Coronavirus: Interaction between households led to new cases, Ashley Bloomfield says, confident most Aucklanders will follow rules

The Director-General of Health is confident the "vast majority of Aucklanders" will adhere to the alert level 3 rules while admitting there has been some interaction between households leading to cases.

Auckland dropped down alert levels overnight, with restrictions easing slightly to allow about 300,000 more people to return to work and businesses to open up if they can offer contactless pick-up. With cases still in the double-digits each day - as opposed to only a handful being recorded when Auckland last moved from level 4 to 3 - and a number of unlinked cases, there is concern infections may spike again as movement increases.

Since making the alert level move announcement, both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield have stressed a need for caution, noting most people should still remain at home and keep their bubbles intact. They say New Zealand can stamp out the virus if the rules are followed. 

For those concerned about the move down alert levels, Dr Bloomfield told The AM Show on Wednesday they can be reassured by noting the "vast majority of [new cases] are close family and other contacts and many of them are in isolation facilities or isolating at home".

"The way that people can reassure themselves and the rest of Auckland is to abide by those level three restrictions, that is, stay within your bubble as much as possible - even going out to work - use a mask when you're going out, watch physical distancing, and of course the most important thing is don't go to work or anywhere if you're around unwell."

Between 50 and 60 cases are expected in the coming weeks amongst household members.

"We know Delta spreads quite liberally inside households," Dr Bloomfield said.

"These are household members or very close contacts, who are now isolating and we just know from the sort of conversion rate somewhere between 10 and 20 percent, that over the next couple of weeks about 50 or 60 of them are likely to come through."

But not all of the new cases being recorded are within the same households. The Director-General said there "clearly has been some interaction between households that has lead to some of these news cases". 

"It's clear that there has been a bit of interaction between households and I dare say that wouldn't be unique to the ones where we've got cases. Level three though is still very strict," he said.

"I'm confident that the vast majority of Aucklanders, including the households in these areas will be doing exactly what's required of them under alert level three, because that's what we saw at alert level four. That's why we got on top of what was quite a big Delta outbreak. We're now down to a relatively small number of cases."

For the most part, Aucklanders' compliance with the alert level settings has been high. The Government is, however, increasing fines for those breaching the public health order to reflect the risk associated with breaking the rules. 

Earlier this week, it emerged a Black Power gang member had caught COVID-19 while being transported from Mt Eden prison to his home on bail. Stuff reports three gangs now have members with COVID-19, with the Mongrel Mob and Hells Angels also seeing infections. 

An additional tool we now have that we didn't when moving alert levels before is vaccinations.  Of the eligible population - those aged 12 and over - 39 percent are fully vaccinated, while 74 percent have had their first dose. 

The Prime Minister on Tuesday said 80 percent of Aucklanders will have had at least one dose by the end of the week and is challenging the region to hit 90 percent within the next two weeks. It's at that point Ardern says vaccinations will have "an impact on the levels of restrictions that you need to deal with".