Fresh Covid-19 community cases in Auckland have spurred a test resurgence in the Bay of Plenty, health authorities say.
General practitioner Dr Luke Bradford says about 400 virus assessments were held in Tauranga on Monday, a massive increase on its average of just over 100 a day.
Accident & Healthcare in Tauranga alone saw 198 people for assessments.
Elsewhere, Lakes District Health Board confirmed a total of 194 tests were undertaken, 126 in Rotorua and 68 in Taupō.
Across three days at both centres last week there were only 61 total tests - making Monday's total an increase of more than 200 per cent.
Bradford says there is always a spike in testing after a community case, which he says suggests two things: "People are anxious about it but it suggests people are not getting assessed most of the time when they are symptomatic."
However, Bradford said the number of assessments had already dropped by yesterday.
More than 15,000 people were tested nationwide on Monday, and there were no new community virus cases on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said.
However, the official death toll had increased to 26 after the ministry formally reported a Covid-19 death of a person who previously died in Auckland.
Three community Covid-19 cases were discovered in South Auckland over the weekend, forcing New Zealand's alert levels to increase.
Cabinet decided to bump the entire country to alert level 2, except Auckland which moved to level 3, at 11.59pm on Sunday.
It comes as Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi confirmed a Whakatāne campus staff member is a close contact of one of Auckland's community cases.
The staff member went home to isolate while waiting for their test result after alerting their employer.
There had been no tauira (students) on campus during the time period the staff member was on campus, the wananga's Facebook page says.
The staff member had spent time in one area of the Whakatāne campus which has been sectioned off and will undergo a deep clean.
Thames Coromandel mayor Sandra Goudie says many Aucklanders appeared to head for the hills after the decision to put the city into level 3 was made.
"Anecdotally, on the day of the announcement [Sunday], at 11pm the traffic was backed up as far as Drury," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.
"We know there has been this mass exodus … there might be a few extra around but it's not obvious so you'd never know."
Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber was not aware of an Auckland invasion.
Michael O'Neill, of the Mount Maunganui Residents, Ratepayers and Retailers Association, says he did not know of any recent arrivals either.
Elsewhere, two Auckland-based University of Waikato students are expected to move into the university's Tauranga accommodation later this week.
Senior deputy vice-chancellor Professor Alister Jones said they were waiting for further information about travel exemptions for the students.
"We will communicate this information to affected students and support them through this process if Auckland remains at alert level 3 longer than tomorrow," he said.
The University of Waikato's main programme's start on March 1 and orientation starts next week when students will move or return to Tauranga and Hamilton.
Elsewhere, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology was keeping an eye on the Covid-19 situation.
A spokesperson said many of its courses had not started yet, with start dates typically at the end of this month.
"If any students are travelling to the Bay of Plenty from Auckland ahead of their course start date, we would expect them to be following guidelines from the Ministry of Health," they said.
"We are encouraging people to sign in using the Covid tracer app and hand sanitiser is readily available in all offices, workspaces and classrooms."
A spokesperson for LDHB said it was processing more tests now compared to the last time there were community cases, which was last month.
There were no official testing stations in the Bay of Plenty region, instead, people were asked to visit their general practitioner for a test.
Bay of Plenty District Health Board incident controller Karen Smith said the entire health system was working to ensure Covid-19 testing was available to everyone.
"We are closely and continuously reviewing and monitoring the situation and will stand-up additional capacity should this be required," she said.
"This may include a testing centre if this was felt to be appropriate."
Smith asked anyone who was feeling unwell and experiencing virus symptoms to stay home and contact their GP or Healthline in the first instance.
These health services would be able to give anyone the appropriate advice about what to do in regards to getting a test or not.
Despite the move to level 2, there had been no disruption to Bay of Plenty hospital services, Smith said.
Outpatients could continue to attend hospital appointments as normal but some restrictions would apply to visitors.
Restrictions would remain in place until tonight at midnight, with further announcements about the future to be made beforehand.
"Anyone with an outpatients appointment should attend as normal," Smith said.
"Entry to the hospitals is only through the front entrances and you will be asked to sign in using the Covid-19 QR code or fill in a tracing form."