Concern about new Covid-19 cases stretched the length of the North Island yesterday, but spirits in Auckland were lifted by a vaccination milestone.
There were 198 new cases of coronavirus in the community yesterday, including 152 in Auckland and 30 in Waikato. Bay of Plenty has six new cases, Northland five, Lakes district two and MidCentral, Wairarapa and Canterbury one each.
Eighty-eight new cases were as-yet-unlinked to current cases.
The Canterbury case travelled from the North Island to Christchurch and a "probable link" to another case was being investigated, the Ministry of Health said.
A fully-vaccinated essential worker involved in the Omāroro Reservoir project in Wellington also tested positive on Thursday, but the result was a weak positive - which could indicate an early-stage or historical infection, the ministry said.
A repeat test of the worker, who was not suffering symptoms, was planned yesterday, along with testing of other workers from the now temporarily-closed worksite.
Covid-19 was also detected in wastewater samples from Pahiatua twice this week, the ministry said, with residents of the town east of Palmerston North encouraged to get tested if suffering from symptoms of the virus, no matter how mild.
The race to vaccinate ahead of the virus reached a milestone yesterday, when the first district health board area in the city at the centre of the outbreak reached 90 per cent fully vaccinated.
Residents of Auckland DHB join Queenstown-Lakes, Selwyn District in Canterbury and Wellington in the 90 per cent fully-vaxxed club.
The city, which has been level 3 or 4 for 95 days, has two other DHBs - Waitematā and Counties Manukau, at 87 per cent and 84 per cent double-dosed respectively.
Nationally, more than 20,660 people - 6635 receiving their first dose - were vaccinated yesterday.
Just over 82 per cent of New Zealanders - under 12s aren't yet eligible for the jab - are fully vaccinated, with 63 per cent of Māori and 77 per cent of Pacific Peoples double-dosed.
Covid-19 hospitalisations continued to be largely among the unvaccinated, with 57 per cent of the 76 people in hospital yesterday not having yet received their first dose.
Only 14 per cent - 12 cases - of those in hospital had received two doses of vaccine at least 14 days before they were infected.
The remaining cases were either vaccination status unknown, partially vaccinated or fully vaccinated, but fewer than 14 days before catching the virus.
Six of those in hospital are in high dependency or intensive care units, with all but two cases in Auckland hospitals. The average age is 50.
The clock is ticking for those yet to receive their first vaccination, with the Government signalling Auckland will move to the red light of the new traffic light model, which replaces alert levels, soon after Cabinet meets on November 29.
The rest of the country will follow later, with regions that have low vaccination rates joining Auckland in the stricter red light level, while other regions move to the orange light.
The traffic light model gives vaccinated Kiwis greater freedoms. People will also be able to move in and out of Auckland from December 15 if they're fully vaccinated or have had a negative Covid-19 test result within 72 hours of travelling.
The new Vaccine Pass has been downloaded by 700,000 people. It can be accessed by going to MyCovidRecord.health.nz.
Summer is edging closer, but Aucklanders have been urged to not let their guard down as settled weather lures more out of their homes. File photo / NZME
There are fears cases will surge over summer - Health Minister Andrew Little said this week numbers will spike in places as the virus moved through the country. The seven day rolling average of community cases is 191.
And Professor Mākere Mutu, chair of Far North iwi Ngāti Kahu, voiced serious concerns over the consequences of opening Auckland's northern border, with only 58 per cent of eligible Māori in Northland fully vaccinated.
"Te Tai Tokerau will not be the collateral damage - you might as well send body bags", Mutu told Māori Television.
A ban on non-residents travelling to Waiheke and Great Barrier/Aotea islands will end when Auckland moves into the red light, the Government said.
Meanwhile, Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina reminded city residents to stick to the rules this weekend, including limiting gatherings to outdoors and involving fewer than 26 people.
"Please remember there's still a deadly virus out there."