There are 172 new Covid community cases today as the nation prepares to move into the traffic light system.
Eighty-six people are in hospital and nine are in intensive care.
Today’s cases included 142 new cases in Auckland.
“There continues to be a daily review of testing numbers and testing locations to ensure good coverage of risk areas,” the Ministry of Health said.
There are 3634 people isolating at home, including 910 people with the virus.
Of the two new cases in Northland, one is in Kaitaia and one in Kawakawa. Both are close contacts of known cases.
The Kaitaia case was in isolation when tested and investigations into the Kawakawa case are underway.
There was an unexpected wastewater detection in a sample from Ahipara taken on November 25.
Although this may be connected to cases isolating in the area, people living in the area are urged to get tested if they have even mild symptoms, the ministry said.
There were 146 new cases across the nation yesterday as the virus made its way into the South Island and continues to circulate in regions such as the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
Fifteen of the nation’s 20 District Health Board regions now have more than 90 per cent of their eligible populations with at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
However, just two – Auckland and Capital and Coast DHBs – have hit the 90 per cent double-jabbed mark.
The Government has also announced that Covid-19 jabs for those aged between 5-11 are expected to begin next month, subject to MedSafe approval.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins also conceded that it was likely a matter of time before Omicron – a new variant of the virus – arrived in New Zealand.
Of yesterday’s new cases, 124 were in Auckland, 14 in Waikato, four in Bay of Plenty and one in Nelson-Tasman.
The new case in Nelson is in addition to three cases the day before, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.
Eighty-three people were in hospital yesterday, two in Waikato and the remainder in Auckland.
Bloomfield showed hospitalisation tracking modelling from early November and ICU bed use, and how it had it eased off.
While the hospitalisation rate throughout the outbreak had been between 11 and 12 per cent, the proportion of people requiring ICU has dropped from 5.7 per cent down to 3 per cent in the last month or so.
Jabs for 5+
On the vaccination of 5- to 11-year-olds, there was still work to do but the Government was advanced in planning, Hipkins said.
The child dose was about one-third of the adult dose. Buying it was conditional on it being approved by MedSafe.
The Government was expecting to roll it out before the end of January and had been talking to Pfizer about supplies with that deadline pending approval.
Traffic light system
The traffic light system will see Auckland exit lockdown and enter the red setting, with a return of many activities including dining at bars, cafes and restaurants.
Much of the country, including the South Island, will move to orange, which removes gathering limits for locations using vaccine passes.
There have been 2.8 million vaccine passes issued.
At orange level, life will be almost like level 1, Hipkins said. Red will be more restrictive.
The Government had been working hard to get the balance right and there would be some teething issues along the way, he said.
Omicron likely to arrive in NZ
On Omicron, Hipkins said there was some anxiety about the new variant. He wanted to be clear it was cause for concern “but not a cause for panic”.
The Government had prepared for a new variant and it was “ready and had plans in place”.
Asked if it was a matter of time until Omicron arrived in NZ, Hipkins replied: “I would say so.”
Asked if it would extend border restrictions, he said they were still planning for January and February cohorts and it was under constant review. He said it was a possibility it could be extended.