* Auckland mum's Delta nightmare - the day my son tested positive after visiting mall
* Nearly 500 exposure sites, another school, two university libraries hit by infections
* Derek Cheng: Has the Health Ministry's poor Delta preparation left us longer in lockdown?
* Second quarantine facility for Auckland, options for Wellington, Christchurch
* Three big reasons NZ needs to stick with elimination
* Mike Hosking: When will our Government admit its errors?
* Vaccine booster shots not needed now but may be in time - expert
There will be a "decent number" of new Covid cases this afternoon with a likely peak today and tomorrow, says director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
"We're still getting cases from people who were infected before the lockdown, and then there are a large number of cases we're seeing because of a very big number of exposure events... coming in from people who have been infected subsequent to the lockdown who are household contacts, or other contacts," Bloomfield told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking.
"And that's what's causing the numbers to keep going up... and because it's Delta and it spreads much more."
Infections were happening in lockdown - "mostly" in households.
Bloomfield said a "decent number" of new cases would be reported today - cases had already been coming through since the 1pm news conference yesterday afternoon.
"We had a big number yesterday, 62, so we will expect a pretty decent number again today. The key thing is now, over the next couple of days, we are expecting it to peak and then drop away."
Bloomfield told The AM Show he expected the level-four restrictions to "really start to kick in" tomorrow or Saturday before cases started to "level off".
Speaking to TVNZ, Bloomfield said they expected to only see new cases linked to the current Auckland cluster.
On the alert levels, Bloomfield said he could not see anything happening other than a step down to level 3 for anywhere outside of Auckland - when it happens.
He told RNZ that work was under way to look at what an internal boundary between Auckland and the rest of the country would look like, what travel would be permitted across the boundary and how it would be enforced.
Bloomfield's comments come amid new reports of another issue with the vaccine rollout. During a full-day clinic there were six people who had received a low dose in Christchurch.
Bloomfield said he didn't know about this incident until after it had been reported by media and wasn't sure why he wasn't told. He said he had a good team looking after the vaccination situation.
"It wasn't one the team had told me about yet," he told Hosking. "They don't tell me about everything... I've got a really good team that's looking after the vaccination programme. Looking at the information provided, I can see it was dealt with on the spot, very professionally."
Bloomfield acknowledged the work the public were doing to get tested and self-isolate.
"We're getting there. People are doing what they need to do."
He said "another couple of hundred" beds could be made available at a second quarantine facility in Auckland, with Jet Park likely to be full from today.
If the situation continued, Bloomfield said there were still options for people to quarantine in facilities in Wellington and Christchurch.
Many families who were caught up in the current situation are getting welfare - something Bloomfield said was part of the support, given so many people are having to self-isolate.
'Auckland in lockdown for multiple weeks'
Professor Shaun Hendy, a Covid-19 modeller at the University of Auckland, agreed they expected to see cases peak over the next few days.
"There's some element of bad luck in this current outbreak," Hendy told TVNZ, referring to a number of large events he dubbed "super-spreader events".
Hendy said he expected Auckland to stay in alert level 4 lockdown for "multiple weeks".
"We will be looking to get back to zero cases. The first good signs will be when we see those numbers come down," Hendy said.
But that depended on how well people complied with the rules and stuck to their bubble.
He said there was hope the number of cases would start to drop from next week.
A North Island and South Island split would make sense, Hendy said, referring to a change in alert levels between the two islands. "I think at this stage, a North Island and South Island split is probably what we'd be looking at."
Hendy said whether the South Island dropped alert levels would depend on wastewater tests, where close contacts from Auckland had travelled and whether the testing rates were high enough in those areas.
But there was a need for those in Wellington to be still cautious, Hendy said, given the number of positive cases being dealt with there.
STORY CONTINUES AFTER LIVE BLOG
Employers could require workers to be vaccinated
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood is appearing before the Education and Workforce Select Committee this morning.
Wood's opening remarks were to remind the committee that ordinary employment law continues to apply under alert level 4.
Wood said that a health order was being used to require some border-related employers to require employees to get a vaccine.
"There is not a standing provision for employers to terminate employees employment for not being vaccinated, outside the order," Wood said.
National's Scott Simpson asks whether employers should be able to require all their employees to be vaccinated.
Wood said this idea "amounts to, for a large amount of New Zealanders, a compulsory vaccination order." Compulsory vaccination is not Government policy.
New employment agreements for new staff could include a requirement that they be vaccinated, officials confirmed in the committee.
However employers could not retrospectively write-in to existing employment agreements that existing staff be vaccinated.
Green MP Jan Logie about employees being forced to take leave if they're asked to take a test and isolate.
Wood said employment law still applies normally under level 4.
"Employers and employees are going to have to be a little bit flexible"
Vaccine error - people given saline
Bloomfield defended the decision not to tell the public about an earlier saline injection error - it was only revealed by media yesterday that five people out of 732 may have been injected with harmless saline solution instead of a Covid shot at the Highbrook Vaccination Centre on July 12.
Bloomfield said the first priority was to investigate what had happened rather than tell the entire nation. He said the wait was around getting clinical advice.
"I'm sorry that incident happened but we did want to tell people what the options were," Bloomfield told The AM Show.
He said "no one lied" - authorities were simply trying to get the full picture before any information was put out.
He reiterated that everyone potentially impacted would get an email or letter in the next 24 hours. He defended the time taken to make the information public.
He said there was still uncertainty that anyone missed a vaccine and he wanted to ensure he had the best information possible before telling the community.
Bloomfield found out within "days" of the incident and the minister was made aware that a "proper" investigation was under way. "The right actions were in train," he said.
"We would have let the minister know there was an incident and it was being followed up appropriately."
He could not say exactly when the minister was told or who then informed the Prime Minister.
"The reason this incident was found was because we have meticulous processes in place," he said. "I can assure the public the [vaccination] programme has been very thoroughly planned and rolled out appropriately."
He told RNZ that everyone who got vaccinated at the centre on July 12 would either get an email today or letter couriered to them to explain things and outline the options. The people in that group who hadn't received a second dose would now be expedited, he said.
People vaccinated on that day would also be offered a third dose at a later point.
Covid-19 cases are expected to continue climbing this week, as the Government battles an outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19.
Yesterday was a record for new daily cases in this Delta outbreak, with 62 announced, taking the total number of cases in the outbreak to 210.
Modellers, including Te Pūnaha Matatini modeller Professor Shaun Hendy, have expected the cluster to grow to between 200 and 1000 cases.
But director general of health Ashley Bloomfield sounded a note of optimism, noting the increase in numbers should slow.
"The good thing about this is while this is a steady growth, it is not exponential," Bloomfield said. "We do know that our actions to slow and spread the virus will begin to see a slowing of those numbers increasing.
"Indeed, the fact that the rate of increase is not exponential is explicitly because we have alert level 4 in place."
Six sub-clusters have emerged in the outbreak.
More than 100 cases are associated with the Samoan Assembly of God church in Māngere, which is the biggest sub-cluster. Bloomfield took aim at racist remarks made to some in the Samoan community, calling them "disappointing and gutless".
The second biggest is the Birkdale flat on Auckland's North Shore, which is linked to some of the earliest cases in the outbreak.
And 14 cases are associated with a Massey household, but the rest of the sub-clusters were fewer than 10 people so Bloomfield would not reveal what they were.
Bloomfield also revealed a positive case in Warkworth, north of Auckland. Wastewater testing had found traces of Covid-19 and the case explained those results, he said.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said a record 80,033 vaccinations were delivered on Tuesday, beating the previous record by more than 16,000 doses.
However, Hipkins sounded a note of caution, saying supply shortages would mean the Government would not maintain that pace of vaccinations.
"We can't sustain 80,000 a day every day between now and the end of September. We would get to the point where we would run out again," Hipkins said.
Hipkins said things get easier in October when about 4 million doses of the vaccine are scheduled to arrive.
Decisions on alert level changes are scheduled for Friday, for areas outside Auckland, and next Tuesday for Auckland.
The alert level changes for this outbreak are potentially more complicated than at any stage during the pandemic.
The transmissibility of the Delta variant of the virus means loosening up too early means not just a quick move back up the alert level scale, as witnessed earlier this year, it could mean blowing the elimination strategy completely, as seen in New South Wales.
Alert level decisions are complicated by the fact experts say the thing to watch out for isn't the number of cases, but where they come from and if they can be easily linked to existing cases.
This is the difference between an outbreak that has already spread out of control, and one that can be contained.
There are also concerns about what the Government's army of contact tracers - which is growing, but maybe not growing fast enough - know about how the outbreak has grown outside Auckland.
Of the 488 people identified as "close plus" contacts - the closest of all contacts, 374 are in the three Auckland DHBs and 144 are located outside Auckland, mainly in Wellington.
Address information is still under investigation for 72 contacts.
The number of close contacts in the outbreak stood at 22,081 as of 4pm on Wednesday; 14,240 of them have been followed up and are self-isolating.
Of the 22,081 contacts, 64 per cent had been contacted and have reported a negative test.
The Government is facing questions over whether it had been able to scale up its Covid response quick enough to deal with the Delta outbreak.
The Government trained 380 contact tracers on Tuesday, who were brought online from across government. Bloomfield said this would mean more than 1200 contact tracers will be working over the next few days.
The Government is preparing for a surge, and is quickly standing up extra quarantine places.
While the Jet Park facility still has about 70 rooms available, another MIQ hotel is being repurposed to a quarantine-only facility, adding "several hundred" rooms. That is on top of additional capacity being added in Wellington.
Lack of planning
National's Covid response spokesman Chris Bishop told RNZ that not enough planning had gone into some areas of the Government's latest response.
"It's true to say we are not as prepared as we could have been."
Bishop challenged why people were having to wait 24 hours to be transferred to MIQ and why saliva testing was still not being carried out. He also asked if the Government was as prepared as it claimed to be then why was it still urgently recruiting contact tracers and not yet contacted close contacts in the latest outbreak.
"The fact we are having to leave people in the community for more than a day when they test positive for Covid."
He said it was beyond belief the Crowne Plaza had passed all its safety assurances and there was now a bigger focus on whether the cause of Covid entering the community occurred when the family staying at Crowne Plaza was in the exercise area near the public walkway.
The Government was now installing Perspex to close up the public walkway from the rest of the hotel - what he described as being an admission from the Government that there was a problem.
He felt they would have to remove the exercise area if they were to re-open Crowne Plaza to MIQ guests.
Bishop labelled the possibility of five people being injected with saline instead of the vaccine a "shocker".
He said it was a "disgrace" that both the MoH and Hipkins knew about it for weeks and have only just told the public. Bishop called for a full investigation into what happened and wanted to know what they were going to do to make sure it didn't happen again.