Ashley Bloomfield warns COVID-19 pandemic far from over as global cases increase dramatically

Dr Ashley Bloomfield has issued a stern warning to people, urging them not to act as though the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

In his weekly press conference, the Director-General of Health echoed concerns from the World Health Organization (WHO) that "many people mistakenly think the pandemic is over".

"They are warning it is not - and that would certainly be my view as well."

A statement from the WHO reiterates this, saying the pandemic is "nowhere near finished".

"The pandemic continues to evolve with four variants of concern dominating global epidemiology. [There is] the strong likelihood for the emergence and global spread of new and possibly more dangerous variants of concern that may be even more challenging to control."

Bloomfield warned cases are rising globally - most of which are now the more contagious Delta variant, and although vaccination is reducing deaths and hospitalisations it's not the end of the struggle.

Global cases increased more than 30 percent in the last week, with over half a million cases being reported every day. 

In Fiji, one of New Zealand's Pacific neighbours, cases are skyrocketing. Bloomfield said the island has reported an average of 1000 new cases every day in the week to July 14.

With no end in sight, people are urged to continue keeping up with their handwashing, coughing and sneezing into their elbows, scanning into locations and above all - getting vaccinated.

"The vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your whanau and your local community," Minister for the COVID-19 response Chris Hipkins said.

More than 30,300 doses of vaccine were administered to New Zealanders on Tuesday - a new daily high, and Hipkins confirmed over 628,000 Kiwis are now fully vaccinated.