Coronavirus: Expert warns Auckland cases could reach 160 a day if current trend continues

COVID-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank is warning Auckland could be dealing with 160 new cases a day by November - but this could be stopped without going back to alert level 4.

At the start of this outbreak, there were only 43 active cases - all border-related.

As COVID-19 spread in the community, it peaked at 770 active cases before the impact of the level 4 lockdown kicked in. By September 28, it had dropped to 216.

But with the easing of restrictions, active cases are on the rise again and currently sit at 476.

With trends like that, Plank warns the daily case numbers could soon reach levels New Zealand has never seen.

"On the current trend, case numbers are doubling roughly every 12 days. Now if that trend continues we would be seeing 160 per day by early November," he says.

But there are ways to stop that happening without heading back to a level 4 lockdown, including the widespread use of rapid testing and mandating vaccines for anyone crossing alert level boundaries or travelling on domestic flights.

"It's better late than never," Plank says. 

"All these measures are stopgaps in that they're buying time, they're delaying the spread of COVID."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is strongly encouraging Kiwis to get the vaccine since it also doubles as the fastest way out of lockdown.

"We are seeing the impact of vaccinations. They are already affecting the growth of the outbreak and helping to control it," she says.

If that isn't motivation enough, COVID-19 survivor Paul Te Hiko, whose brothers Alan and Nigel both died from the virus in last year's August outbreak, is urging New Zealanders to get the vaccine.

He was in the same ICU as them and could hear his family crying down the corridor.

"It was the hardest thing I could ever think of, so if you want to get vaccinated, get vaccinated," he says.

"Stay safe, please get vaccinated."

A simple plea, but one that could save your life.