Coronavirus: Fears new COVID case will spark outbreak amongst unvaccinated Northlanders

Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai says residents are holding their breath and hoping COVID-19 hasn't made its way to the northern city.

A person that had a weak positive test earlier this week has been confirmed as a case, after testing positive in Auckland.

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said on Thursday night the early weak positive test means the case was caught early, lowering the risk they'd been infectious while in Northland, which has below-average vaccination rates. She said locations of interest would likely be released on Friday. 

"Like everybody this morning I got up and raced to have a look at the website to see if those locations of interest have been posted yet," Mai told The AM Show on Friday morning.

"Nothing yet, but hopefully before too long we'll get those so we can all go back in our diaries and see where we've been."

Mai said whether or not the city or region joins Auckland and Waikato in lockdown, she's leaving it to public health officials and the Government to decide - acknowledging some business owners will be "trembling" at the prospect of more restrictions. 

"We trust that with all the information available the right decision will be made, but… we all want everyone to be safe. By far the best way that that can be is if everyone gets a vaccination." 

While 80 percent of eligible Kiwis have had at least one dose of the vaccine, in Northland it's less than 70 percent. Being vaccinated not only reduces the chance of infection and illness, but that you'll become infectious.

"I do hope that they were [vaccinated] so the impacts of the disease will be minimised for that person, said Mai, who said the map released by the Ministry of Health on Thursday showed there are "too many suburbs in my district that have low vaccination rates". 

Bart Willems, the Chief Medical Officer in Northland, says the region is lagging behind in the vaccine rollout because locals simply aren't showing up.

"We are not getting feet through the door. That's our main challenge," he told Newshub.

"It's not about giving people access - it's about getting people convinced the vaccine is necessary and can protect them against COVID... it seems like people are still concerned about the safety of the vaccine. 

"We know there have been more than 5.5 million doses administered [in New Zealand], and only one fatality." 

Vaccinators in vans and buses are now getting out and about, trying to reach those who for whatever reason haven't shown up at a vaccination centre to get the vital jab. 

"We're really hoping we can reach those who are not yet vaccinated," Dr Willems said. "We need over 90 percent vaccinated to be safe, to make sure our healthcare services can stand up to the challenge... we've got a way to go. At the moment I am concerned… We need more people vaccinated, otherwise we will be in trouble."