Chris Hipkins urges Kiwis to get vaccinated on 'Super Saturday', 39 new cases of Covid and 1 death

There are 39 new cases in the community and a person in Auckland's Middlemore Hospital dies of the virus, director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay says.

Thirty of today's cases are in Auckland and nine are in Waikato.

Of today's cases, only one is not linked to the outbreak and interviews are ongoing, McElnay said.

There are four of yesterday's cases that are still unlinked

There could be an additional 36 cases in the coming days, McElnay said.

Death at Middlemore

The Ministry of Health said it was sad to report the death of a patient at Middlemore Hospital, South Auckland.

"The ministry would like to recognise the family's loss and offer our deepest sympathies," a statement said.

Further details are due to be released later today after discussions with the victim's family.
Health officials have also confirmed that a patient who was at Waikato Hospital's emergency department last Friday had since tested positive for the virus.

The person was asymptomatic at the time but was screened when they entered the emergency department room.

In a cautious approach, a number of ED staff are now self-isolating after being exposed to the case.

They have also been tested for Covid and results are expected today.

The Middlemore Hospital death is New Zealand's 28th from Covid and the second linked to the Delta outbreak.

A woman aged in her 90s died in North Shore Hospital last month.

Cases spread into alert level 2 areas in Cambridge, Kawhia

A case has also been reported in Cambridge in Waikato.

A pop-up testing centre is being arranged at Lake Karapiro.

Waipa Deputy Mayor Liz Stolwyk said she had been asked to turn Might River Domain, where rowing regattas are held, into a testing station this morning.

This morning it was reported a person tested positive for Covid-19 in Kawhia, which is currently the country's least vaccinated area and is outside the Waikato level 3 boundary.

Ōtorohanga district Mayor Max Baxter confirmed he had been informed of the positive case this morning.

The Herald understands the Kawhia case is a close contact of the Hamilton East case.

Five testing centres are open across Waikato, including Raglan, Hamilton and Tokoroa.

A patient who the visited Waikato hospital has tested positive.

They were asymptomatic.

Covid protocols were adhered to but some ED staff are isolating as a precautionary measure, McElnay said.

Shorter gap between doses of jab recommended

McElnay said a shorter gap between doses is now being encouraged

In August, the gap was extended from 3 to 6 weeks.

Officials are recommending a change back to three weeks so more people can get vaccinated sooner

Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said the goal was to get the vaccine to people before the virus found them.

Yesterday, about 63,000 people got a vaccine. The North and South Islands were neck and neck in their vaccination levels

He said the biggest weapon in fighting Covid was vaccination, reducing risk of transmission and hospitalisation

The Government is planning a nationwide day of action to encourage vaccination on Saturday, October 16.

Hipkins said with over half the eligible population now fully vaccinated and more than 80 per cent with at least one dose, everyone had to do their bit to reach the remaining 20 per cent.

"We've got a plan and to make it work we're asking everyone to contribute to a big, nationwide push for vaccination.

This will culminate in a National Day of Action for vaccination on Saturday 16 October," he said.

"On that day, we will have vaccine clinics open throughout Aotearoa all day and into the evening. A bit like Election Day, we will be asking all our political and civic leaders to contribute to a big collective effort to turn people out."

The Government has also faced criticism over its preparedness for this Delta outbreak, which experts says has thrived in the "perfect storm" of New Zealand's housing crisis and high poverty rates and followed a similar pattern to the outbreak in Sydney.

On Monday, 24 new cases were announced, including 18 in Auckland and six in Waikato.

Seven cases were unlinked and eight of the previous day's cases were unlinked. All Waikato cases were linked.

It was estimated there would be an additional 48 cases in the coming days because of the number of contacts to already-confirmed cases.

The Kawhia township is south of Raglan Harbour, Ruapuke and Aotea Harbour, about 40km southwest of Hamilton.

The Ōtorohanga District is at the bottom of the Herald's Top Towns table for percentage of people fully vaccinated - at just 32.9 per cent of the eligible population.

It also emerged this morning that there are three new Covid exposure events identified in Raglan - two at a local sushi shop and the third at a laundromat.

The Aroha Sushi shop, in Wallis St in Raglan, has been connected to a positive case or cases three times in the last week.

The first visit was last week on Wednesday, between 8am and 2pm.

The second visit was on Friday (October 1) between 8am and 5.15pm.

The third link to the shop is also on that Friday between 3.15pm and 4.15pm.

Anyone who has been to the sushi establishment is being told: "Self-isolate for 14 days after you were exposed at this location of interest."

People are also told to get tested for Covid-19 immediately and to record their visit on the Ministry of Health website.

Meanwhile, Aucklanders have been out and about since early this morning following minor loosening of level 3 Delta rules.

That includes numerous boaties finally firing up their boats for fishing trips off Auckland's coastline after a nationwide level 4 lockdown was brought in on August 18.

The Herald also spotted this morning several groups of swimmers taking to the water around the harbour.

Auckland still remains in level 3. Areas of the Waikato are also in level 3, while the rest of the country is in level 2.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reinforced that those mingling between extended bubbles had to do it outdoors and hosts were not to allow visitors inside to use bathrooms.

From today those in the locked-down Auckland region have been able to extend their bubbles slightly; with gatherings of up to 10 people – from a maximum of two bubbles – able to meet outside.

For more information visit covid19.govt.nz.

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.