University of Otago epidemiologist professor Michael Baker has warned it may take “many weeks” before the number of Covid-19 cases go down in Auckland.
“Numbers move up and down from day to day - for good reason,” he told 1 NEWS.
“We really need to look for a trend over many days to see that it is downward and unfortunately, because this is such an infectious virus, it may take many weeks to bring the numbers down in Auckland unless we can really follow the rules very tightly and also manage the risk of transmission from essential workers.”
While the prospects may seem grim for Aucklanders, the country's biggest city will “not necessarily” have to wait to see zero cases for consecutive days before moving down an alert level.
“If Auckland gets to the stage where it's got single digits in terms of cases - and in particular if the cases are in the household members of known cases - so the big thing is where they’re coming from.
“We know there is a massive difference between a case that’s a contact of another case and particularly household members - it’s so different from the mystery cases popping up in the community, you don’t know where they’ve come from - that can really set you back.
“It’s all about the pattern of cases as well as the numbers.”
Baker added that New Zealand’s vaccine rollout is “looking very positive”, remarking that it’s “a good problem to have at the moment, that demand is outstripping supply”.
“There will be huge quantities of vaccine arriving so one way or another, we will have a highly vaccinated population within the next three months and that is really great news in terms of protecting New Zealanders and dampening down the risk of outbreaks.”