blog feb 4


Omicron outbreak: 209 new community cases

Hello and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for February 4, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Have feedback? If it’s positive, you can reach me on


Want to test your knowledge in our weekly quiz? Click here.

Today’s headlines

blog feb 4

Omicron outbreak: 209 new community cases

Hello and welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for February 4, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Have feedback? If it’s positive, you can reach me on


Want to test your knowledge in our weekly quiz? Click here.

Today’s headlines

Feb 4 2022

Netflix teases a massive year for film buffs

What is New Zealand watching on Netflix, and for the love of all that is streaming, why are we watching it? (Image: Tina Tiller)

It’s gonna be a big year for Netflix subscribers, with the streamer teasing a remarkable movie output in 2022. There’s going to be at least one new original film every week and every genre imaginable is getting checked off. Too much? Probably. Will I watch most of it? Yes.

In true Netflix style, the streamer has released a big budget sizzle reel teasing everything it’s got on the slate this year.

Some of the hits of 2022: Slumberland, starring Jason Momoa, about a young girl who can travel through dreams. The Gray Man, the Russo Brothers’ follow-up to Avengers Endgame, is an action thriller with Chris Evans. Matilda: The Musical, a big screen adaptation of Tim Minchin’s West End hit. And Knives Out 2, with Daniel Craig returning to solve another murder – terrible southern accent and all.

Check out the preview below:

Have a great long weekend, everyone!

Waitangi at red: How to celebrate at home

It’s Waitangi weekend, typically the unofficial start of the political year. In a normal year, you would expect speeches from the prime minister, a chance for the leader of the opposition to set out their agenda for the year ahead, and a chance for the rest of us to reflect on our country’s past.

This year you can still do the last one but, with the country in the red setting, no events will be going ahead at Waitangi for the first time in decades.

So how can you celebrate Waitangi Day at home? Leonie Hayden gives you the lowdown.

Image: Tina Tiller


The shape of the outbreak after today’s bump in community cases

Screen Shot 2022-02-04 at 2.21.27 PM

Today saw 209 new community cases of Covid-19 recorded, a number that is nudging toward a pandemic record.

Here’s how that looks against the backdrop of our Covid response. For more, visit The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker page.

Māori hit 90% first dose milestone

90% of Māori have now had at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Ministry of Health said that as of 11am this morning, Māori were just 142 doses away from reaching the vaccination milestone.

“With omicron in New Zealand, one of the best things you can do is get your booster as soon as it is due,” said the ministry.

One million people have become eligible for a booster from today after the interval was reduced from four months down to three. “Boosters lower your chances of getting very sick and being hospitalised,” added the ministry.

Nationwide, 1,445,598 booster doses have been administered – or 71% of the eligible population. Yesterday, 45,931 booster doses were given out.

Katikati care facility resident tests positive for Covid-19

A case of Covid-19 has been detected in a residential care facility in Katikati.

The case, at the Radius Pexham Park facility, is linked to a previous case in a staff member at the facility who tested positive on 27 January.

“All residents have been self-isolating and daily rapid antigen tests are being carried out for all staff and residents,” said the Ministry of Health. “The facility is following the recommended response measures including staff wearing full PPE.”

Jump in new Covid-19 cases with 209 in the community

Covid-19 tests being prepared for analysis in the laboratory at Whiston Hospital in Merseyside, England (Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)

There are 209 new cases of Covid-19, a significant jump in the daily tally compared with the past few days. Today’s count is one of the highest from across the entire pandemic, with 222 the most cases registered in a single day in New Zealand.

Once again, the majority of cases are in Auckland although Waikato has recorded a major bump with 51 confirmed infections.

There are also new cases in Northland, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Tairāwhiti and Mid-Central.

At the border, another 64 cases were reported – all are presumed to be the omicron variant.

The number of Covid-related hospitalisations has dropped from 13 down to nine overnight.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has reminded people that they should only be tested for Covid-19 if they have symptoms or have been at a location of interest at a relevant time. “The most common early symptoms of the omicron variant are a sore or scratchy throat, and a runny nose,” said a ministry spokesperson. “If you have any of these symptoms, please get a test.”

Once again, the ministry asked those travelling away for Waitangi weekend to have plans in place to deal with a positive Covid result. “You are likely to need to self-isolate wherever you become a close contact or test positive, so there may be extra costs involved in paying for additional accommodation and changing your travel plans.”

Today’s case details

There are 99 cases to report in Auckland today. The city remains the main location for Covid cases linked to the current outbreak. Health and welfare providers are now supporting 1,692 people in the region to isolate at home, including 642 cases.

In Northland, there are 21 new cases. Of those, 12 cases are in Kerikeri, five are in Hokianga and four are in Whangārei. There were two new locations of interest published for Northland yesterday, both in Kerikeri.

There’s been a significant jump in cases in Waikato, with 51 reported today. Of these, 23 are linked to previously reported cases and the rest remain under investigation for links to known cases. Eighteen of these cases are based in Hamilton, one is in Matamata and the others are still under investigation.

There are 15 new cases in the Rotorua district, with 13 linked to existing cases and two yet to be connected to the outbreak.

In the Bay of Plenty, there are 15 cases – all can be linked to previously reported cases. Of these cases, six are in Tauranga and nine in the Western Bay of Plenty.

There are four new cases to report in Tairāwhiti. Three of these cases are household contacts of previously reported cases and were isolating when they tested positive. One of these cases remains under investigation for links to a previously reported case.

“In addition, we are announcing one further case in the region whose links to a previously reported case also remains under investigation,” said the ministry. “This case is not included in today’s numbers as the ministry was notified after the daily reporting cut-off.”

There are three new cases in Hawke’s Bay. All are linked to previously reported cases and were already isolating when they tested positive.

One new case has been confirmed in the MidCentral area. They are a household contact of a case and were already in isolation.

Finally, there are three cases in the Marlborough region today. All these cases were known close contacts of previously reported cases. They were isolating when they tested positive. “Investigations are under way to identify any exposure events associated with these cases,” said the ministry.

Another Covid-19 vaccine gets Medsafe approval

A nurse holds up a vial of vaccine at a hospital in Srinagar. India has administered more than 55 million shots of Covid-19 vaccine so far. (Photo: Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)

The Novavax vaccine has been given provisional approval by the country’s medicines regulator, Medsafe.

It still needs to be given the government stamp of approval, but should it receive that it will be made available for those over the age of 18.

“The Medsafe team has worked tirelessly to ensure that Covid-19 vaccine applications are prioritised and urgently reviewed, while still maintaining the same scrutiny that all medicine applications undergo before they can be approved,” said Chris James from Medsafe.

Vaccines that use three different technologies have now been approved by Medsafe.

The Friday News Quiz

The Friday News Quiz

Another week, another weekly news quiz! How well have you been paying attention to the week that’s been? Test your knowledge below.

Record number of new homes consented in 2021

New Stats NZ figures show a record number of new homes were consented in 2021.

Almost 49,000 new homes were consented last year, a 24% bump compared with 2020. Prior to 2021, the highest number of new homes consented was 40,025 in 1974.

“[2021] concludes a record-breaking year for new home consents, with multi-unit homes surging 36% to 23,335 in 2021, and stand-alone houses rising 15% to 25,564, compared with 2020,” said Stats NZ’s construction statistics manager Michael Heslop.

Bafta nominations throw curveballs in Oscar race


New Zealand director Jane Campion looks set for a good day when Oscar nominations are released next week.

Her latest film, the Power of the Dog, has scored another haul of nominations – this time at the Baftas. The Netfilx film, which Campion also wrote, is up for best picture, along with nominations for its directing, screenplay, lead actor and supporting actor.

But while Campion’s nominations were expected, others were not. The best actress race is missing almost all of the supposed Oscar frontrunners, with Lady Gaga being the only predictable nominee for her performance in House of Gucci. Snubs in this race include Kristen Stewart (Spencer), Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos), Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) and Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter).

Alongside Gaga, nominees include Alana Haim for Licorice Pizza and Emilia Jones for the wonderful Apple TV+ film Coda.

Other surprises: There’s no Kenneth Branagh in the best director race for Belfast (he pops up in screenplay instead). Woody Norman (C’mon C’mon) and Mike Faist (West Side Story) pick up supporting actor nods. There are two acting nominations for Passing (a great film, but one that had lost its award season momentum).

Dune was the most nominated film with 11 nominations.

Find the full list here. For more analysis, get in my DMs.

The Power of the Dog
Benedict Cumberbatch in Jane Campion’s the Power of the Dog. Photo: Netflix

Gone By Lunchtime returns for 2022

New Zealand’s alpha strain of political podcasting Gone By Lunchtime is back this week for its sixth journey around the sun. On the agenda: Jacinda Ardern’s opening up speech, reviewed. The Bellis saga, assessed. RATs, digested. The polls, examined. And Ben’s Covid test result, revealed.

Follow Gone By Lunchtime on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

Also new this week on The Spinoff Podcast Network…

Who or what is responsible for all the price inflation we’ve been seeing lately? And how do we know when we’re paying too much? On this week’s When the Facts Change, Bernard Hickey talks monetary policy with economic consultant Donal Curtin (previously of the New Zealand Commerce Commission) and Kiwibank chief economist Jarrod Kerr.

Follow When the Facts Change on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

And on The Fold, MediaWorks director of news and talk Dallas Gurney joins Duncan Greive to talk about the company’s decision to scrap Magic Talk, the long-term vision behind its replacement Today FM and the contentious ERA decision keeping Tova O’Brien off the air until mid-March.

Follow The Fold on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

End of MIQ a ‘victory’ for overseas New Zealanders – Bishop

National MP Chris Bishop is currently leader of the house (Photo: Getty Images)

Now that MIQ’s coming to an end, it’s time to take a look at self-isolation.

National’s Covid response spokesperson said while home isolation is a step forward, the tourism industry will soon want to see that abolished as well. Under the new five-step border reopening plan, vaccinated arrivals will initially have to spend 10 days self-isolating at home. That’s likely to drop to seven days and could eventually reduce even further.

Chris Bishop told RNZ that self-isolation is where “the conversation is going to go”.

“Tourism is basically not going to see much improvement until you get rid of those isolation requirements,” he said.

On the end of MIQ, Bishop called it a “victory” for the million New Zealanders overseas. “It would be very churlish for me to say it’s anything other than progress and good news. An end to MIQ can’t come soon enough,” he said.

“MIQ doesn’t make any sense anymore, once you’ve got cases in the community and it’s spreading.”

Hipkins admits he’s ‘pretty sceptical’ about Covid modelling

Hipkins said the Auckland lockdown cost Labour votes. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Covid-19 response minister has compared modelling of potential Covid case numbers to a weather forecast, saying they’re often wrong.

“I’ve always been pretty sceptical about the models,” Chris Hipkins told Newstalk ZB. But, he added: “I think people do want to see that the government is, at least, finding what evidence we can for what the potential scenarios might be so we can be prepared for those.”

Recent modelling predicted as many as 50,000 omicron infections by Waitangi weekend. Case numbers remain in the low 100s currently (it’s likely the infection rate is higher).

“They are useful. It’s better to have some modelling than no modelling,” Hipkins clarified.

On the issue of rapid antigen tests, Hipkins said he was confident global supply issues would eventually resolve and people would be able to access the tests more easily. In the meantime: “The priority for us is going to be making sure we’ve got tests available to those who need to test in order to return to work.”

(Photo: Getty Images)