For the second day running New Zealand has recorded fewer than 100 fresh community Covid-19 cases.
It came on the second day of the country’s transition into the traffic light system, marking the re-entry of its biggest city into a new post-lockdown freedom.
On Saturday, New Zealand recorded 98 new cases of Covid-19, across six regions, with a further two detected after 9am.
In addition to 64 in Auckland, there were three in Northland, six in Bay of Plenty, two in Hawke’s Bay, and one each in the Lakes and Nelson Marlborough regions.
Later Saturday afternoon a case was discovered in Whanganui – the first of the Delta outbreak – in a person believed to have travelled from Waikato.
A new case was also recorded in Canterbury on Saturday, after the Ministry of Health’s 9am cut-off, which will become part of today’s tally.
Seventy-three cases were hospitalised, including seven in ICU.
Before Friday’s case total of 92, there had not been a daily update below 100 since October 28.
The Ministry of Health also revealed that 90 per cent of the eligible Pacific population in Auckland’s three DHBs – Auckland, Waitemata and Counties Manukau – had received one jab of the vaccine, with 82 per cent fully vaccinated.
Earlier on Saturday, Auckland’s DHBs were 20 doses short of achieving the same milestone for the eligible Māori population, which was expected to be reached later in the day. Eighty-one per cent of eligible Māori in Auckland were double jabbed.
Across the country, 93 per cent of eligible Kiwis have received a first dose, with 87 per cent double jabbed.
A second detection of Covid-19 in wastewater samples from Tairawhiti Gisborne, taken on Thursday, has health officials worried.
Public health teams are unaware of any recovered cases that could still be shedding the virus, meaning there could be an undetected case in the community.
The Cook Islands has also received its first case of Covid-19, in a weak positive returned from a 10-year-old boy who arrived on a repatriation flight on Thursday.
Travelling with his mother and siblings, the boy had tested negative in a pre-departure test on November 30 but recorded a weak positive on Friday night.
The boy’s mother was fully vaccinated, but all three children were too young to be eligible. The family were isolating at the Edgewater Resort, a MIQ facility on Rarotonga, but so far none of them had shown any symptoms.
All other 175 passengers on the flight had so far returned negative Covid test results.
A weak positive case of Covid-19 has been detected in the Cook Islands. Photo / File
The Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said they had been preparing for the time to reopen their borders and catching this case at the border had shown the value of their preparations.
“I want to reiterate that for many months we have been planning for how we handle the border reopening and dealing with any potential coronavirus threats,” he said.
Auckland police were kept busy on the city’s first night out after 107 days in lockdown.
Police said the central city had notably fewer people partying than a normal pre-Covid Friday night, but there were a number of disorder-related incidents involving “highly-intoxicated people”.
One of these resulted in a serious assault on Karangahape Rd that left a person in hospital and saw a 22-year-old man arrested and charged.
Meanwhile, pharmacists have said they are stretched and tired, having to provide Covid-19 vaccines and passes on top of their usual workload.
More than 400 pharmacies were called upon to help distribute vaccine certificates after the Ministry of Health’s help centre was overwhelmed by up to 70,000 calls a day.
Pharmaceutical Society president Professor Rhiannon Braund said members got just a few days’ warning but they were willing to help.
“In the first couple of days, these were quite time-consuming, getting the pharmacists to get the system up and running, just navigating the portal,” she said.
“And of course, there were some tech issues because so many people were trying to get the vaccine passes, coming up to the cut-off date.”
She expected pharmacies would only get busier with holidaymakers away from home this summer, and new Covid-19 response measures.
“The rapid testing that’s coming online in the next week or so, the announcement about the childhood vaccinations … I think we’re actually going to see quite a surge [in work].”
She said it had been “a really busy year” and the workforce was “stretched”.
“People are tired and I just hope that people can take some time to look after themselves, as well as the patients.”