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New cases of Covid-19 have emerged at the top of the South Island with the country just days from moving into the new traffic light system.

And the Prime Minister was heckled yesterday by anti-vaccine mandate protesters who tried to drown her out at a Waikato sod-turning event with chants or “liar, liar, pants on fire”.

There were 134 new community cases announced yesterday and 89 people in hospital with the virus.

Auckland recorded 116 new cases, eight were in Waikato, nine in Bay of Plenty and two in Nelson-Tasman.

The Nelson-Tasman cases are known contacts of the local case announced on Monday.

“All three cases are in isolation, with investigations into the source of infection ongoing,” the Ministry of Health said.

“So far, initial case interviews have identified a small number of close contacts, who are also isolating with testing arranged.”

New locations of interest were announced last night, including a McDonald’s restaurant, service station, fruit and vege store and liquor store.

Ninety per cent of eligible Nelson Marlborough residents have received their first dose. While 84 per cent of residents in that region are now fully vaccinated.

Of the Waikato cases, four are in Te Kuiti, one in Huntly, one in Hamilton, one in Ngāruawāhia and one in Te Awamutu.

In the Bay of Plenty, one case is in Whakatāne, three in Tauranga and five in the wider Western Bay of Plenty area. All are close contacts of previously reported cases.

The new Northland case is in Kaitaia and public health interviews are under way to establish the link.

Wellington’s Brentwood Hotel also emerged as a location of interest yesterday.

Health officials said: “This Wellington location of interest relates to a visit from a Rotorua-based case. There is no new case in Wellington to report.”

Hotel guests were asked to self-monitor for Covid symptoms for 10 days.

89 people in hospital

Of the 89 people in hospital, nine were in ICU or high-dependency units. Only 19 per cent of those in hospital were fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s visit to the Waikato was met with rowdy protesters criticising her Government’s vaccine mandate.

She was in the region yesterday to see vaccine efforts first-hand and to meet local businesses.

She told reporters she did not expect to see protesters at each regional trip she made.

“Some days I do, some days I don’t. But it’s fair to say I roll with it no matter what.”

The group of vaccine mandate protesters gathered at one of her planned visits and were yelling various chants, saying the Government has “gone too far”.

About 60 protesters drowned out Ardern’s welcome at an outdoor sod-turning event. She attended the event through a back entrance, avoiding protesters who yelled “liar, liar pants on fire” at her.

Ardern acknowledged the “groupies” who had been following her and said their singing was good but their lyrics needed a bit of work.

From Friday Auckland will move out of lockdown after more than three months and into the red traffic light setting, because the city is the epicentre of the virus.

The new framework is based around high vaccination rates enabling living with Covid-19 in the community, with three levels of restrictions based on the risk posed – green, orange and red. It also relies on the use of vaccination passports at more high-risk settings.

Northland, Taupō and Rotorua Lakes Districts, Kawerau, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki District, Gisborne District, Wairoa District, Rangitīkei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts will all join Auckland in red.

This is due to low vaccination rates and because large numbers of visitors – including Aucklanders – are expected in these areas over summer.

Other North Island regions and the South Island will move into orange from Friday.


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