There are 19 new cases of Covid-19 in the community, new suburbs of interest added

There are 19 Covid cases in the community today.

Eighteen of the cases are in Auckland and the other is a child who attended Mangatangi School, who had been isolating.

An MIQ worker is also among today's cases. That case is at the Naumi hotel and is being investigated to determine if it is linked to the community outbreak or not.

The worker's positive test was picked up during routine testing. The worker was vaccinated, director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.

Of today's 19 cases, 16 are known contacts of other people.

Bloomfield said they were expecting another 30 cases in the coming days, as 19 of the newer cases were linked to emergency or transitional housing.

Ōtara has been removed from the suburbs of interest - but Henderson and Papakura have been added.

Bloomfield urged people from all suburbs of interest to get tested, regardless of whether they were symptomatic or not.

Nationwide, anyone with symptoms should get tested.

Bloomfield said a new study on long Covid had shown nearly one in three people would experience at least one long-Covid symptom - usually breathing problems, abdominal pain, anxiety or depressions.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said one of the clusters was in west Auckland, which was why all Auckland was locked down. She urged those in Henderson and Papakura to get tested if they had even mild symptoms.

"We need everyone to be double vaccinated. Only three per cent of people in this outbreak were double-vaccinated."

She said achieving 90 per cent was possible: 92 per cent of over-65s had had at least one jab.

"It is possible to hit 90, and we need everybody to put that effort in."

Vaccinations were available at more than 1400 places, and help was on hand to get to those centres.

Ardern said the focus on the transitional housing places affected by Covid cases were initially on testing, and then vaccinating programmes would be done.

Health workers were discussing the vaccinations rollout with those people.

There were 45 new cases yesterday, ending a string of days of lower numbers – a result epidemiologist Professor Rod Jackson described as a "wake up call".

"Auckland is not getting out of level 3 until we don't have mystery cases," Jackson said.

Of those cases, 12 were yet to be linked to the existing outbreak, and Bloomfield is expected to provide an update on whether those cases have now been linked.

It was also revealed that a number of cases are now coming from emergency and transitional housing units in Auckland, as well as from gangs.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins this morning indicated today's numbers were expected to be lower - but also pointed the finger at people breaking the level 3 rules for spreading the virus.

While Act leader David Seymour has called for an end to the strategy of aiming for zero cases at any cost, Hipkins told Newstalk ZB they still wanted to get "down to zero" cases and the Government wasn't waving the white flag yet.

There are four days to go before Cabinet considers whether Auckland can move out of level 3 – a decision it will make next Monday. Hipkins said it was still too early to speculate on what that decision might be.

Ardern is also expected to try to boost the vaccination drive as the numbers lining up to book and get their first doses drop.

Ardern had issued a challenge to Auckland to get to 90 per cent by October – it was at 82 per cent yesterday.

Nationally, 77.5 per cent of those eligible have had at least one dose.

And after a long period of being at the top of Bloomberg's table of Covid-resilient countries, New Zealand had dropped to 38th position this week.

Ardern is also expected to talk about the move on a residency path for those skilled migrants that had worked in New Zealand throughout the epidemic: a long awaited move.

The one-off resident visa would offer residency to about 165,000 migrant workers and their families, including more than 5000 health and aged-care workers, about 9000 primary industry workers, and more than 800 teachers.

There are also around 15,000 construction and 12,000 manufacturing workers on relevant visa types, some of whom will be eligible for the one-off pathway.

For more information visit covid19.govt.nz.

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