Covid-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy says the Government should consider a short Level 4 circuit-breaker for Auckland as Covid-19 cases are expected to rise in the coming weeks.
Cabinet is set to make a decision on alert level settings for Auckland and parts of Waikato on Monday at 4pm.
On Saturdey there were a record 160 Covid-19 cases in New Zealand followed by 143 on Sunday - the vast majority in Auckland. Hendy says he expects cases numbers to continue to rise.
"We’ve got another couple of weeks, probably, of numbers rising - and that’s assuming we stay at Alert Level 3," Hendy told Breakfast.
"We would expect numbers to continue to rise for a couple of weeks - maybe leveling off between 200 to 300 a day - as the effect of vaccination really starts to kick in."
Hendy says the Government "still has the option of a circuit-breaker" which could help "bring case numbers down to really bring our contact tracers back into the game".
"The concern is at the moment, we’re seeing so many unlinked cases that our contact tracers are really not keeping up with the edges of this outbreak," he said.
"For us to move into that traffic light system, we really need our contact tracing to be well on top of its game or we’ll very quickly see this explosion in numbers once we make this shift.
"I think that’s still something the Government should be considering just to really give our systems a chance to get on top of this outbreak."
Hendy is proposing a short two-week circuit-breaker at Alert Level 4 before moving to the traffic light system or step two of Alert Level 3.
"It would just bring those case numbers down, it would stop them rising, bring them down in the wider community and mean our contact tracers have a chance to catch up and really bring those number of unlinked cases down."
He said the circuit-breaker, combined with high vaccination levels, means we "can move into that traffic light system really safely".
Hendy says we are now seeing cases emerge not just in vulnerable parts of the community but the wider community as well, which will "put a lot of strain on the healthcare system in Auckland".
He says Auckland could manage around 100 Covid-19 cases "before we have to start to look to other parts of the country to look after people".
The city currently remains at Step 1 of its revised three-step Alert Level 3 plan, which Hendy believes is the right setting for the region.
"We shouldn’t be looking to relax. I don’t think we can relax, we can move to that Step 2, until we start to see numbers start to drop which is a ways away yet."