Parts of Waikato — including Raglan, Huntly, Ngāruāwahia and Hamilton City — will join Auckland in alert level 3 from midnight tonight, the New Zealand Prime Minister has confirmed.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have given today’s briefing after three recently reported community covid-19 cases outside of Auckland.
This morning the Ministry of Health reported two new community cases of covid-19 in Waikato – one person aged in their 40s in Raglan and one in their 50s in Hamilton.
There were 33 new community cases reported today, including one of the new Waikato cases.
Announcing that parts of the district would go into level 3 at 11.59pm tonight, Ardern said there would be spot checks around Hamilton boundary areas, but they would not be as rigorous as the boundary in Auckland as it was too difficult to have a hard boundary around Hamilton.
She said Cabinet intended for level 3 restrictions to apply for the next five days, which would give authorities the opportunity to contact trace and widely test in the coming days. The restrictions would then be assessed.
Ardern said the vast majority of the cases had not been vaccinated.
‘Vaccination makes a difference’
“Vaccination makes a difference, it keeps people safe,” she said.
“If we had a vaccination rate of 90 percent or above in either Hamilton or Raglan it is highly unlikely we would be here today announcing level 3 restrictions.
“Instead we would be able to rely on other tools like contact tracing and much lower level public health measures but while we are vaccinating we have fewer choices in how to react to cases.”
She said none of the three community cases outside of Auckland had been vaccinated.
“We’ve been advised that the household members of the truck driver are vaccinated and have not yet tested positive,” she said.
Watch the briefing live
Video: RNZ News
Ardern said the government was doing everything possible to keep cases confined to Auckland.
Auckland’s alert level will be reviewed tomorrow.
Ardern said the level 3 in Waikato would be treated distinctly from what was happening in Auckland.
Last night, the ministry reported an Auckland truck driver who had travelled to Palmerston North had tested positive for covid-19.
Ardern said today that with the Palmerston North case the source was known and Auckland based, but this was not the case for the Waikato cases.
Dr Bloomfield said he was not worried about community spread in Palmerston North, but people with symptoms should still get tested.
Yesterday in its daily update the Ministry of Health reported 27 new community cases of covid-19 in Auckland. One of these cases was a patient who went to Middlemore Hospital seeking treatment for issues unrelated to covid-19, but who then tested positive.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.