Live updates, July 21: Sydney Covid cases soar; Collins calls for police minister’s sacking

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for July 21, bringing you the latest news updated throughout the day. Get in touch at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

3.40pm: Flood victims to be helped into emergency housing

Residents forced to leave their houses after devastating flooding in the South Island will be found emergency accommodation, the government has confirmed.

The “Temporary Accommodation Service (TAS) ” has been working with local authorities to assess the level of damage and determine how many homes cannot be returned to.

“The TAS team will collect registrations from displaced people who require temporary accommodation, establish what accommodation options are suitable, and connect them together,” associate housing minister Poto Williams said today.

Anyone who needs accommodation after the floods can register their details here.

3.20pm: Rec Room – The White Lotus

Have you signed up to our Rec Room newsletter? It’s a weekly round-up of all the great videos and podcasts from The Spinoff along with a collection of our finest recommendations.

In this week’s edition, our TV editor Sam Brooks suggested The White Lotus (and I fully agree).

Here are his thoughts: The White Lotus (Neon) is the latest from small screen genius Mike White (writer of Enlightened and School of Rock, contestant on Survivor and The Amazing Race), and revolves around a five-star Hawai’ian resort that caters to privileged, entitled, blissfully un self-aware white people. It’s one of the most excruciating things I’ve ever watched, and I loved every minute of it, but especially the minutes where Jennifer Coolidge is tearing up the screen as a woman who is a walking, waking nightmare.”

Read more and sign up to Rec Room here.

The friendly staff of The White Lotus, a resort that definitely exists. (Photo: HBO)

2.50pm: NSW Covid-19 numbers soar… again

New South Wales has recorded its third worst day since this current outbreak of Covid-19 began, with 110 new cases overnight.

Of those, Nine News reported that 43 were infectious while in the community. “That is a high number but a number which reflects the high amount of testing that we had,” said state premier Gladys Berejiklian. “Had we not gone into the lockdown a few weeks ago, the 110 number today would undoubtedly have been thousands.”

Meanwhile, Victoria recorded 22 new community infections on the first day of its lockdown extension. Of those, just six had not been in quarantine for the entirety of their infectious period.

2.15pm: Collins calls for police minister’s sacking

National Party leader Judith Collins has called for the police minister to be sacked over comments made on Newstalk ZB this morning.

Poto Williams told host Mike Yardley that she did not back general arming of police in New Zealand, but supported police officers having access to guns when they needed them. This position, she said, was based on feedback from the communities she represented – namely Māori, Pasifika and residents from South Auckland.

Those comments were met with significant criticism from the ZB audience, who claimed Williams should represent “all” police staff.

Judith Collins agreed – and said Williams should be replaced with someone who is capable of caring about officers.

“I have been minister of police and it was an absolute privilege to work with the people who risk their own safety to enforce the law and protect us all in this country. The police force deserves a minister who does not look at them as if they are all violent racists,” said Collins.

“Labour make the mistake of thinking they speak for all Māori and Pasifika people when they say they have listened to the ‘communities’. No ethnic group is a monolith and in my electorate of Papakura I am hearing that my multi-cultural constituents support police and want them to be able to sort out gang members.”

1.00pm: Vaccine roll-out 5% ahead of schedule; two Mattina crew moved to hospital

Updated

The vaccine roll-out has stayed about 5% ahead of schedule this week and bookings for the general public will open next week, Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins announced.

As of midnight, more than 1.5 million doses have been administered across all groups with more than 628,000 people fully vaccinated. In early August, the plan is to hit the two million dose mark.

By the end of the month, everyone in “group three” should have received an invitation to book in for a jab. People between 60 and 65 who are in group four will be invited to book a vaccine from July 28. A new 0800 phone number will also launch, added Hipkins.

On the travel restrictions with Australia, Hipkins said all three paused routes – specifically to New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia – will be reviewed on July 27.

Today’s Covid-19 numbers

Two Covid-positive crew members from onboard the Bluff-docked Mattina container ship have been moved to hospital for assessment. Officials, including public health, are today assessing whether the rest of the crew will remain aboard the ship throughout their quarantine period.

Results of additional testing of the crew will be reported tomorrow. “Southern DHB has plans in place for the appropriate management and treatment of any crew aboard the vessel requiring hospital level care,” said a Ministry of Health spokesperson.

So far, contact tracing has identified 38 people in New Zealand who visited locations of interest in Victoria and Queensland prior to returning to New Zealand. Of those, 36 have had initial tests and returned negative results and the remaining two are not yet due for a test result.

Meanwhile, there were no new positive cases of Covid-19 in either the community or managed isolation overnight.

12.55pm: Hipkins, Bloomfield to give vaccine update

12.45pm: The subconscious Simon Bridges

Something else to watch over your lunch (I myself have just enjoyed a top quality meal from Nando’s) is a brand new episode of First.

And it’s a goodie.

National Party MP Simon Bridges tells us about his first car, first concert, accidentally killing his childhood axolotl and more.

11.50am: Orca update! Baby Toa in ‘stable condition’

Stranded orca calf Toa is in a “stable condition” but on-site veterinarians said there were “some” health concerns being monitored.

It’s now been more than a week since the calf was separated from its pod and wild weather conditions have hampered ongoing searches.

In this morning’s statement, the Department of Conservation’s Ian Angus said Toa had displayed “short-term signs of discomfort in his gut.” This was likely the result of feeding, added Angus.

“Our focus at the moment is on finding the specific pod the orca calf has come from. We will try to verify the pod based on the markings of the orca, so any photographs people can provide with reported sightings will help immensely,” he said.

Toa remained in the temporary pool with staff and volunteers keeping an eye on the weather, with wind and swells forecast.

11.15am: First trailer for ‘Panthers’ series released

The first trailer for the upcoming series about the Polynesian Panthers has been released this morning.

The six-part series will air on TVNZ 1 and is, according to a press release, “coming soon” (although exactly how soon isn’t confirmed).

The series will be set in 1974 as the Panthers movement is formed and stars a cast including Dimitrius Schuster-Koloamatangi, Lealani Siaosi, Roy Billing, Beulah Koale and Frankie Adams.

Watch the trailer over ya lunch!

10.50am: Hipkins and Bloomfield to front vaccine update

A quick FYI that Chris Hipkins and Ashley Bloomfield are set to front a 1pm vaccine update today. This is a regular Wednesday event and nothing to be alarmed about.

Of slight note is the presence of Hipkins as parliament is technically on a break at the moment. Most likely, the government is keen to face questions on the Australian travel situation alongside the ongoing vaccine roll-out so has chosen to have the Covid-19 response minister front the presser.

We’ll have all the details this afternoon, as per!

10.10am: Ex-National MP backs funding for rehab programme led by gang member

An ex-National Party MP who served under John Key has criticised his former party for its recent comments about government money “funding the Mongrel Mob”.

Chester Borrows, appearing on RNZ, was questioned about National’s critique of money being used for a rehab programme with links to the prominent gang.

He said he backed funding for initiatives against methamphetamine that worked – and this programme was one of those.

“One of the directors was a high-ranking mongrel mob member… funnily enough he was also an advisor to a minister in the government led by John Key, but no one talks about that,” said Borrows.

“The organisation that was providing the rehab is not ‘a gang’ and to run around saying they’re funding the Mongrel Mob is rubbish.”

Some people, he said, were doing “a number of jobs and roles” outside of any role within a gang. “The fact is when you’re working with gangs, you can’t put some scrubbed up highly educated academic in front of your average gang member sitting in prison and expect that they’re going to change their mind.”

9.25am: Big (reality TV) news – Lego Masters NZ is coming

TVNZ has confirmed it will fill the Apprentice Aotearoa-shaped hole in my life next year… with Lego Masters NZ.

A local version of the super popular reality format will screen on TVNZ 2 in 2022 (which is interesting as the Australian and US editions are owned by competitor TV3).

In a statement, TVNZ said that “more than 2.5 million bricks” will make their way down under for the programme – and applications are open now.

The programme will be judged by Canadian Lego professional Robin Sather with a host still to be announced.

Listen to this week’s ep of The Real Pod below:

8.00am: Quarantine-free travel with South Australia paused

New Zealanders in South Australia have become the latest forced to stay across the ditch after quarantine-free travel was paused overnight.

Our government has matched the state’s week-long lockdown with restrictions on incoming flights until at least July 27. It has made South Australia the third state to be cut off from New Zealand, alongside Victoria and New South Wales. All three are battling growing clusters of the delta variant of Covid-19.

But they are not the only states at risk of more coronavirus cases: Queensland has recorded four community cases of Covid-19 over the past week as well.

(Image / Australian MOH)

In a statement last night, Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said people in South Australia who ordinarily live in New Zealand would be able to come home on “managed return” flights.

“We acknowledge this will be disruptive for travellers and organisations,” Hipkins said of the pause in quarantine-free flights. “However, given the current uncertainty and our consistently cautious approach to prevent Covid-19 from entering the New Zealand community, we are confident it is the right approach.”

The pause on travel with South Australia will be reviewed in a week.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

“Freedom” has come to England, with the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions. It is happening at a time when the rolling 7-day average of new cases is above 40,000 a day, and that’s just in England alone, let alone the entire UK. Even in a country that has done an exceptionally poor job of managing the pandemic – especially from a health perspective but the economy hasn’t done much better – this represents a new phase. Logistically, there are plenty of complaints being heard about a new “ping” system, which tells people when they need to be isolated, reports the BBC.

The reasons for the move are entirely political. England’s lockdowns have always been implemented soft and late as it were, and as such the population has spent far longer living with some form of restriction than it should have. PM Boris Johnson wants to avoid more restrictions in the northern hemisphere winter, and said in a speech yesterday “there comes a point where further restrictions no longer prevent hospitalisations and death but simply delay the inevitable”. I hate to say it, dear reader, but death is inevitable for all of us, and most public health policy is geared around delaying it. Johnson himself was forced to go into isolation this week, after his new health minister Sajid Javid tested positive.

One saving grace of the situation in England is relatively high levels of vaccination, and the death rate hasn’t risen alarmingly yet. But it’s almost certain there’ll be an explosion of people that end up affected by “long Covid”.That detail came out of an interview on Q+A with epidemiologist Dr Deepti Gurdasani, who said it is hitting people of all ages and can be debilitating for months afterwards – and possibly longer, we don’t yet know if everyone will recover from it. We published a piece last year by a Covid long-hauler explaining how sick they remained four months after testing positive.

And the wider world is at risk from England’s policy. Johnson has provided the perfect conditions for new vaccine-resistant variations to emerge, which would be a huge danger when so many countries are fatigued by the pandemic. Radio NZ republished a Conversation piece by AUT law professor Kris Gledhill, who speculated England could be taken to an international court on charges of failure to protect the human right to life.




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