Once we knew Omicron could not be extinguished, modellers were quick to chart an approximate date when the New Zealand outbreak was likely to peak.
And so it proved to be the case when we hit 23,894 daily cases on March 7. Since then, there has been speculation around whether cases would plateau, drop quickly away or ease down gradually.
We can now see the long tail of Covid-19 tracking in a slow descent. A graph of New Zealand's daily community cases reveals a thick wedge shape; steeply inclined with the swift spread to the peak and then gradually declining.
Of the new Wednesday cases, 455 were in Northland; 1828 in Auckland; 718 in Waikato; 421 in Bay of Plenty; 176 in Lakes; 355 in Hawke's Bay; 461 in MidCentral; 181 in Whanganui; 288 in Taranaki; 84 in Tairāwhiti; 109 in Wairarapa; 607 in Capital and Coast; 375 in Hutt Valley; 307 in Nelson Marlborough; 1670 in Canterbury; 208 in South Canterbury; 1148 in Southern; and 94 in West Coast. The locations of 10 cases were unknown.
We are still counting the tragic cost too. This past week, there have been deaths with Covid across multiple regions such as Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, MidCentral, Nelson Marlborough, and Canterbury.
Our undulating landscape and sparsely populated corners may be one reason for the obtuse tail in the Omicron outbreak. Otago University epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker told RNZ geography was one of the reasons for the persistent caseload in the south, with the wave washing out of the large cities and into regional New Zealand.
He said the pattern was for a quick spread in cities and then slower transmission in rural areas.
"At one extreme we had Auckland which had peak case numbers on the 4th of March and it's really the first DHB where we're seeing numbers go below 100 cases per 100,000 people. At the other extreme you've still got over 300 per 100,000 - so three times higher - in places like Southern, South Canterbury, and also on the West Coast."
Although cases have remained persistently high in the south, deaths and hospital admissions were comparatively low. Baker says that's another outcome of a drawn-out wave that allowed health services to better manage cases at home.
Another factor in Omicron's slow descent is New Zealand's high vaccination coverage. We were advised from the early days of the pandemic that vaccination would cushion a country from the worst. The slow landing trajectory of case numbers may be seen as evidence of that.
The outlook is positive. It has been more than three weeks since the changes to the traffic light system. Since then mandates and vaccine passes have been removed. Despite this relaxation of restrictions, there has been a steadily positive trajectory in the outbreak. The seven-day average has declined by more than 3000 cases.
Whether the move to Orange on Thursday results in another spike in cases will not be known until near the end of this coming week. There will be less testing over Easter and more travelling, so reported cases are likely to drift this weekend before a likely rise on Wednesday.
Whether case numbers continue to rise towards the end of the coming week is up to us and the individual choices we make. Added to the mix is a more casual approach to precautions outside cities in areas that have seen little of the virus before.
Masks remain a key component in reducing transmission. Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins flubbed his lines on where and when masks were still advised earlier this week. But he could have summarised the advice as "wear a mask wherever you are likely to pass on or contract the virus".
Research published in the British Medical Journal late last year shows mask-wearing reduces new Covid-19 cases by 53 per cent.
People are itching to be free of precautions but one of the harshest lessons the world has learned over the past two years is that Covid-19 loves freedom. We must embrace our liberty with care.