Vulnerable communities prepare for potential second wave of coronavirus

The numbers of new COVID-19 cases are dripping in New Zealand but experts are warning now is not the time to ease up in the efforts to eradicate the virus.

Other countries have experienced a second wave of infections and there's concern a second outbreak in New Zealand could be much worse.

Auckland University professor Shaun Hendy says New Zealand needs to be cautious.

"If it got into parts of the country where people don't have as good access to testing or access to GPs."

China had a second scare after initially controlling the outbreak.

Now Japan and Singapore, a country praised for its response with strict testing and contact tracing, are facing the same problem.

Hendy says the warning signs are already here in New Zealand and we don't want the same problem.

While the Government says it's prepared for a second wave, rural communities are worried they're not and could end up being swamped.

Pacific leaders are trying to stop community transmission by getting better access to testing.

Hundreds of people have been trying to get tested at a pop-up centre in Otara and many of them have been turned away in recent days because they don't meet the criteria.

Pacific Leaders Forum chair Teleai Purni says they are worried those who go undiagnosed could be silently spreading COVID-19.

"Transmission in the community could be spreading and we don't know. That is why we are saying we want to be tested". 

Purni's pleas to the Government for community testing have so far been ignored.

"How can we help? How can we get messages out? Four weeks later we are hearing nothing from the Government." 

In and around Gisborne, Ngati Porou is stopping vehicles and getting details from people coming in and out of the region in an attempt to keep on top of the virus and in the Far North former MP Hone Harawira is manning the roadblocks.

In Maketu locals are physically blocking the roads because they're worried there's not enough support if COVID-19 gets into their communities.

Researcher Dr Rawiri Taonui says: "that's been slow to ramp up and the key issue there is DHBs have not mobilised to use Māori and Pacific health providers".

He says those providers need to be used to do more random community testing before we move out of alert level 3. 

"We need to gain surety and confidence about what's happening in the regions." 

New Zealand is expected to move to alert level 3 on Tuesday after over a month at alert level 4.

The change will see more businesses reopen and Kiwis allowed to hunt and swim in their leisure time.