There are 68 new cases of Covid-19 in the community, vaccinations reaching new records

Click here to view the latest list of locations of interest 

There are 68 new Delta cases in New Zealand today, bringing the overall total of the Covid outbreak to 277 people.

Of those 277 cases, 263 are in Auckland and 14 are in Wellington, Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said.

There are still six sub-clusters. The Birkdale Social Network cluster has 35 confirmed cases and the Mangere church cluster has 114 cases.

There are 495 locations of interest - but only three new ones were added today. A rugby game was added that was pre lockdown, and two supermarket visits post lockdown.

24,402 contacts have been formally identified since 8am today. Sixty-five per cent have been followed up by contact tracers and individuals are self-isolating. Seventy-one per cent of all close contacts have had a test.

The numbers come as the Government begins to consider whether it can lift alert levels anywhere in the country outside of Auckland. That decision will be announced tomorrow.

Potential exposure sites in the outbreak are mounting and a warning the first wave's peak will hit in the next 48 hours.

A second quarantine facility is due to open in Auckland to place the ballooning number of infected people needing to be isolated from families and outbreak models show a need to keep the city in lockdown for weeks to curb spread.

Yesterday was another record day for vaccination 87,772 doses administered. More than 3 million doses administered since vaccination campaign began. Largest bookings yesterday, 2700 bookings.

Five secondary school rugby games played at South Auckland's De La Salle College are now potential exposure sites for Covid-19.

Everyone who watched or took part in a sporting clash that took place at the Mangere school on Saturday, August 14, is considered a close contact and is asked to isolate for 14 days. They include teams from Mt Albert Grammar, King's College, St Paul's College, Massey High and Dilworth School.

The locations of interest website does not specify which of these clashes are possible exposure events, rather it lists the school.

There are 494 exposure events involving 364 locations on the Ministry of Health's locations of interest.

Bloomfield said on Thursday morning there were more cases to report, but none outside Auckland.

He also revealed a possible link from a case in the Māngere church subcluster to the traveller in the Crowne Plaza has been identified, which could solve the issue of any missing transmission links in the whole outbreak.

So far six epidemiologically-linked subclusters have been identified within the outbreak. The largest cluster associated with the AOG church in Mangere is sitting at 105 cases and the Birkdale Social Network cluster associated with the very first case is at 36 infected people. 

It comes as the number of potential exposure sites swell to nearly 500.

Last night the 10th Auckland school was added to the growing list, with Otahuhu College listed.

Another fashion shop at a busy North Shore mall was added along with a fruit and vegetable store in South Auckland.

Bloomfield this morning revealed around 200 beds could be made available at a second quarantine facility in Auckland.

If the situation continued to worse there were still options for people to quarantine elsewhere in New Zealand in facilities in Wellington and Christchurch.

Meanwhile the country's top health official this morning apologised after saline-diluted doses were administered to five people instead of the full-strength Pfizer vaccine in Auckland last month.

It came as fresh concerns emerged of a similar incident happening at a Christchurch vaccination centre.

"I'm sorry that incident happened but we did want to tell people what the options were," he said.

Everyone who got vaccinated on July 12 would either get an email today or letter couriered to them to explain the situation and outline options. Those in the group who hadn't received a second dose would now be expedited, he said.

Bloomfield, who did not have details about the Christchurch situation, said it took seven weeks to reveal the Auckland incident as there had been a lot of discussion about who was vaccinated and what happened.

They had then sought advice from their technical advisory group. It was only in the last month that evidence had emerged about getting a third dose. "We wanted to be in a position to tell them everything we could.

Auckland University Covid-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy said he expected Auckland to stay in Level 4 lockdown for "multiple weeks".

"We will be looking to get back to zero cases. The first good signs will be when we see those numbers come down," Hendy told TVNZ.

He said there was hope the number of cases would start to drop from next week.

Meanwhile Bloomfield revealed work was under way to look at what an internal boundary between Auckland and the rest of the country would look like, what travel would be permitted across the boundary and how it would be enforced.

Hendy agreed a north-south divide would make sense.

"I think at this stage, a North Island and South Island split is probably what we'd be looking at."

Public health guidelines

  1. Stay home
  2. If you have to go out make sure you wear a mask
  3. Stay in your bubble and reduce contact with others
  4. Act as if you have Covid-19 and as if others around you do to 

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