New Zealanders may see more deaths of people with Covid-19, as new community cases at the weekend have the potential for large spread, experts have warned.
On Saturday, Case M in the Auckland February cluster was announced - a 21-year-old man who visited several locations, including a gym and food outlets.
The new cases in the outbreak, which stemmed from a family at Papatoetoe High School, are the new, more transmissible UK variant of Covid-19.
"This variant, we know that it's about 50 per cent more transmissible and that just means that exponential growth, it could be faster," Covid-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy told Breakfast this morning.
"There were some high-risk settings, there was a gym session and a large number of community interactions, so there is certainly the potential for a large number of secondary cases.
"What we know with this variant is you want to stop it early, you can stop it early if you act hard enough, but once that spread really kicks off it's really hard to contain."
After the case was revealed Saturday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put Auckland back into Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country in Level 2 from 6am yesterday morning. The current restrictions will last for seven days.
"I'm worried that we're going to see a large number of cases, and obviously that's really concerning because those are people who may end up having a very difficult time of this, we may see more deaths depending on who those people are," University of Auckland microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles, who was also on Breakfast, said.
"About one in three of those people who get infected, even if they have a mild infection, may end up with symptoms months and months later so that's obviously a big concern.
"But we're back up the alert levels and so that's what we do in order to minimise further transmission, so in that respect I'm less concerned," she said.
However, she added: "I guess the question now is whether Level 3 in Auckland, Level 2 the rest of the country for seven days is going to be enough?"
Yesterday evening, the 15th case linked to the Auckland February outbreak was identified. The case, called Case O, is a household contact of Cases I, J, K and L and was already in quarantine.