There are 173 new community cases of Covid-19 today; with 78 in hospital including seven in intensive care.

Photo file.
Photo: RNZ / Nita Blake Persen

Speaking in today’s media update, Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay said there was also a case from Canterbury not included in today’s figures.

Of today’s cases, 154 are in Auckland, 15 in Waikato, one in Northland, two in the Bay of Plenty and one in DHB Lakes, the Department of Health said in a statement.

There are also four new cases at the border.

There are a total of 7,832 community cases in the current epidemic and 81 of today’s new cases do not yet have an epidemiological link.

The ministry said it was now helping 4,058 people self-isolate in their homes around Auckland, including 1,070 active cases. In Waikato, 129 cases have been isolated at home.

The ministry said there was also 180 new places of interest.

On wastewater detections, Covid-19 was detected in a sample taken in Kaiwaka on November 18.

“Processing of the sample began on November 22, however, the result was delayed due to a technical problem. Tests are currently underway for another sample taken on November 22,” the ministry said.

He said Covid-19 was also detected in a sample taken from Opononi on November 23, which is believed to be linked to active cases in Hokianga.

“Anyone with symptoms – no matter how severe – is encouraged to take a test.”

Yesterday, 18,092 first and second doses of vaccine were administered in the country – 6,319 first doses and 11,773 second doses.

To date, 92% of eligible people in New Zealand have received their first dose and 85% are fully immunized.

McElnay said the increase in the number of Covid cases in Europe, with reports of 2.2 million cases last week, reinforces the importance of vaccination.

More than half of all New Zealanders vaccinated now have their My Vaccine Pass, with more than 2 million passes issued by the ministry, she said.

Expect demand for the pass to continue to increase, now you can receive passes in the mail or request them at specified pharmacies, she said.

The capacity of call centers for passes has also been increased to meet demand, she said.

Earlier today, it was revealed that it was possible for people to receive their passes in the mail or go to pharmacies to request their passes.

“Almost 400 pharmacies across the country that currently provide Covid-19 vaccines will now also be able to help people get vaccinated. These 400 pharmacies can be found on the Healthpoint website.”

The government’s mandate on the Covid-19 vaccine has been extended to all sworn members, recruits and authorized officers of the police and defense forces.

The first doses of the vaccine for these workers are required by January 17 and the second doses by March 1.

A newly identified variant of the coronavirus that has spread in South Africa is causing growing concern in other parts of the world.

Britain is temporarily banning flights from South Africa and Israel is restricting travel from the region.

And Portugal, which has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates against Covid-19, has announced it will reimpose certain restrictions to stop an increase in cases.