clements said DHBs continue to work with unvaccinated staff members who are stood down to discuss other options, such as redeployment, and encourage them to consider vaccination.

"If staff choose to be vaccinated while they are stood down, they will be able to return to their DHB."

Clements said DHBs have terminated the employment of staff where no other alternative or redeployment options can be found.

"This step has been taken when staff have confirmed that they will not be vaccinated. DHBs are complying fully with all employment law requirements and we have engaged and agreed with health sector unions on the processes we are following," she says.

"Service delivery impacts will vary between DHBs and mitigations are in place where needed to minimise any impact to services. These include careful staff rostering, and close monitoring of any areas where there may be some staff shortage. Our absolute focus is on ensuring continuity of patient care."

Read more here.

8:10am - There are concerns that the unvaccinated will be downloading other people's vaccine passes in order to enter businesses under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

One woman told the New Zealand Herald that she and her husband had found it is very simple to send a download link for their passes to another person.

She expressed concern that unless staff are vigilantly checking customers' photo ID alongside their vaccine passes, the unvaccinated could easily use another person's pass to enter close-contact businesses such as hairdressers, hospitality venues and gyms.

"I'll imagine there will be a lot of busy restaurants and bars where you will just have to show your vaccine passport and not your photo ID," she told the Herald.

"It seems really poor by the Government to put a system in place like this."

The passes will be required to enter most bars, eateries, hairdressers and other close-contact businesses under the Government's new 'traffic light' system, as well as all music festivals, rugby games and major events. The framework will come into effect for New Zealand at 11:59pm on December 2.

The vaccine passes will be trialled over the coming week, with hairdressers in Auckland set to open their doors on Thursday.

8am - Joachim Sauer, Chancellor Angela Merkel's academic husband, has blamed his compatriots' "laziness and complacency" for Germany's comparatively low vaccination rate, saying public rejection of science has never been as visible as now.

Sauer, who until his retirement in 2017 was professor of quantum chemistry at Berlin's Humboldt University and seen as one of the field's top researchers, has been reticent to discuss politics throughout his wife's 16-year tenure.

He has been reluctant to play the role of political spouse, declining to accompany her on most trips and largely limiting his public commentary to his own scientific research and his passion for the composer Richard Wagner.

But in Italy this week, to be inducted into the Italian Academy of Sciences in Turin, he briefly addressed the issue that has dominated his wife's final two years in office.

"It's astonishing that a third of the population is not following scientific evidence," he told La Repubblica, as reported by its German partner newspaper Die Welt on Tuesday.

"Partly that's down to a certain German laziness and complacency. The other group is people ... who are reacting ideologically to what they think of as a vaccine dictatorship."

The fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic is the severest yet in Germany as hospitals overflow with the unvaccinated.

Read more here.

7:50am - More than 100 nurses, 14 midwives and 10 doctors have been sacked from District Health Boards (DHBs) for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

They are among the 341 staff who have been told to leave since last week's deadline for health workers to receive their first dose of the vaccine.

A spokesperson for New Zealand's DHBs told RNZ 92 staff have resigned and just over 1000 have been stood down while talks continue about their future in the profession.

Some are waiting to get the AstraZeneca vaccine while others have applied for medical exemptions, he said.

About 80,000 people are employed by the DHBs.


7:45am - The World Health Organization says there could be a further 700,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Europe by March as the body urges people to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, Joachim Sauer, Chancellor Angela Merkel's husband, has blamed his compatriots' "laziness and complacency" for Germany's comparatively low vaccination rate, saying public rejection of science has never been as visible as now. 

The Czech Republic may make vaccination mandatory for people over the age of 60, as well as for some professions including health and social care workers. Over in the Netherlands, COVID-19 patients are now being transported across the border into Germany to ease pressure on Dutch hospitals, which are scaling back regular care to deal with a surge in cases.

Meanwhile in the US, the government asked a federal appeals court to immediately lift a court-ordered stay on a sweeping workplace vaccination rule to avoid "enormous" harm to public health, or alternatively, to allow a masking-and-testing requirement, according to a court filing. Delaying the rule by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that requires employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly would lead to thousands of hospitalisations and deaths, the government said in the filing with the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

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

7:40am - Here's a recap of Tuesday's cases:

  • There were 215 new cases on Tuesday - four Northland, 196 in Auckland, 11 in Waikato, one in Bay of Plenty and two in Lakes district. 
  • A community case reported in MidCentral on Monday was officially included in Tuesday's numbers.
  • Of the four cases in Northland, one in Whangārei had already been isolating and the remaining three are in Kaikohe – all four have known links to existing cases.
  • In Waikato, six of the cases are from Huntly, three are from Kawhia, one is from Te Kūiti, and one is from Ōtorohanga. Five of the cases have been linked and the remaining six are under investigation.
  • Of the 215 new cases, 99 have yet to be epidemiologically linked, bringing the total of unlinked cases in the last 14 days to 893.

7:35am - Here's a breakdown of the vaccination status of the 88 patients currently in hospital with COVID-19:

  • Unvaccinated or not eligible for vaccination: 56 percent
  • Partially vaccinated, had first jab less than 14 days ago: 12 percent
  • Partially vaccinated, had first jab more than 14 days ago: 8 percent
  • Fully vaccinated for less than 14 days: 1 percent
  • Fully vaccinated for more than 14 days: 19 percent
  • Unknown: 4 percent.

Meanwhile, 91 percent of eligible New Zealanders - aged 12 and over - have now received their first dose. Eighty-four percent are fully vaccinated.

Eighty percent of eligible Māori have had their first dose and 65 percent have had their second. Ninety percent of Pasifika people have had their first dose and 79 percent are fully vaccinated.

7:30am - Supermarket giant Countdown confirmed on Tuesday it will require all 21,000 of its staff to be fully vaccinated by January 10.

The decision followed a two-week period of consultation and feedback review. Vaccination will be required for all roles across the business and its distribution centres, stores and support offices, Kiri Hannifin, Countdown's general manager, corporate affairs, safety and sustainability, confirmed.

First Union retail organiser Ben Peterson told Newstalk ZB on Wednesday morning that a small group of people - fewer than 2 percent - were affected by the new mandate. He admitted a number of staff were "not hugely enthused", but many were not strongly opposed to vaccination. 

He said the union's approach is to try and avoid anyone losing their job. Some staffers will require specialist advice, he said, while others are happy to get vaccinated - but only after a surgery or finishing a course of medication, for example.

"People are going to make choices. As long as they're making them on the basis of good and real information, that's people's right," Peterson said.

7:25am - The death of a COVID-19 patient in their 50s has taken New Zealand's death toll to 41.

The patient was admitted to Auckland City Hospital on November 17, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

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

Of the 88 people currently in hospital with COVID-19, only 19 percent are fully vaccinated.

7:20am - The Human Rights Commission is seeking assurance that legislation for the Government's 'traffic light system', or COVID-19 Protection Framework, will be sufficiently scrutinised.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt is greatly concerned at the urgency used to pass the Bill before December 3 - the date the system will come into effect throughout New Zealand.

Because the system will bypass a Parliamentary Select Committee, it omits Parliament and the public's ability to review and address human rights implications and Treaty of Waitangi obligations, Hunt said.

The Commission wants the Bill to go to a Select Committee as soon as it is passed and for the public to be able to have their say.

"Balances have to be struck between human rights. This complex but essential exercise comes into sharp focus during a pandemic where measures that protect the rights to health and life must be balanced against other rights, such as the right to work and a decent standard of living," Hunt said in a statement.

"In times of national emergency, there is a risk of overreach when sweeping powers are granted and rights are not balanced appropriately leading to mistakes that are later regretted. This is precisely when our national and international human rights and Tiriti commitments must be taken into account.

"This cannot be done without Parliamentary scrutiny and public input."

Read more here.

7:15am - Kia ora, good morning, and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak for Wednesday, November 24.