summerupdates3

Live UpdatesJan 10 2022

27 new community Covid-19 cases, 33 at the border

Welcome to a brand new year of The Spinoff’s live updates. This week we’re soft relaunching and will be bringing you a heavily curated selection of breaking news and other top stories. Normal service resumes next week. Need to get in touch? I’m on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

summerupdates3

27 new community Covid-19 cases, 33 at the border

Welcome to a brand new year of The Spinoff’s live updates. This week we’re soft relaunching and will be bringing you a heavily curated selection of breaking news and other top stories. Normal service resumes next week. Need to get in touch? I’m on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

Jan 10 2022

Golden Globes: Jane Campion wins best director and best picture

The Power of the Dog, the New Zealand-shot Netflix drama written and directed by Jane Campion, has swept the 2022 Golden Globe awards.

Released last year to critical acclaim, the film picked up best drama while Campion was awarded best director. Star Kodi Smit-McPhee won best supporting actor. It puts the film, along with Campion and Smit-McPhee, squarely into this year’s Oscar race.

Both the Power of the Dog and Belfast, written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, went into the awards as frontrunners with seven nominations each. The latter picked by best screenplay for Branagh.

West Side Story was awarded best musical or comedy, also picking up two awards in acting categories.

On the television front, Succession dominated with wins for best actor, supporting actress and the overall best drama award.

This year’s Golden Globes were not televised, nor were they attended by any celebrity stars, following a year of controversy surrounding the organising body the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Instead, all the winners were announced via slightly surreal tweets such as the following:

Brian Tamaki claims anti-vax rally was simply ‘family funday picnic’

Brian Tamaki is once again facing a police inquiry over his appearance at an anti-vaccine event – this time in Christchurch.

The Destiny Church leader appeared in court three times in 2021 over his involvement with large protests that breached Covid-19 health restrictions. At his last court appearance he was barred from organising, attending or speaking at any protest in breach of health restrictions.

Since the country is now at the orange level of the traffic light framework, events that use vaccine passes can be attended by any number of people. However, events that don’t use passes are limited to 50 people.

According to Stuff, the Christchurch rally at Hagley Park was attended by more than 50 people and, despite his bail conditions, Tamaki reportedly spoke at the event.

But the church leader has remained defiant, releasing a statement where he accused the police of unfairly targeting him. “I will not take this harassment lying down,” Tamaki said. “I am fighting for our civil rights and I will continue to fight back with all my might and courage.”

Tamaki claimed the protest wasn’t a protest at all, but rather a “family funday picnic”.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Auckland vaccine numbers lower than previously reported

The Ministry of Health has updated its vaccine figures, showing a lower overall result for first and second doses across the Auckland area. “Today we are reporting 96% first dose and 94% second dose in Auckland metro’s figures,” said the ministry.

“These percentages are lower than those we reported in yesterday’s update. Yesterday’s percentages reflected the current situation in the Auckland DHB area only. Today’s numbers reflect the combined percentage for Auckland, Waitemata and Counties Manukau DHBs.”

The ministry had reported that 97% of Auckland was fully vaccinated, a figure subsequently shared by media outlets. However, despite today’s correction, Auckland’s overall vaccine numbers remain high for a large city.

27 community Covid infections; new Wellington case attended Auckland New Year party

There are 27 new community cases of Covid-19, while 33 have been confirmed at the border.

Of today’s community cases, one has been identified in Wellington. They attended the Britomart Block Party in Auckland on New Year’s Eve. “Anyone who attended this event between 11.15pm on December 31 and 2.30am on January 1 is advised to immediately get tested then self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms for 10 days after you were exposed,” said the Ministry of Health. “If you have symptoms get tested, stay home until you receive a negative test result.”

Today’s other cases

There are 16 cases to report in Auckland today. Health and welfare providers are now supporting 944 people in the region to isolate at home, including 204 cases.

There is one new case to announce in Northland today – in the Hokianga area. This case was reported after the daily cut-off and will be included in tomorrow’s figures. This case is linked to a known case in the Hokianga and was already in isolation as a close contact when they tested positive. Further investigations are underway to confirm any potential exposures from this case

There are five new cases in the Waikato today, three are unlinked. Two are in Hamilton, one in Ngāruawāhia, one in Whitianga, one in Coromandel town.

There are two cases to report in the Western Bay of Plenty today. One of today’s case is a household previously reported cases, and one is still being investigated for potential links. Both cases are isolating at home.

At this stage, no further positive Covid-19 test results have been received associated with the drum and bass festival in Tauranga’s Wharepai Domain on January 3 which had been attended by a person with Covid-19.

“All those who attended the festival should monitor for symptoms and get tested if any symptoms develop, no matter how mild,” said the Ministry of Health. “No further cases have been linked to the festival and the initial test results of the 11 close contacts of the Wellington case are all negative.”

There is one case to report in Rotorua today. The case is still being investigated for links to previously reported cases.

There are two Hawke’s Bay residents who have tested positive while in Waikato. Both cases are previously linked to reported cases in Waikato.

Both cases are currently isolating in Te Kūiti. There are no known exposure events associated with these cases in Hawke’s Bay.

The latest vaccine data

“A total of 500,821 booster doses have now been given since they became available in late November 2021, representing more than 35% of those who are currently eligible,” said the ministry.

New Year locations of interest confirmed in Queenstown

New Queenstown locations have been linked to a case of Covid-19 over the New Year period.

The Ministry of Health has reported both SkyCity Casino Queenstown and the Oaks Club Suites as locations of interest. The former was visited on the evening of January 1 while the latter has been listed as a potential exposure event across December 30 to January 2.

The Shotover Jet attraction has also been named as a location of interest for three hours on January 2.

Advice for anyone who may have been at the locations at these times is currently to self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms.

Further information may be released in today’s 1pm update.

Anti-vax GP Jonie Girouard no longer able to practise medicine in NZ

An anti-vax GP secretly filmed giving out medical exemptions for the Covid-19 vaccine can no longer practise medicine in New Zealand.

Jonie Girouard was the subject of a hidden camera investigation by Newshub’s Patrick Gower in early December. Footage broadcast showed the Canterbury doctor boasting about her ability to have patients avoid vaccine mandates and issuing medical certificates she claimed could exempt people from getting the jab.

Today, the Medical Council has told the Herald that Girouard cannot practise medicine at all in New Zealand.

“Council can confirm that Jonie Girouard is no longer listed as registered and able to practise in New Zealand,” said a statement from council chair Curtis Walker.

“Council takes these matters very seriously and our concern is demonstrated by the publication of our recent guidance emphasising council’s view that there is no place for anti-vaccination messages in professional practice, nor any promotion of anti-vaccination claims including on social media and advertising by health practitioners.”

“The council steps in as early as possible when a notification is made, or information comes to light to put in place any necessary arrangements to make sure patients are kept safe.”

The state of play: the latest with Covid-19 and omicron

Been zoned out of the news over summer? Me too. Now that I’ve caught up, here’s a quick rundown of the current state of play when it comes to Covid-19.

Omicron is still on the rise

  • Yesterday’s 1pm update confirmed 64 cases of Covid-19 were detected at the border over a 48 hour period. While it’s not known how many of these were omicron cases, the vast bulk are expected to be the new variant. If you cast your mind back to mid-to-late 2021, the number of border cases on a daily basis was usually in the single digits and, occasionally, zero.
  • Australia is the latest country to suffer a mammoth surge in omicron cases. Yesterday saw just under 100,000 cases across the country, down from the previous record set on Saturday when 116,025 cases were confirmed. In Victoria alone, more than 44,000 new infections were registered.
  • The US hit one million daily infections earlier this month – the first country in the world to reach the grim milestone.
  • Worldwide, 10 million omicron cases were recorded last week.

But, vaccines are still working

  • The rise in omicron cases does not indicate that Covid-19 vaccinations are failing. For example, despite the aforementioned rapid rise in infections, the US death rate from the coronavirus has not increased to the same extent. Dr Matthew Bai, an emergency medicine physician from New York City, told NBC last last month: “The general trend that I’m seeing is, if you’re boosted and you get Covid, you really just at worst end up with bad cold symptoms. It’s not like before, where you were coughing, couldn’t say sentences and were short of breath.” The key words there: “if you’re boosted”.
  • Similarly, in Australia: while hospitalisations are on the rise as case numbers hit new highs, the number of deaths and intensive care admissions are still lower than when delta swept through the community in mid-2021.

Is it inevitable that omicron will spread through our community?

  • According to health experts, yes. Michael Baker told the Herald that the infectiousness of this variant was far beyond previous strains of Covid-19.  “In the past, we’ve had about one border failure per 100 infected people entering MIQ in New Zealand – or an average of one per 167 people across New Zealand and Australia,” he said. “In the last 10 days we have had more than 250 people arriving in MIQ and testing positive for Covid-19. Most will be infected with the Omicron variant.”
  • Siouxsie Wiles told RNZ’s Morning Report that we need to prepare for when, not if, omicron arrives. “We’re kind of back where we started again, and what we really need to be doing is trying to delay that coming into our community for as long as possible so we can get everybody with that third booster dose and so that we can also get the vaccine rollout started and hopefully finished with our children.”
  • Remember, people: scan in, wear a mask, and get vaccinated.

Booster doses can now be accessed four months after the second primary dose

  • Before Christmas, it was announced that the rollout of booster vaccine doses would be accelerated and the gap between the second and third dose reduced from six to four months. “The advice from the Covid-19 Technical Advisory Group is that shortening the period between the second and booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine is an appropriate and pragmatic step and is in line with what other countries are doing,” said Covid response minister Chris Hipkins.
  • For some unknown reason, the online booking system still only lets you book a booster after six months. However, you can make a phone booking or walk in to clinics and access an early booster now (I’ve seen a lot of tweets saying there are very few queues for walk-in boosters at pharmacies, for example).
  • Over 82% of vaccinated New Zealanders will be eligible for a booster by the end of February.

Vaccines for children start next week

  • From January 17 (next Monday), children aged 5-11 will be able to access the paediatric Pfizer vaccine deemed safe and efficient for use in younger people. According to the government, there are 476,000 children in the age bracket who will become eligible to get their first dose from next week and their second dose at least eight weeks later.

Want to know more?

  • The Ministry of Health posts its daily 1pm update on its website here. I’d love to say I’ve missed reading it everyday but, well, I haven’t.

Live updates are back… sort of

Hello readers and happy new year (yes, we are still allowed to say that even if Larry David says otherwise).

I’m back for 2022 and this week we’re soft relaunching the live updates. That means you’ll see occasional posts from me about any breaking or topical news, specifically around the rapid rise of omicron. All going to plan, there will also be a chance for some lighter news and other little tidbits because that’s what we all need to kickstart the year.

As always, you can reach me by email here and, now that I’ve managed to clear the summer backlog, I’ll come back to you as soon as I can. If you’re still on holiday, please don’t tell me about it.