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Waikato’s alert level 3 boundary may have to be extended in coming days as the virus marches south of the border.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said health officials were keeping a close eye on the developing situation after new community cases were confirmed in Cambridge and Kawhia yesterday – both currently outside of Waikato’s alert level 3 boundary.

Speaking to Herald managing editor Shayne Currie at the Mood of the Boardroom summit, Robertson said they would be monitoring the situation over the next 24 hours or so.

“We will look closely at the situation, particularly for Kawhia, to make sure that we feel that we’ve got that under control.

“And if we did need to move, we would. But at this stage, we’re feeling comfortable for that.”

The comment comes after Auckland enjoyed its first day of a somewhat relaxed alert level 3 yesterday; with people once again allowed to freely travel around the city and meet people outside of their household outdoors – but with a limit of 10 people.

All of the 17 Covid cases in the Waikato at the moment, including those in Kawhia and Karāpiro, were connected.

“For now, that is a cluster and it’s a cluster we believe we know the members of.”

Robertson said he believed businesses in that affected area would automatically move to a level 3 style operation. In fact, he was already aware of at least one cafe in Kāwhia that would, which he said was good.

This was also the perfect time to get tested for the virus and to get vaccinated.

Asked about a timeline of eight weeks in level 3, Robertson said Covid did not operate on a timeline and so the Government wanted to keep moving forward.

Yesterday’s Ministry of Health update showed 39 new positive cases in the community – made up of 30 people in Auckland and nine in Waikato.

The rates of vaccinations in Auckland had increased in the last few days, with modelling now showing that in four to eight weeks, it would get up to 90 per cent.

An announcement would then be made in the next couple of weeks, Robertson said.

He would not, however, confirm if 90 per cent was the magic number and said there had to be further analysis of who the 90 per cent of people were.

Regardless of which number you pick, he said, they had to get a high number of vaccinations so they were reducing hospitalisations and death rates.

They wanted a “90 per cent plus” rate, he said.

Asked about confusing communication and the end of the elimination and communication strategy, Robertson said whenever they decided to move down alert level rules, there were big debates about where and when people could cycle.

The detail does change a little bit and he acknowledged that they sometimes had to “take it on the chin when we don’t get it 100 per cent right”.

About the elimination strategy, the Delta strain has made getting to a 100 per cent vaccination rate extremely challenging. But the Government was still chasing that.

Second death linked to current outbreak

Yesterday’s official 1pm update also brought the sad news of the second Covid-related death during this outbreak.

A man in his 50s said to be linked to the Māngere church cluster died at Middlemore Hospital after fighting the virus for 40 days in intensive care unit.

The Ministry of Health confirmed the details yesterday and the victim had also been battling other underlying health conditions.

“He was admitted to Middlemore Hospital on 27 August from home,” a statement said.

The man’s family is being supported by their church and community. It is understood his wife has also been in hospital.

Director of Public Health, Dr Caroline McElnay, sent her condolences to the family involved.

“Our thoughts are with his whānau at this deeply sad time,” she said.

Locations of interest

Meanwhile, authorities continue to release a steady stream of locations of interest around Auckland, Raglan and now Hamilton linked to people with Covid.

In this morning’s update, a shop in Hamilton and another in Raglan were identified.

Four Square: 1030 Heaphy Terrace, Fairfield, Hamilton
Swaffield Road Dairy: 26 Swaffield Rd, Papatoetoe, South Auckland
Tasty Hot Bread Bakery: 533 Great South Rd, Manukau, South Auckland
Four Square Raglan: 3 Bankart St, Raglan
Z Sylvia Park gas station: 510 Mt Wellington Highway, Mt Wellington, Auckland

The Four Square Heaphy Terrace, in Hamilton was visited by a person who has tested positive for the virus on Monday (October 4). The affected time is between 6.50pm and 7.25pm.

The Four Square on Bankart St, in Raglan, is linked to a positive case who was there on Saturday (October 2).

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