COVID-19: Experts say the real number of community cases could be four times higher

This isn't the usual frantic Friday rush hour in Auckland, so where are all the queues?

Well, it could be that there are more people sick and isolating than we know about.

There were 22,527 official cases but the real number of infections could be four times higher.

"It's possible that we could be having 100,000 infections out there today and that estimate of around maybe 10 percent of the population being currently infected," COVID-19 Modelling Aotearoa project leader Dion O'Neale says.

Yes, that's one in every 10 New Zealanders infected and as many as one in five in Auckland, although many may be asymptomatic.

But we may be about to peak, in Auckland at least, other parts of the country will follow later.

"We are cautiously optimistic that at our sort of case numbers around about that sort of 13,000 to 14,000 level that that might represent the peak for us in Auckland," NRHCC chief clinical officer Andrew Old says. 

Predictions for hospitalisations are much harder and hospitals are growing at capacity as patient numbers rise.

"Whereas in Delta, we had one or two wards dealing with those patients we're now sort of extending those wards out to three and four," Northern Region Health Coordination Centre's clinical director Dr Anthony Jordan says.

But Dr Jordan says we couldn't run out of beds.

While most people with COVID will be able to recover at home if you do need help don't be put off.

"Care for our COVID patients is free across the country including GP appointments and urgent care clinics," Dr Jordan says.

And if you haven't caught it yet, O'Neale says don't give up avoiding it.

"If you've been following all your excellent transmission reduction protocols, mask-wearing and all the rest, your infection is more likely to be less severe, you'll have a milder infection if you've limited your exposure," O'Neale says.

He says even if we're all exposed to COVID it doesn't mean we're all going to get COVID.