COVID-19: Chris Hipkins, Dr Ashley Bloomfield deny Auckland's alert level change contributed to spike in cases

Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Chris Hipkins have denied that Auckland's move to alert level 3 contributed to the spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Forty-five new community cases were reported in the city on Wednesday, of which 33 are known household or close contacts who were isolating during their infectious period.

The number was a significant increase from eight new cases reported in the community on Tuesday, 12 recorded Monday and 18 seen on Sunday.

But COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said during the 1pm update that Auckland could "possibly" still have seen the spike in cases if the city had remained in alert level 4.

Dr Bloomfield said he agreed.

"As I said yesterday, there are only a small number of active subclusters here. We have over 20 different subclusters and most of those are finished - we are calling them dormant because they are not closed - or are well controlled. There are just a small number of active subclusters. 

"Those were there when we gave the advice to move down to alert level 3 and the control measures that are in place are identical."

Dr Bloomfield was questioned about the significant number of Kiwis returning to workplaces under level 3 and that some of the new COVID-19 cases may have been working in essential or permitted businesses during their infectious periods. 

"Well yes there are more workplaces that are open now and hence why we have added in the surveillance testing of people who are now going out into those permitted workplaces exactly for this purpose, it is part of our control measures," he said.

Hipkins acknowledged the 45 new cases was a "sobering number", but said it's not necessarily about how many cases there are, but the "nature and characteristics" of the infections.

"We do expect there will be blips. We have seen blips already in this outbreak, where we have had a bad day… I would encourage people not to read too much into it at this point," Hipkins said.

"We need to hold our nerve here."