Election Live, October 2: Donald Trump tests positive for Covid-19

Welcome to The Spinoff’s Election Live for October 2, bringing you the latest on election 2020 and other NZ news. The essential campaign dates are here. For all you need to know about the cannabis referendum click here. For the assisted dying referendum click here. Explore the parties’ pledges at Policy. I’m on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

7.00pm: The day in sum

American president Donald Trump tested positive for Covid-19, as did the first lady, Melania Trump.

There were no new cases of Covid-19, and no one in hospital with the virus.

The Ministry of Health said it believed one of the three people who tested positive for Covid-19 after leaving managed isolation was infected via a rubbish bin.

The Māori Party toned down its strict immigration policy.

Labour announced its housing policy, which contains a pledge to repeal and replace the Resource Management Act.

6.40pm: Trump’s doctor issues statement

The president’s doctor, Sean Conley, has put out this statement:

I release the following information with the permission of President Donald J Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.

This evening I received confirmation that both President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.

The White House medical team and I will maintain a vigilant watch, and I appreciate the support provided by some of our our country’s greatest medical professionals and institutions. Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering, and I will keep you updated on any future developments.

6.05pm: US president Donald Trump tests positive for Covid-19

The American president, Donald Trump, and first lady Melania have tested positive for Covid-19. Trump has just tweeted this:

5.00pm: Māori Party quietly tones down immigration policy

The Māori Party has softened its strict immigration policy, which previously called for immigration to be halted.

The party’s Whānau Build policy has now been adjusted to say immigration should be “curbed” until the supply side of housing meets the demand. There is also now an exception for refugees and displaced whanaunga, who would be permitted entry.

“For us to exercise manaaki we have to commit to indigenous first so that we can then support others later,” the policy now reads.

4.10pm: Travel bubble with Australia ‘finalised’ – report

There are reports out of Australia that a travel bubble with New Zealand has been finalised.

New Zealanders will be allowed to travel across the ditch in a fortnight’s time, 7 News reports. 

It’s understood the system will initially just be one way, meaning Australians cannot come to New Zealand without having to quarantine.

4.00pm: Donald Trump goes into quarantine

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania have gone into quarantine, after one of his closest advisors tested positive for Covid-19.

Trump tweeted to say that Hope Hicks – the 31-year-old counsellor to the president – had tested positive after “working so hard without even taking a small break.”

The US has now ticked over 7.3 million cases of Covid-19, with more than 200,000 deaths.

3.45pm: Winston Peters looked like a man transformed at the Newshub debate

The Winston Peters I saw today (see 2.30pm update), actively battling with the media, is quite different to the Winston Peters who featured in last night’s pre-recorded Newshub Nation debate.

As promised earlier, Toby Manhire’s written a recap of what went down at the “powerbrokers” debate, which you can watch tomorrow morning on Three.

Here’s an excerpt:

Had I disappeared off-grid to live in a cave 10 weeks ago – and don’t think I wasn’t tempted – then returned last night to the Newshub “powerbrokers” debate, I’d have confidently told you this: Winston Peters, perched on the far-left stool, beaming above his immaculate white-spotted tie, is heading back to parliament. While I was hibernating, New Zealand First must have climbed to 5% or more, or taken the lead in Northland. That man is a picture of contentment.

Read the full article here 

2.30pm: A quiet afternoon in Aotea Square with Winston Peters

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has entertained a crowd of about a hundred in Auckland’s CBD this afternoon, as part of his re-election campaign.

I headed along to see what all the fuss was about, and witnessed a greatest hits of Winston Peters-isms.

After fending off a representative from the Taxpayers’ Union dressed as a “debt monster”, Peters entered into a rampage against the media, the Serious Fraud Office and justified his decision to enter into a coalition with Labour. Positioning himself as an “insurance” policy, Peters implored the crowd to vote for their future. It was classic Peters, and the crowd treated him like a superstar – selfies and all.

However, one change in today’s Winston Peters performance was his attitude toward coalition partner Labour. In previous weeks, Peters has been critical of the party. Today, he spoke highly of the “combined effort” of the duo, saying they provided “stability.”

“My party brought serious experience to this coalition,” he said.

The stand-up was held in Aotea Square, in front of the massive campaign bus that has taken Peters around the country. Plagued by the sound of nearby construction, Peters struggled during the Q&A portion of the event and often had to have questions repeated to him by those closest to him. But, he appeared to relish at the opportunity to address peoples’ concerns and queries about a wide range of topics.

Winston Peters greets a fan (Photo : Stewart Sowman-Lund)

Later, Peters addressed media, where he defended his party’s decision to quietly release its policy manifesto this week – just two weeks out from the general election. The manifesto, which promises a tight immigration regime, “degrees of murder” criminal charges, and a tax crackdown on Facebook and Google was released yesterday.

Peters said releasing it this week made sure the numbers were correct, criticising National’s Paul Goldsmith for making errors in his party’s plan.

2.00pm: A high-level data visualisation of the rubbish bin cluster

The Spinoff’s deputy editor Alice Neville whipped up this diagram showing how the cases linked to the Christchurch managed isolation rubbish bin (see 1.00pm update) were infected. Please enjoy.

1.00pm: No new cases of Covid-19

There are no new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today. The total number of confirmed cases is 1,492, and there is no one in hospital. Ten previously reported cases have recovered, so we now have 43 active cases, 11 of which are community cases and the remainder imported.

Director of public health McElnay said it now appeared likely that the positive cases in people who had completed managed isolation in Christchurch came from a contaminated rubbish bin at the facility. The man who was reported to be a positive case on September 19 – who the ministry initially thought may have contracted the virus in India but had a very long incubation period – was in fact infected on the charter flight from Christchurch to Auckland on September 11 by another person who had completed managed isolation.

That person had no symptoms but was tested as they were on the same flight as the first case, and returned a positive result on September 23.

“Investigations at the managed isolation facility show that the case reported on September 23 was likely exposed to Covid-19 near the end of their stay in managed isolation and was likely incubating the virus at the time of their day 12 test, which was negative,” said McElnay.

“While we cannot be conclusive, we now believe that this person was likely infected on that charter flight by a person seated behind them by a person who had also completed 14 days in managed isolation and had returned two negative tests.

“Our hypothesis is that the virus may have been transmitted to that person via the surface of a rubbish bin which was used by another returnee who was likely infectious at the facility. That returnee tested positive on day 12 of their stay in managed isolation but they were likely infectious a few days prior.”

A family member of that person, who they were in managed isolation with, also tested positive, as did another family member after they returned home to Auckland.



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