PoliticsNovember 14, 2021

Live updates, November 12-14: 207 new cases; rest home case dies in hospital


Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 12-14. Help support our Covid coverage – join Members today.

Sunday November 14, in brief

  • There are 207 new community cases of Covid-19 – the highest on record.
  • Of those, 192 are in Auckland, seven in Waikato, two in Northland, four in the Lakes district, and two in the Tararua district.
  • There are 9o people in hospital with Covid-19, including seven in ICU.
  • A resident of Edmonton Care Home has died in North Shore hospital with Covid-19.

1.50pm: More than 1,200 contacts of positive cases have not been contacted

The contact tracing system in New Zealand is being stretched to its limits with this outbreak. Currently, there are 5,243 active contacts of positive cases being managed. Of these, 76% have received a call from a contact tracer, meaning more than 1,200 contacts of cases have yet to be contacted by tracers to confirm testing and isolation requirements.

Even more (about 1600) have yet to return a Covid-19 test result. Some of these results will come through in the next 48 hours, but that still leaves hundreds of contacts without a test and potentially unaware of isolation requirements.

1.35pm: Record number of new cases with 207 confirmed today

Today’s total of 207 new cases is a record high since the very first case of Covid-19 in New Zealand back in February of 2020.

The vast majority (192) are in Auckland, but numbers are increasing around the country, with seven new cases in Waikato, two in Northland, four in the Lakes district, and two in the Tararua district.

There are no new cases today in Taranaki.

1.25pm: Edmonton Care Home resident with Covid-19 dies in North Shore Hospital

A woman in her 90s died last night in North Shore Hospital. The woman had a number of underlying health conditions and had Covid-19.

Her underlying health conditions and the state of her health meant it was not clinically appropriate for her to receive ventilator or ICU care.

The woman was admitted on November 6 from Edmonton Meadows Care Home where there has been an outbreak with 25 cases among staff and residents. She was a confirmed case before admission to hospital.

Ninety people are now in hospital with Covid-19, and seven of those are in ICU.

12.55pm: New case and vaccination numbers imminent

All of today’s health numbers (new cases, vaccination totals and updated areas of interest) will be sent out via a Ministry of Health media statement at approximately 1pm. Hold the line and we’ll have all the details to you just as soon as they land in our inbox.

11.30am: Covid spreads to Rotorua and Manawatū-Whanganui regions as four cases confirmed

There are four new community cases of Covid-19 in regions previously thought to be free of the virus, the Ministry of Health has announced. Two are in the Lakes District and two are in the Tararua District.

The two Lakes District cases were detected after a person sought care at Rotorua Hospital for a non-Covid health matter and subsequently returned a positive test result, said the ministry in a statement.

“The person was not in contact with any other patients as they were placed in a room set aside for possible Covid-19 cases. The person was managed with appropriate infection prevention protocols.

“Two healthcare workers involved have also been tested and are now isolating.”

The second case is a household contact of the first, says the ministry, and both are believed to be linked to cases in Auckland.

Two cases have also been confirmed in the Tararua District, which covers parts of the Manawatū-Whanganui region to the east of Palmerston North, including Dannevirke, Woodville and Eketāhuna.

“Both cases reported feeling unwell on Friday 12 November, sought prompt testing and are now self-isolating at home,” said the ministry. The two cases are linked but their links to other cases is yet to be determined.

Yesterday, a case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Taupō, then three close contacts tested positive. The person had travelled to the Wairarapa region, to the south of the Tararua District, but it’s not yet clear if the Tararua cases or the Rotorua cases are connected to the Taupō cases.

The ministry said contact tracing was under way and any locations of interest would be added to the Ministry of Health’s website when available.

Anyone living in these areas or any recent visitors with Covid-19 related symptoms, no matter how mild, should get tested, said the ministry.

Testing centres for two regions are as follows:

Tararua District
·        Dannevirke Hospital, Barraud St, 2-5pm
·        Pahiatua Medical Centre 11.30 – 3.30pm (Drive Through)
·        Woodville Medical Centre 11.30 – 3.30pm (Drive Through)
·        Horowhenua After Hours 9am-4.30pm
·        Feilding Health Centre 9am-12pm
·        575 Main St, Palmerston North 10am-5pm
·        City Doctors White Cross, 22 Victoria Ave, Palmerston North 8am-8pm
·        The Palms Medical Centre, 445 Ferguson St, Palmerston North 8am-8pm

Lakes District
·        Rotorua COVID-19 Community Testing Centre, Kahukura Clubrooms, 1475 Pukatua St,  9am to 3pm
·        Taupō COVID-19 Community Testing Centre, 79 Miro St 9am to 3pm
·        Taupō Event Centre, AC Baths Ave, 8.30am to 3pm
·        Pihanga Health, 28 Te Rangitautahanga Rd, Turangi, 11am to 1pm

Additional testing stations may be set up throughout the day. Please check Healthpoint here for Lakes District and here for Tararua District.

9.45pm: More Covid-19 cases in Taupō; locations of interest in Taupō and Masterton

Three contacts of the person who tested positive for Covid-19 in Taupō yesterday (see 10am update) have now also tested positive for the virus, according to the Ministry of Health. Two are household contacts of the initial case and one is a close contact. Two other household contacts of the case have tested negative.

“It’s understood that the case and a close contact (who is now isolating in Taupō) travelled to Masterton last weekend, before the person became symptomatic on Monday,” said the ministry in a statement this evening.

Several locations of interest in Taupō and Masterton have been released in connection with the cases. The Taupō locations are a pub on the evening of Thursday November 11, plus a bar and a strip club on the same night and the early hours of Friday November 12, as well as a petrol station on November 7. The Wairarapa locations are a Greytown petrol station and the Masterton Warehouse on November 6, plus a lunch bar and McDonald’s in Masterton on November 7.

Anyone who visited these locations at the relevant times and feels unwell should get tested. There will be drive-through Covid-19 testing available at the Wairarapa After Hours at the Masterton Medical Centre on Colombo Road between 9am and 4pm tomorrow, and in Taupō, at the community testing centre at 79 Miro Street from 9am to 3pm, at the Taupō Events Centre, on AC Baths Avenue from 8.30am to 3pm, and at Pihanga Health in Tūrangi from 11am to 1pm.

Covid detected in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui wastewater

Covid-19 was detected in wastewater from Tauranga on November 11 and Mount Maunganui on November 10 and November 11, the ministry reported this evening.

Bay of Plenty DHB has advised it will have a number of testing and vaccination sites available tomorrow. Please check the Healthpoint website for testing site details.

2.05pm: Vaccine update

There were 22,951 vaccine doses administered yesterday, made up of 6,343 first doses and 16,608 second doses. Here’s how the vaccination numbers are looking by DHB.

1.20pm: 175 new cases in the community

There are 175 cases of Covid-19 in the community today, of which eight are in Waikato, five in Taranaki, two in Northland and one in the Lakes region. The remainder are in Auckland. Of the 175 cases, 97 are yet to be linked to the outbreak.

Of yesterday’s cases, 65 were infectious in the community.

There is one new case in Taupō, more details of which below. The five cases officially reported in Taranaki today are part of the Stratford household of six first announced by the Ministry of Health yesterday.

There are now 5,371 cases in the current community outbreak.

Ninety-three people are now in hospital with Covid-19, up from 85 yesterday. Nine of those are in ICU.

Taupō update

There is a positive Covid-19 case in Taupō.

The person was tested on Thursday after becoming symptomatic earlier in the week. Interviews are continuing today to determine any links to known cases.

The public health unit for the Bay of Plenty and Lakes districts, Toi Te Ora, is following up on any potential locations of interest. Potential locations of interest will be notified on the Ministry of Health website.

The person’s four household contacts are being tested today.

There is additional testing capacity in and around Taupō today and the ministry is urging anyone who may have symptoms, however mild, to visit one of the sites and get a test.

Taranaki update

The five cases officially reported in Taranaki today are part of the Stratford household of six first announced by the Ministry yesterday.

All six cases tested positive on Thursday evening in Stratford, including one who was admitted to Taranaki Base Hospital for Covid-19 related reasons. The person has now been discharged and is at home isolating with the five remaining cases.

All cases are clearly linked and there is also a link to the Auckland outbreak.

Public health staff have tested five other people identified as close contacts. Three have returned negative results, including two people who’d been in the Wairarapa. The ministry is awaiting two further results.

The latest wastewater result for Stratford has not detected Covid-19.

As of Friday, 86% of the eligible population in Taranaki had received at least one dose of the vaccine and 72% had received a second dose. For Mâori in Taranaki, 72% have had at least one dose, and 52% have received their second dose.

Waikato update

Today there are eight new cases in Waikato – seven are known contacts and public health staff are today investigating the remaining case to determine any links to known cases.

Four of the cases are from Hamilton, three from Ōtorohanga, and one location is yet to be confirmed following further investigation. The case reported yesterday without a location has now been confirmed as Ōtorohanga.

There were 2,686 tests processed in Waikato yesterday.

Public health staff in Waikato are now supporting 234 people to isolate at home, including 89 cases and 145 contacts.

12.55pm: Today’s numbers coming shortly

There’ll be no 1pm press conference today. The latest case, hospitalisation and vaccination numbers will arrive by written statement sometime between 1pm and 1.30pm. All the important details will be shared here shortly after. In the meantime, here’s Toby Morris with a reminder about why you need to get vaccinated now, this weekend, if you want to enjoy a classic Kiwi summer break.

A message from The Spinoff’s new editor Madeleine Chapman:

Like any good door-to-door salesperson, I’m about to cheerily introduce myself and then, in the very next breath, ask you for money. Hi! I’m Madeleine (or Mad) Chapman, previously an intern at The Spinoff, then a staff writer, senior writer and now editor. It certainly wasn’t the plan to step into this role in the middle of a delta outbreak, nor did I think my first weeks on the job would unfold alongside New Zealand’s largest city slowly coming out of stagnation. But despite the strange and unfortunate circumstances, The Spinoff team has stepped up once again, working tirelessly (and mostly from our bedrooms) to bring you the most important news when you need it, and the lighter moments when things are looking a little bleak. We’ve been able to continue this work because of the ongoing contributions from our members, and I can’t thank you enough.

But I can boldly ask that you consider becoming a member if you aren’t one already. If you’ve read something on our site recently that you enjoyed or appreciated, consider it a koha for that alone, because every dollar donated through The Spinoff Members is used to create more of the work you see every day. And with Christmas around the corner (which I’m finding genuinely hard to believe), there’s no such thing as shipping delays on a membership of The Spinoff bought for whānau and friends.

Saturday 10.00am: Covid case confirmed in Taupō, says mayor

Following a positive wastewater result yesterday, a person has tested positive for Covid-19 in Taupō, the district’s mayor, David Trewavas, has told RNZ.

Trewavas said the Ministry of Health informed him a positive Covid-19 test result was returned last night, taken from a person tested at the Taupō community testing centre yesterday afternoon.

The Taupō wastewater sample that tested positive for the virus was taken on Monday. A further sample taken on Wednesday is still being analysed.

4.15pm: More Taranaki locations of interest released

The Ministry of Health has released further locations of interest in connection with six Covid-19 cases in the Taranaki town of Stratford, going back almost two weeks.

They are the Warehouse in Hāwera for 12pm-1pm on Saturday, October 30; and three Stratford locations for between 9am and 3pm on Wednesday, November 3: New World, Countdown and Unichem Mackays Pharmacy. (Presumably the exact times the case or cases were at these locations is unclear, so a wide timeframe is being given.) The advice for people who have been at any of these locations at the relevant times is to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, and get tested if any develop.

Other locations of interest added today include a Kmart in Hamilton, in dairy in Hamilton for two different exposure times, and a dollar shop in Ōtorohanga. The full list is here.

2.50pm: When the Facts Change: The KiwiSaver provider and developer teaming up on housing

Simplicity and NZ Living want to strip out the waste in the apartment development “stack” to create affordable build-to-rent apartments immune from tyranny of booms and bust. Bernard Hickey unpacks the stack in his latest podcast.

KiwiSaver fund Simplicity and apartment and townhouse developer NZ Living have teamed up in a unique plan to build 10,000 homes worth $5b over 10 years with the sole aim of holding them and renting them out at affordable levels. In the process, they hope to expose the waste and hidden costs that currently make building flats painfully expensive. 

This is not the way it’s done in a property development and sector dominated by booms, busts, litigation, short-term thinking and the overall aim to make tax-free capital gains on land price escalation, rather than building homes people will rent for years and years, possibly even decades.

Our current hodge-podge “stack” of developers, mezzanine funding, sub-contractors, buy-and-flick owners, agents and increasingly disenfranchised and desperate renters believe it can’t be done an other way. They’re told and tell each other regularly that a chronic and permanent shortage of land, building materials, skilled tradies, reliable and affordable finance and the focus on homes as investments rather than places to live mean it impossible to build houses more affordably. These are the underlying assumptions behind all sorts of government, Reserve Bank, council and investor actions for decades. There is no alternative, we’re regularly told. 

But is that true?

This week on our When the Facts Change podcast I spoke to Simplicity CEO Sam Stubbs and NZ Living co-founder Shane Brealey, who have spent decades soaking in the industry’s norms and practices. Over the last decade they’ve disconnected themselves from those usual modes of operation to do things differently. Now they’re coming together with a plan to become one of New Zealand’s biggest home builders and owners, which is able to ride through the ups and downs of the markets to build and operate affordable and liveable homes for decades. 

Effectively, they want to dismantle the “stack” that currently dominates house building and find a way to solve the massive challenge our biggest cities face: building tens of thousands of new medium-density apartments and townhouses that cost way less to rent that the current crop, relative to incomes, and in a way that reduces climate emissions and creates stable, safe and nourishing communities. 

That’s this week in When the Facts Change.

When the Facts Change is brought to you by The Spinoff Podcast Network together with Kiwibank.

2.15pm: Ardern praises outgoing German chancellor in ‘state of the world’ Apec talk

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has paid tribute to German chancellor Angela Merkel, saying the outgoing leader’s willingness to hear the perspectives of others marked a true leader. 

During a 20-minute talk, part of a virtual panel discussion at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum’s CEO summit, Ardern and Merkel shared their thoughts on a range of issues including Covid-19 and climate change.

Ardern appeared animated in contrast to Merkel’s more deliberate and matter-of-fact address. But the German chancellor, in office since 2005, smiled when New Zealand’s prime minister praised her leadership. Ardern said one of her earliest meetings was with Merkel, who spent much of the bilateral trying to understand New Zealand and its views on the Pacific.

“It’s not often, when you come from a small island nation, that you’ll find someone of such heft in the world of international diplomacy who felt genuinely interested in the views of a humble New Zealander. Chancellor Merkel, your constant engagement with the world and thoughtfulness and willingness to hear the perspectives of others, in my mind, is a reflection of a true leader but also just a very good person.”

As Merkel went to turn on her microphone to respond, Microsoft president and vice chair Brad Smith, who was moderating, started to wrap up the talk and at one point, she raised her finger to indicate she’d like to speak. Smith then handed her the last word. After thanking Ardern and Apec for having her, Merkel said, “Germany will continue to be a fair partner in the world once I’ve left office.”

The pair talked about Covid-19, with Ardern saying it had been important to “socialise” the problem so that New Zealanders knew, in real time, how the government was responding. “It meant that [for] some of the solutions, which I previously just would not have imagined being able to do, like, for instance, having a period where we did use lockdowns to eliminate, everyone understood why and it meant that it was much easier to do that because people had come on that journey.”

Merkel agreed, and said transparency has been necessary. “You have to make available and communicate the data that is available to you as a politician, to the people of your country.”

Asked what more countries could do to fix climate change, Merkel recalled being Germany’s environment minister when the first UN Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting was held in Berlin in 1995. Now, as she left office against the backdrop of Cop26 in Glasgow, she said the gap between scientific knowledge and actions taken had widened in the last two decades. Germany was lagging behind and a “major technological challenge” loomed large if it were to achieve a 65% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions compared with 1990 levels.

New Zealand’s prime minister said climate change was as immediate a threat in the Pacific as the pandemic has been. “It’s those rising sea levels that you can see now. When you visit some of our small island nations in the Pacific, their leaders will point out to you where the sea sat when they were children versus where it is now. Literally, we have burial grounds that are now inundated. That, to me, demonstrates how acute it is to the region.”

While New Zealand contributed 0.17% of the world’s emissions, “You’ll never hear us say that that means our contribution should be any less than anyone else’s because the nature of a global problem is that no one can fall back [on] excuses,” said Ardern. “We all have to do our bit. In fact, as a developed nation, we have to do more.”

– Reweti Kohere

1.45pm: The shape of the outbreak

Today’s 201 cases mark the second-highest daily tally to date.

There are 755 cases from the past 14 days yet to be epidemiologically linked to the outbreak.

There are 85 cases in hospital today, the highest daily total so far. Eleven are in ICU.

Yesterday, 22,794 vaccines were administered: 6,285 first doses and 16,509 second.

Like graphs? The Spinoff Covid tracker has heaps more 

1.00pm: 201 new Covid-19 cases in the community, taking outbreak total over 5,000

There are 201 new Covid-19 cases in the community, the second time the daily total has topped 200. Of these cases, 181 in Auckland, 15 in Waikato, four in Northland, and one in Taranaki – the remaining five cases there, announced last night, will be included in tomorrow’s numbers, public health director Caroline McElnay has announced. Of the 201 cases, 109 are yet to be epidemiologically linked to the outbreak.

Today’s case take the total number in this outbreak to 5,196.

The deaths of three Covid-19-positive people isolating at home in Auckland in the past week is a “very real reminder that the more people who get Covid-19, sadly the more deaths we are likely to see”, said McElnay.

Issuing a message to others isolating at home, McElnay said, “If you or your loved ones are isolating at home and you feel your or their condition is deteriorating, don’t leave it to chance that your condition will improve. Please reach out as soon as possible or ask someone to on your behalf.

“Hospital care is free and ambulance services are free for those with Covid-19. Our hospitals are ready to help and have robust infection, prevention and control measures in place to keep people safe,” she said.

Asked about the concerns of the family of a man with Covid who died at home this week (see 10.25am update), deputy prime minister Robertson said, “By and large I believe the system is working well. Clearly there are some examples coming through where we do need to tweak the system. That is happening.

He said he didn’t accept that the system was overwhelmed, but there were “examples where things have not gone the way we want them to go”.

Auckland update

Nearly 3,000 people are isolating at home currently, including 1,382 positive cases across 922 households, said McElnay.

There are 85 people in hospital with Covid-19 today, including 11 in ICU. McElnay said the Auckland health system was well equipped to cope with rising hospitalisations. “We can manage but it is important we limit the load on our hospitals.” Two key actions that everyone can do to help that is get vaccinated and continue to follow alert level restrictions.

Auckland suburbs of focus for testing today are Rānui, Sunnyvale, Kelston, Birkdale, Manurewa and Māngere.

Following two residents of Rosaria Rest Home in Avondale testing positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week, a third resident has now tested positive and has been admitted to Auckland City Hospital. Other results from the second test of all other residents and staff which have been received so far are all negative.

Stratford cases

On the six people who tested positive in Stratford last night, deputy prime minister Grant Robertson said he believed one of them had been vaccinated. Three of the six are adults and three are children.

He said he believed a member of the family had travelled to Auckland to collect a family member who was moving to the Stratford region, but wouldn’t confirm if they had an exemption. He said public health officials had asked the family to be tested earlier in the week but they had declined.

McElnay said five close contacts of the cases had been identified so far.

Positive wastewater result in Taupō

A wastewater sample collected from Taupō on November 8 detected the Covid-19 virus, the Ministry of Health has revealed. A further sample was collected on 10 November and is currently being analysed.

“A positive wastewater test can sometimes result from an historical case who may continue to shed fragments of the virus for some weeks after their illness – even if they are not infectious,” said the ministry in a statement.

Anyone in the area, who may have symptoms – no matter how mild – is encouraged to get tested, even if they are vaccinated. For all testing locations in the area, please visit the Healthpoint website.

Following positive results last week, Covid-19 was not detected in samples collected in Gisborne and Napier on November 10. It follows no detections in these areas from samples taken on November 8.

Waikato and Northland cases

There were 15 new cases confirmed in Waikato overnight, five from Ōtorohanga , three from Hamilton, three from Ngāruawāhia, two from Raglan, one from Te Kuiti, and one location to be determined following further investigations.

Four cases have been linked to previous cases, with investigations unde way to determine how the others are linked to the outbreak.

There are four new cases in Northland being reported today, bringing the total number of cases in the region to 39. Three of the new cases are close contacts of existing cases and one is under investigation to determine how they are linked to the outbreak.

A person who was previously under investigation after returning an initial positive result, has been reclassified as “not a case” after returning a second negative result.

12.50pm: Watch – Robertson and McElnay give Covid update

Deputy prime minister Grant Robertson and public health director Caroline McElnay are about to deliver a Covid-19 media update, including the latest case numbers. Watch the livestream or follow along for rolling updates.

12.15pm: Four Taranaki locations of interest released after six Stratford cases confirmed

Four locations of interest have been added to the Ministry of Health’s website in connection to the six Covid-19 cases in Stratford that were reported last night. They span a period from last Thursday to yesterday.

The locations are New World Stratford from 9.45am-10.30am on Thursday, November 4; Bunnings Warehouse in Hāwera from 9.30am-10.30am on Tuesday, November 9; and Unichem Mackays Pharmacy in Stratford for two separate periods, one from 11.45am-12.15pm on Tuesday, November 9, and another from 9.15am-9.45am on Thursday, November 11. 

The advice for anyone who’s been at any of these locations at the relevant time is to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days, and get a test if any develop.

11.45am: The Friday Quiz

Been keeping a close eye on all the news this week? Know what’s going on everywhere from the Auckland border checkpoints to parliament to reality TV to Apec to Cop26?

We’ll be the judge of thattake the Friday news quiz here.

10.25am: Man who died at home with Covid tried to get help, says daughter

A man who died at home 12 days after contracting Covid-19 tried to get help for his worsening health, his daughter has told the Herald.

The West Auckland woman said Covid entered the household last month when her brother tested positive. Despite telling health officials there were a number of vulnerable people in the home, including a woman in her 90s and a child under 10 years, he was told to self-isolate at the property and wait for public health to make contact.

All the adults in the home were then infected, she said, and her mother and grandmother became so ill she took them to hospital. In the meantime, her father was getting steadily worse, calling the Covid helpline and Healthline for advice. She said her sister, who also contracted Covid while being the family’s sole caregiver, also called Healthline many times, as well as their local doctor. During these calls, her 68-year-old father was advised to take lozenges for his coughing fits, along with ibuprofen and paracetamol, she said. He died yesterday.

“Why are people self-isolating at home when you are so vulnerable? My dad was in his 60s. He should have been in quarantine, he should have been in hospital,” she said.

The Glen Eden man is the third person in Auckland to die while isolating with the virus in the past week. In addition, a man who was shot in a driveway in New Lynn late last week tested positive for Covid-19 after his death.

8.00am: Stratford’s six Covid cases show DHB moved too slow, says Te Pāti Māori co-leader

Six people in Stratford, Taranaki, tested positive for Covid-19 in the Taranaki town of Stratford last night following a week of positive wastewater results. The six cases are clearly linked and five are isolating at home, while one is being treated in hospital for Covid-19-related reasons, said the Ministry of Health.

Taranaki DHB medical officer of health Dr Jonathan Jarman told RNZ’s Morning Report that three of the cases are adults and three are children. Two of the group had travelled to Auckland at the end of October. The children had not been at school or preschool during their infectious period.

The group had been “very reluctant” to be tested, Jarman said. They had not been using the tracer app and contact tracing was under way currently, with “one or two” locations of interest likely to be added later this morning. Stratford District mayor Neil Volzke told TVNZ’s Breakfast he believed there had been limited, if any, outside connection as the family had largely been staying at home.

Speaking to Morning Report this morning, Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer (Ngāti Ruahine, Ngāruahine, Ngā Rauru), who has been working with the iwi health provider to ramp up testing and vaccination in Stratford since the positive wastewater results were first detected, said there’s been a “general sense from the community that it was moving too slow”.

“There’s been a sense of complacency from the DHB,” she said. Speaking to Morning Report, Jarman rejected that criticism.

On Wednesday, Jarman told the Herald the DHB was “working on the assumption” the wastewater result was the result of an infectious visitor to the region. “The alternative is we have undetected community transmission in Stratford, but this seems less likely.”

Ngarewa-Packer said a lot of traffic comes through Stratford, and about three weeks ago, the Mōkau border between Waikato and Taranaki was stood down by police on account of “political pressure”. Mōkau moved into level three on October 7.

“It’s really been a ticking time bomb.”

Community leaders, including Ngarewa-Packer, are meeting virtually with central government at 8am, and she told Morning Report she wants to see restrictions tightened. “That’s not really been the reaction around the country, has it? It’s really hard to gauge where they’re going to go with this. We’d like to see a conservative approach so that we can go in and do some more testing.”

Yesterday’s headlines

  • Just after 9pm, six cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Stratford, Taranaki, including one in hospital.
  • Early in the day, 185 new delta cases were reported across Auckland, Northland and Waikato.
  • There were 81 mystery cases among the total, with 713 cases from the past fortnight now unlinked.
  • Covid-related hospitalisations rose to 84, with 10 in ICU.
  • The parts of northern Northland that had been in alert level three moved down to alert level two at midnight.

7.30am: From The Bulletin

NZ barred from core membership of fossil fuel abolition group because of ongoing exploration. Stuff reports New Zealand was granted associate membership in the Beyond Oil and Gas alliance after the government handed out new 10-year permits for oil and gas exploration this year. Core members have put a stop to the possibility of new fossil fuel extraction. The inclusion in the pact was announced at the Glasgow climate summit, but was overshadowed by news that students are suing the government over the new gas permits.

The Covid numbers: There are 84 cases in hospital and 10 in ICU/HDU. There are now 3,064 active cases in New Zealand. 152 new community cases were reported in Auckland yesterday, 25 in Waikato and 8 in Northland. 22,007 people were vaccinated on Wednesday.

The Spinoff’s Covid data tracker has the latest figures.

Prime minister’s popularity falls as Covid is here to stay. Claire Trevett writes in the NZ Herald (paywalled) that plunging poll numbers help explain the dilemma being faced in the Beehive. Despite a worsening outbreak and a health system that’s overwhelmed by home isolation, politicians are adamant on relaxing restrictions for the summer. Labour is now hovering around 40% support, but the country’s optimism is gone. Three-quarters of New Zealanders think the worst is yet to come and a minority think the government is handling the situation well, both are a significant change from the golden days of elimination last year.

Anyone will be able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. In an abrupt about-face, the Covid-19 minister has confirmed any New Zealander aged over 18 will now be able to request a dose of the AstraZeneca jab, Stuff reports. On Wednesday, the director-general of health had stressed that only people with a valid medical reason would be allowed to get it. The AstraZeneca vaccine has more side effects and is less effective than Pfizer’s dose, which will remain the default. However, it doesn’t use newer mRNA technology, which has been a point of concern for some vaccine hesitant people.

France has delayed a New Zealand-European Union trade deal. Jacinda Ardern had planned to visit Europe this month, partly to advocate for the deal, but it now appears to be on ice, according to the Financial Times (hard paywall). As the NZ Herald (no paywall) also reports, the French president has told the EU to delay negotiations until after next year’s presidential election campaign in his country. Securing the deal had been a priority for the Beehive.

How good is our public service? BusinessDesk has launched an investigative project that looks at the state of New Zealand’s public service. While on paper it might be considered the second best in the world, really, there are flaws and misconduct. In a series of articles, a number of reporters looks at what’s working and what isn’t. In a sign of what isn’t working, the housing minister had to dob in her own department yesterday after Newshub revealed improper conduct from officials. “We can just act as though we don’t know anything!” isn’t a phrase you ever want to see appear in an official email.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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