Record COVID-19 cases in NZ, another death

·3-min read

Vaccine mandates are taking effect as New Zealand sets another daily record for community COVID-19 infections and a new death.

A patient aged in their late 70s died at Auckland City Hospital, taking the country's pandemic death toll to 35.

Health officials reported 222 cases on Tuesday as North Island becomes increasingly entangled with the growing Delta outbreak.

The case count includes 197 in Auckland, 20 in the Waikato, and a smattering of further cases in Northland, Taupo and the Wairarapa.

Despite the Waikato cases, including six mystery infections, the government is ending its six-week lockdown on Wednesday.

"We've moved solely on the basis of the advice we've had from the teams on the ground," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"The vast majority of those cases in the Waikato region, they had been (linked)."

Maori are vastly over-represented in recent cases, with 59 per cent of cases in the past two days despite being just 17 per cent of the population.

There are 91 Kiwis in hospital, including five from an Auckland rest home. Seven are in intensive care.

The new cases come as new mandates kick in for many government workers.

From Tuesday, frontline workers in NZ's health, education, disability and prison system must be vaccinated to do front-line jobs.

The mandates have led many to walk off the job, request unpaid leave or - in at least one case - paid leave.

The NZ Herald reports children's ministry Oranga Tamariki are offering a month's special paid leave to staff who are unvaccinated.

Other stories of vaccine-decliners are flooding Kiwi media.

Stuff reports Matiere School in the Waikato was left with the principal giving classes to 44 students as the mandate took effect, banning three teachers from the small school.

A controversial vaccine sceptic GP in the poorly-vaccinated town of Murupara has been restricted to telehealth duties, while nurses and receptionists have also been stood down.

According to a survey of its members, the Disability Support Network believes 237 workers are not going to get vaccinated, leaving hundreds of disabled people without assistance.

"Not everyone of the 237 is refusing to vaccinate out of protest," chief executive Peter Reynolds said.

"Some are seeking medical exemption and a few just haven't got round to it. Some are protesting and we expect some of those are likely vaccinate when they understand this will impact on their job."

Further mandates could still be imposed, with Ms Ardern confirming frontline police may yet be asked to get their jabs.

"Fundamentally I believe those areas where we have (introduced mandates) are the right thing to do, particularly in health and education," she said.

Ms Ardern denied anti-vax sentiment in the force, which has 89 per cent partially vaccinated and 79 per cent double-dosed.

That is broadly in line with NZ's vax rates: 90 per cent of eligible Kiwis have had one jab, while 81 per cent have had both.

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