A Waikato mayor has a "sneak feeling" projections that Covid case numbers could jump up to 640 a week in Waikato by the end of January could come to fruition as the regions waits to see what the impact of lifting Auckland's border will have.
Waikato mayor Allan Sanson warned district councillors, in the last full council meeting for the year, that Aucklanders were coming and it could have a significant impact on the region especially holiday hot spots such as the Coromandel and also Raglan, which is in his district.
Auckland's border lifted at 11.59am last night and Aucklanders are expected to leave the city in droves after being locked in for almost four months.
Projections that there could be up to 640 new cases a week in the region - a figure given to his chief executive in a meeting between agencies including Waikato DHB - was a sizeable lift from the current numbers and could mean there were some serious problems that could arise later next year, he said.
However the Waikato DHB said those figures didn't come from them and their projections for up until early January show case numbers will remain relatively stable with about 70 new cases a week.
Sanson's comments came as councillors this week debated and later decided to make vaccine passports mandatory at Waikato District Council's pools and libraries. It also mandated the Raglan Holiday Park Papahua over concerns camping grounds could be an incubator for Covid given there would be 2000 people living in such close proximity.
"Everybody is guessing at the moment as to what happens when the borders come down... It's not that we are opposed to Aucklanders coming in, it's just that there will be a mass movement of people over that summer period and we are trying to understand what that could mean in relation to Covid," Sanson told the Herald.
It was inevitable there were going to be more cases in the region due to Aucklanders moving around, he said.
"It doesn't mean we are in the crap, but I tell you what it isn't that healthy either."
As of yesterday, there were a total 588 cases in Waikato since the outbreak started and 21 new cases. More than half were in Te Kuiti. There were two patients with Covid in Waikato Hospital and 74 people isolating at home.
A Waikato DHB spokesperson said modelling completed last week looking at the next 28 days indicated case numbers would remain relatively stable through to January 5 and hover around 70 a week.
However a change in the traffic light system and travel rules had potential to impact the number of community contacts and cases, he said.
"Vaccination rates remain a key factor in any modelling and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated to increase the resilience of our community, protect themselves and their whānau. It is also important that everyone follows the traffic light rules and guidance in place for the area they are living or visiting."
Earlier this month Waikato principals were warned that cases numbers could reach up to 91 cases a day by the end of December.
Melville High School principal Clive Hamill posted on the south Hamilton college's Facebook page they had been told by the Ministry of Education's regional director that district health boards and public health units would struggle to cope as the number of cases grow and would need their help.
Projections provided by the ministry to schools in early December revealed case numbers could reach 91 a day by December 31.
"The MoE believes that a shared response is required for managing our Covid response – it is too big a job for one agency to manage alone," Hamill said.