The director general of health is adamant New Zealand can still eliminate Covid from the community once again and get the country back to a level of normality.
In an at times testy interview with Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning, Dr Ashley Bloomfield stood his ground on the issue of elimination of the virus, despite the number of community cases being high hours before Auckland will move down to alert level 3.
Bloomfield also rejected Hosking's suggestion that these days he sounded "more like a politician than a health professional ... you sound like you're doing the Government's bidding".
The director-general replied firmly: "Actually I'm not spinning anything Mike."
He described his relationship with the Government as being like a marriage and that not all of his alert level recommendations were necessarily accepted by Cabinet.
Put to him several times that the elimination strategy has not worked, Bloomfield said: "Well, we're not back to zero ..."
"Yeah, but that's what elimination is," Hosking cut in.
Bloomfield replied: "Well elimination is not tolerating the virus and that's what we've done for 20 months and ..."
Hosking: "And in not tolerating the virus, you need to get rid of the virus and to get rid of the virus you need some zeros. You haven't got zeros, you're not going to get zeros. Elimination doesn't work."
Bloomfield: "Just to be clear, that is absolutely still our aim."
Hosking: "You can have an aim 'til you're blue in the face, but it doesn't work. Why don't you just simply admit what everybody can see, it hasn't worked, that's life. Let's move on."
Bloomfield remained calm in his reply, saying: "Well actually, I've got a different view and I think many New Zealanders have too. We're working, it's working and that's where we're going to - we want to get rid of the virus."
"In what way is it working?" Hosking asked, before giving a rundown of the number of community cases in the last two weeks.
Bloomfield pointed out that across the Tasman, Covid numbers were still extremely high and New Zealand had done a good job to keep the number of cases here much lower, in comparison.
"All of New Zealand would love it if we got back to zero and that's what we aim [to do] is still to go back to zero," he said.
Hosking, however, asked what the next move would be if we continued to see community cases in Auckland over the next two weeks in level 3.
"Let's cross that bridge when we get to it," Bloomfield said.
Vaccinations the next tool in the toolkit - Bloomfield
Earlier in the interview, Bloomfield said although officials had hoped case numbers would be lower, they were comfortable announcing a change in alert levels in Auckland because all cases were connected to current cases or were in people who were already in managed isolation.
He also revealed that one of the households affected lived on the same street as another household now infected with Covid-19.
Bloomfield said they were still going to "go really hard" to fight Covid. This time, we have vaccinations on our side, he said.
"Vaccination is basically the next very important tool in our toolkit and NZME has recognised that - as have many New Zealanders. I think the campaign to get over 90 per cent is exactly where we need to be.
"We're wanting to reconnect the country. We know that that means Covid will come into the country, but we're still adamant we still want to protect the population - and vaccination is the way to do that."