Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 18, by Stewart Sowman-Lund. Help support our Covid coverage – join Members today.
Today’s Covid update, in sum
- There are 167 new community cases of Covid-19 across Auckland, Northland, Waikato, Lakes and Canterbury.
- In addition, new cases have been confirmed in Ashhurst (near Palmerston North), Levin, Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.
- There have been two more Covid-related deaths overnight. Both were being treated in hospital.
- 85 people are in hospital with Covid-19, including six in intensive care.
4.50pm: ‘I’ve certainly heard a lot of frustration’ – deputy PM meets with Auckland businesses
Deputy prime minister Grant Robertson met with Auckland business representatives today to discuss the challenges the city’s hospitality industry has faced over three months of lockdown. Speaking to media this afternoon, Robertson said he had “heard a lot of frustration” and he wasn’t surprised by that, but there was now “a clear pathway” for Auckland.
He said a transition payment for businesses moving from the alert level system to the Covid-19 protection framework, or traffic light system, was being finalised and more details would be announced soon. The move into the new system is expected to be confirmed on November 29.
The new payment would be based on similar criteria to the resurgence support payment, said Robertson, who added, “We want to make sure it recognises the sacrifices made by businesses in Auckland.”
4.35pm: ‘We require research to be conducted with high degree of integrity’ – UoA on Thornley
The University of Auckland has responded to questions around the recent publication of error-ridden research published by its academic Simon Thornley, which saw the retraction yesterday of a paper that wrongly suggested there was a link between Covid vaccination and miscarriage.
A spokesperson for the UOA vice chancellor, Dawn Freshwater, told The Spinoff that her office had “heard from many people who are concerned about Dr Thornley’s publications and the potential impacts these may have on public health”. The statement also noted: “While the university supports academic freedom, we do require research to be conducted with a high degree of integrity.”
Read the full response in our updated report here.
4.00pm: AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in New Zealand
A shipment of 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine arrived in New Zealand today from Australia.
While the government has focused its attention on rolling out the Pfizer jab, the AstraZeneca shot was recently approved as a back-up option.
“Enough for 50,000 people, these doses are for people who can’t have the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for medical reasons, and for those who would like an option other than the Pfizer vaccine,” said Covid response minister Chris Hipkins.
“From November 26, anyone aged 18 and older who wishes to have the AstraZeneca vaccine will be able to book an appointment on BookMyVaccine.nz or by calling Healthline.”
3.40pm: New poll brings more bad news for National
A new survey shows that while support for the government has declined since delta hit the community, people still view Labour as the best fit to lead the country.
The latest Ipsos report revealed that of the biggest issues facing New Zealanders, Labour was seen as “most capable” of managing 17 of them. The Greens and the Māori Party grab the remaining three issues – all of which are areas specifically targeted by the parties. National and Act don’t feature at all, with issues traditionally associated with them – such as the economy – taken by Labour.
However, overall support for the government has dropped in recent months. The latest result has the Labour Party just ahead of where it was before the pandemic but well below its peak result during the first lockdown of 2020.
3.20pm: Mike Hosking allowed to call Ashley Bloomfield a liar – BSA
The Broadcasting Standards Authority has ruled that Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking was fine to label Ashley Bloomfield a liar.
During a broadcast of his breakfast show this year, Hosking said Bloomfield “lied to the select committee” and was a “liar”.
“Are you honestly telling me he couldn’t remember something that happened a week ago, in one of the most contentious stories of the week? Sorry, he’s a liar,” said Hosking.
The complainant said that the comments were presented as fact – a claim rejected by the authority which said they were “distinguishable as the opinion of the presenter” and “did not result in Dr Bloomfield being treated unfairly”. As such, Hosking’s comments did not breach the standards of accuracy and fairness.
2.45pm: The key Covid-19 numbers
Here are the numbers you need to know from today’s Covid-19 update, freshly updated for our very own Covid Tracker. Note: the Ministry of Health has not updated the mystery case numbers from yesterday so I’ve left that out.
2.10pm: The race to 90%
There were 20,408 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine administered yesterday, comprising 6,197 first doses and 14,211 second doses.
But, how is your region doing? Check out our interactive map below (and view more at The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker).
1.35pm: Covid spreads in Tauranga and Christchurch; two more deaths
There are 167 new community cases of Covid-19, including a pair in Bay of Plenty and a second case in Christchurch.
There are also another 142 cases in Auckland, five in Northland, 17 in Waikato and one in the Lakes DHB area. Though not included in today’s official tally, a case reported earlier by media in Palmerston North has been confirmed in the nearby town of Ashhurst, while there is also a new case in Levin.
The Ministry of Health said due to issues with the Covid-19 database, it has been unable to retrieve high level numbers such as around contact tracing, vaccination statuses and infectious cases in the community.
There are 85 people in hospital with Covid-19, including six in intensive care.
Pair of new Covid-19 deaths
Two more Covid-19 patients have died in hospital overnight, the Ministry of Health has confirmed. The first, a woman in her 80s, died at Middlemore Hospital, while the second, a man in his 90s, died at North Shore Hospital. He was a resident of the Edmonton Meadows Care Home.
According to the Ministry of Health, the man had a number of underlying health conditions and was receiving appropriate ward-level care after being admitted earlier this month with Covid-19.
Today’s case details
The two new Bay of Plenty cases are in Mount Maunganui and Tauranga. Their confirmation follows positive detections of Covid-19 reported yesterday in wastewater samples in both areas. “Interviews are continuing to determine case movements. Any locations of interest will be added to the ministry’s website as these are identified,” said the ministry.
Everyone who lives in or has travelled to the region is asked to monitor locations of interest regularly and follow any advice given. “Anyone with Covid-19 related symptoms is asked to get tested as soon as possible – even if the symptoms are mild.
Today there’s been confirmation of Covid-19 in Tauranga. While this was inevitable at some point, it will still be concerning to locals. Those with symptoms should get tested, and those who aren’t yet should get vaccinated. I’m always available to help constituents affected.
— Simon Bridges (@simonjbridges) November 18, 2021
Both the new cases in the MidCentral DHB area – one in Ashhurst and the other in Levin – were reported after the 9am cut off and will be formally tallied tomorrow. Both people are likely to be linked to known cases.
There is one new case in Christchurch – a household contact of the case confirmed yesterday. They were already in isolation. “The ministry continues to urge people in Canterbury to check the ministry’s locations of interest page, for details about any locations if, and when, they are identified,” read the statement. “We also continue to advise passengers on flight NZ1295 from Auckland to Christchurch on Saturday November 13 to get a test today, if they haven’t already, and monitor for symptoms for the next 10 days.”
There are five new cases in Northland: two in Dargaville, one in Whangārei, one in the Far North and one in Kaikohe. All of the cases are linked.
In Waikato, there are 17 new cases although contact tracing information is still being collated by public health staff.
1.25pm: We’re still waiting…
There’s no sign of today’s Ministry of Health update just yet but hopefully it’s winging its way to me right now. The ministry has probably been training a new carrier pigeon.
1.00pm: A message from The Spinoff’s new editor Madeleine Chapman
While we wait for today’s numbers – 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.
12.20pm: What’s coming to TVNZ in 2022?
TVNZ has announced big plans for the new year, unveiling its 2022 slate just a week after rivals Discovery did exactly that.
While Discovery has basically cut back on all investment in original scripted drama for next year, TVNZ is going all in. It has commissioned a new show shot in Otago with Rebecca Gibney called Under the Vines. It announced the film Whina about Dame Whina Cooper, starring Rena Owen. Jayden Daniels is fronting supernatural anthology Beyond the Veil. It confirmed new seasons of One Lane Bridge and Ahikāroa.
There’s a lot of comedy to go around, too, and Dai Henwood is even popping up – despite being from the Three stable.
Most devastatingly, there’s no mention of Taskmaster NZ – the best show I’ve watched this year. I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed that will be remedied in the coming months.
Want to know more? The Spinoff’s Chris Schulz has got all the details. Check it out here.
11.25am: PM confident Auckland boundary plan will keep the country safe
Jacinda Ardern has acknowledged concern about the ongoing spread of Covid-19 around the country.
There are reports of at least one confirmed case in Palmerston North today, following recent cases cropping up in Taupō, Masterton and Tararua.
Speaking to media during a visit to Gisborne, Jacinda Ardern said the government had added “extra layers of protection” to combat the spread of delta. Allowing only vaccinated – or those who have tested negative – to leave Auckland over summer would help protect areas like Gisborne that were struggling with vaccine uptake.
“Our elimination strategy, which has served us so well, was chosen by us as a strategy. Now we have other tools to keep us safe but we’re still, even with a vaccine, adding extra layers of protection,” said Ardern.
Auckland had done a “very important job for us”, said Ardern, but the city has been locked down for four months. “We need to keep moving.”
10.45am: December 15 not just ‘throwing the gates open’ – Wood
The transport minister said it wouldn’t be viable to keep Auckland in lockdown across the summer period.
The city will reconnect with the rest of New Zealand in just under a month’s time. Spot checks will be the only way of ensuring Covid-19 doesn’t escape the city.
Speaking to TVNZ’s Breakfast, Michael Wood said the Auckland boundary was never going to be long term. “Just absolutely rest assured that we are, and we will be doing, everything that we possibly can, particularly in areas where we have vulnerable communities, to get those vaccination rates up to provide additional protection and to make sure that people are kept safe,” he said.
“It’s not just ‘throw the gates open’, it’s having that level of protection in place so that we do limit the possibility of any spread.”
9.20am: Reports of Covid-19 in Palmerston North
There are claims a case of Covid-19 has been detected in Palmerston North.
United Cricket Club chairman Paul Hofmann told Stuff that one of their players tested positive last night after feeling unwell and seeking a test. He had been at training on Tuesday night, but had tested negative from an earlier test taken on Monday.
“He started feeling unwell on Wednesday and thought it would be prudent to go out and get another test which was really sensible. As soon as he got that result he informed us,” said Hofmann.
The Ministry of Health has yet to confirm the result and is unlikely to do so before today’s 1pm statement. Covid spreading to Palmerston North is somewhat unsurprising considering cases have been confirmed in Tararua and Wairarapa in recent days.
8.10am: Hone Harawira worried ‘flood of Aucklanders’ will lead to Tai Tokerau deaths
There’s concern from some in Northland that the decision to drop Auckland’s boundary on December 15 will lead to Covid spread – and Covid deaths.
It was announced yesterday that Auckland will have no fixed border or checkpoints once the boundary is lifted, with police set to spot check travellers leaving the city.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said that while the southern border will largely be free-flowing traffic, police will work with iwi on the Northland side to manage incoming traffic. But Hone Harawira, Tai Tokerau Border Control leader, told RNZ’s Checkpoint that was a “flat out lie”.
“[The prime minister] followed that up to say there will be no hard border and only spot checks. Spot checks are absolutely useless at stopping the flood of Aucklanders,” said Harawira. “Seven months locked down; they’re going to come flooding into the north.”
He said the hard border should remain in place for longer or else it will be “open season” for Tai Tokerau. “We’re a long way from [90% vaccination],” he said. “Everybody’s killing themselves trying to get as many people as vaccinated.” According to Harawira, the region won’t hit that vaccine milestone unti mid-January “which is when everybody stops coming to the north”.
“A flood of Aucklanders on December 15 and we’ve had it,” added Harawira. “We have no capacity to manage the health and wellbeing of our own people. So we’re saying please hold-off.”
Speaking to Newshub this morning, Harawira suggested that Christmas in Northland be bumped back. “We can have January 25 Christmas,” he said. “Allow us, if necessary, to put up a hard border to ensure the only people who come in are those who are allowed to come in and if they’re not allowed turn them around and send them back to Auckland.”
- Auckland’s boundary will lift at 11.59pm on December 14.
- Fully vaccinated people – or those who have tested negative for Covid-19 – will be allowed to travel freely.
- Police will conduct spot checks but there will not be a fixed checkpoint.
- The whole country will shift to the traffic light system at the same time as Auckland. This is likely to be soon after November 29.
- There were 194 new cases of Covid-19. A patient with Covid-19 died in hospital.