As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Wednesday, November 10

Stricken Auckland has been granted some respite after 12 long weeks of lockdown, with alert level 3 restrictions easing slightly overnight. 

The region moved to alert level 3, step 2 at 11:59pm, allowing retailers to reopen their doors. Under step 2 of the Government's three-step 'roadmap' for the region, social gatherings are also allowed to increase to 25 people in outdoor settings. Public facilities such as museums and zoos can also reopen.

There are 147 new cases of COVID-19 to report on Tuesday, 131 of which are in Auckland. Fourteen are in Waikato and two were detected in Northland, which will join the majority of the country at alert level 2 at 11:59pm on Thursday. Eighty-one people are currently in hospital. 

A third person with COVID-19 has died while isolating at home, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Wednesday. The man, aged in his 60s, died at his home in the Auckland suburb of Glen Eden. His cause of death is being determined.

What you need to know:

  • There are 147 new cases of COVID-19 to report on Wednesday - 131 in Auckland, 14 in Waikato and two in Northland.
  • Eighty-one people are in hospital, 11 of whom are in the ICU or HDU.
  • Auckland moved to alert level 3, step 2 at 11:59pm on Tuesday - the area of Northland currently in alert level 3 will return to alert level 2 at 11:59pm on Thursday.
  • A third person with COVID-19 has died while isolating at home in Auckland.
  • No anti-lockdown demonstrators were arrested following a protest outside Parliament on Tuesday. The group called on the Government to revoke vaccination mandates, the Auckland boundary and the traffic light system.
  • Aucklanders lined up outside the city's shopping hubs on Wednesday morning with hundreds flocking to Sylvia Park to celebrate retail reopening.
  • The chair of the Holocaust Centre has condemned Tuesday's protesters for drawing comparisons between vaccination mandates and the genocide, calling it "ignorant" and "grotesque". 
  • Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that students in alert level 3 areas will return to school on November 17 - Years 9 and 10 can return full-time, however Years 1 to 8 will be back in the classroom on a part-time basis. Masks will be required for Year 4 and above.
  • Keep up-to-date with the latest locations of interest here.

These live updates have finished.

8:50pm - The Health Minister has made a major admission - the home isolation system "wasn't ready" to cope with more than 120 daily cases of COVID-19 in the community.

Andrew Little has told Newshub community COVID cases are waiting up to two days before anyone from public health makes contact with them.

The minister said cases should be getting contacted by public health within hours. He says the reason for the delays is that the system's struggling.

"The system wasn't ready for the rapid escalation in the number of daily cases. Whereas the system was preparing for 100 to 120 cases a day, we're seeing 150 to 200 cases a day and it just did not expect to be responding to that volume of cases."

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

7:50pm - Schools in Auckland and Waikato say reopening next week under new restrictions is doable considering the potential risks and they like the flexibility of working out how they will welcome their students back.

After three months, all schools in Auckland and Waikato can re-open for students in years 1 to 10 from next Wednesday. It will be part-time for most pupils and schools are allowed to manage that in different ways.

In Māngere, Jean Batten School principal Nardi Leonard says around a third of her 400 students won't be coming back this year.

"If [parents] are really not happy about their child returning, they're not going to be ostracised for deciding to keep their child at home," she says.

But Leonard says she's excited to have students return.

"I'm just really missing seeing the happy faces of our kids."

Read and watch the full story from Newshub's Giles Dexter here.

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

  • NZ Farmers Livestock Ltd Te Kuiti, October 29 from 11:08am to 3pm
  • Unichem Marshalls Medical Pharmacy Te Awamutu, November 2 from 2:10pm to 2:50pm
  • Countdown St James Hamilton, November 5 from 2:30pm to 9:45pm
  • Countdown St James Hamilton, November 6 from 2pm to 10pm.

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

5:35pm - A weekly update to an online vaccination map showing New Zealand's immunisation progress reveals 50 percent of our suburbs are within 200 jabs of reaching the 90 percent target.

The map was created last month by NationalMap Ltd to help accelerate New Zealand's vaccination rates.

It uses data released weekly by the Ministry of Health and allows people to click on a statistical area (SA2), showing what percentage of that area has received one dose and the percentage fully vaccinated.

Each SA2 is coloured by the number of people remaining to get fully vaccinated and once the target of 0 is reached, that area's shading is removed.

In a statement on Wednesday, November 10, Steve Critchlow - the group managing director of NationalMap Ltd creators Critchlow Geospatial - says the target has been reached, clearing the map, in more Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin suburbs.

See the full map and more details here.

4:55pm - More positive COVID-19 results have been detected in Stratford's wastewater.

Taranaki DHB says two of three further wastewater results are positive. Samples taken on Saturday November 6 and Sunday November 7 detected more positive COVID-19, but samples from Monday November 8 didn't detect viral fragments.

Wastewater tests taken on November 8 from Hawera, Kaponga, Opunake, Patea, Manaia and Waverley were all clear of viral fragments, the DHB says. There were no detections in the New Plymouth wastewater on November 4.

Taranaki DHB’s medical officer of health, Dr Jonathan Jarman, says the results are "very concerning" as it shows it is likely that an infectious person was in the Stratford area since the start of the month.

"The positive result was probably an infectious visitor or visitors to the region from an area where there is COVID-19. The alternative is we have undetected community transmission in Stratford, but this seems less likely," the DHB says.

"The only way of really having confidence is to carry on testing the wastewater and testing people to ensure we don’t have widespread transmission in our region."

Several visitors had recently been in the region for the Taranaki Garden Festival, and other events, the DHB says.

4:30pm - There are two new locations of interest. They are:

  • Mitre 10 Mega Te Awamutu, November 4 from 2:35pm to 5pm
  • Paper Plus & Toyworld Te Awamutu, November 4 from 3:30pm to 4:10pm.

4:10pm - Dr Jin Russell, a developmental paediatrician at Starship Children's Hospital and PhD student at the University of Auckland, says the mitigation strategies to welcome children back to school next week is a good decision that balances the needs of students.

"Schools are essential services for children, and do much more than provide formal education. Schools support socioemotional wellbeing, and are crucial community hubs which support families in practical ways," she says.

"Prolonged school closures can be harmful for children and young people, perpetuating educational inequities and for some children can be associated with mental stress when in challenging home environments."

With 85 percent of people aged 12 to 19 having received their first dose and teacher mandates soon coming into force, vaccines will give a strong level of protection for eligible students and staff at school, she says.

"With lower occupancy on site, high vaccination levels, and mitigations in place, the risk of transmission within school settings can be kept low. Because the Delta outbreak in Auckland is growing, cases of COVID-19 should be expected to be connected to school communities, however not all cases that are connected to a school will have been transmitted through the school setting. It is paramount that everyone continues to follow public health advice to not gather indoors," Dr Russell says.

"The Government does need to plan ahead for winter 2022 when it will be harder to ventilate classrooms or take activities outside and seasonal respiratory viruses surge. Planning should include strategies for an efficient and equitable paediatric vaccine rollout including at schools, improved ventilation in school, the provision of portable air purifiers with HEPA filters for those classrooms which are hard to ventilate or high-risk, and trialling the use of rapid antigen testing for schools such as in Victoria."

3:50pm - ProCare, New Zealand's largest network of primary healthcare professionals, says it welcomes the announcement that AstraZeneca has been added to New Zealand's vaccination programme.

"We have welcomed today's announcement from the Director-General of Health that the AstraZeneca vaccine will be available in New Zealand from late November," says ProCare chief executive Bindi Norwell.

"With vaccinations of healthcare workers now mandatory under the public health response order, this means that there is now an alternative option for those who would like to be protected against COVID, but for various reasons are unable to get the Pfizer vaccine.

"We look forward to hearing more details around timing in due course and working closely with the Ministry to help deliver the vaccine across Tāmaki Makaurau for those that need it."

3:30pm - Jacinda Ardern says there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Aucklanders.

Ardern was speaking with Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive Brett O'Riley on Wednesday morning in Auckland before visiting a Pacific youth vaccination event in Māngere.

But there is a "light at the end of the tunnel" for Aucklanders, she says, with the traffic light system set to come into play soon.

She says businesses raised concerns the Government is aware of, and with MIQ the Government is moving into a new phase with trialling at-home self-isolation.

"And in the new year expecting to use that much more broadly which will take the pressure off our border system."

Read the full story here.

3:15pm - National's health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says Health Minister Andrew Little not preparing the health system for Delta has resulted in more than 100,000 Kiwis missing out on planned hospital procedures.

"Answers to my questions show 102,959 procedures were cancelled in the first 10 weeks of the current Delta outbreak – an average of 10,000 per week," Dr Reti says.

"The Counties Manukau district health board accounts for 30 percent of this, with the two other Auckland DHBs also faring poorly.

"Even before the current outbreak, Labour's five years of mismanaging our health system had already created a backlog of over 30,000 people waiting longer than the prescribed four months for hospital treatment."

He says the blame for this lies with the Government, particularly the Health Minister.

"The Government's choice not to build purpose-built MIQ, or improve our border settings, let Delta in," Dr Reti says.

"The slowest vaccine rollout in the developed world meant less than 20 percent of our population was fully vaccinated, letting Delta spread.

"The Government's failure to invest in better contract tracing, to introduce saliva and rapid antigen testing, or to build extra ICU capacity, has resulted in an extended lockdown and 100,000 much-needed procedures cancelled."

This includes missed cancer diagnoses, deferred cataract removals, and delayed hip replacements, he says, all of which was "avoidable".

"The first priority of the Minister of Health should be to make sure that, when Kiwis get sick, they get the treatment they need," Dr Reti says.

"On that count, Andrew Little owes 100,000 Kiwis an apology.

"Once he's done with that, he needs to provide a credible plan to clear the waiting lists. The first step should be to abandon his dangerous and disruptive legacy-building health restructure, and just get on with the job of making sure Kiwis get the health care they deserve."

3pm - In case you missed it, the Jewish community has staunchly condemned protesters' use of Holocaust and Nazi imagery during their march to Parliament on Tuesday.

Thousands descended on the Beehive on Tuesday morning, many brandishing signs comparing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Hitler, linking the media with the Nazis and calling for a new round of Nuremberg trials - the original resulted in death penalties for many senior Nazi figures.

At least one protester was reportedly wearing a Star of David emblazoned with the word 'unvaccinated' - comparing themselves to the Jewish under Nazi occupation prior to World War II, who were made to wear badges to "mark them out for segregation and discrimination".

The protest also took place 83 years to the day since Kristallnacht - the day the Holocaust began.

"Over 80 years later here in New Zealand we are seeing the Star of David being misused for 'freedom' protests and protestors invoking the Holocaust for their own ends," the Holocaust Centre of NZ said in a statement on Wednesday. 

"If people wish to protest, they should do so without citing the industrialised genocide of 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million Jewish children, as the reason they need to do so."

Read more here.

2:40pm - Schools, kura and early learning given space to build back from COVID-19

The Government is ensuring schools can have the time and space they need to look after students and staff by easing the timelines for the national curriculum and assessment programmes, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday.

"Our teachers, kaiako, learners, whānau and communities continue to manage their way through uncertainty caused by COVID-19, particularly in the Auckland region. Helping them begin a process of sustained recovery from nearly two years of COVID-19 disruption is a major priority for next year. To make this possible we're giving schools, kura and early learning services more time to roll out the curriculum and assessment work programmes," Hipkins said.

For schools, this means resetting the timelines for The New Zealand Curriculum refresh, Aotearoa New Zealand's histories, Te Takanga o Te Wā and the NCEA Change Programme. For early learning services this means deferring consultation on the gazetting of Te Whāriki.  

"These programmes remain critical for the future success of our education system but they require considerable effort. We consider that time spent reconnecting with communities and focusing on wellbeing, as well as teaching and learning, will serve communities best heading into the new year," Hipkins said. 

"The curriculum and assessment changes are happening over several years, and we want our schools, kura and early learning services to be in the best possible position to successfully deliver them and get the best outcomes for learners and their whānau.

"There is no change to their intent and ambition, and they will be adjusted to either happen at a later date or in a different way to help manage their impact on staff. This will include rescheduling engagements, giving more time for implementation and redesigning pilot schemes."

2:30pm - In case you missed it, all schools in alert level 3 areas can reopen as of next week.

Years 1 to 10 in Auckland and Waikato can return to face-to-face learning at schools and kura as of November 17, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced earlier on Wednesday.

Years 9 and 10 can return to the classroom full-time, however Years 1 to 8 will resume on-site learning on a part-time basis. This is because students in Years 9 and 10 are eligible to be vaccinated. Years 9 and 10 will join Years 11 to 13, who are already back at high schools.

Masks will be required for students in Year 4 and above in most cases. Other public health measures to minimise the risk of COVID-19 include ventilating classrooms, maintaining social distancing between groups of children, and limiting the number of students on-site.

Schools will be given the flexibility to decide what works best for their students - for example, pupils in Years 1 to 8 can attend on alternate days or half-weeks might be introduced. Full-time learning will be available for those families that cannot juggle part-time.

Hipkins said the risks of reopening schools are outweighted by the benefits of re-engaging students with face-to-face learning, and increasing rates of vaccination have given officials a greater level of confidence.

2:25pm - Here's an update on the current vaccination rates across Waikato - 14 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the region on Wednesday.


1st doses

2nd doses

1st doses as a pct of eligible population

Fully vaccinated as a pct of eligible population

Hamilton City



91.1 pct

80.1 pct

Hauraki District



80.5 pct

68.2 pct

Matamata-Piako District 



85.8 pct

73.4 pct

Ōtorohanga District



79.3 pct

64.9 pct

Ruapehu District



79.5 pct

64.5 pct

South Waikato District



81.4 pct

64.9 pct

Thames-Coromandel District



85.2 pct

75.7 pct

Waikato District



86.5 pct

74.4 pct

Waipa District



91.6 pct

80.5 pct

Waitomo District



88.3 pct

71.8 pct

Waikato region



88.0 pct

76.2 pct

Reporting on vaccination rates at TLA level is provided by the Ministry of Health. This data is accurate as of 11:59pm on November 8, 2021 and is the latest available at TLA level.

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

As of Wednesday, 179 people in the Waikato region have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began. Seventy-seven are still actively infectious while 102 have recovered. Twenty are currently under investigation to determine links to existing cases.

Of the 77 active cases across the region, 32 are in Hamilton; 16 are in Te Awamutu/Kihikihi; 22 are in Ōtorohanga; four are Ngāruawāhia; two are in Kāwhia; and one is in Te Kūiti.

2:20pm - Six60 tickets and iPhones are up for grabs at 'Second-Shot Weekend', a regional initiative led by Hawke's Bay District Health Board (DHB) to encourage uptake of the vaccine. 

Hawke's Bay DHB is encouraging people to get vaccinated at a number of clinics in Napier, Hastings, Wairoa and Central Hawke's Bay this weekend.

It's been more than three weeks since the nationwide Super Saturday vaccination drive, which means a lot of people are due to have their second dose, Hawke's Bay DHB COVID-19 Senior Responsible Officer, Chris McKenna, said on Wednesday.

"Hawke's Bay had the highest turnout in the country per-head of population on Super Saturday and we're hoping our Second-Shot Weekend will be just as successful."

More than 100,000 people are fully vaccinated in Hawke's Bay, equating to 75 percent of the region's eligible population, with 86 percent having had their first dose. As of this week, 70 percent of Hawke's Bay's Māori population has had at least one dose of the vaccine.

"Our region is seeing great uptake of the vaccine but we still have further to go to reach the 90 percent milestone," McKenna said. "Summer is just around the corner and the more people we can vaccinate the better so we can enjoy more freedom this summer."

People who get their first or second jab this weekend will go in the draw to win Six60 tickets, iPhones, and Prezzy cards.

Everyone vaccinated gets a $20 voucher, McKenna added.

There will be drive-through or walk-in clinics at Splash Planet, The Church of Latter-Day Saints in Flaxmere, Central Hawke's Bay A&P Showgrounds in Waipukurau, Queen Street Practice in Wairoa, Pak'nSave Tamatea, Pak'nSave Napier and Whitmore Park over the weekend.

"There are plenty of opportunities to get vaccinated this weekend at pharmacies, GPs, Māori health clinics or DHB-led clinics," McKenna said.

2:15pm - The National Party's call to reopen schools immediately would put children and marginalised communities at risk, the Green Party says.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Opposition released its 'Back on Track' plan which called for schools to reopen immediately, allowing students to get in a month of schooling before the summer break.

"Children's health and wellbeing must be the top priority in any decision about when to reopen schools. National's plan to reopen schools immediately, even before our most vulnerable communities are fully vaccinated, is hugely irresponsible," the Green Party's spokesperson for the COVID-19 Response, Julie Anne Genter, said on Wednesday.

"Reopening schools needs to be as safe as possible, both for students and for staff. The best way to achieve this is to make sure schools have proper health plans in place before reopening and that high vaccination coverage is achieved for the most vulnerable groups. Families also need to be supported with what they need to keep their kids and local communities safe.

"National's plan shows it does not care about the lives of our most at risk communities. Not only this, but they would be putting the health of our children at risk."

The Greens' spokesperson for education, Teanau Tuiono, says helping students to re-engage in learning requires more than tracking attendance and truancy.

"We have to consider the underlying drivers of students not going back to school," Tuiono said.

"We know that low family incomes, housing instability, transport issues and health concerns all play a role in a child's life and their ability to fully participate in learning. Addressing these serious concerns needs to be a core part of the Government's plan for helping students back into learning. Yet again, National is silent on these issues.

"As things stand, our under 12s are unable to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their whānau, so the Government must ensure schools are as safe as possible before opening up again."

2:10pm - There is one new location of interest as of 2pm.

Anyone who visited Pak'nSave on Cambridge Rd in Te Awamutu between 10:20am and 11:50am on Monday, November 8 is asked to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the date of exposure. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until a negative result is returned - AND for 24 hours after symptoms resolve.

1:55pm - There are 147 new cases of COVID-19 to report on Wednesday. Here's the Ministry of Health's full statement from 1pm:

More than 22,000 vaccine doses given yesterday; 81 cases in hospital; 147 community cases

There were 22,178 first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses administered yesterday, made up of 5103 first doses and 16,089 second doses. To date, 89 percent of New Zealanders aged over 12 years have had their first dose and 79 percent are fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccine update


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

7,100,707: 3,766,847 first doses (89 pct); 3,333,860 second doses (79 pct)

Total first and second vaccines administered yesterday

22,178: 5,1874 first doses; 16,304 second doses

Māori (percentage of eligible people)

759,516: 427,856 first doses (75 pct); 331,660 second doses (58 pct)

Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people)

460,388: 249,559 first doses (87 pct); 210,829 second doses (74 pct)

Total first and second vaccines administered to Auckland residents yesterday

5771: 1490 first doses; 4281 second doses

Vaccination rates by DHB (with active cases)


Northland DHB (percentage of eligible people

242,564: 131,094 first doses (81 pct); 111,470 second doses (69 pct)

Auckland metro DHBs (percentage of eligible people

2,528,036: 1,322,652 first doses (92 pct); 1,205,384 second doses (84 pct)

Waikato DHB (percentage of eligible people

588,537: 314,953 first doses (88 pct); 273,584 second doses (77 pct)

Canterbury DHB (percentage of eligible people

832,146: 448,167 first doses (93 pct); 383,979 second doses (80 pct)



Cases in hospital

81 inpatients (up from 79 yesterday): North Shore (26); Waitakere (1); Middlemore (22); Auckland (32)

Vaccination status of current hospitalised cases

Unvaccinated or not eligible (40 cases / 49 pct); partially vaccinated <14 days (11 cases / 14 pct) partially vaccinated >14 days (14 cases / 17  pct); fully vaccinated <14 days (3 cases / 4 pct) fully vaccinated >14 days (7 cases / 9 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 (131), Waikato (14) Northland (2)

Location of community cases (total)*

Auckland 4582 (1779 of whom have recovered); Waikato 179 (72 of whom have recovered); Wellington 17 (all of whom have recovered); Northland 30 (6 of whom have recovered); Nelson/Marlborough 1 (who has recovered); Canterbury 4 (all active)

Number of community cases (total)

4813 (in current community outbreak)

Confirmed cases (total)


Historical cases*

191 out of 5,748 cases since 1 January

Cases infectious in the community**

34 of 119 cases reported yesterday have exposure events

Cases in isolation throughout the period they were infectious**

85 of 119 cases reported yesterday have no exposure events

Cases epidemiologically linked

84 of today's cases

Cases to be epidemiologically linked

63 of today's cases

Cases epidemiologically linked (total)

3828 (in the current cluster) (692 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)

    75 pct

Percentage who have returned at least one result

     71 pct

Locations of interest


Locations of interest (total)

131 (as at 8am 10 November)



Number of tests (total)


Number of tests total (last 24 hours)


Tests processed in Auckland (last 24 hours)


Tests rolling average (last 7 days)


Testing centres in Auckland




Wastewater detections ***

See below



Registered users (total)


Poster scans (total)


Manual diary entries (total)


Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday



* One previously reported community case in Auckland has been re-allocated to Northland. Two previously reported MIQ cases have been reclassified as historical.

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

*** There were positive wastewater detections in samples collected from Stratford on November 6 and 7, but COVID-19 was not detected in samples taken on November 8. Further samples will be collected next week.

COVID-19 was not detected in samples collected in Gisborne on November 8. Further testing is underway. COVID-19 was not detected in samples from Napier on November 8.

Death of man with COVID-19 overnight

The ministry is today sadly reporting the sudden death of a man in his 60s who had COVID-19 and was isolating at a home in Glen Eden.

The cause of his death will be determined by the coroner, including whether it may have been COVID-related.

Any deaths which might be COVID-related are fully investigated, whether they occur at home or in a hospital setting.

Our thoughts are with this man's whānau and friends at this stressful time.

This is a sad reminder that COVID-19 is potentially very serious - and fatal - if you're not vaccinated.

This man's death is not included in today's numbers.

Northland update

There are two new cases to report in Northland, both in the same household in Dargaville, with links to known cases.

One of the cases is a child, which highlights the importance of getting vaccinated to protect our tamariki who aren't yet eligible to get the vaccine. The more of us who are vaccinated in our community, the greater our immunity.

We are continuing to urge anyone in Northland with any symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested as soon as possible, especially people living in Dargaville. Testing centre locations can be found on the Northland DHB website.

In Northland, 12 cases are currently being supported to isolate at home.

Upper Northland will move to alert level 2 from 11:59pm on Thursday, November 11.

Auckland update

There are 19 community testing centres available for testing across Auckland on Wednesday.

People in Auckland are encouraged to get a test if they have any symptoms, no matter how mild. Even if people are fully vaccinated, and have been isolating at home, please seek out a test if you feel the need.

In metro Auckland, public health staff are now supporting 2664 people to isolate at home, including 1230 cases.

Please note there is currently a difference between the number of cases reported by NRHCC and Ministry of Health. This is due to the way the ministry reports the data and we are working to address this.

Auckland rest and care homes

There are now 21 residents and four staff members of Edmonton Meadows Care Home in Henderson who have tested positive for COVID-19

Seven of the COVID-positive residents are receiving appropriate ward-level care at Auckland hospitals. There has been no increase in numbers over the last 24 hours.   

One further resident of Rosaria Rest Home has tested positive for COVID-19 after a resident tested positive late last week. Results for all residents and staff have now been received and at this stage all others are negative.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service and Auckland DHB staff are supporting the residents and staff to keep safe at the privately-owned facility.  

The transmission route has yet to be established.

Waikato update

There are 14 new cases in Waikato being reported on Tuesday. Of these 10 are from Ōtorohanga – including six people in one household who are known contacts of cases - three from Hamilton and one from Ngāruawāhia.

There are seven pop-up and dedicated testing sites operating across Waikato on Wednesday in Hamilton, Ngāruawāhia, Huntly, Ōtorohanga, Te Awamutu, and Te Kuiti.

There were 2988 swabs taken in Waikato on Tuesday and 1894 doses of vaccine were administered.

Waikato public health staff are supporting 62 people who are considered active cases to safely isolate at home.

1:44pm - Most people prefer to isolate at home rather than in a MIQ facility, Hipkins says, and home isolation is now becoming the "default" option for cases in the community.

There is the option of being transferred to a MIQ facility if people would "feel more comfortable" there, he says. Living situations are always assessed by a public health staffer.

1:40pm - COVID-19 will spread throughout the country, Hipkins reiterated, as the Government transitions to a framework that relies on high rates of vaccination. 

"COVID will spread and find unvaccinated people," he said.

He added that the Government will not keep Auckland locked down and as indicated by the Prime Minister, Aucklanders will be able to travel outside of the region over the summer holidays.

He says it's urgent people across the country are getting vaccinated, particularly those in so far unaffected areas who believe they are not at risk of contracting the virus.

"It's urgent for people around the rest of the country to get vaccinated, because COVID is coming."

1:36pm - Regarding ventilation in schools, Hipkins says the easiest way staff can keep the classroom aerated is by opening the doors and windows. With summer approaching, this will also be more comfortable for students, he added.

1:32pm - Hipkins says vaccine certificates are in "the final stage of trialling" and a comprehensive update on their availability will be provided next week.

Regarding Astra-Zeneca, Bloomfield reiterated it will only be available those who are medically unable to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech jab or are unwilling to get a mRNA vaccine.

A "limited" supply will be rolled out in specific areas, Hipkins said.

Bloomfield reiterated that the Pfizer vaccine is very effective against COVID-19, including the highly infectious Delta variant.

1:28pm - Bloomfield says 1671 people are currently isolating at home in Auckland and health officials are working to "strengthen the system".

There is nothing to indicate there are issues with home isolation at this stage, he says.

If people isolating at home become unwell, they can - and will be - transferred to hospital, he reiterated. 

1:24pm - Hipkins has reiterated that schools are a "relatively safe environment" if public health measures are in place.

He says transmission is more likely to occur outside of schools than inside the classroom.

The Ministry of Education will be working "very closely" with schools that have a larger percentage of staff who are unwilling to get vaccinated. Hipkins says officials saw similar resistance from the port workforce, who are also required to be inoculated, but many became more receptive to the idea with education and information.

"That's what they'll try and do here," he said.

1:21pm - Dr Bloomfield has confirmed a wastewater catchment in Wellington has tested positive for COVID-19. The result was returned a few days ago, he said, and is "congruent" with recent cases at local managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

1:18pm - As Years 9 and 10 are a cohort that are eligible for vaccination, officials have an "extra layer of confidence" that students can return, Hipkins said.

He added that some programmes will be delayed in schools and early childhood education centres to give staff time to get on-site learning back up and running.

1:15pm - Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced all students under alert level 3 can return to school next week on November 17. 

Hipkins confirmed last month that Year 11-13 students in alert level 3 could return to school from October 26, but students in the years below had to continue learning from home. A contributing factor was that younger students are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine is currently only available for New Zealanders aged 12 and above. 

But Hipkins said on Wednesday that public health advice supports a return to on-site learning as long as health measures are practiced. 

Years 9 and 10 will return to school from November 17. Years 1 to 8 will also be able to return, but part-time - students can either attend for half-days or on alternate days. Full-time can be organised for those parents who need it.

Measures to help minimise the risk of COVID-19 will include masks from Year 4 up in most cases, ventilating classrooms, limiting the number of students on-site, and making sure groups of children socially distance.

"It is clear that the risk of reopening schools is outweighed by the benefits of kids re-engaging with their learning face-to-face in this context," he said.

Teachers are required to have had at least one dose of the vaccine from Monday, and it remains unknown how many could lose their jobs for not complying with the mandate. 

1:13pm - Dr Bloomfield has reiterated that booster shots will start to be rolled out by the end of the month.

Medsafe has approved a third booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine and healthcare workers, those aged 65 and over and people who got vaccinated early will be prioritised.

1:11pm - Dr Bloomfield says the Astra-Zeneca vaccine will become available to people aged 18 and over as an alternative for those who cannot have Pfizer-BioNTech, or those who are unwilling to have a mRNA vaccine.

He says work is still to be completed and more information will be released next week. Astra-Zeneca will also involve two doses.

1:07pm - Of the 14 cases in Waikato, 10 are from Ōtorohanga - six in the same household - three are from Hamilton and one is from Ngāruawāhia. 

The two cases in Northland are from the same Dargaville household. Probable links to existing cases in Auckland have already been identified. One of the cases is a child under the age of one.

There are six suburbs of concern in Auckland where the risk of contracting COVID-19 is higher - these are Ranui, Sunnyvwale, Kelston, Birkdale, Manurewa and Mangere.

1:05pm - There are 147 new cases of COVID-19 - 14 in Waikato and two in Northland. The rest are in Auckland.

A man in his 60s with COVID-19 has died overnight while isolating at his home in Glen Eden, Auckland. The cause of death is being determined by the Coroner.

Eighty-one people are in hospital, 11 of whom are in the ICU or HDU.

12:58pm - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will soon take the podium at the 1pm press conference in Wellington.

You can watch the briefing live above or via our dedicated livestream.

12:54pm - Ardern has reiterated the Government's commitment to allowing Aucklanders to travel outside of the region over Christmas and the summer holidays. 

She said it's important Aucklanders are able to reconnect with their friends and family in other parts of the country.

Cabinet will meet next week to determine when Aucklanders can start to travel and how the regional boundary will be managed.

12:48pm - Ardern has defended her lack of public engagements during her first visit to Auckland in almost three months, saying she "will be back" soon.

ACT leader David Seymour criticised the Prime Minister earlier on Wednesday, likening her first day back in the Super City to her "wearing an invisibility cloak".

He argued that Ardern should be engaging with the public, particularly business owners in the hospitality sector who are struggling to make ends meet after 12 weeks of lockdown.

Ardern told reporters she "can't visit everywhere". She said there are multiple channels through which officials hear from and communicate with business representatives, and she "would never expect" to meet with them all in one day.

"I would never expect to do that in a few hours."

Ardern added that her visit is still within the confines of alert level 3 and she is being careful to adhere to the rules.

"I do have to be mindful of following restrictions, which makes it harder to have those interactions."

12:45pm - Ardern has once again addressed Tuesday's anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protest, saying "everyone is entitled to their opinion" on what motivated the march through central Wellington.

She reiterated that the majority of the eligible population has been vaccinated, echoing her remarks on Tuesday that the protests are not representative of the "vast bulk" of New Zealanders.

"The vast majority of New Zealanders have gone out and been vaccinated and worked hard to protect each other, so they're the ones I want to send my thanks," she said.

12:28pm - The Prime Minister is about to address reporters in Auckland during her first trip to the city since lockdown began almost three months ago.

You can watch the stand-up live here.

12:20pm - There are two new locations of interest to report on Wednesday as of 12pm.

They are Countdown in the Waikato town of Otorohanga and the Shorecare Urgent Care Clinic at Smales Farm in the north Auckland suburb of Takapuna.

Anyone who visited the supermarket between 9:30am and 11:15am on Tuesday, November 9 is asked to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the date of exposure. If symptoms develop, get a test and stay at home until a negative result is returned - and for 24 hours after symptoms resolve.

Anyone who attended the urgent care clinic between 12:30pm and 3:45pm on Thursday, November 4 is required to stay at home and get tested immediately, as well as five days after the date of exposure. People must continue to stay at home until a negative day five test is returned.

12:10pm - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will provide the latest updates on the outbreak at a press conference at 1pm.

As Education Minister, Hipkins is also expected to provide more information on when Auckland's primary and intermediate schools can reopen.

11:50am - An elderly dementia patient who has tested positive for COVID-19 at an Auckland rest home only received her first dose of the  vaccine last month at her daughter's request.

Nova Gibson told RNZ she didn't see vaccination as a top priority for her mother, 93, earlier in the year as she thought her mum would be safe inside the rest home in the event of an outbreak. She thought the shortage of vaccines meant other people needed the jab more urgently. 

But now, 20 residents and four staff members of the Edmonton Meadows Care Home in Henderson have tested positive for the virus and seven are in hospital.

"When they started vaccinating those older people, I thought there was a shortage of vaccines and every time there's a whiff of COVID they locked these poor dears up, and so I delayed it. I'm not an anti-vaxxer, I'm vaccinated myself," Gibson told RNZ.

"But I thought other people needed it before she did, and then when Delta came along, I was like, 'yeah, it's a game changer' and there's plenty of vaccines around, so she's had one dose now."

Read more here.

11:30am - ACT leader David Seymour has criticised Jacinda Ardern for keeping her visit to Auckland a "secret", saying she has been "undetectable to 99.99 percent" of the public.

The Prime Minister has returned to Auckland for the first time in almost three months after the region was plunged into lockdown on August 18. Her visit comes after Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, lifted tough restrictions that required all MPs returning from alert level 3 areas to test negative and complete five days of isolation in Wellington prior to returning to the Parliament precinct.

So far on Wednesday, she has met with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, visited an Avondale factory and is expected to meet with healthcare workers - however, her itinerary has been largely kept under-wraps.

In a statement, Seymour criticised Ardern for her lack of public engagements and walkabouts.

"With Jacinda avoiding public places and spontaneous interactions with the public, she might as well be wearing an invisibility cloak to avoid the Muggles (AKA the taxpaying public) who are getting her down," Seymour said.

"The Prime Minister should visit those worst affected by the Auckland lockdown. If Jacinda really wants to understand Aucklanders' situation, her visit needs to be real. She needs to walk the streets and meet real people, not just go to friendly stage-managed meet ups."

He argued that Ardern particularly needs to pay a visit to hospitality businesses who are struggling to make ends meet.

"She should talk to business owners whose revenues are often down 80 percent, who are losing money every week, who are borrowing from relatives, running up against their mortgages, and holding out paying suppliers to stay afloat," he said.

"She needs to get out and see the impacts."

11:10am - Prominent Auckland businessman and waterfront bar owner Leo Molloy says he has felt "supported" by the police after he revealed his intention last month to open his venue on December 1 - regardless of what the restrictions are at that time.

In an interview with Newstalk ZB in October, Molloy, who owns Auckland bar Headquarters (HQ), outlined his own 'Freedom Day' - explaining he plans to reopen on December 1 no matter what.

He might be able to open legally anyway. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern indicated earlier this week that Auckland is likely to reach its 90 percent vaccination target on November 29, allowing the Super City to enter the 'traffic light' system and move away from lockdowns for good.

Molloy, who's planning an Auckland mayoralty bid, told The AM Show on Wednesday that he felt relaxed knowing he'd be opening his doors in 21 days.

"We're definitely reopening on Wednesday the 1st regardless. We announced that a month ago and we're going to carry on and do that," he said.

"We have a fairly robust and open dialogue with the police… I don't detect anything other than encouragement and positive support from the police."

Read more here.

10:55am - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has returned to Auckland for the first time in almost three months after the region was plunged into lockdown on August 18.

Her visit comes after Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, lifted tough restrictions that required all MPs returning from alert level 3 areas to test negative and complete five days of isolation in Wellington prior to returning to the Parliament precinct.

During her first day back in the Super City, Ardern was given a tour of JMP Engineering in Avondale alongside the Employers and Manufacturers Association chief executive, Brett O'Riley, on Wednesday morning.

According to Stuff, JMP engineering managing director Michael Thornton spoke to the Prime Minister about how the company has continued to operate during lockdown, and spoke of its workers getting stuck overseas due to the limited spaces in managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ). 

Ardern is also expected to meet with health workers during her trip.

Ardern visited both areas of Northland and Whanganui last week, where she was forced to abandon an event due to protesters.

10:40am - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has met with the Prime Minister and Ministers Michael Wood and Carmel Sepuloni on Wednesday morning to discuss the impacts of lockdown on Auckland.

He says he and the MPs discussed "the path forward" for the region.

10:25am - Here's a recap of the rules for Auckland at alert level 3, step 2.

10:15am - Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is calling on the Ministry of Health to release Māori vaccination data to the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency.

Despite a High Court ruling on November 1 which urged the Ministry of Health to reconsider withholding the information from Whānau Ora, the agency has still refused to release individual-level data regarding unvaccinated Māori. Instead, the ministry has invited Whānau Ora to work in partnership with them, relevant iwi, and local service providers to identify areas where vaccination for Māori is most needed.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency for the South Island, says the data is crucial to driving up vaccination rates among Māori in vulnerable areas.

"There is simply no time to waste in giving this data to our colleagues in Tāmaki Makaurau – data that directly affects their ability to target pockets of unvaccinated Māori," pouārahi/chief executive Helen Leahy said on Wednesday. "Due to an inequitable vaccine rollout, Māori are now playing catch up with the rest of the population, all while carrying a disproportionate risk."

Vaccination rates among Māori continue to lag behind those of the general population - 75 percent have had their first dose and only 57 percent are fully vaccinated. Comparatively, 89 percent of New Zealand's eligible population has had their first dose and 79 percent are fully vaccinated.

The data that has been requested from the Ministry of Health would enable the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency to call, text or email Māori who are unvaccinated to discuss their hesitations and make sure they have access to correct information, Leahy said. Individual providers would similarly be able to target the suburbs and communities with the lowest vaccination rates with leaflet drops and mobile clinics.

Leahy says this strategy would fall in line with the 'by Māori, for Māori' approach at the heart of Whānau Ora – an approach she says has been invaluable throughout the vaccine rollout.

"This is a network of kaimahi and providers who are determined to see Māori vaccination rates go up, and case numbers go down," says Leahy. "Here at Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu we stand in full support of their request to access the data that will help them to achieve this." 

10am - National leader Judith Collins and Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith have released the party's plan to get school students back on track and make up for lost time in the classroom, the Opposition announced on Wednesday.

National's 'Back on Track' plan calls for the immediate reopening of schools to give students at least a month of schooling before the summer break, followed by an absolute focus in 2022 on attendance, catching up for lost time and getting students' education back up to speed.

The key actions in National's plan include:

  • Setting a target for attendance and publishing each school's attendance data online
  • Providing up to $400 per student for schools to spend on catch up initiatives in 2022
  • Requiring all schools to regularly assess pupils in reading, writing and maths
  • Requiring at least one hour of maths and one hour of literacy teaching every day for Years 1-10
  • Pausing the Government's curriculum overhaul for two years to enable schools to focus on ensuring pupils have caught up on lost time.

"Children have missed out on too much critical class time and the risk of children not going back to school - the disengagement, loss of social connection and significant milestones now outweighs the risk of reopening schools," Collins said on Wednesday.

"Our truancy and achievement challenges will not be turned around by continuing to lock kids out of school.

"Even without lockdowns, two-in-five children do not attend school regularly and lockdowns increase the risk of long-term disengagement."

 Goldsmith says even a month of full-time schooling could make all the difference to kids who are falling behind.

"By Year 8, more than half of New Zealand students are performing below expectations in maths, English and science, according to the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement.

"Online learning can never replicate the full benefits of education that come from attending school in person.    

"We urge the Government to adopt National's plan immediately - our kids' education depends on it."

9:55am - The potential threat posed by the anti-lockdown protesters at Parliament on Tuesday should not be taken lightly, Opposition leader Judith Collins told RNZ's Morning Report.

"It was quite clear that Parliament was in a lockdown situation yesterday to a level I have never seen," she said on Wednesday.

"It was a very large group of people, but it was peaceful and we should acknowledge that - but there was certainly some cause of concern, otherwise I would not have seen this level of police.

"We do need to be careful about this. It was best not to do anything... that could rark anything up any further."

Collins is calling on the Government to provide more clarity around the length of time its vaccination mandates will remain in place. 

"We cannot go down this path of having a mandate that lasts forever. Even if it's not a timeframe, it needs to be around what else is happening in terms of COVID," she told RNZ.

"But the big thing really has to be... get yourselves vaccinated and you won't have anything to be concerned [about]."

9:45am - Tensions between community leaders and Wellington bureaucrats are growing as the virus continues to spread, with concerns over the lack of information shared by the Ministry of Health.

Waikato Mayor Allan Sanson says Ministry of Health staff based in Wellington don't fully understand the issues regional DHBs are facing.

"We're all in agreeance that this is not acceptable the way this is being handled at the moment, I don't necessarily point my finger in any way at all at the local DHBs... they're very much working under clear instructions from the Ministry of Health in Wellington," Sanson told RNZ.

"The problem [is] they're in Wellington, they don't understand what's actually happening on the ground up here - they say they do but if they were living and breathing this, they might understand how hard it is for our people."

9:30am - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is welcoming "another step towards getting back to normality" in Auckland as residents rejoice the first day of alert level 3, step 2.

The promising vaccination rates in the region indicate Auckland is on its way to entering the COVID-19 Protection Framework at the end of the month, Goff told RNZ's First Up on Wednesday.

He anticipates Aucklanders will hit the shops on Wednesday, with a good turnout and most malls and retail hubs. He said he is confident most Aucklanders are well aware of the risks and will act accordingly.

On Queen Street, Auckland's main strip, many retailers have already opened their doors.

One young person told RNZ he arrived more than an hour before Foot Locker's opening time to guarantee a spot in the queue.

Meanwhile, a Farmers staff member said everyone is excited for the reopening and is prepared for a busy day.

She said staff will be controlling the number of customers in the store, making sure 2m distancing is maintained and providing masks for those in need.

9:15am - Singaporeans who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 by choice will have to foot their medical bills from next month, Singapore's government has announced.

Eighty-five percent of Singapore's eligible population is fully vaccinated and the government has been pushing as many as possible to get immunised, as it plans to Iive with the virus.

"Currently, unvaccinated persons make up a sizeable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our healthcare resources," Singapore's health ministry said in a statement.

"Hence, from December 8, 2021, we will begin charging COVID-19 patients who are unvaccinated by choice.

"COVID-19 medical bills, for those who are ineligible for vaccination, will still be fully paid for by the government."

Read more here.

9am - The manager of a store at Auckland shopping hub Sylvia Park says she is "pretty worried" about the hordes of people as retailers open their doors for the first time in 12 weeks. 

The manager told Newshub there are queues outside all of the sports stores, but none of the shoppers appear to be physically distancing. 

She said a queue had also formed outside Zara, a fashion retailer.

8:45am - If you're battling frequent disruptions during the night, you're not alone - from weird dreams to unusual sleeping patterns to feelings of fatigue, exhaustion and malaise, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on our ability to get a good night's rest.

And with research indicating vaccine efficacy can be affected by sleep, getting good quality shut-eye becomes even more important.

"A lot of what the research [overseas] has shown is that people have more disruptive sleep, so symptoms of insomnia… seem to have increased during the lockdown, and [there are] reports of more intense or frequent dreaming as well," Dr Rosie Gibson, a senior lecturer at Massey University and contributor to its Sleep/Wake Research Centre, told RNZ's The Detail.

The evidence is also backed up by an online survey of more than 700 New Zealanders, which Dr Gibson conducted during our first lockdown in 2020.

"Just over half were defined as poor sleepers using our standardised questionnaires and certainly about 45 percent rated their sleep as being worse during lockdown than pre-lockdown," she said.

Read more here.

8:30am - With retail stores across Auckland now open for business, some stores will be offering big discounts on Thursday in recognition of Single's Day, which takes place on November 11.

As Aucklanders return to the shops this week, many may be greeted with unexpected discounts to encourage them to spend early ahead of Christmas.

Despite Singles' Day sales exceeding US$74 billion globally in 2020 (bigger than Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day combined), new survey findings from the fully impartial price and product comparison site, PriceSpy, suggest the sale day might not be so well known in New Zealand - almost two thirds (63 percent) of Kiwis said they had not heard of it.

However, awareness is on the up, with PriceSpy data indicating some local retailers will be taking part - offering price drops equating to around 20 percent off.

For those looking to spend, PriceSpy's key piece of advice in securing a good deal is to shop around and research a product's price history.

8:15am - Judith Collins says it's "simply unacceptable" people with COVID-19 are self-isolating in emergency accommodation, garden sheds and cars if there are spots in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) available.

About 1200 active cases are isolating in the community, up by nearly 500 since Friday. About as many again are self-isolating as household contacts of confirmed cases. 

From November 14, the stint in MIQ for new arrivals will be reduced from 14 to seven days, but no special treatment will be given to fully vaccinated returnees - despite experts saying statistically, they now pose less risk to Kiwis than other Aucklanders. From November 1, all non-New Zealand citizens will need to be vaccinated to enter the country. 

The National Party leader questioned Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Parliament on Tuesday.

"I said people are being forced to stay in their emergency accommodation with COVID, even in cars, and she said no one's being forced to do that," Collins told The AM Show on Wednesday. "Essentially that's saying they're there by choice, so that's simply wrong."

In Parliament, Ardern told Collins it was "utterly wrong" to say people were being forced to stay in their cars due to a lack of available rooms in MIQ.

"The option of being in a facility where we have capacity is available. We have spaces available in MIQ. They are made available for the purpose of caring for individuals."

Read more here.

8am - Anti-vaccination protesters should not misuse the Star of David or cite the Holocaust in their demonstrations, says Deborah Hart, the chair of the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand.

More than 80 years after Kristallnacht - which marked the start of the Holocaust on November 9, 1938 - the Star of David was misused by protesters in New Zealand, who invoked the Holocaust for their own ends, Hart said on Wednesday. 

During the mass protest in central Wellington on Tuesday, a number of protesters were seen waving signs and placards emblazoned with Nazi imagery, with references made to the genocide of some six million Jewish people by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1941 and 1945. 

If people wish to protest, they should do so without citing the industrialised genocide of six million Jews - including 1.5 million Jewish children - as the reason they need to do so, Hart said. 

Protests equating the Government's actions to protect New Zealand citizens with the Holocaust are "ill-founded" and ignorant, she said. To make the comparison trivializes the Holocaust and diminishes the enormity of the genocide. 

"The comparisons are grotesque and deeply hurtful to Holocaust survivors and their families. If people are so ignorant of the Holocaust and what it actually was, and was not, they could contact the Holocaust Centre to arrange a visit."

The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand also condemns the use of the Star of David, a symbol embodying the Jewish people, in recent protest action.

"The Star of David is a beloved emblem of the Jewish people. It is bad enough that it was exploited by the Nazis to single out Jews for persecution, but now in a move of appalling cultural misappropriation, it's being corrupted by the anti vax movement for its own ends.  The protest movement and protestors should leave the Star of David where it belongs, with the Jewish people."

7:50am - Queues are building outside stores in the central Auckland shopping hub of Newmarket, says The AM Show's roving reporter, Aziz Al Sa'afin. 

People are slowly turning up in their droves, he said - a "really exciting" atmosphere after 12 weeks of closed shopfronts. 

At 11:59pm on Tuesday, Auckland shifted to step 2 of the Government's three-step roadmap for the region, allowing retail to reopen and social gatherings to increase - providing some much-needed respite for residents and businesses. 

Al Sa'afin says the buzz in Newmarket is bringing back "a bit of normality".

"Finally the city is coming back to life," he said.

7:45am - Unvaccinated people are 16 times more likely to end up in intensive care units or die from COVID-19, the Australian state of New South Wales said in a new report, with officials urging people to get inoculated as the country learns to live with COVID-19.

The data from the New South Wales (NSW) Health Department, released late on Monday, showed only 11 percent of 412 people who died from the Delta outbreak over the four months through to early October were fully vaccinated. The average age of those deaths was 82.

Only around 3 percent of people in intensive care units were vaccinated with two doses. More than 63 percent of the 61,800 cases detected between June 16 and October 7 were unvaccinated.

"Young people with two doses of a vaccine experienced lower rates of infection and almost no serious disease, while those unvaccinated in this age group were at greater risk of developing COVID-19 and needing hospitalisation," NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said in a statement.

The report's findings were in line with data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said in September that unvaccinated individuals were 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated.

Read more here.

7:35am - The sun has risen on another day of alert level 3 in Auckland, but Wednesday comes with some key changes that will see credit cards back in play and some picnics become outdoor parties.

At 11:59pm on Tuesday, Auckland shifted to step 2 of the Government's three-stage roadmap for the region. The step allows alert level 3 restrictions to ease slightly, with retail reopening and social gatherings allowed to increase to 25 people in outdoor settings.

Once 90 percent of the eligible populations under Auckland's three District Health Boards are fully vaccinated, the COVID-19 Protection Framework, a three-phase 'traffic light' system, will come into play.

Here are the key changes for Aucklanders at alert level 3, step 2.

7:25am - Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands, as in other parts of Europe, are approaching all-time highs despite high rates of vaccination.

Hospitals in a Dutch province say they are overwhelmed with patients, while Russia's government taskforce reported a record one-day death toll of 1211. Germany's infection rate has risen to its highest level since the start of the pandemic, with doctors warning they will need to postpone scheduled operations to cope with the influx of cases.

Here's the latest from around the world overnight.

7:15am - An expert in conflict says New Zealand is not "quite at the stage" the US reached during former President Donald Trump's tenure, but there is some concern that anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protests will escalate.

Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of central Wellington on Tuesday and gathered on the grounds of Parliament to present a list of demands to the Government, which include revoking vaccination mandates and returning the nation to alert level 1. If the Government doesn't meet the demands by 2pm on Friday, the anti-lockdown group has threatened to "gridlock" New Zealand's major cities and towns.

Although the protest was predominantly peaceful, speakers at the event did threaten a "revolution" and an uprising that would "roll" Parliament, while some carried signs emblazoned with Nazi imagery. Tennis balls printed with disturbing messages were also thrown on the forecourt of Parliament.

Chris Wilson, the director of conflict and terrorism studies at the University of Auckland, told The AM Show "there is some concern" about anti-lockdown protests escalating to violence in New Zealand.  

He said New Zealand is not "quite at the stage" of the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, when a mob of supporters of then-President Trump attacked the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. He noted that we don't have politicians inciting people to violence, or militant groups - however, there is "clearly some risk".

"Obviously there are some precedents for those type of actions," Wilson said. "Something like the Capitol attack, I don't think we're quite at that stage yet... I don't think we're ever going to experience something like that."

He noted the rising threats against the media "are quite worrying", encouraging both reporters and politicians alike to perhaps consider increased security.

6:56am - Speaking to The AM Show, National Party leader Judith Collins described Tuesday's anti-lockdown protests as "unusual".

"It's certainly the most security I've ever seen at Parliament. But what we saw was a peaceful protest. 

"We've always been in favour of peaceful protest for people but it's also about being respectful for other people's workplaces. We've got about 1200 people who work there and they need to be able to come and go out of Parliament."

6:44am - Anti-mandate protesters are being encouraged to fight for their freedoms in a safer way.

It comes after thousands of demonstrators took to the steps of Parliament on Tuesday.

Media lecturer Ethan Plaut says while everyone deserves their voice to be heard, they need to remember we are in a pandemic.

"I feel some disappointment that people are endangering themselves and each other, and not respecting social distancing and rules like that, and potentially creating a super-spreader event," he told Newshub. 

6:30am - The Auckland Principals' Association is concerned reopening primary schools in Auckland could lead to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Education and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins is expected to make an announcement about when schools can reopen on Wednesday.

But Stephen Lethbridge, from the Auckland Principals' Association, says it will need to be well-handled.

"It is a concern for us that we've got a large concentration of unvaccinated people all gathering in one place," he told Newshub. "That's why we need to manage this properly."

6:15am - Aucklanders planning on heading to the shops on Wednesday are being reminded to be patient.

Terrence Harpur, from the Takapuna Beach Business Association, says it's important people follow COVID-19 rules and remain considerate.

"Be a bit patient - it is going to be busy over the next few days," he told Newshub. "Please wear your mask, keep your distance from other shoppers and just take your time - there's no rush with it."

6am - Sylvia Park was filled with people overnight after being empty since alert level 4 in August.

Hundreds lined up for hours to get into JD Sport - which opened at midnight.

A queue at Auckland's Sylvia Park mall overnight.
A queue at Auckland's Sylvia Park mall overnight. Photo credit: The AM Show

5:45am - On Auckland's North Shore, Takapuna retailers are gearing up for a jam packed day. Business Association chief executive Terrence Harpur says people are itching to hit the stores.

"They're expecting a large influx of people coming through," he told Newshub. "There's going to be a bit of... demand after being closed for 84 days so they're expecting a very busy few days  as people come out and enjoy some retail therapy."   

5:30am - Speaking to Newshub, Otago University public health Professor Michael Baker said Wednesday's rule changes have gone far enough.

"I'm concerned about any further relaxation of controls since children going back to school this year, I think, will be a problem until we can vaccinate right down to 5-years-of-age - which I think is really important."