Live UpdatesMay 8 2022

Ardern in Covid isolation, new law and order package announced

Ardern in Covid isolation, new law and order package announced

May 8 2022

Covid-19 latest: NZ records first BA.5 case; three deaths and 5,647 community cases

The Ministry of Health is reporting 5,647 community cases of Covid-19, 350 hospitalisations and three deaths.

Today’s seven-day rolling average of community case numbers is 7,510 – approximately the same as last Sunday’s 7,414 reported cases.

Border case with omicron BA.5 variant

A person who travelled from South Africa to New Zealand has been confirmed as having the BA.5 variant of omicron. This is the first known detection of the variant in New Zealand.

The person arrived in New Zealand on 26 April, returned a positive RAT from their day 5/6 test on 1 May and a positive PCR sample taken on 2 May. The result was reported the following day. Whole genome sequencing was undertaken as part of ongoing border surveillance for emerging variants and subsequently confirmed the BA.5 variant.

The person followed all testing and reporting requirements, allowing this new sub-variant to be identified quickly, and has now completed their isolation at home.

This follows the detection of BA.4 on 1 May, also in a person who had travelled from South Africa.

Both BA.4 and BA.5 have been reported in Southern Africa and Europe, and both variants have been detected in Australia. The arrival of the BA.5 sub-variant in New Zealand is not unexpected and underlines the importance of the rapid antigen testing of all arrivals at day 0/1 and day 5/6, followed by a PCR test of any arrivals who test positive, the ministry said.

Read an explainer by Siouxsie Wiles on the new omicron variants here.

Covid-19 deaths

Three people have died with Covid-19. This reporting period includes people who have died over the past three days.

These deaths take the total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 860. The seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 16.

Of the people whose deaths we are reporting today two people were from Canterbury and one from MidCentral.

Two people were in their 80s and one was aged over 90. Two were men and one was a woman.

Ardern in isolation after partner Clarke Gayford contracts Covid

The prime minister has gone into home isolation after her fiance Clarke Gayford tested positive for Covid-19 this morning.

“Clarke woke up feeling a bit average and has tested positive for Covid,” Ardern wrote in a Facebook post, “so we have 7 days of family time ahead of us.”

Ardern said she’d work at home remotely including giving a speech to Business NZ on Wednesday via video conference.

She, Gayford and daughter Neve are at Premier House in Wellington.

Jacinda Ardern's Facebook post

Action on ram raids and $562m for police in new law and order package

The government has announced a pre-budget package of law and order spending aimed at increasing police numbers, addressing gang violence and extending rehabilitation programmes.

The package, announced by justice minister Kris Faafoi, police minister Poto Williams and corrections minister Kelvin Davis at Counties Manukau police station this morning, includes an extra $562m for police over the next four years. Williams said the funding would ensure “numbers don’t fall away again by maintaining an ongoing ratio of one police officer to every 480 New Zealanders”.

“When we came into office that ratio was standing at one police officer for every 548 Kiwis.”

The package also includes an additional $94.5m investment in programmes aimed at addressing organised crime, including gangs.

“Our response needs to address the root causes of crime, especially when it relates to young people, provide more rehabilitation to reduce reoffending, and actively pursue and prosecute those who participate in illegal gang activity,” Faafoi said.

(Photo: RNZ)

There is a big increase in funding to expand the tactical response model for police. The government says the boost will more than double the current tactical training for frontline police, boost intelligence capabilities, and improve the safety and capability of tactical dog teams.

Police minister Williams also promised action to combat the recent rise in ram raids. “Similar to the process that supported the installation of a thousand fog cannons in retail outlets, we will help high risk businesses protect themselves from ram raiders.” However today’s announcement did not include any funding to support this undertaking.

The announcement included an additional $198.3m for programmes that break the cycle of offending and funding for 518 extra corrections staff to support rehabilitation.