Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, December 21

The Government has laid out how it plans to reduce the risk of Omicron.

That includes reducing the wait time between the second Pfizer vaccine and the booster shot from six months to four months and delaying the start of non-MIQ international travel from January 17 to the end of February.

Cabinet has also decided to start the rollout of vaccines to children between five and 11 from January 17. 

What you need to know:

  • The wait time between someone's second vaccine dose and their booster shot reduced from six months to four months
  • The upcoming  MIQ room released scheduled for Wednesday has been cancelled, the next one will be on January 6 (NZ time). 
  • Start of non-MIQ international travel delayed from January 17 to end of February
  • Pre-departure test requirement to enter New Zealand reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours prior to travel
  • Length of stay in MIQ extended from seven days to 10 days, with no self-isolation component
  • Children aged between five and 11 to start receiving vaccines from January 17
  • The Ministry of Health announced no new Omicron cases on Tuesday, keeping the total in New Zealand at 22
  • There were 28 new COVID-19 community cases on Monday - 21 in Auckland, five in the Bay of Plenty and two Taranaki.
  • Fifty-seven people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care or high dependency units.

These live updates have finished.

7:05pm - The Ministry of Health has announced three new locations of interest at 6pm. 

They are: 

  • Santa Magic Tauranga Crossing 
  • Parkland Takeaways Bell Block New Plymouth
  • Mayfair Icecream Parlour and Dairy Te Puke

For all the locations of interest and advice from the ministry click here.

6:25pm - Air New Zealand has announced that around 120 services have been cancelled through to the end of February because of the delayed start to non-MIQ travel with Australia. 

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says this will be incredibly tough news for many.

"Our heart goes out to those who were counting down the days until they could reconnect with their family and friends," Foran said.

"While this news is disappointing for the airline, we know these changes are put in place to keep Aotearoa safe. We'll now need to navigate our way through what these changes mean for our customers, as we have done over the past 23 months."

The airline estimates around 120 flights will need to be cancelled, with around 27,000 customers expected to be impacted. 

Most of the cancelled services are across the Tasman with only a small reduction in frequency on some long-haul flights.

"We are here for our customers, and as we have throughout the pandemic, we will continue to fly to get them home to Aotearoa as MIQ allocations allow," Foran said.

"Even though it may not be as soon as we had hoped, when the day comes our team will be standing tall, with a big smile, ready to welcome customers on board once again."

All existing quarantine-free flights from Australia to New Zealand between 17 January and 28 February 2022 will be cancelled and there will be a limited schedule of quarantine flights will be available to book.

Air New Zealand is asking customers to continue to check the airline's travel alerts page for further updates.

Customers who still wish to travel to New Zealand will need to secure a MIQ allocation before booking on a quarantine flight.

The airline will continue to operate on a reduced schedule from New Zealand to Australia but will be consolidating its schedule and only operating services out of Auckland.

Customers with bookings who no longer wish to travel are asked to use the airline's online self-service tool to hold their fare in credit.

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

5:42pm - The Ministry of Health has announced four new locations of interest at 5pm. 

They are: 

  • Countdown Bayfair Mount Maunganui 
  • Pak'nSave New Plymouth 
  • Amazon Surf Bayfair Mount Maunganui 
  • The Warehouse Bell Block New Plymouth

For all the locations of interest and advice from the ministry click here.

4:32pm - The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has announced the next managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) room release has been cancelled. 

It was scheduled for Tuesday and then got delayed till midday on Wednesday but MBIE has now cancelled it. 

The next room release will be on Thursday 6 January (NZT).

4:22pm - The National Party has supported the Government's decision to reduce the gap from between the second dose and booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine from six months to four months.

"The evidence is that a three dose regime of the Pfizer vaccine provides about the equivalent level of protection against Omicron as two doses does against Delta. So we need as many people to get booster vaccines as possible," National’s COVID-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop said.

Bishop is encouraging all Kiwis that are currently eligible to go out and get their booster shot. 

"I had my booster dose yesterday [Monday] and I encourage everyone to go and get one as soon as they are eligible. The Government needs to quickly change up the tone and tempo of its advertising campaign – “two shots for summer” now needs to become “three shots over summer.

“It’s important we quickly roll out boosters to everyone working at the border and on the frontline of our health workforce. It’s good news that half of the eligible border workers have had a booster dose already."

Bishop is pleased the Government has announced a start date for the roll-out of vaccination for 5-11-year-olds but say's it's been too slow. 

"A real opportunity to get kids vaccinated in school-based settings before Christmas has been missed," he said. "Hundreds of millions of 5-11-year-olds’ vaccines have been given worldwide but New Zealand has been slow to approve it and will now be slow to roll it out."

Bishop said the decision to push back the start of non-MIQ international travel from January 17 to the end of February was "disappointing". 

"National has pushed for vaccinated travellers to be subject to different rules to unvaccinated travellers, and for home isolation to be the default setting for people, rather than using the blunt instrument of MIQ," he said.

“We acknowledge that in the difficult circumstances presented by Omicron, a short delay in ending MIQ to allow as many people to be boosted as possible is necessary, but we should not underestimate the suffering this will cause for many Kiwis offshore.

“The sooner we can return to the plan of allowing fully vaccinated travellers to enter New Zealand without entering MIQ, the better.”

3:54pm - The Ministry of Health has announced four new locations of interest at 3pm, including one 'close contact' in Tauranga. 

The ministry is asking anyone who was at the Sharing Shed Fraser Cove on Saturday 18 December between 11:03am to 12:35pm to self-isolate and get a test immediately and on day 5 after you were exposed at this location of interest.

The other locations of interest are:

  • Hairini Family Health Centre Tauranga  
  • Big Barrel Devon Road New Plymouth 
  • Event Cinemas New Plymouth

For all the locations of interest and advice from the ministry click here.

3:25pm - The ACT Party has slammed the Government's decision to impose a six-week delay on home isolation saying they haven't got "a clue what to do about omicron."

COVID-19 Response minister Chris Hipkins announced on Tuesday that the start of non-MIQ international travel has been delayed from January 17 to the end of February.

"We know there's no certainty but people want clarity," ACT leader David Seymour said. "It's unclear why a six week delay in home isolation is worth it when even Hipkins admits the virus may well escape MIQ anyway.

"Chris Hipkins has told the country that we need to buy time against Omicron, but is happy to wait two weeks before bringing forward boosters. If it's urgent, they could have simply said 'from today you can book a booster from four months after your second dose.' If there is not enough capacity, bookings will be full.' Isn't that what we'd want?

"Meanwhile there are no other initiatives to boost New Zealand's resilience besides needing a test within 48 hours of departing for New Zealand and extending MIQ to 10 days.

"The home isolation delay also amplifies an inconsistent policy. When Omicron gets out, thousands of people will be allowed to home isolate, because there will be no MIQ capacity for them. Once again we'll have a double standard where people who've tested negative can't enter their own country because of MIQ requirements -the same MIQ requirements that won't apply to people already in the country who have tested positive.

"Tens of thousands of people will have their hopes dashed, often after waiting an age to be reunited. And yet, there is no logic in the reopening delay. Chris Hipkins accepts the virus will get here and spread rapidly despite MIQ, perhaps as soon as next month. He is buying time at others' expense. They will pay and we'll end up in the same place anyway.

"The Government has once again shown it has no forward thinking or balancing of New Zealanders' different risks in its COVID response."

2:50pm - The Board of Airline Representatives of New Zealand (BARNZ) says the decision to delay the reopening of the border is "heartbreaking".

"The hundreds of people who have booked to come home from Australia from mid-January are now faced with rolling the dice to try and get a MIQ room and then spending the first 10 days of a holiday locked down or seeing if they can reschedule their flight sometime in March," says Justin Tighe-Umbers, the executive director.

"The Kiwis who have already left to see family overseas on the hope of self-isolating when they return home face the same problems."

He says BARNZ is "disappointed" by the decision, but also understands why it is needed. 

"Apart from the effect on families and people who haven't been able to see each other for nearly two years, it's a huge blow to the tourism sector. It's a massive setback as operators seek to recover a little through the summer season.

"Exhausted airline staff will again face rebooking travellers or sorting credits and rescheduling aircraft and crews. Simply put, the domino effect of the Government’s decision is extensive."

He hopes the Government watches the Omicron data from overseas and that clarity is given to Kiwis overseas as soon as possible. 

2:35pm - Hipkins says officials are looking to see how the spike in Omicron cases internationally translates into hospitalisations. In the meantime, he says boosters really matter.

There are a variety of different measures at the red-light setting, he says. But  moving back to the alert level system is a last resort.

The minister reiterates the Government won't mandate vaccines for children, but he strongly encourages parents getting their kids jabbed. There are no targets for how many children need to get vaccinated before looking at delaying the start of school.

2:25pm - Dr Town says data in Australia is "worrying" regarding the explosive nature of Omicron, especially at super-spreader events. The longer we can hold it back, the more time there is for people to get boosters. He says the booster shot is very helpful in preventing severe disease.

Hipkins apologises to travellers disrupted by the Government's delay to the reopening date. He says COVID continues to throw up new challenges and it's hard to provide certainty. Many countries that have opened up are now reimposing restrictions, showing that the whole globe continues to be challenged, the minister says. 

2:20pm - Hipkins says there will be enough supply of vaccines to start vaccinating all children at once, rather than phasing the rollout. This means vaccinators will be able to get to hard-to-reach children from the start.

He understands all parents will be nervous when it comes to the health of their children. He asks parents to look at the science and understand the vaccine has been rolled out globally and has been shown to be safe.

Dr Delore says when whanau have the opportunity to receive information from people they trust, the uptake is very high. 

Hipkins says there will be different messages targeted at different communities to encourage people to have their children vaccinated.

2:15pm - Parents and caregivers will have the opportunity to protect their children aged 5 to 11 against COVID-19 with the child version of the Pfizer vaccine, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today.

"A key focus of the Government is to keep everyone in New Zealand safe from the COVID-19 pandemic," Chris Hipkins said.

"That's why Cabinet has agreed with the advice from the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, off the back of Medsafe approval that confirms both the safety and efficacy of the paediatric vaccine, to use of the vaccine to protect 5 to 11-years-olds.

"This will happen from 17 January. There are 476,000 children between ages 5-11 who will become eligible to get their first dose from this date, and their second dose at least eight weeks later. 

"As we have seen to date, the virus can be unpredictable. While COVID-19 generally has milder effects in children, with symptoms similar to a cold, some children become severely ill and require hospitalisation.

"In the most recent outbreak, 24 percent of cases have been aged 11 or under. 

"Like we have seen with adults, if your child is infected with COVID-19 they may transmit the virus to other people. Immunising 5 to 11-year-olds helps protect whānau members whose health makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19." 

The Ministry of Health is working with iwi, DHBs, hauora providers, and community organisations to roll out the Pfizer vaccine to children in ways that suit whānau and communities. 

While there are no plans for a school-based immunisation programme, schools are being considered as community vaccination sites. This will add capacity to the vaccination network and make it even easier for families to get vaccinated. 

"The government is strongly encouraging parents to have their children vaccinated against COVID-19, but I want to be clear that this is a choice for parents. The Government has no intention of making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for anyone in this age group," Chris Hipkins said. 

"I encourage parents to make an informed choice and have their children vaccinated to protect them and those they love.

2:10pm - Here's the full announcement from the Government, including on the re-opening plan being pushed out to February: 

Cabinet has agreed a suite of precautionary measures to keep Omicron out of the community for as long as possible, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.  

"All of the evidence so far points to Omicron being the most transmissible COVID-19 variant yet and public health advice says that soon, every case that comes into MIQ will be Omicron," Chris Hipkins said.

"But experts still don't know how severe it is. So while it's sweeping the globe at a bewildering speed and appears to be the dominant variant, how sick it makes people and the impact it has on health systems is not yet fully understood.

"With over 70 countries around the world reporting Omicron cases and its high  transmissibility, our plan is to get as prepared as we can by speeding up boosters and strengthening our border to keep Omicron out of the community for as long as possible.

"We start our response to Omicron with a number of advantages on our side. We have over 90 per cent and rising of the population fully vaccinated, we still have our border protections and MIQ in place, school has finished for the year and we are heading into summer when we are outdoors more.

"But we need to do more. Parts of the world are going back into lockdown and experiencing major disruption, and with these extra steps we aim to keep Omicron at bay to ensure New Zealanders get the break they deserve and businesses can remain open.


"The first step in our plan is accelerating the booster rollout, following advice from the Director-General.

"The advice from the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group is that shortening the period between the second and booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine is an appropriate and pragmatic step and is in line with what other countries are doing. 

"Data is emerging that a booster dose with Pfizer provides better protection than two-dose course against the Omicron variant.

"While two doses is likely to hold a good degree of protection against severe disease from Omicron, a third dose is likely to offer great protection against transmission of COVID-19 and reducing the chance of more serious infections.

"The shorter timeframe will start in January and we'll continue to follow health advice if it recommends the gap in doses can and should reduce further.

"Over 82 per cent of vaccinated New Zealanders will be eligible for a booster by the end of February 2022.   

"We know that the most likely place for Omicron to enter the community is at the border, so we want all border and eligible health workers to have the extra protection the booster vaccine provides to protect them and their families.

The border continues to be our first line of defence.

"More than half of border workers eligible for a booster at 6 months have already had it – which is a great response – but we need to get the numbers up quickly.

"Cabinet has therefore agreed in principle that where workers are required to be vaccinated, that this mandate will also extend to boosters.

"Initially this will be for those workers most likely to come into contact with Omicron -- border and health workers -- who will be required to have their booster by the end of January, or not later six months after their second dose for those who were only recently vaccinated, and then to all others who are under a vaccination mandate by the 1st of March. 

Strengthening MIQ

"We are fortunate we still have MIQ in place. Without it, Omicron would already be in the community and Christmas plans would be under threat.

"To further strengthen the border, we're shortening the pre-departure test requirement from 72 hours to 48 hours before travel in order to assist in picking up more people with the virus before they get on a plane.

"And we've sought advice on implementing a requirement for all non-New Zealand citizens entering to New Zealand to have had a booster dose before flying.

"We are also making a temporary change to MIQ that increases the length of stay from 7 to 10 days. Currently returnees do their final 3 days of isolation at home. Bringing those final three days back into MIQ reduces the risk of the virus entering the community.

Changes to re-opening plan

"To slow the rapid spread we have seen overseas, we are pushing out the start of non-MIQ travel until the end of February 2022. 

"There's no doubt this is disappointing and will upset many holiday plans, but it's important to set these changes out clearly today so they can have time to consider those plans.

"COVID-19 keeps throwing new curve balls and we have to respond in a way that continues to protect lives and livelihoods without putting in place restrictions and lockdowns unless absolutely necessary.  

"Waiting till the end of February will increase New Zealand's overall protection and slow Omicron's eventual spread.

Use of traffic light system to manage outbreaks

"With these changes, we're buying New Zealand as much time as we can, as scientists here and overseas race to get a clearer picture of Omicron.

"In moving to the traffic light system, we signalled that we would be adjusting to more of a reactive stance when it came to protective measures and would apply them when case numbers grew and the health system came under pressure.

"Omicron has changed that. When it does arrive, we expect that it will spread fast, and that's what we're seeing in other places. To slow that spread, we may use the red traffic light settings earlier on. That will give us the best chance to avoid returning to more restrictive alert level settings.

"It is not our intention to move to lockdowns unless absolutely necessary in the event of a widespread outbreak where our health system comes under considerable strain – and even then the strong preference is for the lockdown to be highly targeted.

Chris Hipkins said faced with alternative courses of action, and looking at overseas jurisdictions, Cabinet is strongly of the view that this plan is the best approach for New Zealand.

"By the end of February when we revisit the phased border re-opening, around 3 million more Kiwis will be eligible for the booster shots and the rollout to 5-11 year-olds will be well underway." Chris Hipkins said.

2:05pm - Hipkins begins by noting he is joined on the stage by Ministry of Health Chief Science Advisor, Ian Town and paediatrician Dr Danny Delore.

He says Cabinet met to discuss how to reduce the threat of Omicron to New Zealand. The variant is now in more than 70 countries, including in MIQ in New Zealand. It is thought that nearly every case coming into MIQ will be Omicron soon. He wants to "slow it down" and delay it entering into the community.

Hipkins says advice to shorten the period between the second dose and boosters is appropriate. Two doses provides a good degree of protection against severe disease while a third will offer a greater protection against transmission.

Cabinet has decided to reduce the timeframe from six months to four months after the second dose. Around 3 million people will be eligible to get their booster by their end of February. The shorter timeframe will start from early January. Specific timeframes will be set out soon.

1:50pm - Chris Hipkins will speak to media at 2pm. You can refresh this page to find a livestream above.

1:35pm - The Ministry of Health’s medicine regulatory arm Medsafe, today approved a new COVID-19 medicine Ronapreve that can both prevent and treat COVID-19 though it is not a substitute for vaccination and its effectiveness against the latest variant of concern is yet to be demonstrated.

Ronapreve is a monoclonal antibody drug that mimics the body’s natural defences for fighting disease. The clinical advice is that it is a significant advance, because it reduces the severity of COVID-19 by keeping more cases out of hospital and shortens the duration of symptoms and infectious period which in turn reduces the risk of patients passing the virus on to other people, says Medsafe Group Manager Chris James.

Ronapreve is approved for the treatment of COVID-19 for people who are badly affected by COVID-19 and who are at increased risk of progressing to severe COVID-19 disease.  

The medicine is also approved for preventing COVID-19 for people who have been exposed to the virus and have a medical condition that makes them unlikely to be protected by vaccination.

This group includes people with compromised immune systems such as individuals with cancer, transplant recipients and those with immunodeficiency disorders.  These individuals are often susceptible to infections and respond poorly to vaccination.

Ronapreve is not approved for use in children.

Chris James says today’s announcement is a significant advance, in providing an additional tool to our health professionals that allows them to both saving lives and taking pressure off our hospitals, allowing them to focus on treating people with other conditions. 

Ronapreve is known to be effective against the Delta variant and research is now focusing on its effectiveness against the Omicron variant.  Medsafe will continue to evaluate that information when it becomes available.

In late October this year, the Government announced that Pharmac, the national medicine-buying agency, had already secured access to enough doses of Ronapreve to be able to treat 5300 people and expects to be able to buy more next year.

Ronapreve, along with four other drugs including molnupiravir, have been selected for fast tracked approval to help protect against the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting people and hospital services against its worst impacts.

Ronapreve is the first new drug to get Medsafe’s approval.  Dexamethasone, an existing steroid treatment, has also been approved for treatment of COVID-19 as it helps limit the body’s over-reaction to COVID-19 seen in severe cases of infection.

These medicines are important tools to have in our toolbox for addressing COVID-19.  Other actions continue to be just as important as they have ever been. Our focus remains on getting as many people as possible vaccinated, including booster shots, and practical measures like wearing facemasks, social distancing and scanning into any locations visited.

1:20pm - Nelson-Marlborough DHB is expected to become the tenth DHB to hit the 90 percent fully vaccinated milestone later today based on uptake among its eligible population, with just 246 doses to go as of 11.59pm yesterday.

Next in line based on uptake by their eligible populations are South Canterbury DHB (195 doses to go); Hawkes Bay DHB (1,714 doses); and Waikato (3,557 doses), which are expected to reach this soon.

For Maori vaccinations, Wairarapa DHB has just 4 doses remaining to reach 90 percent partially vaccinated for its population; while Southern DHB has 42 doses to go, and Waitemata has 225 doses to go to reach this milestone. They will soon join the five other DHBs to have reached this mark, while Auckland DHB and Capital and Coast DHB are neck and neck to become the first DHBs to reach 90 percent fully vaccinated for Maori, with 1,118 doses and 1,154 does to go respectively.

For our Pacific communities, MidCentral DHB has just 6 doses to go to reach 90 percent of its Pacific population being fully vaccinated, with Canterbury only 10 doses away, and Waikato with just 108 doses to go. Nine other DHBs have already hit this milestone.

1:15pm - More from the Ministry of Health about the new cases: 

Today’s cases

Today, we are reporting new community cases in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, and Taranaki. Today we are also adding three previously reported cases to Canterbury’s total community case numbers. We reported these cases as confirmed initially before they were reclassified as ‘under investigation.’ They have subsequently been reclassified again as confirmed cases.

Regional updates

We are continuing to ask anyone in New Zealand with symptoms – no matter how mild – to get tested, even if you’re vaccinated. Please stay at home until you return a negative test result.

Testing and vaccination centre locations nationwide can be found on the Healthpoint website.


Today, there are 21 new cases being reported in Auckland. 

Health and welfare providers are now supporting 2,015 people to isolate at home, including 569 cases.

Child accompanied the traveller who self-discharged from hospital early Monday

The recent returnee who was transferred from managed isolation to Middlemore Hospital and left without being discharged, was accompanied by their child. The child was transferred in the ambulance with the parent as the age of the child meant they could not be left unattended in managed isolation.

Police are currently investigating the early Monday morning incident.

The parent tested negative twice; first on Day 0 in managed isolation. A further Rapid Antigen Test, upon arrival at the hospital on Sunday night, returned a negative result.

We want to reiterate the importance of the pair returning to managed isolation to complete their isolation period and to have further testing on Day 3 and Day 6.

Information regarding the pair is being released in this update to aid the investigation.

Bay of Plenty

There are five cases to report in Bay of Plenty today – four are in the Tauranga area and one in Murapara.

The Murupara case is a household contact of a previously reported case.

Local iwi health provider Te Ika Whenua Hauora is managing testing and vaccination with support from the DHB. A testing centre was opened yesterday and details are available on the Healthpoint website.


Today, two new cases are being reported in Taranaki - one is linked to the Eltham cluster, and the other is linked to a case in New Plymouth.

This takes the total active cases in the region to 32.

Local testing sites can be found on the Taranaki DHB website.

1:10pm - Here's the key figures from the Ministry of Health: 

  • Vaccines administered to date (percentage of eligible people): 3,966,212 first doses (94%); 3,808,013 second doses (90%); 25,313 third primary doses; 227,559 booster doses
  • Vaccines administered yesterday: 1,860 first doses; 6,273 second doses; 637 third primary doses and 11,558 booster doses.
  • Māori (percentage of eligible people): 496,932 first doses (87%); 445,578 second doses (78%)
  • Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people): 268,629 first doses (94%); 253,432 second doses (88%)

Vaccination rates by DHB with active cases (percentage of eligible people)

  • Northland DHB: First doses (88%); second doses (83%)
  • Auckland Metro DHBs: First doses (96%); second doses (93%)
  • Waikato DHB: First doses (93%); second doses (89%)
  • Bay of Plenty DHB: First doses (93%); second doses (88%)
  • Lakes DHB: First doses (91%); second doses (86%)
  • Taranaki DHB: First doses (93%); second doses (88%)
  • Nelson-Marlborough DHB: First doses (95%); second doses (90%)
  • Canterbury DHB: First doses (98%); second doses (94%)


  • Cases in hospital: 57; North Shore: 10; Auckland: 25; Middlemore: 19; Northland 1; Waikato: 2
  • Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region wards only, excluding those in ED): Unvaccinated or not eligible (28 cases / 55%); partially immunised <7 days from second dose or have only received one dose (6 cases / 12%); fully vaccinated at least 7 days before being reported as a case (11 cases / 21%); unknown (6 cases / 12%)
  • Average age of current hospitalisations: 49
  • Cases in ICU or HDU: 7 (1 in North Shore; 2 in Auckland; 3 in Middlemore, 1 in Northland)


  • Seven day rolling average of community cases: 67
  • Number of new community cases: 28
  • Number of new cases identified at the border: 5
  • Location of new community cases: Auckland (21), Bay of Plenty (5), Taranaki (2).
  • Number of community cases (total): 10,320 (in current community outbreak)
  • Cases epidemiologically linked (total): 7,647
  • Number of active cases (total): 1,675 (cases identified in the past 21 days and not yet classed as recovered)
  • Confirmed cases (total): 13,161


  • Number of active contacts being managed (total): 6,664
  • Percentage who have received an outbound call from contact tracers (to confirm testing and isolation requirements): 85%
  • Percentage who have returned at least one result: 77%


  • Number of tests total (last 24 hours): 14,745
  • Tests rolling average (last 7 days): 21,019
  • Auckland tests total (last 24 hours): 9,160


  • No unexpected detections


  • Poster scans in 24 hours to midday yesterday: 3,019,693
  • Manual diary entries in 24 hours to midday: 43,117

My Vaccine Pass

  • My vaccine pass downloads total: 4,407,281
  • My vaccine pass downloads (last 24 hours): 15,254

1:05pm - There are 28 new community cases, according to the Ministry of Health, and the total number of arrivals to New Zealand with Omicron remains at 22. 

"Of the total Omicron cases to date, all remain in managed isolation with the exception of one case who has now recovered and been released as they are no longer infectious.

"Health and MIQ teams have been carefully planning for Omicron cases at the border and will continue to manage all arrivals cautiously. This includes isolation and testing requirements for all new arrivals, robust infection and prevention control and PPE measures at airports and MIQ facilities, and frequent surveillance testing of staff who have any contact with recent international returnees."

12:40pm - The latest COVID-19 details are expected at 1pm via a statement. Here's a quick reminder of the overall situation as of Monday: 

Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak - Tuesday, December 21

12:20pm - A prominent New Zealand businessman who accused politicians and health officials of holidaying at a dangerous time "misquoted" the Prime Minister, the Beehive has said.

Sir Ian Taylor, who's been trying to push the Government into making improvements to New Zealand's COVID-19 response, at the weekend and on Monday criticised Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - saying he was staggered at her comment that people should have "a wonderful break - you bloody deserve it".

"Nobody should be talking about a break right now," Sir Ian told Newstalk ZB.

"We already missed 16 months, where we did nothing, to shore up the defences and the idea that parliamentarians pat themselves on the back saying, 'You've done really well' … there is nothing to congratulate themselves about."

Read the Government's response here

12pm - There have been a number of suggestions from experts in recent days about how New Zealand could reduce the risk of Omicron. 

One is for Cabinet to reduce the time between the second jab and the booster shot. It's currently at six months. Another is to delay the reopening of New Zealand to fully vaccinated Kiwis from Australia. 

"We have to really, I think, delay the border reopening plan for January next year I think at least a month at this stage to give us time to do a proper risk assessment on this variant," Professor Michael Baker says.

"We need to know more about this variant before we even think about allowing it to come into New Zealand."

11:45am - COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, Ministry of Health Chief Science Advisor Ian Town and paediatrician Dr Danny Delore will be at the 2pm media conference.

Dr Delore's presence indicates there will be announcement about the vaccine rollout among children aged between five and 11.

Medsafe last week gave provisional approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids. Cabinet needs to give approval before the rollout goes ahead. 

"If Cabinet agrees to use the vaccine in New Zealand, we want to have systems in place to roll out the vaccine safely and efficiently, at the earliest opportunity," Medsafe said last week. "This means completing the necessary training and working with the community to roll out the vaccine, including through whānau-based approaches."

11:40am - There have been three new locations of interest announced so far on Tuesday. They are:

  • Crackerjack Fraser Cove South Tauranga - Saturday, December 18 between 10:30am and 12pm
  • Countdown Fraser Cove - Saturday, December 18 between 11:53am and 1pm
  • The Warehouse Fraser Cove - Saturday, December 18 between 9:45am and 11:30am

11:30am - Kia ora, and welcome to Newshub's live updates for Tuesday.

All eyes will be on Chris Hipkins at 2pm as he reveals Cabinet's latest decisions around reducing the risk of Omicron to New Zealand. It's thought changes could be announced to New Zealand's reopening plan and to the period between having the second Pfizer jab and the booster shot.