Live UpdatesMay 1 2022

Sam Uffindell named as National’s candidate for Tauranga

Sam Uffindell named as National’s candidate for Tauranga

May 1 2022

National names banker as Tauranga by-election candidate

Sam Uffindell has been selected by local party members as National’s candidate in the upcoming Tauranga by-election to replace departing MP Simon Bridges.

He was chosen ahead of three others at a selection meeting held in Tauranga today. The other contenders were former Tauranga City councillor Kelvin Clout, Western Bay of Plenty District Council analyst Tom Rutherford and Tauranga Business Chamber CEO Matt Cowley.

Sam Uffindell
National’s Tauranga by-election candidate Sam Uffindell (Photo: Supplied)

Uffindell is currently the head of financial economic crime at Rabobank and owns a small agribusiness based in the Bay of Plenty.

He spent 10 years in senior banking roles in Sydney, also gaining a masters in international law and international relations from the University of New South Wales. Before settling in the Bay of Plenty with his family last year, he was a vice president at Deutsche Bank in Singapore.

“I’m incredibly proud to have the opportunity to be a strong local voice for Tauranga and take up the fight for the issues that matter most to our city,” Uffindell said in a statement.

“Getting around town for work or family commitments is becoming harder thanks to poor infrastructure and a Labour government focused on cancelling and delaying crucial roading projects like the Tauranga Northern Link. Tauranga families are being hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis as Labour’s economic mismanagement causes the price of housing, food and fuel to explode. Our city deserves better.”

Uffindell will go up against Act’s Cameron Luxton and Labour’s Jan Tinetti in the by-election on June 18.

Covid-19 latest: BA.4 variant confirmed at border, six deaths, 5,656 cases

The Ministry of Health has reported 5,656 community cases of Covid-19, 466 hospitalisations and six deaths.

Today’s seven-day rolling average of case numbers is 7,414 – last Sunday it was 8,435.

Six people have died with Covid-19. The deaths being reported today include people who have died over the previous three days.

These deaths take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 750. The seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 11.

Of the people whose deaths were reported, one person was from Northland, one from Taranaki, two were from Waikato, and two from Canterbury.

Three were in their 70s and three were in their 80s. Four were women and two were men.

Border case with Omicron BA.4 variant

A person who has travelled from overseas to New Zealand has been confirmed as having the BA.4 variant of omicron. This is the first known detection of the variant in New Zealand.

The person arrived in New Zealand from South Africa on 22 April, returned a positive RAT the following day and a positive PCR test on 24 April. Whole genome sequencing was undertaken as part of ongoing border surveillance for emerging variants and subsequently confirmed the BA.4 variant.

The person followed all testing and reporting requirements, allowing this new sub-variant to be identified quickly, and has been isolating at home.

BA.4 has been reported in Southern Africa and Europe, and a case was reported in New South Wales a few days ago. The arrival of this sub-variant in New Zealand is not unexpected. At this stage, the public health settings already in place to manage other omicron variants are assessed to be appropriate for managing BA.4 and no changes are required.

The BA.4 variant is one of the different omicron subvariants being monitored by the World Health Organization.

There is no evidence to date that BA.4 is more transmissible or causes more severe disease than other omicron lineages, in particular the BA.2 omicron sub-variant that is causing the vast majority of infections in New Zealand. It can take weeks or months to identify the severity of each new variant or sub-variant, so the Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the emerging evidence closely.

Two other sub-variants of 0micron – the BA.2.12.1 and the BA 2.12.2 – have also been detected in two returnees for the first time in New Zealand from travellers arriving on 11 and 15 April. Neither sub-variant is currently regarded as being of concern.

New Covid test to be trialled at Auckland Airport

The government is to trial a form of rapid testing for Covid-19 previously unavailable in New Zealand, associate health minister Ayesha Verrall announced this morning.

The Lucira test, a form of testing known as Lamp (loop-mediated isothermal amplification), combines the speed of RATs (rapid antigen tests) with the accuracy of PCR testing, Verrall said.

“Lamp tests are both cheaper than PCRs and more convenient, they are self-administered and provide results to users within 30 minutes,” she added.

The Lucira test will initially be trialled with 30 Air New Zealand crew members at Auckland Airport and could eventually be used more widely in settings where a negative Covid test is required, such as for border workers, healthcare workers and international travellers. While pre-departure testing requirements are being increasingly scrapped, they remain a requirement for travellers to many countries, including New Zealand.

The trial will run for three months and its cost will be shared by the government and Air New Zealand, Verrall said.

Associate health minister Ayesha Verrall. (Photo: supplied)