Kiwis should get used to seeing many more reported cases of Covid-19, scientists say, on the back of more travel from countries hard hit with large outbreaks.
But they add there's no cause for alarm, so long as travellers are being properly tested and quarantined.
Researchers at Te Punaha Matatini now modelling the picture say around 12 new cases could be expected each week in New Zealand, although this figure could vary depending on arrival numbers.
That was partly down to the rising volume of travellers – climbing from 1000 per week in mid-May, to more than 2500 in the past week – but also the acceleration of the pandemic around the world.
While Covid-19 was now having less of an impact in many places, including much of Europe, it had stepped up in others – notably Mexico, Brazil, India and the US.
The researchers had particularly tracked a recent jump in the number of people coming to New Zealand from the US and India.
On Wednesday, India reported nearly 16,000 new cases, bringing its official tally to more than 456,000 – a figure only behind the US, Brazil and Russia – although the real count was likely higher.
"The data out of India is not brilliant – but the consensus is that rates have been rapidly increasing over the past month or so," said Professor Michael Plank, of the University of Canterbury's School of Mathematics and Statistics.
"So that's one area where we could say the pandemic is accelerating, and that could be a driver in numbers [in New Zealand]."
In the US, meanwhile, case numbers have risen to 2.35 million, with rates rising fast in California, Texas and Florida, and officials warning between 130,000 and 150,000 Americans will have died of Covid-19 by mid-July.
Over the March and April period when the country was in lockdown, the rate of positive cases among arrivals was about four per 1000 – although these were largely from countries with low rates of infection, such as Australia and Pacific Island nations.
More recently, many of the new cases detected at the border had stemmed from the UK, Te Punaha Matatini director and University of Auckland physicist Shaun Hendy said.
"That partly reflects that a lot of people have family members there, it's a classic place to go for your OE, and there are still lots of Kiwis over there.
"While we are still at risk of infections coming from the UK, it's now much more global.
"We're seeing Covid-19 rising in places like South America and obviously India – so it's becoming much harder to say there is a single country that is causing us problems, as it's now much more widespread."
Hendy said we should be wary of any discrimination toward travellers from any countries – and stressed that the risk of a local outbreak was low as long as strict quarantine and testing stayed in place.
"I think we've just got to get used to the fact that we are in it for the long haul – and this is something that's going to be going on for quite a long time," he said.
"We were probably kidding ourselves with that string of zeroes – and the fact that we are detecting these cases at the border is a good thing."