There are six sub-clusters associated with the latest outbreak, the largest of which has reached 58 cases, divided between Auckland and Wellington.
Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said today the largest of the six clusters was associated with the Assembly Of God Church in Māngere.
The second largest cluster is associated with case A, a Devonport man in his 50s who was the first community case in New Zealand to test positive in this most recent outbreak.
The church was listed as a location on Friday.
An “assembly of assemblies” was held at the church on Sunday, 15 August, two days before it was announced the country would go into lockdown.
Anyone who attended between 9am and 3pm that day was asked to isolate, get tested, and contact Healthline.
Bloomfield said today that 27 church groups travelled to Māngere for the service.
“On the church cluster, that is a combination of people who were both at the service on the 15th August and household and close contacts. For example, of our seven in Wellington, six of those are either people who were at the service or are household or other close contacts.”
Over 500 people have been tested as part of the cluster.
There are a total of 148 cases in New Zealand, all in Auckland apart from 11 in Wellington. Eighty-nine have been epidemiologically linked, with 59 still to be confirmed.
“For the vast majority it is already clear they are a household or other close contact or they were at a location of interest,” Bloomfield said.
The second largest cluster is connected to case A and called the Birkdale Social Network cluster, with 23 cases. A colleague of case A became infected, and subsequently their flatmates and friends also picked up the virus.
All confirmed cases have been or are in the process of being transferred to quarantine facilities.
Case numbers are expected to increase over the next two to three days, before coming down, Bloomfield said.
“Yes, we’ve seen an increase today, but reassuringly we are not seeing an exponential growth in case numbers, so that’s good,” he said.
Officials are learning more about the outbreak, and several mutations have helped identify the six clusters, Bloomfield said. He did not offer more details on the other four clusters.
Separate demographic information about the cases in the outbreak will be available from this afternoon, and will be made available on a daily basis.
Testing for people who are close contacts or have been in high-risk settings would be prioritised, with five centres in Auckland alone operating on “invitation-only”.
Over 50 percent of cases in this outbreak were Pasifika, and health officials were working closely with the communities to help people access vaccines, Bloomfield said.
“The Pacific community is very good at responding to the call to test and isolate and we’ve seen great engagement with all those churches to actually identify who was there and isolate and get those people tested, so I can provide an assurance to the Pacific community that not only have we and will we continue to work with you, but secondly, that based on the track record of the Pacific community, we will get to the bottom of it and we will make sure we get rid of Covid in that community.”
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