New Zealand has hit triple-digit COVID-19 cases for the first time, reporting 102 new community cases.
The milestone on Thursday came paired with a new high-water mark for hospitalisations of 46.
The outbreak remains centred on Auckland, with 94 new cases and eight further cases in the neighbouring Waikato region.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson acknowledged the news would be tough to take for many Kiwis, particularly in locked-down Auckland.
“The ups and downs can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster,” he said.
“We can expect to see case numbers rise.”
The rolling seven-day average is 68 — the highest figure of the Delta outbreak — and just how high cases will rise remains a point of conjecture.
On Wednesday, COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said they could reach the “high hundreds”, but on Thursday Mr Robertson wouldn’t be drawn on his estimations.
“Case numbers in and of themselves are not the only measure we need to use,” he said.
“It’s anticipated in the future up to 95 per cent of people who get COVID could be treated at home.”
Increased home isolation for Kiwis with COVID-19 is expected to be one of many measures unveiled on Friday when the government reveals its new reopening framework.
That will include a new traffic light system and a vaccine target — set to be 90 per cent or higher — before many restrictions are relaxed.
Auckland and much of the Waikato remain in lockdown.
Auckland has been confirmed at alert level three until at least November 2, while the government is poised to extend the Waikato lockdown based on the new cases.
Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said Auckland was being supported with staff heading to the City of Sails from around the country.
“Of course we would not let ourselves get to a position where our hospitals are overwhelmed,” he said.
There are seven Kiwis in intensive care with COVID-19, also up from Wednesday.
Vaccination rates are rising steadily, up 43,000 on Thursday to have 83 per cent of the eligible population partially vaccinated.
Two-thirds of Kiwis are fully vaccinated.