Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Officials release latest case numbers and how close Auckland is to freedom from lockdown

The Ministry of Health will reveal today’s Covid numbers in a statement this afternoon, as South Auckland edges closer to its 90 per cent vaccination target.

Yesterday, the country saw 80 new cases emerge before a further two infected people in Ōtorohanga were announced Sunday evening. One of the new cases was in Northland, two in Waikato and 77 in Auckland. There were no new cases in Blenheim yesterday after a man travelled there from Rotorua and tested positive on Friday.

The Government’s new traffic light-style warning system will kick into gear once Auckland and the wider country hit vaccination targets of 90 per cent.

On Saturday Auckland saw 18,496 vaccinations, including 4391 first doses. Overall, 90 per cent of the city’s eligible population has had a first dose and 76 per cent have had their second.

But the Government has said that all three DHBs in the region need to have 90 per cent second-dose vaccination rate for their populations.

As of Sunday, figures showed Auckland DHB sat on 93 per cent first-vaccination rate, Waitemata DHB 90 per cent and Counties Manukau DHB on 87 per cent.

Counties Manukau, covering South Auckland, needed to administer another 12,423 first shots to get a90 per cent first-dose target. There were more than 2000 first shots in the DHB’s area on Saturday. If that rate was maintained, the target should be met within six days.

In terms of second-doses, Auckland DHB sits on 80 per cent, Waitemata on 76 per cent and Counties Manukau 73 per cent. Auckland needs to administer another 40,584 second doses, Waitemata 74,207 doses and Counties Manukau 82,250 doses to get to the magical 90 per cent second-dose rates.

Depending on the area, this could happen in two to three weeks – although it’s not known how long experts may recommend waiting until the second doses become effective to allow the new traffic light system to kick in, with more freedoms.

On the timetable and run rate above, it could be five to six weeks away – in other words, late November, or early December.

Meanwhile, top epidemiologist Sir David Skegg warned that contact-tracing capacity – which was severely stretched when case numbers were lower than they currently are – still needed to be strengthened, while the work to add saliva testing and rapid antigen testing to the toolbox had been slow.

And while he still hoped for New Zealand to continue to have a world-leading response, he feared an under-resourced health system will not be able to cope with whatever Covid throws at it in coming years.

READ MORE: ‘Entering Red Zone’: Inside a Covid ward and ICU

He had been warning to expect, and prepare for, a Delta outbreak since well before this one started.

“Whereas we had been lucky after several previous incursions of SARS-CoV-2, our luck ran out this time,” he said.

The virus had a head-start because vaccination coverage was low, about 1000 people had already caught it by the time it was detected, and the outbreak had a springboard in the super-spreading church event in South Auckland.

READ MORE: Sir David Skegg warned about a Delta outbreak

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Health workers can now ask for vaccine exemption

The employers of key healthcare workers could now make a bid for them to be exempt from Covid-19 vaccine mandates under new rules issued by the Ministry of Health.

It comes as the “no jab, no job” public health order, which will require health, education and prison workers to be vaccinated, has been published.

The order – which will come into force on Monday at 11.59pm – gives health workers an extra two weeks to get their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. They now must get their first jab by November 15, and their second by January 1.

READ MORE: Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Vital health workers can now ask for vaccine exemption

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