There are 981 new Covid-19 cases in the community today - a record number of daily infections.
Today's community cases are in Northland (21), Auckland (768), Waikato (82), Bay of Plenty (23), Lakes (12), Hawke's Bay (5), MidCentral (5), Taranaki (1), Tairawhiti (6), Wairarapa (12), Wellington (6), Hutt Valley (14), Nelson Marlborough (2), Canterbury (4), South Canterbury (1) and Southern (19), the Ministry of Health said in a statement this afternoon.
Thirty-nine people with Covid are in hospitals in Whangārei, Auckland, Waikato, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch - none in ICU or HDU. The average age of those in hospital is 55.
Twenty-five new Covid cases were also detected at the border.
"Once again, the further increase in new cases today is another reminder that, as expected, the highly transmissible Omicron variant is now spreading in our communities as we have seen in other countries," the ministry said.
Boosters and testing
So far, 60 per cent of eligible New Zealanders have had their booster shot. Yesterday, 20,739 boosters were given and 1268 paediatric vaccine doses.
Some 17,616 tests have been carried out in the past 24 hours.
The Ministry of Health also confirmed there are now 7.2 million Rapid Antigen Tests in the country.
Canterbury and Capital and Coast DHBs have the highest number of people double vaccinated, both sitting at 98 per cent.
The Big Boost Week continues, with tens of thousands of people getting their booster dose each day, the ministry said.
"The vaccine remains our best defence against Covid-19. People who are vaccinated are less likely to get seriously unwell or be hospitalised than people who haven't been vaccinated."
The most common early symptoms of the Omicron variant are a sore or scratchy throat and a runny nose. The ministry urged anyone with these symptoms - even a small sniffle - to get a Covid test.
Cabinet set to meet
Today's update comes as Cabinet prepares to meet to discuss a shift in the Omicron response after the surge in positive cases.
A number of high-risk locations of interest, exposed to the virus over the Waitangi Day long weekend, were added to the growing list this morning.
They include popular Auckland attraction Sea Life Kelly Tarlton's, New Windsor School swimming pool, The Bank Space in Grey Lynn and a private function at Worlds End Bar in Tauranga.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will front a post-Cabinet press conference at 4pm.
A Waikato school has told its senior students to stay home today and tomorrow after multiple Covid cases were confirmed at the school.
In a notice to the school's community, Fraser High School said the cases were infectious while at school over three days.
Yesterday there were 810 new infections of the virus in the community, up from 454 the previous day.
Eighteen cases of Covid-19, including five historical cases, were detected at the border.
Thirty-two people were in hospital and none were in ICU or HDU.
Phase 2 shift likely in coming days
The rise in case numbers means a shift to phase 2 of the Omicron response is likely to happen in the coming days.
Daily case numbers of 1000 or more would trigger the shift.
The second part of the strategy includes greater use of rapid antigen testing and shorter isolation periods.
Te Pūnaha Matatini complex systems researcher Dion O'Neale said the rise in cases put New Zealand on track to reach 1000 cases a day by the middle of the week.
While record days have resulted in numbers like New Zealanders have never seen before, University of Otago epidemiologist professor Michael Baker warns the real numbers could be as much as 10 times the official figures.
"Most people with the infection, particularly when they're highly vaccinated, will have very few symptoms and many will have no symptoms at all, but they can still transmit the virus.
"For every case that's recorded, we might have another five people out there who have very mild symptoms that are not being tested."
PM to businesses: Start planning
This morning Ardern said businesses should start planning for the close contact exemption scheme coming in the next few days.
A business could register as a critical workplace. They would be given a document to verify this and the worker then needed to take that documentation, some ID and proof they were a close contact to a local provider such as a pharmacy who would then give them a pack of 10 rapid antigen tests.
Meanwhile, as the protest at Parliament enters its second week, Ardern said she did not approve of the tactics they had seen from the protesters and said they and their children should go home.
While she believed the protesters were making anti-vaccine rather than anti-mandate stances, she reiterated the Government would only use restrictions for as long as they needed to and they had already moved away from lockdowns.
"When we can we will, but when we are on the upside of a curve in the Omicron outbreak - now is not the time," she said.