As Aucklanders wake up to day 28 of alert level 4 lockdown, the Prime Minister says there is no intention for lockdown to be used forever.
Jacinda Ardern told the AM Show that officials do not intend to continue to use lockdowns long-term against Covid.
She pointed out that New Zealand had had fewer days where people had been given stay-at-home orders than most of the countries we compared ourselves to.
The key to stopping using lockdowns was to make sure everyone was vaccinated.
"We used them in the past because we didn't have that tool."
Despite saying we need as many people vaccinated as possible, Ardern would not put an exact figure on how many people need to be vaccinated before lockdowns were no longer needed.
On TV1's Breakfast programme this morning, Ardern said mystery cases do not have to be linked before Auckland comes out of level 4.
Health officials continue to try to figure out how a "handful" of Covid cases are linked to the current outbreak. All the other cases are now genomically linked, she said.
People in seven key suburbs urged to get tested
However, people in Mt Eden, Massey, Māngere, Favona, Ōtara, Papatoetoe and Manurewa are being urged to get a Covid test - even if they do not have symptoms.
Extra testing is required in those areas because of links to mystery cases or clusters that may have unexpected cases, officials said yesterday.
Anyone in the city who develops flu-like symptoms is urged to get a Covid test immediately. But people in those specific suburbs are encouraged to get a test even without symptoms so authorities can get a better picture of the current Covid situation.
Many people affected by the current outbreak have been linked to those suburbs in the past few weeks so many locations of interest on the Ministry of Health's website are businesses, supermarkets, petrol stations and companies in those areas.
Ardern told Breakfast if more suburbs needed surveillance testing, people would be notified this week.
Clusters will also be tightly managed to ensure contacts of cases were not causing other cases.
The Prime Minister reiterated the need for people to stay home to limit risk. One person should also be the sole person to go out shopping for each household. Ideally, that person will be vaccinated, she said.
She also called for people in the city to get vaccinated as early as today, if possible.
"If you're already booked but it's not until October, then rebook." Try to get it done this week, she said.
"Our plan is not to continue to use lockdowns," she told the programme.
There are 220,000 vaccination spots in Auckland this week, she said, and the Government wanted to use every one of them.
The country is in lockdown at the moment because not enough people are vaccinated to stop an outbreak, Ardern said. People were 30 times less likely to need to be hospitalised if they are vaccinated.
"Our goal is to continue to be world-leading in our freedoms and looking after people's health and wellbeing."
She said New Zealand needed to be better than countries sitting around the 70 per cent vaccination mark if we want to move away from using restrictions.
Officials 'cautiously optimistic' about level change next week
Director general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, said the number of people with the virus needs to come down before Auckland can drop alert levels.
The key numbers, however, were the people who had caught the virus but whose connection to the outbreak had not been established.
Despite unlinked cases continuing to pop up, Bloomfield said officials were still confident and "cautiously optimistic" that Auckland would come down to alert level 3 in a week.
But it was important for people to remember that this had been a very big outbreak. This was Delta.
Bloomfield reiterated how a high vaccination rate in the community was necessary. Mobile vaccination vans are being organised to help vaccinate people at their own homes.
'We are really chasing our tails now' - immunologist
But immunologist Graham Le Gros said New Zealand could not survive without Auckland working - and that was concerning.
Speaking to Three's AM Show today, he said: "We really need to get you guys vaccinated 100 per cent."
The virus had shape-shifted, he said, going underground.
"We are chasing our tails now," he said.
Le Gros said the Delta variant could infect mice, cats and even domestic animals - with the exception of dogs.
People only needed to look at what was happening overseas to see how much the virus had changed, he said.
"We can't escape the virus. It's changing so much."
Le Gros described lockdowns as exhausting and said no society could go through multiple lockdowns.
"At which point do you start worrying about all the cancer death and the other societal induced deaths and all the alcoholism and things like that?"
The immunologist said he understood how infectious diseases interacted with the immune system and what the virus would be doing in six months.
New Zealand should be trying to get 80 to 90 per cent of the population vaccinated. Even having just one jab gives New Zealand a really good shot, he said.
New locations of interest
Three new locations of interest have been released by the Ministry of Health this morning.
Unichem Dawson Road Pharmacy
124 Dawson Rd, Clover Park
Shum Fruit Barn
6/130 Dawson Rd, Clover Park
Chapel Downs Food Market Clover Park
H/113 Dawson Rd, Clover Park
8/130 Dawson Rd, Clover Park (three new visits recorded)
All but one of several new locations of interest released by the ministry this morning are on Dawson Rd in Clover Park, South Auckland.
The SuperValue Flatbush supermarket is now linked to a Covid positive case on five separate occasions.
A person with the virus visited the supermarket on Friday, September 3, once last Wednesday, September 8 and three times on Thursday, September 9.
The Unichem Dawson Road Pharmacy is linked to a person with Covid who visited the chemist last Thursday between 2pm and 2.30pm.
The Shum Fruit Barn was visited on the same day between 2.06pm and 2.15pm.
Two new locations of interest have been announced by authorities this morning.
Māngere Pharmacy Māngere Town Centre, at 93 Bader Drive in Māngere, has been linked to a person with Covid who visited on Saturday between 11am and 11.15am.
The SuperValue Flatbush supermarket, at 8/130 Dawson Rd in Clover Park, had a person who tested positive for the virus visit last Thursday, September 9, from 2.07pm to 2.15pm.
Anyone who was at either place is told to monitor for any Covid-19 symptoms for 14 days after the day they were there.
The Ministry of Health also released a number of locations last night, which showed a person with the virus has been travelling by train to and from central Auckland, from West Auckland, over the past few days.
The latest date of travel was on Sunday, September 12. The person travelled on the western train line from Grafton to Fruitvale Rd in New Lynn.
Several trips on the same train line have also been reported on the ministry's website as a result, with trips recorded last Thursday, last Friday and Saturday.