There are 23 Covid-19 cases in the community as Auckland enjoys its first day of alert level 3.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins revealed "good news" on the first day of lower restrictions and said 80 per cent of eligible Kiwis in the city are now vaccinated with at least their first dose.
75 per cent of NZ have at least one jab
Fifty-three thousand vaccine doses were given out yesterday. That meant three-quarters of New Zealand's eligible population aged over 12 have now had their first dose of the vaccine, while 40 per cent have had a double dose of the vaccine.
Hipkins said 75 per cent of the district health board's about 80,000 staff had now had two doses of the vaccine.
But despite the good results, Hipkins said more work needed to be done to get the numbers higher.
Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said it was clear even more focus needed to be put on getting Māori vaccinated.
That was especially among young Māori, with so far a good result having been achieved among Māori aged over 65.
Bloomfield said any group of people who are unvaccinated is a cause of concern for everyone in the country.
He said in other child vaccination programmes done in the country, 90 per cent vaccination rates had been achieved
He said health teams were now consulting on potentially requiring some health staff to be mandatorily vaccinated in the future.
This would cover all workers most likely to come into contact with Covid-19.
Hipkins said 90 per cent vaccination was very achievable. The Herald and NZME has launched a campaign to get our vaccination rate above that level by Christmas.
Getting New Zealand over the 90 per cent mark would see the country have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, Bloomfield said.
But he emphasised that saying 90 per cent was not an invitation to 10 per cent of the population to decline to take a vaccination.
Those with a medical reason to not get the vaccine was much less than 10 per cent of the population, he said.
Hipkins said there is an ad campaign running with people talking about why they have been vaccinated running online and in media.
He said that was ramping up now and is skewed more at younger people because they are the ones where the greater need to be vaccinated is.
It is also now being skewed more towards Māori and Pacific communities.
Hipkins said younger people have had access to vaccine for the least amount of time so it was not surprising why their vaccine rates were lower.
But there was a need for them to come through at a greater number now. That's why advertising was being rejigged to target them, Hipkins said.
Bloomfield said the Hauraki region's move to alert level 3 is under daily review about whether it will continue.
Twenty-two of the new cases are linked and one is unlinked.
Health teams are investigating the one unlinked case from yesterday while 13 people are in hospital and two in ICU.
The new cases included six within one household, he said.
Bloomfield announced that one-quarter of the residents in Auckland's Clover Park had now been tested which was pleasing as that had been a suburb of interest.
The northern Hauraki region had also now moved to level 3 restrictions based on positive testing results from the area, Bloomfield said.
The area went into a mini-lockdown after cases were discovered in the area, which included at Mangatangi School.
Ninety-three of the 99 contacts at the school had been tested and returned a negative result.
Just six test results are pending.
Bloomfield still called on people in the region who are symptomatic to come forward for a test while those who have been to a location of interest must isolate and get tested.
Hipkins said the move to level 3 was made possible because of the high level of testing and great compliance with restrictions.
He said we are well positioned going into alert level 3 to get back to zero cases.
Bloomfield said it is a possibility that the country would not get back to zero cases but health teams are doing all they can to reach the target.
He said that the six-week gap between vaccines was a decision made based on that being the way to get the best protection against the virus.
It had not been made as a way to earlier ensure vaccine supplies did not run out.
When asked about the risks of Covid spread among gang members or other people on the fringes of society, Hipkins said the reports he had from contact tracers is that they have had very high levels of co-operation among all people with Covid.
Bloomfield added that health teams are working with a range of organisations in a bid to reach all communities.
When asked about the potential spread of Covid through three different gangs and whether these are a group of people that health teams cannot reach, Hipkins said the feedback was good relations with all communities.
Bloomfield said that a number of locations that the public health unit in Auckland was dealing with were hostels.
"So those people may be non-household or non-related close contacts but part of a hostel," Bloomfield added.
Bloomfield added that he didn't think bubble breaking was unique to any group in the community.
Extra credits for Auckland school students
Hipkins said Auckland students would be given extra support and credit around their secondary school results this year in recognition of the disrupted year that they are experiencing.
He said students had been through a lot with the disruptions broadly similar to what happened last year.
That's why the support and credits being given this year are similar to those offered last year.
Next MIQ lottery
Hipkins said a new release of 3000 MIQ rooms across October, November and December was due to take place next Monday, September 28.
Those wanting a room needed to be online between 5-6pm NZT to enter the virtual lobby room on the website.
Tens of thousands of people missed out on a room during the first lottery this week.
Bloomfield said the World Health Organisation continued to warn about the information pandemic. A glut of information including much that was incorrect.
He encouraged people in positions of responsibility to point people to responsible and accurate information sources.
Auckland moves to level 3
Today's cases come as people in Auckland got their first chance to get a takeaway meal or a taste of the freshly made cafe-style coffee they had been longing for in just over five weeks.
Others took the chance to head out for a round of golf or a splash of surfing, with surfers pictured catching some huge waves at Muriwai Beach.
Bloomfield revealed this morning that some of the positive cases in the current outbreak had happened because of transmission between households.
He told Three's AM Show there had "clearly" been some interaction between households that had led to some of the new cases.
"I dare say that wouldn't be unique," he told the programme.
Because of the nature of Delta spreading liberally inside households, he said we could see about 50 or 60 new positive cases over the next two weeks still.
Hipkins said alert level 4 was designed to give us the best possible start or foundation to get back to level 4.
That time spent in level 4 put the country in a really strong position to stamp out Covid, he said.
For businesses operating under level 2 in Christchurch, Hipkins acknowledged everyone across the board wants more certainty.
"Right the way through we've been living with this uncertainty for the last 18 months," he said.
"I get that people are tired."
He acknowledged it had been tough but said the Government had an eye on a better future and it will get better.
Hipkins said there are legal issues needed to be worked through about a No jab, No job policy and encouraged businesses wanting to enforce it to get good legal advice.
While the high rates of first doses was good, the double dose rate is obviously most important, Hipkins said.
Looking at first dose rates was good to give us an indication of what levels of double dose New Zealand could reach.
He said so far there did not appear to be a tail-off of people getting their first dose but not showing up for their second.
Hipkins' message to anybody thinking they had left it too late to get a dose of the vaccine because the outbreak may be behind the country, was that it is never too late to get the vaccine.
While two doses was important, one dose did give a level of protection against the virus, he said.
When asked whether MIQ rooms could be made available to fully vaccinated people as a priority over those who aren't, Hipkins said: "Watch this space."
New locations of interest
Three new locations of interest have been announced by health officials this afternoon - a laundromat, dairy and a large Auckland supermarket.
• Pak'nSave Māngere: Corner of Bader Drive and Orly Ave, Māngere
• Crystal Laundromat Manurewa: 4/439 Roscommon Rd, Clendon Park
• Clendon Foodmarket: 2/439 Roscommon Rd, Clendon Park
All three locations were visited by a Covid positive person last Wednesday, September 15.
The laundromat and the Clendon Foodmarket - a dairy - are in the same shopping complex on Roscommon Rd.
A person with the virus was at the laundromat from 3.05pm to 3.30pm on that day.
The dairy was visited by a Covid case shortly after that, between 3.38pm and 3.45pm.
A total of 14 new cases were announced in the Ministry of Health's update yesterday. Thirteen were from Auckland and one from the Upper Hauraki region.
That person is a household contact of three people - including two children - who contracted the virus after being linked to a Mt Eden remand prisoner who is thought to have caught the virus before being transferred from Auckland to a house in the Firth of Thames on September 8.
All but one of yesterday's new cases had been epidemiologically linked. Authorities were still trying to work out how the 14th person was linked to the current outbreak.
Fifteen people are fighting Covid-19 in hospital - 10 at Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland. Four patients are at Auckland City Hospital and one person is being treated at North Shore Hospital.
Four are in an intensive care unit or high dependency unit.
Authorities say there are 10 epidemiologically linked sub-clusters within the outbreak.
"Of these, two are active, seven are contained and one is dormant," the ministry said yesterday.
11 sub-clusters unlinked
But 11 sub-clusters are not linked to the outbreak.
"Of these, three are active, three are contained and five are dormant."
One historical Covid case was identified at the border, an arrival from the US on a direct flight to Christchurch last Friday, September 17.
The traveller tested positive on day zero of their routine testing schedule.
Number of locations of interest ease back
Health officials continue to encourage people - especially essential workers - to check the Ministry of Health's website for locations of interest that have been connected to a person with Covid-19.
There has been a marked decrease in the number of locations of interest being released by health officials in the past few days, despite the new cases in Waikato.
Just one exposure event was identified in the health ministry's update this morning - the Countdown Māngere Mall supermarket, at the Māngere Town Centre, on Bader Drive.
A person who has since tested positive for the virus was there last Thursday, September 16, between 11am and 1pm.
It is the fourth time the supermarket has been linked to a Covid positive case or cases in the past two weeks.
The supermarket was also visited by a person with the virus on Tuesday, September 14, Sunday, September 12, and Thursday, September 9.
Anyone who was there at the affected times is asked to monitor their health for 14 days after the date of their visit and to get a test if symptoms start to show up.
The latest an infected person has been out in the community was three days ago, on Sunday, when they were at Countdown Botany Downs on the corner of Te Irirangi and Tī Rākau Drives.
They were there for two hours between 12.30pm and 2.30pm. The same advice is being given to shoppers and staff who were there at the same time - watch for any flu-like or Covid symptoms over the next fortnight.