Covid-19 testing numbers inspire Health Minister with confidence the latest outbreak is 'contained'

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says the record levels of Covid-19 testing in New Zealand should give people confidence, and that data shows the latest outbreak is largely "contained".

Mr Hipkins, at today's 1pm update, said laboratories have been working "around the clock" in the past four days and achieved test numbers which are well above anything ever seen.

"Yesterday our laboratories processed 23,846 tests, bringing the number of tests completed since August 12 to 49,780 and total number of tests completed nationwide to date to 548,260," Mr Hipkins said.

"Laboratory capacity has previously been around 12-13,000 tests per day.

"This is starting to give us a very good picture about this cluster - firstly, the 37 cases we have reported represent only 0.07 per cent of all of the tests undertaken, pointing towards a contained outbreak.

"Secondly, the new cases are following a reasonably predictable pattern - they are all close contacts of known cases in the cluster, so we've not yet seen random cases popping up in random places around the country or even in Auckland."

Mr Hipkins thanked lab staff for "working around the clock" and "delivering the results on a daily basis well above previous levels.

"That is requiring an enormous amount of effort," he said.

However, Mr Hipkins also said that the downside of such vast numbers of tests was a potentially longer wait time for results.

"The volumes that we are seeing though mean that some may take up to 48 hours," Mr Hipkins said.

"They still need to be reported back through primary care and back to patients, all parts of that process are under pressure so we do ask people to please be patient while they await their results."