Blog upd Nov 16

PoliticsNovember 16, 2021

Live updates, November 16: Covid-19 patient dies in hospital; new daily record with 222 cases

Blog upd Nov 16

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 16, by Stewart Sowman-Lund. Help support our Covid coverage – join Members today.

What you need to know

  • There are 222 new Covid-19 cases in the community – a new daily record.
  • Of these, 197 cases are in Auckland, 20 are in Waikato, one is in Northland, two are in Wairarapa and two are in the Lakes DHB area.
  • A Covid-19 patient in their 70s has died at Auckland Hospital.
  • There remain 91 people in hospital with Covid-19, including seven in intensive care.

3.20pm: New Gone By Lunchtime out now

I’m off for the day – so I’ll leave you with a top-notch listen for your afternoon (I hope it’s sunny where you are too).

Unstoppable political podcast juggernaut Gone By Lunchtime is back in the socially distanced studio this week and the vibe is roughly akin to a Peter Sinclair-hosted TVNZ panel show from the 1970s. Topics of conversation include the changes to borders, restrictions, mandates, numbers (both vaccine and poll), Kiwi Christmas and how Annabelle’s house is being reclaimed by local pigeons.

3.00pm: ‘Crap’, ‘bugger’, ‘wanker’, ‘pissed off’ and ‘shit’ – BSA to allow for minor swearing

Don’t bother complaining to the Broadcasting Standards Authority over “low-level” bad language. The broadcasting watchdog has announced minor swear words will “rarely” breach the good taste and decency or children’s interests standards.

Words and phrases considered to be low-level bad language include “crap”, “bloody”, “bugger”, “wanker”, “pissed off” and “shit”. The BSA said that while these words may not be everyone’s language of choice, “they have become commonly used”.

Other complaints unlikely to be addressed include those about blasphemy and about politicians being treated unfairly by the media. “Politicians and public figures hold a position in society where robust questioning and scrutiny of their policy, roles and behaviour is encouraged and expected,” said the BSA. “They are frequently capable interviewees, experienced in handling aggressive or inflammatory questioning or other coverage that may be considered unfair for an ordinary person.”

Earlier this year, the BSA announced it would stop hearing complaints about the use of te reo.

You can find the list of “complaints that are unlikely to succeed” here.

2.25pm: Auckland vaccine drive shifts gear

Over 100 pop-up vaccination clinics will spring up around Auckland in the lead-up to Christmas, as the city nears the 90% fully jabbed threshold.

This week, events will be taking place at schools in Manurewa and Māngere, the Trusts Stadium in west Auckland as well as in Pakiri and the Port Albert boat ramp in the north. More primary care providers will also help administer vaccines.

NRHCC vaccination programme director Matt Hannant said it’s important to take vaccinations out to people at their workplaces and schools. “People have been responding really well to local events led by local community and school leaders, as well as the street-by-street approach for our campervans and buses,” he said.

The shift to community outreach will mean that four of the city’s community vaccination centres – in Albany, Epsom, Highbrook and the CBD – will close with staff being redeployed to support the outreach efforts of both DHB and Māori and Pacific partner providers.

2.10pm: Today’s key Covid-19 numbers

Fresh from The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker, here are the key numbers from today’s Covid-19 update.

Today saw a new daily record for cases with 222 across the North Island. Hospitalisations remained steady around the 90 mark, with seven in intensive care. Meanwhile, the number of mystery cases crept up slightly to hit another new peak.

1.40pm: The race to 90%

There were 21,442 first and second vaccine doses administered yesterday, made up of 7,764 first doses and 13,678 second doses. To date, 90% of New Zealanders have had their first dose and 81% are fully vaccinated.

More fancy graphs are available at The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker page here.

1.10pm: Daily Covid-19 record with 222 cases; delta patient dies in hospital


Today has seen another record for new Covid-19 cases in the community, with 222 around the North Island – include new cases in Taupō and Masterton. There are also 197 cases in Auckland, 20 in Waikato, one in Northland along with the two in Wairarapa and the two in the Lakes DHB area.

There has also been another death: a person with Covid-19 in Auckland Hospital. The patient, in their late 70s, was admitted to hospital on November 11 and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.

Among today’s cases there are 87 so far unlinked to the wider outbreak, with 866 mystery cases from across the past fortnight. The number of hospitalisations has risen to 91 with seven in intensive care.

The new cases in Waikato come just hours ahead of the region’s move back into alert level two. This decision was yesterday justified by both the prime minister Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield, with the pair saying it was safe.

Today’s case details

The new Lakes cases are both in Taupō and include a case first reported yesterday but not officially recorded in the Ministry of Health tally. The second new case is a close contact of a confirmed case.

The new Wairarapa cases are both in Masterton and also include a case first reported yesterday. Both cases are currently in isolation. They were identified through targeted testing as part of follow-up of a visit to Masterton by one of the Taupō cases on the weekend of November 6 and 7. Public health staff are continuing to investigate links to known cases.

“People in Wairarapa are advised to check the ministry’s website for any locations of interest and if they have symptoms, even if they are mild and they are vaccinated, get a free Covid-19 test at your nearest medical practice,” said the ministry.

There are no new cases in the MidCentral DHB region to report today. The two confirmed cases in remain in isolation in the same household.

Public health officials are currently investigating a common link between cases reported in Taupō, Tararua and Masterton.

The new Waikato cases are in Ōtorohanga, Hamilton, Te Awamutu, and Te Kuiti – with two awaiting confirmation. So far, six remain unlinked to the wider outbreak.

In Auckland, 21 residents and four staff members of the Edmonton Meadows Care Home in Henderson have now tested positive since the start of the outbreak. Five of the residents remain in hospital.

Public health staff are now supporting 4,416 people to isolate at home around Auckland – this includes 2,023 cases.

12.50pm: A message from The Spinoff’s new editor Madeleine Chapman

While we wait for the 1pm numbers to roll in – a message from our new editor:

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.

12.40pm: Auckland schools face individual Covid scares

At least three Auckland schools are experiencing individual Covid-19 scares, though not all have been required to shut.

The Herald’s reporting a teacher at Baradene College has tested positive after being on campus for three days last week. With senior students on study leave, no students are currently onsite at the college.

Meanwhile, a student at Western Springs College has tested positive and may have been infectious while at the school a week ago. The school has been advised it can remain open as the risk of Covid spread was low. However, 16 students are self-isolating after attending a party with the confirmed case.

Onehunga High School remains closed after a student tested positive over the weekend.

12.20pm: Under 12s to be vaccinated in early 2022

Covid-19 jabs are set to be on offer for children aged 5-11 from the first quarter of next year.

Speaking to media during a briefing on the vaccination rollout, health officials including Ashley Bloomfield said vaccinating young people was subject to cabinet and Medsafe approval. But, Immunisation Advisory Centre director Nikki Turner said the risk to a child was lower than an adult.

Turner was pleased to see America was already rolling out jabs for those under 12 and said data from there would be helpful for our rollout. Bloomfield said there was already data available from a small study of 2000-3000 children, but New Zealand will likely look to what other countries say about the vaccine’s safety for young people.

11.50am: New Year, new film festival

Chris Schulz writes:

Bereft film lovers in Tāmaki Makaurau have a reason to rejoice today – a new film festival coming early in 2022 will screen some of the big-name titles the city was set to miss out on. The festival, In the Shade, will run from January 19-30 at the Hollywood and Academy theatres, and will showcase hyped films Nightmare Alley, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Annette and Benedetta.

It’s the first proper festival to step up to fill the massive hole left by the New Zealand International Film Festival, which cancelled its Auckland leg and refused to offer an online offering, like it did in 2020. Another festival, the Auckland Online Film Festival, is being hosted on Letterboxd, a curated list of films that can be viewed at-home across various streaming services.

In the Shade is promoting itself as “An oasis of cool cinema for summer” with films sourced from some of the world’s biggest film festivals. “Auckland is currently in the throes of a big screen drought, the like never seen in our moviegoing lifetimes,” a spokesperson said.

It will answer the question of “what do Auckland film goers do once the Christmas holidays are near end but the sweaty heat of summer persists.”

NZIFF has been held in cinemas in other parts of the country, when allowed, but lockdown restrictions have seen cinemas socially distanced and in Christchurch, the festival was forced to be delayed. The Spinoff understands all seats needed to be filled to help the festival survive until next year’s event.

11.30am: Cabinet never considered prioritising South Auckland vaccines

Justin Latif reports:

Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal no plan was presented to cabinet detailing the need to prioritise vaccination for all South Aucklanders, despite public advice from a range of health experts calling for this approach.

Eight months later, Auckland is still in lockdown as it waits for vaccination rates in South Auckland, particularly among Māori and Pacific peoples, to catch up with the rest of the city.

Those at the vanguard of the efforts to get South Auckland vaccinated say it can feel like a losing battle. For the last four weeks, Dr Va’aiga Autagavaia and his colleagues at their Ōtara-based general practice have been calling patients to try to convince them to get vaccinated. He says it’s been frustrating to hear the vast majority have already been lost to some form of conspiracy theory.

“The hit rate has probably been about three out of four being pretty staunchly saying no,” he says. “People have been so adamant that they aren’t going to get it as they have been so won over by the misinformation. However I really think it would have been different if there were earlier opportunities for our people to get vaccinated.”

Read the full story here

11.10am: Block NZ contestant pledges to repay creditors with winnings

The Block NZ contestant Dan Leen has promised to repay money owed to creditors after bagging third place on the reality show.

Leen, along with his wife Meg, claimed almost $500,000 in profit after their Point Chevalier house sold at a virtual auction that aired on Sunday night. He told Stuff he would repay his share of debts caused by the liquidation of his business Collective Construction in 2017.

Leen was one of two directors of the company which went under with outstanding payments of around $600,000.

“That amount [I owe] is approximately $260,000,” he said. “I am not legally obliged to make these payments, but I want to. Further to this, I wish to again extend my apologies to all those affected by the liquidation process.”

10.00am: Justin Bieber returns to NZ

Concerts are well and truly back on the agenda for 2022, with one of the biggest names in pop set to wing his way to Auckland for a mega stadium show.

Justin Bieber will play Mount Smart Stadium on December 7 next year. He joins names like Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish on the events calendar, while Lorde recently bumped her planned summer tour of our shores to 2023.

Here’s hoping that Bieber’s next visit to New Zealand goes smoother than some of his other trips. In 2010 he had his hat stolen by fans and, as Alex Casey reflected on for The Spinoff, encountered a rather fizzy bottle of L&P.

9.00am: Vaccinated Covid cases to spend less time isolating at home

Fully vaccinated people will be able to spend less time isolating at home if they catch Covid-19 or are a close contact of a case.

The isolation period for fully vaccinated Covid cases in the community has been reduced from 14 days to 10 days, and must include 72 hours symptom-free. However, partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Covid-19 cases will still need to spend the full 14 days at home.

“If you are vaccinated and catch Covid-19, by day 10 of infection you will pose a very low risk of passing on the virus,” said associate health Minister Ayesha Verrall. “That’s because the amount of viral, genetic material declines faster in fully vaccinated people.”

Household contacts of a Covid-19 case will self-isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status, said Verrall, as they are at the highest risk of catching the virus. Fully vaccinated close contacts will just need to spend a week in self-isolation.

There are now 1,893 Covid-positive people isolating at home in Auckland.

8.00am: Auckland border could be in place for another month

The government will tomorrow reveal when – and how – Aucklanders can leave the delta-stricken city for the Christmas period.

It’s now expected that the city will leave lockdown and move into the new “traffic light system” not long after a review date on November 29, when vaccinations hit that crucial 90% threshold. The rest of the country may now follow Auckland not long after – no matter what level vaccinations are at.

However, according to the Herald, it will be after that when Auckland’s boundaries will loosen; around the middle of December and just in time for the Christmas travel rush.

The Herald’s reporting that the controversial time slot system for leaving Auckland has been ditched in favour of a “soft border” for the city, with spot vaccination checking instead of a hard checkpoint. However, some regions where vaccination rates are lower could have their own boundaries imposed in order to stop unvaccinated visitors.

It’s an apparent change of tactic from the government to create a more free-flowing border for Auckland. Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins had previously floated the idea of giving Aucklanders allocated time slots to leave the city – and idea that was quickly backtracked by other ministers.

The official announcement – along with an update on vaccine certificates – will come tomorrow.

7.30am: From The Bulletin

Health watchdog tells ministry to pay ‘urgent attention’ to self-isolating Covid cases. Toby Manhire reports in The Spinoff that the health and disability commissioner has written to the health ministry after concerns have been raised that people isolating at home aren’t getting enough care. Three deaths have been reported in the past fortnight and people self-isolating have reported not getting enough attention or oxygen monitoring equipment. The health minister admitted last week that the country’s nurses and doctors were struggling to manage the thousands of Covid-19 cases now isolating at home.

The Covid numbers: There are 90 cases in hospital and 7 in ICU/HDU. There are now 3,629 active cases in New Zealand. 163 new community cases were reported in Auckland yesterday, 7 in Waikato, 2 in Northland and 1 in Taupō. 14,638 people were vaccinated on Sunday.

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

Vaccine mandates for educators and health take effect today. Unvaccinated teachers and workers in early childcare were given farewells yesterday as they are no longer allowed on school grounds, the NZ Herald reports. No school has reported being unable to operate because of losing staff and only 11 told the government that they were at high risk of seeing teachers leave. Doctors and other workers in the health sector also face a similar deadline and about 2,000 haven’t been vaccinated, according to RNZ. Health, disability and education workers who have received only one dose have until January 1 to be fully vaccinated or they will also be barred from their workplaces.

The Cop26 summit was ‘least worst’ outcome: James Shaw. The climate minister has said an imperfect decision in Glasgow was better than none at all, RNZ reports. As reported in yesterday’s newsletter, the summit left environmentalists unhappy with an agreement that many felt didn’t go far enough. Language to phase out coal was weakened at the last minute, undermining what could have been a significant achievement.

Hours after the agreement, Australia’s prime minister stood in front of a train loaded with coal and told coal miners that they’ve got guaranteed work for decades to come. According to ABC, he said a transition away from coal “isn’t happening”. He’s electioneering, but that’s some eyebrow raising rhetoric.

A battle over one of the world’s largest marine reserves. One News reports that the Kiribati government’s plan to ditch the Phoenix islands protected area, a 400,000 square kilometre World Heritage Site, is being opposed by the local environment minister. The country’s cabinet voted to open the reserve to commercial fishing and end its protected status, something the minister says was done without consultation. The country is closely allied with China and there are concerns Beijing pressured it to allow fishing, along with plans to build a runway in the middle of the area that could be for military purposes.

This is part of The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s must-read daily news wrap. To sign up for free, simply enter your email address below

The Spinoff’s political coverage is powered by the generous support of our members. If you value what we do and believe in the importance of independent and freely accessible journalism – tautoko mai, donate today.

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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