Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

SocietyDecember 3, 2021

Auckland’s almost-four-month lockdown, in numbers

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

With Aucklanders waking up to their first day of relative freedom since August, Stewart Sowman-Lund crunches the numbers on the country’s longest lockdown.

Today marks the first day of the traffic light framework, with Auckland – and the rest of the country – moving into the “new normal”. It’s a lot like the old normal except vaccine passes and masks have become as important as keys and wallets when leaving the house. 

It’s taken a long time to get here, for Auckland especially. On the afternoon of August 17, a single case of the delta variant was detected in the community. It plunged the entire country back into a strict level four lockdown, with Auckland remaining under at least level three restrictions – meaning work from home if you can, no restaurants, no movies, no heaps of other stuff – ever since.

In celebration of a return to some form of normality, and as a way of putting the past few bleak months behind us, here’s the lockdown broken down into numbers: an easily digestible record of what will hopefully be New Zealand’s final Covid lockdown.


The number of days Auckland spent under delta restrictions 

The first community case of delta was announced on the afternoon of August 17. It was confirmed in a brief press release from the Ministry of Health: “A positive case of Covid-19 has been identified in the community early this afternoon and is now under investigation,” read the email. 

“Shit”, the entire country said in unison.


That’s how long lockdown has been, in weeks 

It almost feels… longer to see it written out this way. Remember how long a term at school used to feel? Those were shorter. Remember how long the summer holidays used to be as a kid? Those were shorter too. This lockdown has been soooo loonnggg.


That’s how long it’s been, in hours

Weirdly, this feels like less time to me. But to put it another way: you could have watched the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – a famously too-long movie – about 780 times during lockdown. So, yeah, it was pretty bloody long.


How many days the entire country spent at level four

After we all shifted into lockdown on August 17, all of the country south of Auckland shifted into alert level three on August 31.


How many days Auckland spent at level four

It took until September 21 for Auckland to move out of level four and down into level three. Auckland would then spend a fortnight at level three, just over a month at level three (step one) and then another month at level three (step two). It got confusing.


The number of Covid-19 cases in the delta outbreak

Overall, New Zealand has had almost 12,000 confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 across both years of the pandemic, both in the community and in managed isolation. The majority of those have come in the past three months and have been in the community. Even more came after the move out of alert level four in Auckland and the bleak reality is that this number will keep climbing long after lockdown has ended.


How many people have since recovered

There are now 6,100 active community cases of Covid, meaning 2,645 have since recovered from the virus. A brief PSA, though: because the immune response of people who have had the virus varies, and evidence is emerging that vaccination provides better protection, you should still get vaccinated if you’ve had Covid.


The number of people who have died with delta

So far, it’s not been confirmed whether Covid-19 was the definitive cause of death for these people. But, the Ministry of Health is recording a total death toll from across the pandemic of 41, that’s 17 more than before delta hit our shores. 


The number of Covid-19 press conferences

From the very first emergency press conference on the evening of August 17 through until Wednesday’s press conference more than 100 days later. 


The number of times Ashley Bloomfield said kia ora koutou

Bloomfield didn’t appear at all 61 Covid pressers. But you can bet that he said kia ora koutou at every single one he did front.

1 (pm)

The time the Ministry of Health is meant to send out the Covid case numbers 

1pm has become a fabled time since the Covid-19 pandemic. Each day, the entire country gathers around the TV/Twitter/The Spinoff live updates to see what the latest Covid-19 case numbers are. Except, as a reporter who has been writing up these numbers basically every day for 18 months, I’ve come to realise that it’s often… a little later than 1pm. 

The Spinoff’s data whiz Harkanwal Singh charted every “1pm” press release from August 17 to December 1, and here’s what we found:

The ‘1pm’ updates (Graph: Harkanwal Singh)

Let’s call it the 1.20pm-ish update from now on.

To be totally fair, those early couple of outliers were in the first days of the delta outbreak when frankly time was entirely meaningless to everyone and the news was coming thick and fast. 


The total number of Covid-19 locations of interest

Not all of these were ultimately deemed Covid exposure sites, but at one stage or another they were all added to the Ministry of Health’s long list of potential locations. In recent weeks we’ve had a parade of petrol stations, a bevy of bakeries, and at least one brothel.


Vaccine doses administered since we went into lockdown

When we went into lockdown on August 17, about 2.55 million doses of the vaccine had been administered. Only 934,000 people were fully vaccinated. 

Now, over 7.6 million jabs have been administered with about 86% of the eligible population fully vaccinated and those aged 5-11 due to qualify early next year. 


The number of days I worked from bed over lockdown

Pretty good going if I’m being honest! My house, which I share with my girlfriend, has just one bedroom and no office. That means that if one of us has claimed the dining table/office, the other person is often relegated to the bed. It was actually quite a good place to work if I needed to sit in self-imposed writing jail and thrash out an article in an hour or two.


The number of leaders of the National Party there have been during lockdown

Sure, Shane Reti was interim leader for less than a week but he was still leader. 


The number of days Jacinda Ardern was in Auckland during lockdown

Jacinda Ardern didn’t visit Auckland until November 10, facing widespread criticism from the political opposition and a number of vocal business owners for not being able to understand the city’s plight. The prime minister’s reasoning was that, at the time, if she had visited Auckland she would have had to self-isolate for five days upon her return to Wellington in order to attend parliament. 

She has since visited twice more, her most recent being on Wednesday when she was snapped in front of this shocked spider monkey at Auckland Zoo.


Roughly the number of breakdowns I’ve had

Sometimes you’ve just gotta cry.


How much I’ve spent on wine

We’ll talk no further on the matter.

Case and vaccine numbers are correct as of 2pm, December 2.

Keep going!