Almost 300 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the community over the long weekend despite fewer tests being carried out, sparking concerns that more and more people are likely to catch it in the coming weeks.
The Ministry of Health is due to release the latest numbers by a statement at 1pm.
Some 293 new community cases of Covid were recorded over Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The majority – 271 – of the cases were in Auckland, while 16 were reported in Waikato and seven in Northland.
Auckland and part of Waikato remain in level 3, while Northland still remains in level 2 despite two cases of Covid being confirmed in the region on Friday afternoon.
Waikato’s alert level settings are to be reviewed tomorrow after level 3 was last Thursday extended for a further six days.
But top microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles told TVNZ this morning she would expect to see Covid community cases getting “quite a lot higher” over the next few days.
“I’m not going to sugar coat it…the outbreak is growing and it’s really clear that level 3 is not enough to contain Delta and we’re seeing that in the Waikato.”
She said it was very clear that the majority of people getting the virus and particularly those being hospitalised were those who were unvaccinated.
“As we’re seeing around the world, this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Wiles said the government needed to be wary about those community cases growing even more and the healthcare system becoming overwhelmed as a result.
“If our hospitals become overwhelmed, it’s not just people with Covid who suffer, it’s everybody – operations, people with strokes and all those kinds of things. We need to protect everybody.”
It was better to prevent that from happening – rather than reactionary moves when or if that happened.
Wiles said as well as vaccination, people should still wear a mask. Good ventilation in buildings such as school classrooms were also going to help limit the rate of transmission, she said.
Auckland University Epidemiologist Professor Rod Jackson told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB that getting vaccinated was the difference between life and death.
“This is the biggest catastrophe in public health… this is really, really important.”
He said the 560,000 people who were eligible and hadn’t been vaccinated could overwhelm the hospitals.
Jackson said ICU could get bigger but it wouldn’t solve the issues with a Delta outbreak.
“It’s not just about how many people, it’s who they are and how sick they are and they’re the ones who will overwhelm NZ’s health system.”
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