Coronavirus: Possibly Auckland could move to 'Orange' traffic light setting before Christmas - Michael Baker

By Ashleigh Yates

Auckland may not be in the 'Red' traffic light setting at Christmas as long as case numbers don't track up again, epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker says.

A decision will be announced on Monday on the settings for each region over the Christmas period. 

Sunday's 103 new community cases were a slight increase on Saturday's 63, however Prof Baker says it's important not to focus on any single day's number.

"It's through the moving average and we have seen that drop from around 200 cases a day to around 100 in a week. That's a halving in the rate of COVID-19 cases which is really great news."

Cases and vaccination rates are both factors that will influence Cabinet's decision when it reviews the traffic light settings. But Prof Baker says there's a chance it'll be an 'Orange' Christmas for Auckland.

"It's possible to say look Auckland will move into the 'Orange' light system at the end of the week, contingent on case numbers not tracking up again."

Michael Baker.
Michael Baker. Photo credit: Newshub.

But that comes with a warning, as there's still plenty of Delta circulating in New Zealand's largest city.

"It still has a large number of cases and around 700 people isolating at home at the moment. There are a lot of sources of infection there and we know coming up to Wednesday when the border reopens, it means more movement out of Auckland. It does give the potential to see the virus widely around the country," Prof Baker says.

COVID-19 testing rates remain high across New Zealand. From August to today, there have been more than 2.5 million tests and on Saturday alone, 24,704 were processed.

But there's still a plea from those on the front line to keep getting swabbed. 

"It's just to make sure we are all protected and safe. Making sure we are targeting the areas that are needing our help and assistance at the moment," says Balmoral clinical director Taye Bishop.