COVID-19: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expects cases to rise further, reach peak of daily infections 'soon'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will share more COVID-19 modelling on Monday to explain the direction of the Auckland outbreak.

Alert levels for the Super City and Waikato are being discussed by Cabinet after a weekend of more than 300 new cases.

But Ardern told The AM Show it's expected Auckland will reach a peak number of daily cases later this month - and that peak may not be much than 200 infections.

"Yes, we do expect cases to continue to rise… but we are expecting, soon, that we may reach a peak of daily cases but, of course, there is a bit of an unknown period until that point.

"That [peak] should be around, at this stage, we're talking the potentially 200 cases a day mark."

Ardern said that's the point at which modellers expect vaccinations will start having a major impact.

"We will talk about that this afternoon, in part, because I think it is important to share what we expect to happen; that cases will continue to rise but also that vaccinations can and will have an impact, and continue to be important to us.

"Across the course of November is the point that our modellers believe that we'll hit that peak but there is a sense of caution around just waiting to see whether or not that is the case, whether or not we do see those vaccinations really having that effect of pushing down, or at least holding down… what would otherwise be an ongoing rise.

"This is simply really pointing to the fact that modellers - our modelling - it does its best but there is a bit of a wait and see in the real world."

But even with COVID-19 in the community, modelling shows a double-vaccinated population of 80 percent and above will have a real impact on case numbers, Ardern said.

"The reason that modelling is important to us is it gives us a sense of; within our current restrictions, what can we expect to happen?

"That's important to make judgements around making sure we've got everything in place to be prepared for that but also may or may not happen if we move either side of that."

Despite Ardern believing cases will increase, she said the Government will continue making judgement calls around slightly easing restrictions in Auckland before the Super City's district health boards reach the 90 percent vaccination target rate and the new 'traffic light' system kicks in. 

Auckland is currently at alert level 3 with slightly eased restrictions - where people can gather in groups of no more than 10 people or two households outdoors.

If restrictions ease further, something Cabinet will consider on Monday, Auckland would remain at level 3 but move to step 2 on the Super City's pathway out of lockdown - meaning retail stores could reopen. 

Ardern and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield will announce Cabinet decisions during a press conference at 4pm.