A second wave of Omicron is starting - but experts say it could be worse than the first as more elderly are getting infected.
It comes as 409 new cases were reported in the Te Whatu Ora - Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty, formerly the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, region on Tuesday - the highest number of daily cases in at least the past month in the region.
While yesterday's district case numbers were not available at deadline, 10,290 new community cases of Covid-19 were reported nationally.
The last time daily cases were above 10,000 was April 21.
University of Auckland senior lecturer and principal investigator at Te Punaha Matatini Dr Dion O'Neale said more elderly getting Covid was "concerning" as they were at risk of more severe health outcomes.
O'Neale said the second wave could be worse than the first in March, as it was affecting people who were more vulnerable.
"It's also coming at a time when it's not just Covid that we've got circulating now.
"Back in March we had ... very little influenza and other respiratory illnesses."
Before the second wave started, O'Neale said hospitals were already "pretty busy" with such illnesses, particularly influenza.
O'Neale said people could still get reinfected due to the new variants BA.4 and BA.5 circulating in the community.
"People shouldn't be thinking, 'hey I've had Covid, I'm not going to get it infected or I've got 90 days until I get reinfected' ... it's very much a case of not just trying to avoid it but trying to avoid getting infected as many as times as possible."
Covid-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank said the second wave would likely last "a month or two".
"It is concerning that if this second wave predominantly affects older groups more than the first wave did, that could result in quite high levels of demand on our healthcare system.
"The vaccine is still the best tool we have to fight this virus."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked about the cases in Sydney yesterday, and said the most meaningful way to make an impact was with boosters, vaccinations and mask use.
A move to red would only restrict gathering limits. The current situation would not likely be improved by such a move.
A second vaccination booster shot is now available for all Kiwis over 50. Health, aged care and disability workers 30 years and over, and immunocompromised people are also eligible.
Te Whatu Ora - Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty was approached for comment.