COVID-19: Professor Michael Baker warns Omicron case numbers could be far higher than reported

There were 15,161 new community cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.

It's another drop in numbers and could mean we're passing the peak but the Ministry of Health is warning not to get too excited. That's because it could just be that people aren't reporting their test results.

There are almost 180,000 active cases in New Zealand and the sheer number of the Omicron outbreak is having a huge impact.

"It's taking many essential workers out of the workplace," University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker says.

"This has been seen overseas, we knew this was coming and we are now seeing it here."

On Sunday we saw a drop in case numbers, particularly in Auckland. Prof Baker says that's positive but it's too early to think we've passed the peak. In fact our case numbers could be much higher.

"We may be getting up to having 100,000 cases a day at the moment," he warns.

The Ministry of Health says it may be because people aren't reporting their results. But for some it isn't easy.

"There are some barriers in the way of people entering test results, for example there isn't a 'My COVID Record' for children under 12," Prof Baker says.

He says the Government needs to look at alternative reporting methods to ensure it's fit for purpose.

His message in the meantime however is to persevere even with the negative results.

Because it will help paint a better picture of COVID in the community and just when it all might end.