Coronavirus: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak – Sunday, January 23 – Newshub

Omicron is circulating in Auckland and likely elsewhere in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a press conference on Sunday morning. 

Nine positive cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been reported in the Nelson/Marlborough region and these cases traveled to Auckland to attend a wedding and other events. 

As a result New Zealand will shift to the red traffic light setting from 11:59pm on Sunday, and Kiwis should plan to stay there for “a few weeks”, Ardern said. 

Ardern says no changes have been made to the international border dates. So the plan is still for Kiwis in Australia to be allowed into New Zealand without MIQ and with home isolation at the end of February. 

What you need to know:

  • Nine COVID-19 cases in Nelson/Marlborough have now been confirmed as Omicron and a further case from the same household was confirmed last night
  • Positives cases attended events in Auckland including a wedding
  • Air New Zealand flight attendant has tested positive for Omicron, took additional flights while infectious
  • Omicron is circulating in Auckland and likely elsewhere
  • New Zealand is moving to the red setting of the Traffic Light System from 11:59 tonight
  • The isolation period for all COVID-19 cases has been extended from 10 days to 14 days and for close contacts, it is extended from seven days to 14. 
  • There were 24 new cases of COVID-19 in the community on Sunday, with Auckland reporting 16, Lakes five, Northland two and Waikato one.
  • There is eight people in hospital on Sunday with none in ICU or HDU. 

These live updates have finished.

8:40pm – Just as we’d wrapped our heads around the traffic light system, the Government is working on a new response. It’s being called the three phases of Omicron.

It starts with phase 1 – the focus is stamping Omicron out and will last until we hit more than 1000 cases a day.

Once we hit 1000 cases a day then we’ll move into phase 2 – the transition. Here the focus will be on the cases who are at severe risk of illness – the vulnerable, the elderly and the unvaccinated.

And when we hit thousands of daily cases, enter phase 3 – that’s when the focus is dampening down. There’ll also be changes to who’s defined as a close contact and how long they’ll have to isolate.

The Government hasn’t quite got those details yet – they’re coming Wednesday and the Opposition is critical.

“I think it’s got highly confusing for New Zealanders. We’ve gone from alert level settings to traffic lights to tweaked traffic lights,” says National leader Christopher Luxon.

“The so-called stages are just a place-holder for no plan. Isolation requirements, protection of the vulnerable, getting boosters rolled out – none of that’s ready,” adds ACT leader David Seymour.

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

8:10pm – Ministry of Health officials are reviewing the current advice around masks and the most effective ones as it is confirmed the highly transmissible Omicron variant is spreading in the community.

In a conference this afternoon, in which the prime minister announced the whole country would move to the red setting of the COVID-19 framework, Jacinda Ardern said an assessment was underway on mask advice as evidence emerges from other countries dealing with outbreaks.

“There is evidence emerging around those masks that offer better protection than others, including the effectiveness of surgical [masks], so not just N95s.”

She said a formal update would be provided in the coming days.

Read the full story here.

7:25pm – There are five DHBs yet to reach the 90 percent double vaccinated target. These are:

  • Northland: 86 percent of eligible population fully vaccinated, 6254 people remaining to hit target
  • Lakes: 90 percent fully vaccinated, 269 people remaining (the Ministry of Health rounds up percentages to the nearest whole number)
  • Tairāwhiti: 89 percent fully vaccinated, 592 people remaining
  • Whanganui: 89 percent fully vaccinated, 661 people remaining
  • West Coast: 90 percent fully vaccinated, 67 people remaining.

Northland is still yet to hit 90 percent first doses. It has given 89 percent of its eligible residents first doses, with 1023 people remaining to hit this goal.

Click here for more details on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

6:50pm – The Auckland Pride Festival has been cancelled following tonight’s move to red.

Last week, the Pride Parade was cancelled and this has now been extended to the entire festival.

“We support the imposition of restrictions to protect our communities, healthcare systems, and critical services,” says Auckland Pride executive director Max Tweedie.

“The experience of Australia in particular has demonstrated that even without these restrictions, the Auckland Pride Festival proceeding during an Omicron outbreak would’ve been irresponsible.

“Auckland Pride Festival provides significant opportunities for our communities to come together, improve education and visibility, and increase connection to community – which are key drivers in improved social outcomes. It is incredibly heartbreaking that we are in this position but the safety of our community is our top priority.”

6:20pm – The Ministry of Health has announced 13 new locations of interest including 12 that are considered ‘close contact’. 

The Ministry says anyone who was at the following locations needs to self-isolate, test immediately and on day 5 after you were exposed at this location of interest. Further isolation and testing requirements will be provided by Public Health.

The ‘close contacts’ locations of interest are:

  • Sky Tower Auckland – Sunday January 16 from 10am to 11am
  • Bus 20 Kingsland Ave [Stop 8213] to Beaumont Street [Stop 1304] – on Tuesday 18 January from 9:10am to 9:40am
  • Bus 917 Glenfield Mall [Stop 3881] to Albany Mall [Stop 4260] – Thursday 20 January from 10:05am to 10:35am
  • Bus 20 Beaumont Street [Stop 1303] to Kingsland Ave [Stop 8210] – Wednesday 19 January from 6pm to 6:30pm 
  • Bus 20 Beaumont Street [Stop 1303] to Kingsland Ave [Stop 8210] – Tuesday 18 January from 6pm to 6:30pm
  • Bus 917 Glenfield Mall [Stop 3881] to Albany Mall [Stop 4260] – Wednesday 19 January from 10:05am to 10:35am
  • Bus 20 Kingsland Ave [Stop 8213] to Beaumont Street [Stop 1304] – Wednesday 19 January from 9am to 9:30am
  • Auckland Domestic Airport – Sunday 16 Janaury from 3:45pm to 5:30pm
  • Private event Totara Event Centre New Lynn – Saturday 15 January from 12:30pm to 4:30pm
  • Air New Zealand flight NZ5080 from Nelson to Auckland – Wednesday 19 from 4pm to 5:30pm
  • Bus 133 Henderson [Stop 5112] to City Centre – Monday 17 January from 8:15am to 8:45am
  • Bus 195 New Lynn to Vulcan Lane City Centre [Stop 7049] – Monday 17 January from 8:45am to 9:15am

For all the locations of interest click here. 

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

5:50pm – The Governments decision to move all of New Zealand to red in the traffic light setting from 11:59pm on Sunday has seen a number of events cancelled. 

The move means there will be more mask wearing, and a cap of 100 people indoors in hospitality settings and events such as weddings, or 25 people, if venues are not using vaccine passes.

Read the full story here. 

5:38pm – Tourists attractions, Air New Zealand flights, supermarkets, domestic airports and a retirement home are all a part of the Ministry of Health’s locations of interest published on Sunday. 

The Ministry of Health is starting to announce the locations of interest that are linked to Omicron-positive cases with 20 locations announced on Sunday. 

Of those 20, six are considered to be ‘close contacts’ where the ministry is asking people to isolate.

Read the full story here. 

4:15pm – Opposition parties are accusing the Government of being slow and unprepared as New Zealand heads into the red traffic light setting.

National leader Christopher Luxon says the Government’s “lack of preparation” for Omicron has left New Zealand worse off than we should be.

“Rather than spending the last month urgently boosting as many people as possible, rolling out vaccinations for 5-11-year-olds and buying stocks of rapid tests, the Government went into ‘go slow’ mode over summer,” he said after the Government’s announcement.

Read the full story here.

3:42pm –  Air New Zealand have said they will continue to operate under red of the traffic light system but have already seen an impact on their staff.

Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says like all businesses, Air New Zealand is preparing for the impact Omicron will have on its customers and employees.

“Our priority has always been and continues to be, keeping our employees, customers and New Zealand safe,” Foran says. “The great news is, you can continue to fly during the red setting and there are no regional borders in place. However, we do expect to see some impact to our operation.

“As a result of one of our employees testing positive for Omicron, subsequently, around 15 aircrew have been stood down as close contacts. They are well and are testing and isolating in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines.

“What this does mean is that while we will continue to do all we can to keep Aotearoa connected, we expect to see some schedule changes and cancellations over the coming weeks due to Covid.

“To our customers, thank you for standing by us and please be patient with us as we work to keep you moving, while first and foremost, ensuring everyone’s safety and wellbeing.”

Air New Zealand has significant precautions in place for crew set out by the Ministry of Health and the airline’s medical team including wearing PPE and regular surveillance testing.

All Air New Zealand operating aircrew and customer-facing employees are fully vaccinated. All customers over the age of 12 travelling with Air New Zealand domestically need to show either proof of vaccination or proof of a recent negative test result and vaccination requirement for all international passengers comes into effect from 1 February. 

As an added precaution, Air New Zealand paused inflight food and beverage service from 1 January 2022 to enable customers to keep their masks on for the duration of domestic flights.

Air New Zealand is advising customers to save time at the airport by checking in online using the AirNZ app and uploading their vaccine pass to their Airpoints profile.

Air New Zealand lounges will be open as usual, however social distancing practices are in place. Face coverings continue to be required when not eating and drinking.

Customers are reminded to stay home and not to fly if they feel sick, are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, are awaiting test results, or have been asked to isolate.

3:23pm – Christian music event Festival One held in Lake Karapiro in Waikato, which was scheduled to take place next weekend, has been cancelled after the Government’s decision to move all of New Zealand to red.

 “It’s pretty heartbreaking not being able to carry on – we were so hopeful of all being together,” they said in a statement.

3:18pm – Finance Minister Grant Robertson says there is a range of financial support available for businesses, now that New Zealand is moving into the red in the COVID-19 traffic light setting.

Robertson says the move to red will likely cause economic disruptions on the supply side.

This means financial support will initially be for those who aren’t able to work because they have COVID, need to isolate because they’re a contact, or while they wait for test results.

Read the full story here.

3:13pm – The Ministry of Health has announced 16 new locations of interest including six considered ‘close contacts’. 

The locations of interest considered ‘close contacts’ are:

  • Auckland Domestic Regional Departure Terminal – Sunday 16 January from 4:15pm to 5pm
  • Air New Zealand flight NZ5077 from Auckland to Nelson – Wednesday 19 January from 2pm to 3:30pm
  • Air New Zealand flight NZ5042 from New Plymouth to Auckland – Thursday 20 January from 1:50pm to 2:45pm 
  • Air New Zealand flight NZ5049 Auckland to New Plymouth – Wednesday 19 January from 7:50pm to 8:30pm 
  • Air New Zealand flight NZ5080 from Nelson to Auckland – Wednesday 19 January from 4pm to 5:30pm.
  • Air New Zealand flight NZ5083 Auckland to Nelson – Sunday 16 January 5:20pm to 6:50pm

The ministry says this exposure is linked to an Omicron case. They ask people to self-isolate, test immediately and on day 5 after you were exposed at this location of interest. 

For all the locations of interest click here. 

2:57pm – The Splore Festival held in Ōrere Point in the Tapapakanga Regional Park south of Auckland has been cancelled after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced all of New Zealand will move to red in the Traffic Light System at 11:59pm on Sunday. 

“Due to NZ moving into the red setting which puts restrictions on the number of attendees at events, Splore Festival 2022 cannot go ahead,” Splore said. 

“All ticket holders will be contacted by iTICKET and given the option to claim a refund or to keep their ticket for next Splore – 24-26 February 2023.

“We’re sad that we can’t gather our vibrant Splore community and immerse in the best of Aotearoa’s music, performance, and art in the extraordinary surroundings of Tāpapakanga Regional Park. 

“However, we understand and support the government’s decision to move to the red traffic light and minimising the risk for vulnerable New Zealanders”

2:52pm – That ends Christopher Luxon’s press conference. 

2:50pm – When asked if he feels personally prepared he said: “I don’t feel the country is prepared,” Luxon said.

He would feel much better if the resources were in place. 

2:49pm – We have to confront the reality, which is we are underprepared so now we have to get really, really focused on things that will keep New Zealanders safe.

2:48pm – Luxon says around the world he can walk into supermarkets around the world and get rapid antigen tests and you can’t in new Zealand

He says it’s a replay of what we saw with Delta. We are probably six months behind where we should be. 

2:46pm – Luxon agrees with the Government’s decision to move to red but wants to know how to move down to Orange. 

Luxon says Omicron has already spread to many countries overseas that we can learn from. This means we should be the best prepared around the world as a result, but we’re not,

2:43pm – Luxon says the system is confusing going from different versions of the alert level system to the traffic light system.

Luxon says the big problem of the Government is they talk a lot and don’t get things done. Delivery and execution should be a key focus. 

2:42pm –  Luxon says we need to have a big focus on the booster roll out and getting rapid antigen tests into the country.  

2:40pm – He is urging people to get their boosters and once parents give their consent to get children vaccinated. 

“But Omicron is here now so we need to to look after our vulnerable and work with our communities, and also get our kids vaccinated quickly, ideally through schools. And we need to get out defenses in place – so look at ICU beds, and other drugs that can help in this space,” Luxon says. 

2:39pm – Luxon says whatever way we look at it it’s “disappointing” and we are “unprepared”.

He said the reality is we are where we are and we need to protect the vulnerable. 

2:37pm – Luxon says his big takeaway is things have been “slow” and we are not where we should be.

2:35pm – Christopher Luxon is here and is speaking.

2:20pm – Ahead of Christopher Luxon press conference at 2:30pm, he’s released a statement slamming the Government’s lack of preparation for Omicron saying they have unnecessarily put New Zealand in a worse position than we needed to be.

“Rather than spending the last month urgently boosting as many people as possible, rolling out vaccinations for 5-11 year olds and buying stocks of rapid tests, the Government went into ‘go slow’ mode over summer,” National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“For much of 2021, New Zealand had the slowest vaccine rollout in the developed world. Now Omicron is here, and we are the fourth slowest in the developed world for boosters.

“This is a stunning indictment on the Government’s lack of planning and lack of urgency.

Luxon said the Government is still stuck in a “Delta mindset”.

“The Government still seems stuck in a Delta mindset,” he says. “Contact tracing under Omicron will be overwhelmed within days. So will our traditional nasal PCR tests, yet the Government simply hasn’t got ready for rapid testing.

“Until recently, rapid antigen tests were illegal and they are still extremely hard to come by now. New Zealand companies are waiting weeks for permission to import them while in other countries like Australia, you can walk into the supermarket and buy one off the shelf.

Luxon says “urgent steps” need to be taken especially the use of saliva testing. 

“Once again, there was no mention of saliva testing. The evidence suggests saliva testing detects Omicron earlier than nasal testing does, but the Government continues to be locked in a nasty spat with Rako Science and therefore they are still not utilising all available testing resources in the country,” he says.

“There are urgent steps we need to take.

“We need to protect the vulnerable. We should inundate rest homes, retirement villages and at-risk communities with boosters.

“And we need to get defences and mitigations in place. We should vastly increase the availability of rapid tests, urgently upgrade ICU capacity, and ensure we have stocks of the treatments we need.

“The Government can’t afford to rest on their laurels any longer; they must implement a proper plan for Omicron and deliver.

2:15pm – National Party leader Christopher Luxon will hold a press conference 2:30pm. We will have live updates of it here. 

2:07pm – The Ministry of Health has announced four new locations of interest in Auckland at 2pm. 

All are the Summerset by the Park Flat Bush with the exposure events:

  • Tuesday 18 January from 9am to 3pm
  • Wednesday 19 January from 9am to 4:30pm
  • Thursday 20 January from 9am to 4pm 
  • Friday 21 January from 9am to 4pm

For all the locations of interest click here

1:55pm – Here is a full breakdown of all of Sunday’s cases from each region from the ministry:

We are reporting new community cases in Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Lakes.

The tenth household member in Nelson Tasman to test positive will be officially added to the case numbers tomorrow. 

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.  We are also asking people to regularly check the locations of interest as these are regularly updated and to follow the advice provided.

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

Please also continue to check for any updated Locations of Interest and appropriate health advice, updated regularly on the Ministry’s website.

Northland

There have been two new cases in the Kaitaia area. Both are household members of an existing case.

Two cases were also reported last night and will be added to the case numbers tomorrow. This included one linked case in Whangārei who is a close contact of a case and was already in isolation. The other case was in the Kaitaia area and investigations are continuing to establish a link to previous cases. Whole genome sequencing is underway for this case.

Auckland

There are 16 cases to report in Auckland today.

Health and welfare providers are now supporting 682 people in the region to isolate at home, including 154 cases.

Summerset by the Park Rest Home Flat Bush

An Auckland aged residential care worker associated with the family from Nelson, has tested positive for COVID-19. The worker is fully vaccinated and Whole Genome Sequencing is being carried out however we are treating this as a contact of a known Omicron case.

The resthome is now closed to visitors and testing is being carried out on residents and staff.

Anyone who has visited the rest home since Friday 21 January and has symptoms of COVID-19 is asked to isolate and get a test as soon as possible.

Waikato

There is one new case in the Waikato today. The case is in Hamilton and is linked to previous cases. 

In the Waikato, Public Health, primary care and manaaki providers are supporting 15 cases to isolate at home. 

Lakes

There are 5 new cases to report in the Lakes DHB region today, all in the Rotorua District.

Three of today’s cases are linked to previously reported cases; two are still being investigated to determine any links.

All cases are isolating at home or in managed accommodation.

1:54pm – Here is an update on the COVID-19 vaccine statistics:

COVID-19 vaccine update

  • Vaccines administered to date (percentage of eligible people): 3,995,827 first doses (95%); 3,910,251 second doses (93%); 36,582 third primary doses; 974,784 booster doses
  • Vaccines administered yesterday: 695 first doses; 1,407 second doses; 144 third primary doses and 41,934 booster doses.
  • Māori (percentage of eligible people): 509,044 first doses (89%); 480,298 second doses (84%).
  • Pacific Peoples (percentage of eligible people): 275,641 first doses (96%); 266,967 second doses (93%).

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

  • Northland DHB: First doses (89%); second doses (86%)
  • Auckland Metro DHBs: First doses (97%); second doses (95%)
  • Waikato DHB: First doses (94%); second doses (92%)
  • Bay of Plenty DHB: First doses (94%); second doses (92%)
  • Lakes DHB: First doses (93%); second doses (90%)
  • MidCentral DHB: First doses (96%); second doses (94%)
  • Wairarapa DHB: First doses (96%); second doses (94%)
  • Capital and Coast DHB: First doses (98%); second doses (97%)
  • Hutt Valley DHB: First doses (96%); second doses (95%)
  • Nelson Marlborough DHB: First doses (96%); second doses (94%)
  • Canterbury DHB: First doses (99%); second doses (97%)

Hospitalisations

  • Cases in hospital: 8; North Shore: 5; Auckland: 2; Middlemore: 1
  • Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region wards only): Unvaccinated or not eligible (1 cases / 14%); partially immunised <7 days from second dose or have only received one dose (0 case / 0%); fully vaccinated at least 7 days before being reported as a case (5 cases / 71%); unknown (1 case / 14%).
  • Average age of current hospitalisations: 62
  • Cases in ICU or HDU: N/A

Cases

  • Seven day rolling average of community cases: 25
  • Seven day rolling average of border cases: 39
  • Number of new community cases: 24
  • Number of new cases identified at the border: 47
  • Location of new community cases: Northland (2), Auckland (16), Waikato (1), Lakes (5)
  • Number of community cases (total): 11,490 (in current community outbreak)
  • Cases epidemiologically linked (total): 8,726
  • Number of active cases (total): 466 (cases identified in the past 21 days and not yet classified as recovered)
  • Confirmed cases (total): 15,175

Contacts

  • Number of active contacts being managed (total): 5,031
  • Percentage who has received an outbound call from contact tracers (to confirm testing and isolation requirements): 79%
  • Percentage who has returned at least one result: 77%

Tests

  • Number of tests total (last 24 hours): 13,453
  • Tests rolling average (last 7 days): 13,336
  • Auckland tests total (last 24 hours): 7,206

Wastewater

No unexpected results.

NZ COVID Tracer

  • Poster scans in the 24 hours to midday yesterday: 2,625,671
  • Manual diary entries in the 24 hours to midday: 38,160

My Vaccine Pass

  • My vaccine pass downloads total: 4,881,926
  • My vaccine pass downloads (last 24 hours): 8,786

1:53pm – Just a reminder all of New Zealand will move to red as part of the traffic light setting at 11:59pm tonight. 

The ministry said that they don’t yet have a clear lead on the source of infection which links this family to the border, as we have with our other Omicron cases to date.

Based on the information available, the risk of undetected community transmission is considered high. On that basis, Ministers have agreed that New Zealand will move into the Red setting of the traffic light system at 11.59pm tonight, Sunday 23 January.

At Red, we need to take action to protect our vulnerable communities and our health system from COVID-19. Learn what we all need to do here.

The vaccine remains New Zealand’s key defence against all variants of COVID-19, including Omicron.

The Ministry continues to encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. We are strongly recommending boosters for anyone over the age of 18 who had their second dose of the vaccine at least four months ago. We are also asking parents with children aged 5-11 years to get all the information they need for vaccination.

As part of our collective preparations for Omicron please check your details are up to date with your regular healthcare provider and in the COVID-19 Tracer app.

1:50pm – The ministry said initial locations of interest have been identified across Auckland and the Nelson Tasman region and these will be published on the Ministry’s website as they are confirmed. 

They’re are encouraging everyone in these regions to check the locations of interest and follow the public health advice.

There is a Section 70 notice in place that puts a legal requirement on all people who were at locations of interest at the relevant times to follow the instructions regarding isolation and testing. Failure to comply can result in a fine of up to $4,000 or imprisonment for up to six months.

At this stage, they’re are doing what we have already successfully done with Delta to slow the spread of the virus.

  • If you are unwell, stay home and get a test – at the moment, that is the same PCR test with a nasopharygeal swab that we have used successfully over the last two years
  • If you are required to isolate, you will receive advice and – if needed – support to do so; at this stage you will need to isolate for 14 days if you are a case, and 10 days if you are a close contact.

All testing locations nationwide are available at Healthpoint.co.nz.

The ministry says they’re expecting there will be high demand, and it’s important that those who need to be tested are the ones who we test first.

Anyone with symptoms, anyone who has been to a location of interest at the times notified, should isolate immediately and get tested promptly.

1:48pm – The ministry said that the nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Tasman region have now been confirmed as the Omicron variant, and a further case from the same household was confirmed late on Saturday.

These cases are in a single family who flew to Auckland on 13 January to attend a family event and other events on the weekend of 15 and 16 January and initial estimates suggest there were at least 100 people at these events.

This cluster has already led to an additional infection of a fully vaccinated Air New Zealand flight attendant who was infected on flight 5083 on January 16th from Auckland to Nelson which the family was on. That flight attendant has worked four additional flights while infectious.

The five flights are:

  • Flight NZ 5083 from Auckland to Nelson at 5.20 pm on 16 January

  • Flight NZ 5080 from Nelson to Auckland at 4 pm on 19 January

  • Flight NZ 5077 from Auckland to Nelson at 2pm on 19 January

  • Flight NZ 5049 from Auckland to New Plymouth at 7.50 pm on 19 January

  • Flight NZ 5042 from New Plymouth to Auckland at 1.50 pm on 20 January

We were also informed late yesterday of a further case who was a guest at the family event. Whole genome sequencing is urgently being carried out but we are treating this as the Omicron variant.

1:45pm – The Ministry of Health has announced there are 24 new community cases and 47 new cases at the border.

Of the cases, 16 are in Auckland, one in Waikato, five in Lakes and two in Northland.

The ministry said that there are 8 people in hospital with none in ICU or high dependency units on Sunday. 

The cases come after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced earlier on Sunday that all of New Zealand will move to red at 11:59pm on Sunday. 

1:44pm – We are still waiting for the COVID numbers to come through and will give them to you as soon as we get them.

1:07pm – While we wait for the COVID numbers, the Ministry of Health has announced two new locations of interest at 1pm.

Both are the Summerset by the Park Flat Bush in Auckland with the exposure time Thursday, January 20 from 9am to 4pm and Friday 21 January from 9am to 4pm. 

For all the locations of interest click here. 

1:04pm – We are expecting the latest update from the Ministry of Health any time now. 

12:47pm – With New Zealand moving to red at 11:59pm tonight, the Prime Minister has confirmed her wedding has been postponed.  

The rules under red for gatherings and visits is: vaccinated people can gather at home or at venues with a limit of 100 people and physical distancing. 

For unvaccinated people, they can gather at home or at venues that don’t require vaccine passes with a limit of 25 people and physical distancing. 

Click here for the story.

12:41pm – The Ministry of Health is due to release the daily COVID case numbers via a press-release due in at 1pm. We will have them here as soon as we get them. 

12:26pm – The Ministry of Health has announced one new location of interest at 12pm. 

It is the Kwality Mini Bazaar Takanini in Auckland with the exposure time Thursday 20 January from 6pm to 7pm. 

For all the locations of interest and advice click here

12:23pm – National Party leader Christopher Luxon will hold a press conference at 2:30pm today. We will have live updates here and you can also watch it live here. 

12:16pm – The Prime Minister has announced all of New Zealand will move to red in the traffic light setting at 11:59pm tonight. 

Here is a refresher of what you can and can’t do under red. 

Click here for the story. 

12:14pm – Robertson has finished speaking and the press conference has ended. 

12:12pm – Robertson is urging businesses to have contingency plans in place in the case workers test positive for COVID-19.

12:10pm – Robertson is urging people not to panic buy. We have stock and supplies. Earlier, Ardern also urged people to remain calm.

12:08pm – He also said there is also the short-term absence payment which is available to businesses including self employed people, while they await their result of their COVID test and can’t work from home. It’s paid $359 per eligible worker. He said full information is on MSD

12:06pm – New Zealand has one of the strongest bank balances in the world, and we are prepared for Omicron, Robertson said.

12:05pm – Robertson talking about financial support available. He says there is the leave support scheme available to employers and self-employed people to help pay employees who have been told to self isolate and can’t work at home during that period.

It’s paid at the same rate as the wage subsidy was previously – $600 per week per full time worker and $359 per week per part time worker.

12pm – Ardern and Bloomfield have now left. Grant Robertson now giving advice on financial support.

11:58am – Ardern urges anyone who is not vaccinated, she urges them to “reconsider”. Even if we have different views, people’s well being needs to be at the heart of it all, Ardern says.

Ardern confirmed that her wedding will not be going ahead due to the Omicron outbreak. “As for mine, it’s not going ahead”. 

11:56am – Ardern says no changes have been made to the international border dates. So the plan is still for Kiwis in Australia to be allowed into New Zealand without MIQ with home isolation at the end of February. 

Ardner says Kiwis should plan to be in Red for “some weeks”.

11:54am – Ardern says we have over 4.5 million rapid tests currently in the country with another million arriving this week.

She says tens of millions have been ordered. For the first phase of the pandemic, she says since rapid tests can miss up to 20 percent of positive COVID tests they will continue using PCR tests. As cases grow, they will integrate rapid tests.

11:52am – Ardern is continuing urge Kiwis to get their booster shot and says there is a lot of space in the system to book. 

Ardern is not considering keeping schools closed while kids are getting vaccinated and she says it’s not the advice she has been given. 

11:47am – Ardern says they are looking at overseas to see how they ddelt with Omicron. She says “absolute focus” is on slowing the virus down. 

11:45am – People who have pre-exisiting conditions need to be identified quickly, Ardern said. This is an area they’ve been looking at since the emergence of Delta in NZ last year.

Ardern says the key will be keeping vaccination numbers high especially for our Maori and Pacific communities.

Ardern says it’s not in their plans to close hospitality. 

11:42am – This is all the information we know so far:

  • Nine COVID-19 cases in Nelson/Marlborough have now been confirmed as Omicron and a further case from the same household was confirmed last night
  • Positives cases attended events in Auckland including a wedding
  • Air New Zealand flight attendant has tested positive for Omicron, took additional flights while infectious
  • Omicron is circulating in Auckland and likely elsewhere
  • New Zealand is moving to the red setting of the Traffic Light System from 11:59 tonight
  • The isolation period for all COVID-19 cases has been extended from 10 days to 14 days and for close contacts, it is extended from seven days to 14. 

11:41am – In phase 2, there will be more cases and we’ll move to a transition period which will involve more people isolating.

11:39am – Bloomfield says if you’re a close contact that means everyone in your household has to isolate until you return a day five test and if you’re just a contact you follow the advice and your household can continue with their normal lives. 

11:33am – Ardern says of the Nelson family, those who are eligibile are vaccinated. 

Ardern said they will be providing an update on the advice on mask wearing in the coming days. This comes as a result of evidence emerging overseas.

11:31am – Ardern taking questions from the media.

“Be calm, be kind, get boosted,” Ardern says. They don’t want people to experience being in hospital with the virus. 

“Get boosted, it makes all the difference.”

11:30am – Bloomfield says there is at least two groups known to be infected at the family’s event – the wedding – and attendees from the event are known to have attended places with a lot of people that include the Sky Tower, funeral, amusement park and domestic airports around the country. 

11:27am – Bloomfield has announced a section 70 notice on these locations of interest, which means this is a legal requirement for New Zealanders who have been at these locations at the times the cases have been.

Of these flights, 150 of 192 people and contacts have been contacted and provided with Covid-19 information.

Bloomfield said based on the information the the risk of undetected transmission is considered and so that is why they gave the advice to move to ‘Red’.

11:26am – Bloomfield says he expects the cases to grow. Locations of interest have been identified in Nelson and Marlborough and are in the processes of being uploaded to the ministry’s website.

11:23am – Bloomfield is now speaking.

He says the first person in the Nelson group went and got tested, and he thanked that person for doing so.

Bloomfield says testing has been fundamental in our response. He says if you have any symptoms at all wherever you are in New Zealand, please get tested.

11:22am – Ardern says Omicron will be a phased approach. PCR tests will continue to be used but Rapid tests will be integrated into testing sites.  At the first stage, you will need to be isolated for 14 days and 10 days if you are a contact. 

Stage 2 is a transition stage. 

Stage 4 is the more severe stage where cases could be in the thousands daily and will they make changes to contacts and isolation and that will be announced on Wednesday and they don’t expect to be at this stage for a few weeks. 

11:19am – Ardern says it’s important to have “a buddy” and she recommends this to be a friend or neighbor who can help get essentials if you need.

11:18am –  Workplaces are open, but can choose to ask their employees to work from home.

It’s the Government’s intention that schools will remain open and they’re looking at ventilation.

Children from Year 4 and up must wear a mask.

Omicron is in 80 countries around the world, Ardern says. 

11:17am – Ardern now explains what life is like at Red. She says it is not a lockdown. Hospitality businesses can open with a capacity of 100 people but must be seated and separated.

11:16am – Ardern said already 20 percent of Children are either vaccinated or booked to get vaccinated. 

11:14am – This setting is essential to slow the spread of the virus as it’s more infectious and we will see more cases than in previous outbreaks.

Ardern has one message for New Zealanders. “Get boosted”. This is the one task New Zealanders need to do, she says.

We need to get our booster numbers higher, and quickly.

If it’s been four months since your second jab, go get your booster.

As we know from overseas, Omicron is significantly more infectious, the PM says.

11:09am – Ardern is speaking.  

9 COVID-19 cases have now been confirmed as Omicron and a further case from the same household was confirmed last night.

Ardern said they don’t have a clear lead on a index case linking family to the border. Omicron now circulating in Auckland – possibly Nelson Marlborough and maybe elsewhere.

One family flew to Auckland on January 13 for wedding.

Ardern confirms all of New Zealand will move to Red tonight at 11:59pm. 

11:08am – The Prime Minister and the Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield are making their way to the podium now.

11:01am – The Government’s COVID-19 website has just announced all of New Zealand will move to ‘Red’ in the traffic light system tonight at 11:59pm. 

10:51am – The Prime Minister and the Director General of Health are due to make an announcement from the podium in the Beehive in Wellington in 10 minutes. 

Stay here for all the announcements or to watch live on Three or click here.

10:35am – The Prime Minister is holding an unscheduled and urgent Omicron press conference at 11am. 

The press conference will be streamed live on Three and newshub.co.nz

10:30am – Newshub has been told N95 masks are selling out around the country as panic buying starts with the threat of Omicron looming large.

In Wellington, there is none available at the Chemist Warehouse on Lambton Key. In Nelson, there is none available at Mitre 10 while in Auckland there is none available at Chemist Warehouse St Lukes.

Supermarkets in Auckland are very busy ahead of the Prime Minister’s 11am press conference.

10:17am – The Ministry of Health has announced a ‘close contact’ location of interest in Nelson. It’s Air New Zealand flight NZ5083 from Auckland to Nelson from 5:20pm to 6:50pm on Sunday 16 January. 

The ministry is asking anyone on that flight to self-isolate, test immediately and on day five after you were exposed at this location of interest.

For all the locations of interest and advice click here. 

10:15am – Kia ora, good morning, and welcome to Newshub’s live COVID-19 coverage for Sunday, January 23.