New Zealand records 15 new COVID-19 cases

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Debate rages over the transition from New Zealand's COVID-19 elimination strategy as health officials report a promising drop in cases.

From Monday's 33 cases, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said his team found 15 on Tuesday, and he was "encouraged" they were all household contacts.

"They have not popped up unexpectedly," he said.

Health officials are increasingly confident they are on top of the outbreak, with only a handful of unlinked or "mystery cases" in testing in recent days.

Jacinda Ardern's government has ordered additional testing in seven Auckland suburbs where they have been found to provide further peace of mind.

The outbreak, first identified four weeks ago, has swollen to 970 people.

As of Tuesday, 22 Kiwis are in hospital with the virus, with four in intensive care.

The downward trend in case numbers and lower hospitalisation numbers have led the government to reduce lockdown restrictions in Auckland.

Barring an unexpected jump in cases, the 1.7 million residents of the region will move to a lesser level three lockdown on September 22.

Beyond that, Kiwis are asking what's next.

Ms Ardern has stated her government will eventually move away from lockdowns, saying "we've no intention of using lockdowns in the long term. We just can't keep doing that to people," she said on Three on Tuesday.

But the prime minister has given no timeline for a policy switch, nor nominated a trigger-point from vaccination coverage that might dictate a shift.

"The reason we have not given a specific number ... is if you say 80 per cent, if you have 60 per cent in one part of the country, people will die in that part of the country," she said.

"So my commitment is I do not intend to use lockdowns in the long term. No one does. We know the impact it has."

Ms Ardern's bar will be higher than other countries.

Referencing countries with a 70 per cent target, she said NZ "needed to do better than those countries".

The government's murkiness has led other political parties to try and fill in the gaps.

Rising libertarian force ACT has called on the government to shift immediately from elimination to suppression, which would relieve pressure on business - at the likely expense of additional cases.

And the opposition, National, has signalled support for ending restrictions in South Island immediately, and banning lockdowns once 70 to 75 per cent of Kiwis are vaccinated.

The one thing all agree on: the need to administer more doses.

Vaccinators jabbed around 55,000 people on Monday; more than one per cent of the population but still the lowest weekday total in almost a month.

To this end, Ms Ardern's focus is on upping rates in Auckland which will both ease suffering in the county's biggest city and make future lockdown calls easier for the government.

"There is nothing holding us back in Auckland ... there is capacity to administer 220,000 doses of the vaccine in the region this week," she said.

"If around 130,000 of those are peoples first dose, Aucklanders will hit 80 per cent coverage of first vaccinations in one week time.

"Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate."

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