Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for April 7, bringing you the latest news throughout the day. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Remember When… Emo
Cast your mind back to the mid 2000s, back when you were welcomed to the Black Parade and definitely Not Ok. Emo brought together a generation of young New Zealanders in a vortex of thick eyeliner, side-swept fringes, fan scrapbooks and all black everything.
Today on the latest episode of The Spinoff’s nostalgic podcast Remember When… The Spinoff’s Alex Casey, Jihee Junn and Jane Yee look back to a time when panic ruled the disco, romance was chemical and our love of all things emotional lit a fire inside.
3.45pm: Leaked document shows just how far behind we are in vaccine roll-out
A document leaked to the National Party shows that we have given out about 300,000 less doses of the Covid-19 vaccine than planned for in January.
According to the Ministry of Health’s new vaccine dashboard, just over 90,000 doses have been given out so far. That’s 23% of the planned 390,413 according to the document.
National’s Covid-19 response spokesperson Chris Bishop said it’s pathetic. “After promising New Zealanders we were at the front of the queue for Covid-19 vaccines, nearly every other country in the OECD is now ahead of us, with just Japan behind New Zealand,” he said.
As of yesterday, New Zealand has administered just 1.9 doses per 100 people in our population, said Bishop.
At today’s 1pm press conference, Ashley Bloomfield defended the pace of our vaccine roll-out. “We’re in a position where we can take a measured and steady approach,” Bloomfield said. “We have made a very good start in this programme … now it is starting to scale up.”
3.10pm: Three people given Covid-19 vaccine report ‘serious’ adverse reactions
Three people have so far suffered “serious” allergic reactions to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in New Zealand.
A new MedSafe report, dating from February 20 to March 6, has revealed that 147 people during the first few weeks of the vaccine roll-out registered “adverse events following immunisation”. Most of these were minor, such as headaches or dizziness.
Of the three that had allergic reactions, one was classified as an anaphylactic reaction.
“The range of adverse events reported are consistent with those noted during the clinical trials and post marketing surveillance of the Pfizer vaccine,” Otago University associate professor James Ussher said in comments to the Science Media Centre.
“Allergic reactions to Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine are rare but reported. Vaccinators are trained in the management of allergic reactions. As noted in the report, these reactions were appropriately managed in the clinic and did not require hospitalisation.”
Dr Fran Priddy, from Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand, agreed: “Anaphylaxis after vaccination is very rare, but it is known to occur with any vaccine.”
The Pfizer vaccine is being given out in settings prepared to deal with anaphylaxis, she said. “The fact that New Zealand is reporting adverse event information is good news, as it means that the safety follow-up systems is working transparently and the vaccination campaign is really getting under way.”
1.00pm: Seven new MIQ Covid-19 cases; Valentine’s Day cluster officially ‘closed’
Peeni Henare has received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, joining ministers Little, Hipkins and Verrall. He said it went well and he feels fine, and praised those at the clinic where he received the jab.
Last week Henare started a “roadshow” to help promote the vaccine to Māori communities and this week he’ll be travelling to the South Island to continue spreading that message. “Equity and Te Tiriti o Waitangi are the over-arching principles for our Covid-19 vaccine and immunisation programme,” Henare said.
Meanwhile, there are no new community cases of the virus. There are seven new cases in managed isolation, linked to the border. Of these, six have travelled from India via the UAE and tested positive upon arrival in managed isolation.
The seventh is a close contact of a case announced yesterday.
As of yesterday, the Auckland February cluster first confirmed on Valentine’s Day was deemed closed. This is based on yesterday being 28 days after the last identified case in the cluster was classified as recovered, the ministry said.
The cluster was made up of 15 community cases. All the cases in the cluster were able to be linked epidemiologically and through Whole Genome Sequencing. The source of the outbreak has not been determined.
Ashley Bloomfield said that 86 applications for early vaccination for international travel based on the criteria of national significance have been approved, most for the Olympics and some for diplomats. In addition, 41 applications have been made on compassionate grounds, with 23 approved to date.
Vaccination dashboard launched; Covid Tracer app update coming this week
Key vaccination statistics are now being posted on an online vaccination dashboard, which will be updated on Wednesday each week.
The dashboard provides a snapshot of vaccination progress, including:
- The number of people to receive their first vaccination
- The number of people to receive their second vaccination
- A graph which indicates the number of vaccinations administered each week vs the planned numbers.
The dashboard shows that we are slightly behind our roll-out plan, but that 90, 286 doses of the vaccine have been given out so far.
Meanwhile, an update to the government’s Covid Tracer app is on the way later this week.
The new features will include:
- The dashboard showing how many days out of the past 14 you’ve used the app;
- The dashboard showing figures on how many New Zealanders are using the app – the same as the figures released regularly by the Ministry; and
- A flashlight option for scanning in low light conditions – particularly useful for the winter months ahead.
12.00pm: National calls for ACC, Super Fund, to front over Myanmar allegations
A 1News report yesterday revealed that the New Zealand Super Fund has shares in an Indian company that is working closely with Myanmar’s armed forces.
It means, according to the Greens’ Golriz Ghahraman, that New Zealanders could be investing in “mass violence”.
Now, National’s Gerry Brownlee wants ACC and the Super Fund to front up in select committee.
“As a good international citizen New Zealand has a strong reputation for upholding human rights and it is appropriate for the Select Committee to seek assurances from these organisations as despite their independence from government, their decisions can affect New Zealand’s international reputation,” Brownlee said in a statement.
“The recent allegation of Super Fund investment in a company associated with military government activity in Myanmar demonstrates the need for parliamentary confidence in the ethical investment decision structure independently exercised by the funds.”
11.40am: Andrew Little next minister to receive Covid-19 jab
Health minister Andrew Little has become the next government minister to get the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccination.
He joins minister Chris Hipkins and Ayesha Verrall who got the jab last week, and minister Peeni Henare who received the vaccination today as well.
In a post on Facebook, Little said the injection “didn’t hurt at all” and was over before he knew it.
11.10am: Vaccine data irregularities exposed
An analysis of recent Covid-19 press conferences appears to have revealed irregularities in the vaccination data the public is being given.
Chris McDowall, writing for the Herald, has called for a more regular release of Covid-19 vaccine data. At this stage, the information is usually just released on Wednesday by Chris Hipkins.
But last week, Hipkins’ own data appeared to contradict that given by a spokesperson.
On March 31: A spokesman for Hipkins suggested that around 60,000 New Zealanders had received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The next day, on April 1, Hipkins himself said: “As of midnight last night, 66,296 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered. So, that’s about 52,183 people — 16,483 of those have had the full two doses.”
The next day, another error: Hipkins had stated that 16,483 people had received the full two doses, while the Ministry of Health claimed that was actually about 2000 above the correct figure. The 16,483 people is in fact the number of people who had received a vaccine in the previous week.
This morning, speaking on Newstalk ZB, Jacinda Ardern said that the regularity of vaccine data will be increased as the roll-out continues.
9.55am: PM does Aussie media rounds after travel bubble announcement
Jacinda Ardern has been on a charm offensive this morning; not only chatting with her ol’ pal Mike Hosking, but giving out several interviews with top Australian TV/radio networks.
So far this morning, Ardern has appeared on Nova, the Today Show, Sunrise, and KIIS. Later today she’ll be chatting to The Project Australia.
According to a rival live blog run by Stuff, Ardern’s media run this morning has focused on presenting New Zealand as a great destination for Aussies. “We look forward to welcoming [New Zealand citizens] home, but we equally look forward to welcoming Aussies as guests. We … have honestly missed you,” Ardern told Sunrise.
“I think we can do it safely, I think we can do it well, and I think people understand there might be disruptions,” she said. “After a hard long year for you and for us, this is a step back to normal and I think we all relish those moments.”
Ardern said she is hoping to get Scott Morrison over for a face-to-face meeting in New Zealand and would like to see comedian Celeste Barber come for a visit as well.
Over on The Today Show, Ardern was asked to join a sing-a-long of Slice of Heaven. She said there’s “zero chance” of her singing along. “Politicians should not dance and they should not sing,” she said.
9.20am: Hosking says he doesn’t want the PM back on his show
Newstalk ZB broadcaster Mike Hosking has decided he doesn’t want Jacinda Ardern to appear on his show, unless it’s going to be a regular occurrence.
The PM pulled the plug on her weekly ZB slot a few weeks back, prompting Hosking to go on a furious tirade. Today, he spoke with Ardern about the new Australian travel bubble and addressed concerns around MIQ spots not being freed up.
After the interview – which could easily be described as tense – Hosking said he didn’t want Ardern to make future appearances on his show.
“Here’s my argument, if she didn’t want to appear on this programme that’s fine, that’s her issue, that’s her prerogative and she can own that. But she doesn’t get to come back. She doesn’t get to pop up every now and then when the good news comes out in the form of a bubble.”
He added: “Now to be fair to her, we did ask and that’s the production side of this programme, they asked her to come on and she said she would. I don’t want her back. She’s made her call and she can live with it. The management and production side argued she should come back on a periodic basis based on the fact that when there is a big deal, a big headline, big news, that we get her back on.”
8.00am: National thrilled with trans-Tasman bubble – but calls for Pacific to be included
We’ve only just confirmed a travel bubble with Australia – and now National has its sights set on the Pacific.
Judith Collins told RNZ that quarantine-free travel with Australia is well overdue, but she’s thrilled a date has finally been set and didn’t want to be “mean-spirited” about it.
The traffic light system – where the bubble can be temporarily paused or suspended – seems to be a “reasonable solution”, said Collins. However, she hoped that a sub-committee of cabinet would be responsible for looking at the best advice possible about when to stop the free-flow of travellers.
Asked whether she was happy about the possible suspension of travel due to an outbreak, Collins said that was the right way to go about things. “There’s no reason why, if there was an outbreak that can’t be linked directly to the border, that there wouldn’t be a closed border with [a particular] state. Australia is a large country so you’re always going to have situations where you’re going to have to take different steps… so I don’t have a problem with that.”
Now that a bubble has been established with Australia, the Pacific Islands should be included. “It could be done very quickly. I’m very aware that the Cook Islands has been told that the bubble will be open on May 1, but for some reason the government isn’t telling New Zealanders that.” When it comes to Samoa or Tonga, Collins said they have never had a case of Covid-19. “I think it is really important that we look at how these countries are being extraordinarily hard hit by the lack of tourists,” she said.
7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin
A traffic light system will govern New Zealand’s travel bubble with Australia, with a green light indicating unencumbered journeys between the two countries are safe. On the Australian side, it will operate on a state by state basis. Our live updates reports it will open on April 19, with a range of criteria set out as to what would cause it to stay open or close, in the case of community transmission on either side. To quote:
A case well contained and connected to a border worker would result in “continue”, while a case not clearly connected to the border that might lead to a state lockdown would result in a “pause” on flights from that state. Multiple cases with no known origin, meanwhile, would result in flights being suspended for a period of time.
Flyers will, of course, be going at their own risk. There was a story several weeks ago about how it would be impossible to get travel insurance to pay out in the event of getting stuck on the wrong side. Nothing would indicate that has changed, and the government has continued to reiterate this point.
What will it mean for the managed isolation system? Not necessarily all that much, and New Zealanders trying to get home might still struggle for spots. Justin Giovannetti reports that while it will free up some of the rooms in MIQ, the government doesn’t intend to make them widely available – his story explains more. That will be of particular concern to both potential returnees in higher risk countries, and also to the migrant families who have been separated by Covid – some of whom were rallying at parliament yesterday.
There has been a bit of political reaction to it all, following reasonably predictable lines. Australian PM Scott Morrison that it was an important first step of many in opening up to the world again, reports the SMH. National leader Judith Collins made the heroic suggestion that the party’s petition on the issue put so much pressure on the government that they had to get it done, while Act’s David Seymour said the announcement came “six months late”. Seymour also pointed out that the ideas underpinning the system had been in the public domain for a long time – though as we’ve seen with this government and plenty before it too, there’s a big difference between having a good idea and actually putting it into effect.
East Coast MP and minister Kiri Allan has called for women to get regular smear tests, after a diagnosis of cervical cancer. The news was released yesterday morning, and prompted an outpouring of support for Allan. She will now go on medical leave, and in the interim Kris Faafoi will become emergency management minister, and Ayesha Verrall will become conservation minister.