The latest Covid-19 case numbers are set to be announced, after a dramatic day of record cases and an anti-lockdown Auckland protest.
Already, five new locations of interest have been announced today, and all are in Waikato.
The locations are Four Square shops in Fairfield and Hillcrest, the J Swap Osterns Quarry in Otorohanga and Otorohanga Mini Mart.
The relevant times are on day at 2.20pm for the Hillcrest shop, Monday at 2.30pm for the Fairfield shop, and Wednesday at 9am for the Fairfield shop again.
The Otorohanga quarry was visited in Tuesday at 10.45am for 45 minutes, and the Mini Mart last Sunday at 11am to noon.
The Ministry of Health is due to release details of latest cases around 1pm.
An all-time high of 160 community cases was announced yesterday as contact tracers strained to keep up with new infections in Northland, Waikato, Christchurch and Auckland.
Saturday’s record-high case numbers and the unusual nature of some new cases reinforced concerns the Delta variant might be spreading undetected.
Nine people tested positive for the virus at Edmonton Meadows retirement village in Henderson, West Auckland.
The Ministry of Health said the rest home had high levels of vaccination among residents, and all staff were fully vaccinated.
Of yesterday’s five new Waikato cases, three were in Hamilton, one in the Te Awamutu-Kihikihi area, and one in Ōtorohanga.
Two Hamilton cases yesterday and the Te Awamutu-Kihikihi case were linked to previous cases, but health teams yesterday were yet to find a link for the remaining four cases.
Two unusual Christchurch cases, including one who flew to Tonga before testing positive, have raised concern over whether the virus is spreading undetected.
Dr Lesley Gray, a University of Otago senior health care lecturer, said yesterday the true number of Covid-19 cases could be much higher.
Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker last week said some vaccinated, young and healthy people with Covid-19 could have very mild symptoms or no symptoms.
It was plausible to believe many of these people were not getting tested, he said.
He also predicted the evolution of a new Delta variant, shortly before the announcement of a new “Delta plus” strain found in a New South Wales hotel quarantine case.
With daily infection numbers in the New Zealand Delta outbreak roughly doubling every two weeks, Baker said Auckland’s health system was facing a huge challenge.
Case numbers have bounced around in the past 10 days. On some days, new positive case numbers dropped below 100, but yesterday’s tally was an unprecedented high.
About 5000 people gathered at Auckland Domain yesterday in breach of level 3 restrictions and disrupted traffic in a march to Newmarket.
Superintendent Shanan Gray said police expected to prosecute people involved in the protest.
“We recognise that individuals have a lawful right to protest. However, this should not be at the expense of restrictions designed to keep our community safe,” Gray said.
“The health risk posed to attendees as well as other road users was unnecessary and unacceptable.”
In response to concerns about the health system facing enormous pressure, the Government today said it secured access to a new Covid-19 drug called Ronapreve.
The drug could help treat people with treat people with medium-to-severe symptoms.
Health Minister Andrew Little said the current outbreak grew so quickly, it forced the Government to bring forward home isolation plans by two months.
Little told TVNZ’s Q+A programme a surge in Covid-19 infections, especially among unvaccinated people, could jeopardise the health system.
“It means people who have planned care, planned surgeries, they get bumped out of the system and hospitals have to reprioritise,” Little said.
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