Aucklanders are still scrambling to get out of the city and out of lockdown with heavy traffic at police checkpoints in both the north and the south.

A furniture truck at the Bombay checkpoint has caught on fire.

Newstalk ZB Reporter Khalia Strong says Police sprang into action after the truck started "billowing smoke" out the back. She says flames can be seen licking out the back of the truck.

The truck had just been through the checkpoint and fire crews arrived to extinguish the blaze.

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NZTA is warning anyone on the roads to expect delays and all cars are being redirected off the motorway at the Auckland border.

Trucks are allowed to continue ahead at the Bombay off-ramp heading south, and cars are being redirected to a police checkpoint.

There are signs along the motorway saying "Essential Travel Only" and the passing traffic is mainly trucks, utes and vans.

There are two army personnel assisting with stopping and questioning vehicles.

Testing times

There are again reports of long queues - and people being turned away - from a testing centre in Auckland's Eden Terrace this morning.

Snaking queues waited to get tested in central Auckland this morning. Photo / Dean Purcell
Snaking queues waited to get tested in central Auckland this morning. Photo / Dean Purcell

Those who arrived at the Eden Terrace testing centre in New North Rd mere minutes after the 8am opening were turned away due to the already long queues.

More than 80 cars were lined up in both directions, waiting to turn into a side street for their tests.

Adding to the traffic buildup, trucks from a nearby construction site are trying to squeeze past the rows of waiting vehicles.

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By 8.30am, no more walk-ins were being accepted at the site and only about 40 people already waiting in line would be tested, reported Newstalk ZB's Khalia Strong.

Yesterday some people have to wait for up to 12 hours for a test as stations were overwhelmed by traffic.

It comes as New Zealand's top health boss has rejected suggestions the country is being too soft on people who have tested positive for Covid, amid revelations a high school student now has the virus.

Cabinet Ministers will meet tomorrow to decide whether Auckland might be eased into alert level 2, stay at level 3, or moved to full lockdown.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed today a Mt Albert Grammar student in Auckland had tested positive - a person who was a close contact of the family whose members have tested positive.

He did not know if the student was one of the four probable cases announced yesterday.

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He said some of the original family who had tested positive were in a quarantine facility but not all of them.

"I don't think we have been soft on this at all. We don't round up people in New Zealand, Mike," Bloomfield told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning. "We round up sheep, we don't round up people."

Tomorrow's Cabinet decision on the future of the lockdown will depend on factors including the extent of the new Covid-19 outbreak, the containment of known chains of transmission, and whether the source of infection has been found.

Bloomfield would not say how he thought the decision would go. "We are getting all our information together so we can get the best possible advice. I feel confident we will have a lot more good information to inform a good decision."

Bloomfield told Hosking: "We get closer every hour" to finding patient zero, and the source of the latest outbreak.

He said it was only a "low possibility" the virus came in on freight - one of the family members works in a coolstore that takes imported frozen goods from overseas.

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"We are working flat out to do the contact-tracing we need to do and trace back to find out what the source of this infection is," he said.

But Kiwis would have to wait until 1pm for the latest information on testing results and a full update.

He rejected a suggestion he was playing down the cases and the possibility of community transmission. "I don't think advising on getting Auckland into alert level 3 within about six hours is playing this thing down."

Kiwi epidemiologist at Melbourne University, Tony Blakely, said the Government response had been impressive, but he told Hosking it was "bizarre" how the virus had arisen again. He did not believe it could have come in on freight.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Bloomfield will today reveal the first trends from the push for mass testing, following the re-emergence of community transmission on Tuesday.

Auckland moved to alert level 3 at midday yesterday, inundating testing stations and supermarkets while others clogged up police checkpoints as they tried to flee the city before lockdown lite started.

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The rest of the country moved to alert level 2. The restrictions are in place until at least midnight Friday, and if they are extended, the Government will look at targeted financial assistance for Auckland; $14b still remains in its Covid recovery fund.

READ MORE:
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There are now 26 active cases (confirmed and probable) of Covid-19, after a woman in managed isolation who arrived from Pakistan on August 7 tested positive yesterday.

The four cases of community transmission in a South Auckland family were isolating in their home. Four probable cases - two work colleagues and two relatives - have been linked to them, while 208 close and casual contacts have also been contacted.

They are among up to 1000 people who must stay at home until contacted by health officials, according to a new Public Health order from Bloomfield.

The order also applies to employees or contractors at two workplaces connected to the family, visitors to those workplaces and anyone who lives with those people. They can be forced into quarantine, if necessary.

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The Government also moved to enhance contact-tracing by passing a Public Health Response Order requiring businesses nationwide to display QR codes at all entrances. Businesses have a week to comply.

A silver lining is that more than 100,000 people have downloaded the Covid Tracer app since the community transmission cases were announced.

Bloomfield continued to push for more people to download and use it, and if they couldn't, then to keep a diary of movements and contacts.

Testing stations in Auckland were deluged yesterday, and people were asked for patience as they waited for hours to be serviced.

Others tried to flee the city before noon, with traffic backed up on the outskirts of Auckland at police checkpoints.

A delay in setting up the Bombay Hills checkpoint even allowed one man to escape Auckland and drive to his parents' place in central North Island an hour after alert level 3 was meant to be in place.

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Ardern's plea not to panic-buy fell on deaf ears, pushing Countdown to introduce new opening hours - 8am to 9pm - and put limits on buying certain products including flour, toilet paper, hand sanitiser and paracetamol.

Meanwhile Ardern traded verbal blows with National leader Judith Collins and deputy leader Gerry Brownlee, with the Prime Minister accused of lacking transparency and sitting on information.

As major parties suspended their election campaigns, Collins urged Ardern to push back the election date given the alert level restrictions and the media spotlight on the Prime Minister.

She said there was a lack of transparency because the Opposition should be provided more information, and should be consulted on such major decisions.

Brownlee added that it was "interesting" Kiwis were warned there could be another outbreak about 10 days ago and told to stock up on masks.

"And then you had the Prime Minister's visit to the mask factory [on Tuesday] ... all very interesting things to have happened a matter of hours before a large residential area of New Zealand went into level 3 lockdown."

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Brownlee told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today that the election was now a distraction to the fight against Covid-19. "Regardless of how we got here... it's very serious. Although it's Auckland locked down, the rest of the country is also affected."

National Party leader Judith Collins says her party should have more briefings from the Government and should be consulted on major decisions. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National Party leader Judith Collins says her party should have more briefings from the Government and should be consulted on major decisions. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Ardern said the suggestion the Government was holding back vital information was "just nonsense".

"There is no reason why we would ever do that ... I do worry that those kinds of theories do nothing to support what needs to be collective action from all of us."

She said the caretaker convention, which would normally mean consulting the Opposition in major Government decisions, only applied after an election was held and before an administration was formed.

"We'll keep the National Party informed. All I ask in return is that we continue to see some unity in our response here."

Asked about the election date, Ardern said the dissolution of Parliament had been deferred until Monday to provide some breathing space to focus on the Covid response.