Complacent Kiwis are being told by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to "say yes to the test".

It comes as the Government ramps up its messaging around Covid-19 amid concerns New Zealanders have become relaxed about the threat of the deadly virus after 90 days with no community transmission.

But the National Party says the Government is spinning "an awful lot of fear" heading into the election.

Yesterday Ardern pushed the message of "ongoing vigilance" and said every New Zealander still had a part to play in the fight against Covid-19.


The country was moved to alert level 1 with the expectation everyone would maintain good hygiene, keeping track of their movements, seek medical advice if they have symptoms and getting tested if needed.

But Ardern said it apppeared that hadn't happened so the Government was "dialling back up" the Covid messaging.

"We have seen, however, there is a bit of a sense that New Zealand is free of Covid and that vigilance isn't required. We still need people to be on guard."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants Kiwis to say
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants Kiwis to say "yes to the test". Photo / Mark Mitchell

The surging cases in Victoria, Australia, with 671 new infections and seven deaths yesterday drove home what could happen if community transmission were allowed to happen.

The situation has forced Melbourne and regional Victorian towns into a strict six-week lockdown and a state of disaster being declared in the state.

Ardern said while there had been 90 days of no community transmission, New Zealand couldn't afford to not be "searching as hard as we can to ensure the virus isn't here".

A recent survey by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners found half of GPs had experienced patients refusing a test.

"Someone refusing a test could be the difference between identifying a chain of transmission or it going undetected in our community in a hugely damaging way," said Ardern.


Health Minister Chris Hipkins last month said he wanted daily testing numbers to hover around 4000, but the Government has struggled to reach that target.

Yesterday, laboratories processed 1,692 tests, of which 1,259 swabs were taken in the community and 433 swabs were taken in managed isolation or quarantine facilities.

More routine testing of staff working at managed isolation hotels and the border would be rolled out in an attempt to get better daily numbers.

But Ardern said New Zealanders also had to take on some responsibility themselves.

And since moving into alert level 1, daily use of the Government's Covid Tracer app has fallen off a cliff with just 0.2 per cent of Kiwis using it. Hipkins has made a public appeal for New Zealanders to use it regularly.

The outbreak in Victoria had also pushed out any prospect of a trans-Tasman bubble until after Christmas because it clearly wasn't safe to open one for a significant amount of time, said Ardern.


But she didn't rule out exploring the option of quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and some states but said that would come down to decisions made by the Australian government and whether they could ensure very tight domestic border controls.

Yesterday Auckland Airport announced plans to split its international terminal into two separate zones in preparation for quarantine-free travel.

Ardern said there had to be assurances travellers from Covid-safe countries didn't come into contact with passengers from the rest of the world.

Other factors to consider were legal arrangements, protocols for arrivals and departures, health declarations, testing and temperature checks.

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All of that needed to be in place before travel could open with Pacific realm nations, like the Cook Islands, to ensure a passenger from New Zealand didn't spread the virus there, said Ardern.

"We have to do with absolute caution for New Zealand's safety and for the safety of the Pacific."


But National leader Judith Collins said the current Government was using fear ahead of the election.

"We're bringing back hope," said Collins.

"I'm seeing an awful lot of fear being spun by the current Government - fear that we [National] would open the borders ridiculously, fear that we would let Covid [run wild]. We've got zero tolerance to Covid-19. I'm not letting that stuff in."

Collins said the National party would bring hope about what it could do for the country.

"It's hope about what we can do - we don't have to sit there receiving benefits if there's something else we can do.

"Just backing Kiwis, backing Kiwis no matter what, and recognising that we have a wonderful little country."

National leader Judith Collins says National is bringing back hope. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National leader Judith Collins says National is bringing back hope. Photo / Mark Mitchell

She said a National government would pay off debt quicker than a Labour-led one.

National has previously committed to getting debt below 30 per cent of GDP within a decade.

The party's finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith yesterday called on Labour to reveal its target and timeframe for reducing debt.

Ardern said the Government's plan was to grow the economy by investing in people and job creation opposed to the Opposition's plan for austerity and up to $80 billion of cuts which could include health and education.

Ardern said Labour's campaign will focus on continuing the work they did in Government and the current Covid-19 response.

"And making sure that when we are rebuilding we're rebuilding New Zealand back better - investing in energy and waste projects - things that are challenges anyway."


She didn't rule out campaigning on another top tax bracket to help repay the debt from the Covid crisis.