A leading health expert is calling for New Zealand to be split into four different zones to limit the spread of Covid and lessen the impact on some regions as the number of Delta cases in Auckland continues to rise.
Otago University public health professor Nick Wilson said the "most sensible thing" would be to create four zones - an Auckland and Coromandel zone where there are current and possible cases emerging; Northland; the rest of the North Island; and South Island - and stop any travel between them until the Government had a clearer idea of how far Covid had spread.
"It is basically complete closure. The road is covered with big concrete blocks or something."
Once further Covid testing and wastewater testing was carried out, each zone could then move down the alert level system faster than those where there were outbreaks.
"That would allow parts of the country to get back into higher degrees of freedom and the ability to run the economy."
Wilson said to do it successfully, the Government had to be tough and prohibit any movement between these zones. This would include only allowing emergency vehicles to move within their respective zones.
"From my perspective we didn't really do the border control very with Auckland's last level three - basically police were hardly turning anyone back at the borders. But if it's done thoroughly you can have confidence there is no ongoing spread of infection," he said.
"At the moment the trouble is that the whole country is basically in the same zone as Auckland and the Coromandel so we are all at this alert level 4 and there's a good chance there are no cases in the South Island and similarly Northland and other parts of the North Island."
His proposed system was similar to what was happening in Australia which he believed had helped Tasmania and Western Australia remain Covid-free.
"If they had just treated all of Australia as one zone like at the federal level those New South Wales cases would have spread Covid throughout the country. So by taking an internally partitioned zone approach it would help us manage this better and allow some zones to transition out of alert levels at a faster rate than the place where the level of concern is greatest which is Auckland."
While he wouldn't expect any of the zones to move levels tomorrow, he thought they could slowly start moving levels in a few days if the tests continued to show there wasn't Covid in those zones.
Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told various media this morning that the ministry was preparing lockdown advice for Cabinet to consider tomorrow.
He said it was important that the country went into lockdown quickly and did not come out too early.
"Let's see what the results show today," Bloomfield said.
He said it could be that there were different decisions around a shifting in levels for the North and South Islands.
Meanwhile Covid-19 modeller Rodney Jones told Newstalk ZB the lockdown was likely to be extended for most of the country. He said people should be prepping themselves for at least two weeks or even longer.