Live UpdatesApr 3 2022

Covid case numbers continue to decline; Auckland mayoral field grows to eight

Covid case numbers continue to decline; Auckland mayoral field grows to eight

Apr 3 2022

Austin Powers impersonator enters Auckland mayoral race

Gary Brown, the chair of the Hibiscus and Bays local board – and noted Austin Powers impersonator – has thrown his hat in the ring to become Auckland mayor.

Brown, who was elected to his local board in 2019, has a long career in entertainment and has performed as the Mike Myers character since 2000, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Announcing his candidacy, Brown acknowledged he was late to join the race, but was doing so after “countless requests to consider running”.

“My intention is to unite communities and be an open, trusted leader that goes into bat for all Aucklanders, regardless of demographics or geographical location. As one of the world’s great multicultural cities, I believe Auckland is built on inclusivity.”

He says he does not view his politics in terms of left or right, and is instead “all for commonsense”.

He said his campaign will be totally digital or via direct face-to-face contact, with limited hoardings – a reflection of his environmental beliefs. He said that if elected he will embrace sustainability and lead a charge for an increase in renewable energy and better transport solutions in Auckland.

The North Shore politician becomes the second Brown to join the race – meaning there are now twice as many Browns vying for the mayoralty as there are women.

The full list of mayoral candidates so far is Viv Beck, Gary Brown, Wayne Brown, Efeso Collins, Ted Johnston, Jake Law, Craig Lord and Leo Molloy.

Covid-19 latest: 18 deaths; 690 hospitalisations; 8,810 community cases

There have been 18 more deaths of people with Covid-19, the Ministry of Health has reported. The deaths reported today include people who have died over the past five days, and the number includes one person in their 30s, three in their 60s, eight in their 70s, three in their 80s, and three over 90.

Case numbers show a marked decline from yesterday, when there were 11, 560 new cases reported. However the ministry notes that such a drop is “not unexpected as we generally see lower testing and reporting over weekends”.

As the daily case numbers decline, so too does the seven-day rolling average. Today’s seven-day rolling average is 13,543, while the seven-day rolling average of cases as at last Sunday was 16,325.

New Zealand divided over lifting of Covid mandates, poll finds

A new poll confirms what many of us have seen in our daily lives: New Zealanders are divided over whether lifting of Covid restrictions such as vaccine passes, NZ Covid Tracer and vaccine mandates was the right call.

The Research New Zealand poll questioned 1,001 New Zealanders aged 18 and older and found one-quarter of respondents (27%) were unhappy about the lifting of mandates, while 36% were happy with the decision.

The most significant differences in responses were in terms of age, with 36% of those aged 55+ stating they were unhappy with the changes, compared to 20% of those aged 18-34.

Reasons for and against the lifting of the mandates were predictable. Those in favour most frequently stated they supported the change because it meant that New Zealand could get back to some semblance of “normality” (63%).

In comparison, those not in favour most frequently stated they felt it wastoo early to lift the mandates and we should wait until the number of cases was lower” (76%).

The survey was conducted between 24 and 29 March 2022 and its margin of error is +/- 3.1% (at the 95% confidence level). The sample of online respondents was weighted by gender and age to ensure the results were representative of the population 18 years and over.

Evidence of war crimes as bodies of executed civilians found in Ukraine town

Horrific images emerged today showing bodies strewn across a street in Bucha, near Kyiv, some of them with their hands tied behind their backs. Russian troops recently departed the town as part of a wider pullback from Kyiv and surrounding areas, and photos and videos have now surfaced of the carnage left in their wake.

Reporters from the AFP news agency found at least 20 male corpses on a single street, all dressed in civilian clothes – “winter coats, jackets or tracksuit tops, jeans or jogging bottoms, and trainers or boots”. At least one had a gaping head wound.

Meanwhile the Times also reported mass killings of civilians by departing Russian troops, with Ukrainian soldiers telling the paper they’d found mutilated bodies of men, women and teenagers inside the basement of a holiday home near the town.

Mass graves of civilians have also been reported. Bucha’s mayor, Anatoliy Fedoruk, said authorities had already buried more than 300 people since the Ukrainian army retook control of the town three days ago.

A mass grave at one church ground was still open, with hands and feet poking through the red clay heaped on top,” Reuters reported.