Shaun Hendy warns of potential further Delta spread outside Auckland

As most of the country prepares to shift down Covid-19 alert levels on Tuesday, it doesn't mean they're out of the woods just yet. 

People are tested at a pop up Covid 19 testing station in Woodall Park carpark in Narrowneck, Devonport, Auckland. Source: Getty

Covid-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy told Breakfast that as Auckland continues to grapple with the Delta variant outbreak, the regions close to the super city should be on high alert.

"There's still a risk to regions closely connected to Auckland; we have essential workers moving across those boundaries," Hendy said.

Cabinet will decide how long Auckland and Northland will continue at Alert Level 4 on Monday afternoon, likely to be another two weeks.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced 83 new cases on Sunday, the highest daily cases so far this outbreak.

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Covid-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy said household contacts is what kept the cases rising. Source: Breakfast

"I think we're heading into a plateau now, and later this week, we'll start seeing numbers come down," Hendy said. 

Since this outbreak begun, there have been a total of 496 cases of the Delta variant in Auckland and 15 are in Wellington. 

But even if Covid cases "plateau" in the coming days it doesn't mean that the likes of Waikato and the Bay of Plenty aren't at risk. 

Hendy noted that those able to return to workplaces at Alert Level 3, particularly in these areas, need to remain vigilant. 

He said that social distancing of two metres is largely less effective in combating the spread of Delta, suggesting other measures including wearing face masks would better protect people against the variant. 

"That two-metre rule does seem to be obsolete with Delta; it's much more ventilation and mask use."

To prevent the outbreak gaining a foothold in regions outside Auckland Hendy's urging Kiwis not to get lax as the restrictions lower. 

A decision on Auckland and Northland's Alert Levels will be announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this afternoon. 

Professor Shaun Hendy. Source: Breakfast