Kiwis back elimination as NZ cases drop

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New Zealand remains on a downwards trend in its COVID-19 outbreak, reporting 49 cases on Thursday.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield revealed the drop in cases from 75 cases on Wednesday.

Dr Bloomfield says there's a growing confidence the outbreak peaked last weekend, when daily cases reached 83.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said just seven of the 49 cases announced today were infectious in the community.

"The important thing is we are starting to see some positive trends in the numbers," she said.

"Our rolling seven-day average of cases is declining.

"Lockdown has stopped the exponential spread and there's clear evidence our plan is making a difference."

The outbreak has infected 736 people, with 11 recoveries leaving 725 active cases.

More Kiwis requiring hospital level care: 42 on Thursday, with six in intensive care units and three being ventilated.

New Zealand has notched 16 days in lockdown, which began after the identification of one case on August 17.

Auckland, the heart of the outbreak, remains at harsh level four settings, with the rest of the country at level three following a decision to downgrade the Northland region from Friday.

There is pressure to downgrade the South Island, which has not had community cases of COVID-19 for months.

Ms Ardern the next review of settings would take place in Monday.

"We have several hundred contacts (of COVID-19 cases) that have been in the South Island. And those are the ones we know," she said.

"There may well be others connected to these cases that we don't know about.

"Stepping down cautiously is the best way that we can assure that when we do lift restrictions, it stays that way."

Despite the tough restrictions, Kiwis have signalled overwhelming support for New Zealand's elimination strategy.

A poll conducted by Kantar and published by the NZ Herald shows 85 per cent of Kiwis support the elimination goal, compared with 13 per cent who support "living with" the virus.

Of that 85 per cent, 46 per cent support elimination long-term, while 39 per cent support elimination until 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated.

The support for elimination is largely consistent across demographic and regional breakdowns.

Showing the resilience of Aucklanders - currently in the middle of their fifth lockdown - 87 per cent of residents in New Zealand's biggest city offered their support to elimination.

Ms Ardern said she was "really heartened" by those numbers.

"You can see that in the compliance (with lockdown rules)," she said,

"This is a strategy that is working because New Zealanders support it. We just need to keep going."

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