New Zealand records 82 new COVID-19 cases

·2-min read

New Zealand's COVID-19 outbreak has worsened once more, with 82 new cases taking the total infected to 429.

All of Saturday's cases are in Auckland, with the Pacific community again over-represented with 62 cases.

The 82 cases - constituting the country's fifth-worst day of the entire pandemic - were reported on 11th day of lockdown.

While all agree the lockdown is curbing the spread of the virus, experts are split on whether NZ is turning the tide.

"We are definitely seeing the effects of alert level four. That's kicking in," Shaun Hendy, University of Auckland physics professor and COVID-19 modeller, told AAP.

"But we want to see numbers start coming down. Any increase is disconcerting."

Dr Hendy said it was not yet clear whether cases were plateauing - there were 68 cases on Thursday and 70 cases on Friday - or growing.

"It could be a fluctuation in a flattening trend. It's also consistent with a slow rising trend," he said.

"The big silver lining is that these are all Auckland cases. The rest of the country does look clear."

University of Canterbury applied mathematics professor Michael Plank said case numbers could hover around this level for some time.

"We'll see cases around this level for a week or so. We do have to be patient a little while longer," he said.

"But it's important to look at not just the number but how many are in the community while infectious."

On this front, NZ's response appears strong.

Officials say recent spread of the virus is largely contained to households, which would suggest an eventual tailing off of cases.

Still, mounting cases are a problem.

NZ sends all positive cases to quarantine facilities, but faced with a shortfall of beds, it has this week announced a new facility to house cases.

A proportion of new cases also require hospital-level care, putting strain on the health system.

"There's still very good capacity in the health system, it's not under pressure yet," University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker told AAP.

"But if we don't get this under control it will create huge pressure."

As of Saturday, 25 cases require hospital-level care, and two are stable in intensive care.

Dr Baker said NZ's course remained the right one.

"Famously New Zealand goes hard and early. And it's worked very well so far," he said.

"The New Zealand plan is different to the Scott Morrison plan.

"We're going to continue to eliminate until we have very good vaccination coverage, and that keeps our options open and we stay in control of the virus."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting