New and worrying cases have emerged in New Zealand's Delta outbreak as Jacinda Ardern's government mulls a lockdown extension.
A fresh 11 cases were announced on Friday, bringing the cluster to 31, and the spread of the outbreak beyond Auckland to Wellington.
Three cases have been found in the capital after they visited an identified Auckland exposure site.
Health authorities and COVID-19 modellers expect many further cases exist in the community, awaiting detection through testing.
On Friday morning, Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall, an infectious diseases physician drafted into government by Ms Ardern, confirmed a new case visited two Auckland hospitals.
The young man is currently at Waitakere Hospital but spent time at North Shore Hospital, possibly while infectious.
"Action is taken at both hospitals to ensure the safety of the staff and patients there," Dr Verrall said.
Around 30 hospital staff had direct contact with the man.
They have been stood down and are to be tested, as are the patients who were in the same areas.
Three Auckland schools have now had staff or students test positive to the virus.
NZ Post has also confirmed an employee at an eastern Auckland operations centre tested positive.
The case data is before Ms Ardern, who is chairing a cabinet meeting on the government's response.
New Zealand is already at its highest level lockdown, announced on Tuesday night off the back of just one case.
The lockdown is due to end on Tuesday for Auckland and Coromandel, and tonight for the rest of the country.
All observers believe Auckland's lockdown will be extended beyond the original week given the emergence of cases and the large number of locations of interest.
The Coromandel, a beautiful peninsula popular with Aucklanders who take the two-hour drive east, was also placed into a week's lockdown after Case A visited the region.
Additional cases are yet to emerge there, and wastewater testing has not shown up evidence of the coronavirus.
While COVID-19 has now spread to Wellington, many on the South Island - which has not had a community case of COVID-19 for over a year - feel they should be unburdened.
Dr Verrall said the government needed to see not just absence of the virus across New Zealand but proof of its absence through strong testing rates.
So far, all except one case to have been genomically sequenced have shown a link to Case A, a returning Kiwi who travelled from Sydney on August 7.
The exception is an Air New Zealand crew member who appears not to have infected other members of the community.
Australian Associated Press
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