Record 206 new community cases in New Zealand today

A Covid-19 testing station in Auckland. Photo: NZ Herald
A Covid-19 testing station in Auckland. Photo: NZ Herald

There are a record 206 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today - 200 are in Auckland, four in the Waikato and two in Northland.

Seventy-three people are in hospital, up from 69 yesterday. Seven of those hospitalised are in intensive care or high dependency units.

Of today's 206 cases, 159 are yet to epidemiologically linked.

Officials say four new cases were confirmed in Waikato overnight, all from Hamilton.

"Two were known contacts already in isolation and Public Health will today investigate links for the other two cases," the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

"One Covid patient staying at Waikato Hospital was discharged yesterday and two new patients were admitted overnight.There are testing sites operating across Hamilton, Huntly, Ōtorohanga, Te Awamutu, Te Kuiti, and Thames."

The two new cases confirmed in Northland take the region's total to 17.

They are both close contacts of cases in Kaitaia and have been isolating at home, officials said.

"We are continuing to encourage those who live in or around Taipa, Kaingaroa, Awanui and Kaitaia and have had symptoms of Covid-19 in the last couple of weeks, to get tested as soon as possible."

There was one border case announced today - a person who arrived in NZ on November 2, who travelled from Ireland via Qatar.

Community cases of Covid-19 in the Delta outbreak have so far been almost entirely confined to the upper North Island, although there have been concerning wastewater detections elsewhere.

The latest wastewater detections, in Gisborne and Napier, also followed 163 cases reported yesterday, a record tally before today.

Porirua tangi

The ministry said Wellington Regional Public Health were encouraging those involved in a tangi in Porirua on Wednesday this week to get tested.

"Their assessment is that the risks to wider public are low following reports of a person who had tested positive in Auckland last month and who travelled from Auckland to Porirua.

They are assessed as unlikely to have been infectious as they travelled at the very end of their 14 day quarantine period.

"However, in the absence of fuller information, they are recommending those linked with the tangi to be tested, particularly if they have symptoms."

The Ministry of Health is seeking more information to provide further reassurance that the case was not an infection risk while visiting the area."

The Government has made an in-principle decision to move Auckland, which has been in level 3 or 4 lockdown since the outbreak was discovered on August 17, to step 2 of level 3 from 11.59pm Tuesday. Cabinet will make the final call on Monday.

The move would allow retail stores to operate with distancing and mask use, public facilities such as libraries and museums to reopen, and outdoor gatherings to increase to 25 from 10.

However, there are also worrying signs the virus may have spread to other parts of the North Island.

Residents in the small Taranaki town of Stratford were urged yesterday to get tested for Covid-19 after traces of the virus were found in a wastewater sample the previous day, despite no known cases of Covid-19 being in the area.

The finding was especially concerning because Stratford had the lowest vaccination rate among Māori, and mobile testing and vaccination units had been sent to help, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

Taranaki is also one of the poorest performing district health board areas overall for vaccinations, with 68.6 per cent of eligible residents fully vaccinated.

Only Northland and Tairāwhiti have lower rates.

And last night authorities were working to establish whether there are undetected cases of Covid in Gisborne and Napier after two wastewater samples tested positive for the virus.

The tests were taken between Monday and Wednesday in Napier and Gisborne, with the positive results coming yesterday afternoon.

There are no MIQ facilities, or known Covid-19 cases self-isolating, in Napier or Gisborne, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said.

That meant the positive tests could be from recently recovered cases returning to the region from MIQ who are shedding the virus, visitors to the region, or it could signal undetected cases in the community.

As of this morning, no positive cases have been reported in Stratford, Gisborne or Napier.

The detections sparked renewed encouragement for those who haven't yet been vaccinated to get the jab as soon as possible.

Tairāwhiti District Health Board area, which includes Gisborne, has the lowest overall fully vaccinated rate in the country, at 65.3 per cent. Napier falls under the Hawke's Bay DHB, where 72.7 per cent of the eligible population are double-dosed.

Nationally, 77 per cent of the eligible population - those aged 12 and over - have had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and 88.8 per cent have received at least one dose.

New Zealand will move to a new "traffic light" system to manage Covid-19 when district health boards have 90 per cent of their eligible population vaccinated, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last month.

When each DHB hit this target, the new framework would come into effect.

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter