Sixty-eight new cases of Covid in the community

Source: 1News

There are 68 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today. 

This brings the total number of cases tied to New Zealand's Delta variant outbreak to 277, up from 209. 

One previously reported case has now been ruled out as a false positive, Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said. 

In total, there are 263 in Auckland, while 14 are in Wellington. 

The two new Wellington cases are household contacts of a previously reported case and have been isolating for their entire infectious period. 

There are 15 cases now in Auckland hospitals, but none of them are in ICU. 

Of these, five are in Auckland City Hospital, three are in North Shore Hospital and seven are in Middlemore Hospital. 

Health officials have identified six sub-clusters as the outbreak continues to grow, with two making up the majority of cases. 

There are 41 linked to the Birkdale social group, surrounding some of the earliest cases reported on Auckland's North Shore.

Meanwhile, cases linked to the Samoan Assembly of God Church in Māngere has grown to 117.

There are fewer than 15 cases tied to the other four sub-clusters at this stage.

Full genome sequencing has now been carried out for 154 community cases, which are all deemed to be linked to the current cluster. 

The number of locations of interest continue to grow with new sites added today, taking the total number to 495. 

For the full list of locations of interest outlined by the Ministry of Health, click here

As the outbreak grows, the number of contacts continues to soar with 2442 identified as of 8am Thursday, 65 per cent have been contacted and are self-isolating. 

McElnay said roughly 71 per cent of contacts have been tested for the virus, "reflecting the high level of testing", particularly at designated testing hubs for large exposure sites like schools. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern noted the country is in a "very similar place" to yesterday but stressed it is "good news" that only three new exposure sites are tied to the more than 60 cases announced Wednesday. 

Ardern said this indicated that New Zealanders are complying with lockdown restrictions as only 13 of the nearly 500 locations of interest have generated new cases. 

"Overall, lockdown is having an impact," she said. 

However, Ardern noted that the highly infectious Delta variant "is tricky" and may mean it is longer until cases dwindle. 

"Case numbers are a daily reminder that we cannot drop the ball, so please minimise your contact with others."

Wastewater samples detect Covid in Christchurch

Wastewater is being tested from 97 different sites nationwide, 70 from the North Island and the rest in the South Island. 

The sites cover more than 90 per cent of all New Zealanders. 

Covid-19 has now been detected from the Christchurch catchment on both Saturday and Monday, following all negative results returned last week. 

"ESR does stress that there are three positive cases in Christchurch's managed isolation facilities and that is consistent with the virus being shedded from those cases," McElnay said. 

She added that further analysis from samples taken around the city is being collected today with results expected by the end of the week. 

No other sites in the South Island have identified traces of Covid-19. 

In Wellington, the virus continues to only be detected in Moa Point, likely linked to the known cluster. 

No new samples from Auckland revealed traces of the virus. 

The Ministry of Health is continuing to bolster its contact tracing workforce, with an additional 100 new workers recruited Wednesday. 

"More staff are being trained today and we expect to have nearly 1400 contact tracers in call centres across New Zealand," she said. 

It was a busy day at testing stations through the country with 41,749 swabs for Covid-19 collected nationwide, with half taken in Auckland alone. 

In Wellington more than 3000 were collected, while a whopping 20,000 were collected in Auckland. 

Most of the country is expected to remain at Alert Level 4 for the next two days, with Cabinet set to review on Friday. 

Meanwhile, Auckland will remain in lockdown until Tuesday next week, with a decision expected Monday.