Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for August 21, bringing you the latest on New Zealand news and Covid-19 as it returns to the community. Auckland is now in alert level three and the rest of NZ is in level two. More details here. Official information here. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
7pm: The day in sum
There are 13 new cases of Covid-19 – 11 in the community, two in managed isolation.
Six of the new community cases are associated with the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw apologised to members for signing-off on funding for a private school.
A protest fuelled by conspiracy theories around Covid-19, the UN and vaccination took place in Auckland’s CBD.
Former MPs Ross Meurant and Don Brash are among a group that has set up a company to bring Russian-made vaccine Sputnik V to New Zealand.
4.20pm: Protests in Auckland against lockdowns, the UN and vaccination
A crowd of unmasked protesters gathered in Auckland’s Aotea Square today in a “liberty march”, says TVNZ. The protest, which reportedly drew “hundreds”, was motivated by a number of issues, including opposition to globalisation under the United Nations for its Sustainable Development Goals Programme (Agenda 2030) spurred by the conspiracy theory which falsely claims the agenda would usher in a “new world order”.
Protesters also made false claims that the Covid-19 pandemic was planned, that 5G and fluoridation were tools for population control, and that the government had made vaccination mandatory.
Advance New Zealand co-leader Jami-Lee Ross and New Conservative deputy leader Elliot Ikilei were also reportedly spotted in the crowd. Yesterday, Ross said he was asked to remove a “misleading” video about “forced vaccinations” by parliament speaker Trevor Mallard. The video included edited footage from parliament which, according to a fact check, “cut key parts of [politicians’] sentences to doctor the meaning of the exchange”.
3.30pm: Moving from level three to level two – new cases, compared
With Auckland moving to alert level two on Monday, it’s interesting to compare the number of new cases (minus imported) that have been announced in the last seven days with those from the last seven days before New Zealand’s move to level two in May.
In the week prior to Thursday, May 14, the Ministry of Health announced a total of 10 new cases of Covid-19.
In contrast, there’s been a total of 41 new cases of Covid-19 (not including those from overseas and in managed isolation) in just the last week.
1.10pm: 13 new cases of Covid-19
There are 13 new cases of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand today – 11 in the community, two in managed isolation.
The two cases in managed isolation both arrived in New Zealand from India on August 23. The first is a woman in her 70s and the second case is a man in his 30s. They both tested positive for Covid-19 around day three of their time in MIQ at the Grand Millennium in Auckland.
Of the 11 community cases, 10 are clearly epidemiologically linked to the Auckland cluster. Six cases are associated with the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church – four within the same household and two who attended church services.
Four other cases are contacts of previously reported confirmed cases.
The remaining person who has tested positive for Covid-19 is being interviewed today to determine their possible links to the cluster.
By this morning, contact tracing had identified 2,489 close contacts of cases, of which 2,425 have been contacted and are self-isolating. Health officials are in the process of contacting the rest.
There are 132 people linked to the community cluster who have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility, which includes 82 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and their household contacts.
There are 11 people with Covid-19 in hospital today: three in Auckland City, four in Middlemore, three in North Shore and one in Waikato. Three of these patients are in ICU – one each in Middlemore, North Shore and Waikato Hospital.
There are seven previously reported cases who are considered to have recovered today, bringing the total number of active confirmed cases to 136, plus one previously reported probable case remains active. Of the 137 active cases, 20 are imported cases in MIQ facilities, and 117 are community cases.
Yesterday, laboratories processed 9,991 tests for Covid-19.
12.40pm: Covid-19 cases to be updated
No press conference today on this fine Saturday afternoon. Instead, the Ministry of Health will be releasing a statement with an update on New Zealand’s Covid-19 case numbers. More to follow soon.
12pm: Today on The Spinoff
- After decades worrying about the “brain drain”, thousands of high-achieving New Zealanders are coming home at once. Duncan Greive looks at what they’re bringing with them – and the potential they have to help our imperilled economy.
- On Thursday, the woman who escaped managed isolation with three of her children to attend the tangi of their father was sentenced to 14 days in prison. Leonie Hayden, however, reckons the sentence is an abomination.
- No doubt cannabis can cause harm, but for some, it helps. One woman, who’d previously received compulsory treatment for psychosis, touches on her experience with cannabis and how a regulated market would allow us to use it in a less haphazard and more informed way.
- For Jennifer Little, lockdown facilitated amplified a deeper sense of loss, isolation and yearning for intimacy. With the absence of touch, she decided to turn to nature for a remedy – she started hugging trees.
9.40am: Former MPs apply to import Russian-made Covid-19 vaccine
Former National MP Ross Meurant and former Act leader Don Brash are among a group that has set up a company, Covax-NZR, to help bring the vaccine to New Zealand, Stuff reports. Meurant said paperwork had been filed through the Russian embassy and was pending approval from Moscow.
The vaccine, named Sputnik V after the first satellite to orbit the earth, was approved for use in Russia earlier this month, making Russia the first country to grant regulatory approval to a coronavirus vaccine. However, many international scientists have cast doubt over the vaccine’s efficacy and safety after being studied for just two months in a few dozen people.
Meurant labelled criticism “anti-Russian sentiment” and said if the “West fails to produce the silver bullet, Russia could provide a gold one”. He said Covax-NZR would seek approval to introduce the vaccine in 2021.
Brash said he became involved in Covax-NZR as New Zealand desperately needs a vaccine so exploring all avenues was important.
”I’m not making a judgement call between any vaccines in development but if my involvement can help bring a vaccine that is safe and tested to New Zealand then I am happy to do so,” he said.
8.45am: James Shaw apologises for funding of private ‘Green School’
Green Party co-leader James Shaw has apologised to members for signing-off on funding for a private school, RNZ reports.
Earlier this week, Shaw announced an injection of funds into a private Taranaki school as part of the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund despite the Greens’ policy against state funding for private education. It drew strong criticism from the party’s youth wing, a former Green MP, unions, and opposition.
Shaw reportedly apologised to members in a Zoom meeting last night. He told the group of 460 people he thought of the project as a building and construction project rather than an education one.
He said he’d listened to the concerns raised and was working to find a solution. He said he wouldn’t make the same decision if given another opportunity.
Co-leader Marama Davidson was also present in the meeting and acknowledged Shaw for owning his mistake.
8am: Yesterday’s key stories
There was a total of 12 new cases of Covid-19 – five in the community, seven from overseas.
Auckland is heading into its final weekend at alert level three, and police are warning locals to stay home.
New Zealand First called for the deportation of the Christchurch terrorist, the only major political party in our current parliament to do so.
Jami-Lee Ross said he was asked to remove a “misleading” video about Covid-19 vaccinations by parliament speaker Trevor Mallard.
The NZX crashed for the fourth day in a row following a cyber attack earlier in the week.
Tiwai Point Aluminium Smelter would stay open under a National government, Judith Collins announced.