COVID-19: Why isn't Palmerston North moving to alert level 3 with Waikato after truckie case? Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield explain

A truck driver who travelled to Palmerston North from Auckland before testing positive for COVID-19 wasn't enough to move the city into alert level 3 with Waikato, officials say.

The truck driver returned a positive COVID-19 result on Saturday following routine surveillance testing and is now isolating in Palmerston North.

That case came before two mystery COVID-19 cases were found in Waikato, plunging parts of the region into alert level 3 with Auckland.

Both the Waikato cases are linked to each other but have yet to be linked to the original Auckland outbreak.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Palmerston North and Waikato cases both present a different set of circumstances.

"Having come from Auckland, we know the source [of the Palmerston North case] so that's really key. We know... this is a person in Auckland so it's easy to connect it to our Auckland outbreak," Ardern told reporters.

She said unlike the Waikato infections, officials knew all of the Palmerston North case's movements.

"Here [in Waikato], we've got two cases where we don't know where those individuals got it from so, therefore, it's harder for us to define the edges of that outbreak - so that makes it very different."

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield added all of the Palmerston North case's potential COVID-19 exposure events and locations of interest were identifiable. He said officials weren't worried about undetected community transmission in Palmerston North. 

Despite that, Dr Bloomfield said they still want high levels of COVID-19 testing in the region.

Wastewater testing would also be increased in the area, he said.

Ardern confirmed the Palmerston North case wasn't vaccinated against COVID-19.

"The virus is finding our unvaccinated individuals," she said. "Interesting and of note - we've been advised that the household members of the… truck driver are vaccinated and have not yet tested positive."