It was the news nobody wanted to hear. The Delta variant could not be contained in Auckland and has spread, with three confirmed cases in Wellington.

 

When the cases in the capital were announced this morning, it was obvious to all the nation would remain in lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed afternoon we would remain at alert level 4 until at least Tuesday midnight.

The Cabinet will meet on Monday to decide on the next move on the country's alert levels.

Ardern told media the move means there will be more time to assess how much of the country has been affected.

"We just don't quite know the full scale of this Delta outbreak. All in all this tells us we need to continue to be cautious," she said.

The three Wellingtonian had recently travelled to Auckland and visited a location of interest there. Two of those people had travelled back by car and had made stops along the way. Another had taken a flight home.

Eight other new cases of community Covid-19 were announced this afternoon. In a statement, the Health Ministry said there were now 31 cases associated with the current Auckland community outbreak.

"All cases have or are being transferred safely to a managed isolation facility, under strict infection prevention and control procedures, including the use of full PPE," it said.

The 11 new community cases included three separate cases that were in family bubbles with previously reported cases, while two of today's cases are also in a family bubble together.

All are being interview about their movements in recent days.

In other developments, an international Air New Zealand crew member reported yesterday was confirmed as a border-related case not linked to the Auckland outbreak, based on the results of genome sequencing. There were also two new cases in managed isolation.

Locations of interest increase

Locations of interest today have swelled with the new identified cases and are being regularly updated on the Ministry website.

The first location of interest in the Wellington region was identified as a sushi eatery, joining a number of bus routes, a kindergarten, churches and a RSA bowling in Auckland.

One Sushi Porirua, at 10 Serlby Place, was visited between 6.15pm and 6.30pm on Tuesday.

This morning almost 1200 individual contacts of the community cases had been identified, excluding contacts from large settings, such as Avondale College and the Central Auckland Church of Christ, which were still being assessed.

Testing jumps as queues get bigger

With news of the outbreak's spread testing has increased. Today thousands of people waited outside testing centres across the country, particularly in Auckland and Wellington.

There were 27,899 tests processed across New Zealand yesterday. The ministry said testing centres in Auckland had their busiest day ever, by more than 50 percent, with 24,000 swabs taken. There are 13 community testing centres? available for testing across Auckland today, including Northcote and St Lukes.

Hospitals' staff tested

About 2600 swabs taken from Auckland City Hospital staff had all been negative so far, after a fully-vaccinated staff member worked there while unknowingly potentially infectious.

North Shore Hospital took action after it was confirmed a patient had tested positive for Covid-19 and was treated there.

At least 30 North Shore Hospital staff had direct contact with a patient. The hospital's emergency department and short stay surgical unit have been shut down.

Roughly 120 staff may have been in the affected areas at the same times as the patient.

NZ Post affected

New Zealand Post also revealed a positive Covid-19 case this morning, a temporary worker at their Auckland Operations Centre in Highbrook. Staff were being tested.

Director-General of Health Dr Bloomfield said the testing rates across the country had been six-to-10 times the usual level.

Schools

More significant locations of interest rolled in today with news a student at Northcote College - tested positive for Covid-19. The student had been at school on Monday and Tuesday this week.

Staff and students were directed to self-isolate at home.

Lynfield College in Mt Roskill also confirmed a student tested positive. All staff and students are considered close contacts and are now self-isolating. The student was infectious at school on Monday and Tuesday this week.

Vaccinations resume and bookings skyrocket

Vaccination clinics have resumed operating after a one-day pause to get alert level 4 protocols in place, but one Auckland clinic said it was now doing half the number of vaccinations that it was prior to the lockdown. There have been 400,000 bookings for vaccinations over the last two days.

Police pop-up checkpoints

Twelve people have been charged for breaching Covid-19 restrictions since the start of the latest alert level 4 lockdown, police announced today.

The charges were mostly in relation to protests, with an additional 20 formal warnings issued for breaching the rules.

Commissioner Andrew Coster said between midnight on 17 August and 5pm 19 August, police received 1869 online breach notifications - 670 relating to Tamaki Makaurau.

"Of those reports, 984 were about a gathering, 742 about a business and 143 about an individual," Coster said.

Meanwhile, a police officer in Mahia has been sending holidaymakers home as an local iwi trust considers setting up road checkpoints. Holidaymakers had travelled from as far as Wellington, only to be told to go home by Constable Chad Prentice to go home.