Live updates, October 27: One new imported Covid-19 case; weekend testing numbers ‘pleasing’

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for October 27. All the latest New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. Reach us at stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

7.20pm: The day in sum

There was one new case of Covid-19, and again no cases in the community

Police reminded people not to spread unverified information on social media about an ongoing investigation into sexual assault allegations within the Wellington music scene

Judith Collins said “clearly more went wrong” than right for the party this year, ahead of a review into National’s election failure.

In the US, Conservative Catholic judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, a lifetime appointment.

5.30pm: Mallowpuffs on the menu at Greens-Labour talks

Political editor Justin Giovannetti writes: Talks to shape New Zealand’s next government are being held around a tray of biscuits.

The first meeting, held last week between Labour and the Greens, centred around a pack of Krispies. Thankfully, the coconut hardtack was pushed aside for today’s meeting in favour of a pack of Mallowpuffs.

The fluffy mixture of marshmallow and milk chocolate was “an immediate upgrade” according to Green co-leader Marama Davidson. “A little bit more sugar and a little bit more cream,” she added. Obviously talks are going well if their Labour hosts in the Beehive are getting better biscuits sorted.

There’s no delay to getting a deal, according to James Shaw. “We have a very good relationship with the Labour Party, so the talks are very constructive, they are very positive, but there’s a lot of detail,” the party co-leader said of talks.

After 90 minutes of conversation today, the parties hope to have a deal ready by the end of the week. Then the Green Party’s members will vote, with support from 75% needed to seal the deal. There won’t be a do-over, if the Green membership doesn’t approve, the party will sit in opposition.

Again, the leaders offered no real details about what was discussed, except for the daily biscuit update. If Labour is looking for inspiration for tomorrow’s meeting, The Spinoff’s highly scientific analysis of New Zealand’s best biscuits concluded that the chocolate butternut snap is tops. But they might want to save that for later in the week.

4.20pm: British parliamentary library declares Ardern married

The House of Commons library at Westminster has published a handy summary of the New Zealand election of 2020. It’s a useful crib sheet, though some of the details are a little off, such as the reference to a referendum that would “decriminalise recreational marijuana” (it would legalise and control it), and an assertion which might upset the Queen, given she was not invited the wedding.

2.40pm: Amy Coney Barrett officially confirmed to US Supreme Court

President Trump has scored his third judge on the Supreme Court since taking the top job almost four years ago. Amy Coney Barrett has today officially been sworn in, despite strong opposition from the Democrats.

Barrett replaced the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon and staunch advocate for women.

Democrats had opposed swearing in Barrett just a week out from the next presidential election. Today’s vote – a tight 52-48 – was the closest high court confirmation ever to a presidential election.

Republican Susan Collins of Maine was the only senator to cross party lines and vote with Democrats against the nomination, CNN reports, after having expressed concerns that it’s too close to election day to consider a nominee.

Barrett’s confirmation gives conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court.

1.00pm: One new Covid-19 case, Bloomfield announces

Updated

There is just one new case of Covid-19, Ashley Bloomfield has revealed, in managed isolation. There are no new community cases.

The announcement comes after a weekend with no new cases in the community and just a light spattering of imported cases detected in managed isolation.

Today’s new case is a person who arrived in Auckland on October 19 from the United Kingdom, via Kuala Lumpur.

Seven more cases have now recovered, taking the number of active cases in New Zealand to 68. Our total number of confirmed cases is now 1,585.

Yesterday, labs completed 2,311 tests, bringing the total to 1,072,492. The lower number of tests yesterday reflected the fact it was a public holiday, Bloomfield said, but the number of tests on Saturday and Sunday was pleasing.

Since the new community case was reported on October 18, there have been more than 20,000 Covid-19 tests in Auckland, said Bloomfield.

It’s now suspected that a New Zealand child who entered Japan on October 23 and returned a weak positive Covid-19 result was a historic case or a false positive. The child and its family had all previously tested negative in New Zealand, said Bloomfield.

Passengers on board Air New Zealand flight NZ5018 from Napier to Auckland last Thursday – the same flight the child was on – are being asked to be on the lookout for symptoms of Covid-19, although the risk is deemed low.

The family is in managed isolation in Japan currently. A serology test will also be taken.

Several close family members were isolated and tested over the weekend. The child had been attending a childcare centre in Napier, and the public health unit has been in contact with the centre and the families that attend it.

All crew of the Ken Rei, which was visited by the first case in the marine employee cluster and is now docked at Napier port, have returned negative tests. None of the crew are leaving the ship, and it will travel on to Tauranga this week, Bloomfield confirmed.

There are 29 international mariners in managed isolation in Christchurch who have tested positive, fewer than was reported yesterday. Eighteen were identified at day three testing, eight at the extra day six testing, and three at day nine testing, which were close contacts as they had been sharing rooms with people who tested positive.

They will all be retested tomorrow, which is day 12.

Bloomfield said the issue of whether crew flying in to join ships in the country should spend 14 days in managed isolation was being considered, and advice would be given to the minister of health this week.

12.30pm: Bloomfield to give latest Covid-19 update

The director general of health Ashley Bloomfield is back onboard for today’s 1pm media briefing on Covid-19.

It follows a long weekend with no new community cases of Covid-19, but a handful of new cases imported from overseas.

We’ll have all you need to know updated from 1pm.

Watch live:

11.50am: Covid-19 testing numbers steady across long weekend

The number of tests from across the long weekend in Auckland bucked the expected trend and remained steady.

Around 8500 swabs were taken on Saturday and Sunday, according to Ministry of Health figures, with just under 480 of those at community testing centres in Auckland. Typically, weekend testing numbers are far lower than weekdays.

The Spinoff’s Leonie Hayden has been queued at a testing station for the past two hours, and shared this photo. Treat this as a reminder that you can access a free Covid test from your GP!

Queue at an Auckland testing station (Photo : Leonie Hayden)

11.10am: Wellington sexual assault allegations: people asked not to share misinformation online

The police are reminding people not to spread misinformation or unverified information on social media, in relation to an investigation into sexual assault allegations within the Wellington music scene.

“Last week we launched Operation Emerald after information was shared on social media regarding sexual assaults in Wellington… Since then, people who have absolutely nothing to do with the allegations have been accused of being the offenders on social media,” detective sergeant Stephen Wescott said.

“We are again urging people to come to police if they have concerns and avoid sharing identifying information on social media.”

The day ahead

What’s happening today in New Zealand news:

  • Ashley Bloomfield will be providing today’s 1pm Covid-19 media update in Wellington.
  • Labour and the Greens are meeting to continue negotiating a possible coalition or confidence and supply agreement.

9.35am: Sky, Spark connect further with new sport bundles

Spark customers will be able to access Sky’s sport service Sky Sport Now in bundle deals from November 16, the two businesses have announced.

It comes ahead of the two companies becoming competitors, with Sky expected to move into the broadband field next year.

The new agreement is for an initial period of up to six months, with the sport bundle available to Spark customers on selected mobile and broadband plans.

Spark subscribers can already access Sky’s Neon service at a discounted price or as part of bundles.

In a statement, Sky’s CCO Chaz Savage said: “Our ambition at Sky is to have our superb content in the hands of every New Zealander, in ways that work for them.

“This is just one more way that we can offer Sky’s sport content to Kiwis.  Spark customers who choose to buy our streaming service Sky Sport Now in this bundle will have access to our great range of sport content across 12 Sky Sport channels.”

8.10am: Police hunt two gunmen after shots fired at patrol car

A pair of gunmen are on the loose in Northland, south of Kerikeri, after shooting at a police officer in the early hours of this morning.

Police say a car pulled out in front of a police vehicle and stopped in the middle of the road on state highway 11 near the Puketona Junction with State Highway 10. The incident has resulted in the closure of state highway 11 this morning while investigations continue.

The officer was unharmed but their car’s front windscreen was shattered by a gunshot, police say.

Work is now underway to identify and locate the vehicle and men involved in the shooting.

7.40am: ‘More went wrong’ – Judith Collins speaks ahead of National Party review

The National Party is set to reassemble this week to discuss plans for opposition, as the party sets its sights on 2023.

A review is also under way, looking at what went right and what went wrong in the party’s 2020 election campaign.

Leader Judith Collins, speaking on RNZ, wouldn’t be pressed on what issues the review would touch on, but said “clearly more went wrong” than right for the party this year.

“The review is a matter for the board and they are putting that all together,” Collins said.

Asked to provide one thing that did go well, Collins cited the party’s volunteers: “I think that our volunteers came out and they supported us, they did everything that was asked of them.”

Collins expected that all re-elected MPs will stay with the party, including long-serving members Nick Smith and Gerry Brownlee who both lost their seats but will be returned on the list.

Shane Reti, the party’s health spokesperson, only leads by a small margin in his seat, ahead of special votes. Collins wouldn’t predict whether he’ll make it back.”That’s up to the votes, you never know what’s going to happen,” Collins said.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

One of the weeping sores of the health system is the high cost of dental care, and the health effects that flow from that. It’s not free like other healthcare is, and as a result many people cannot choose to get dental treatment. For an explanation of the funding system, and an explanation of the effects of that on poorer communities, it’s worth going back to this edition of The Side Eye from March.

Over the weekend, the issue was thrown into stark relief by an exploration of how the cost of dentistry affects Northland, by The Hui. Even those who are working full time in Kaikohe can’t necessarily afford to get dental care, and existing services are stretched to their limits. It leaves people resorting to drastic and dangerous measures, like attempting to pull their own teeth out with pliers. Others simply live in constant, chronic pain. The problems are well known – as Newshub reported months ago, the government received a report in 2018 on how to improve access to adult dental care, and simply sat on it for well over a year.

It briefly looked like the issue might become part of the election campaign, but then both major parties chose not to offer anything major. National’s package involved $30 million for dental education, including a free toothbrush. Labour promised to triple the emergency grant available to low income people, but stopped well short of bringing dental care into the wider free health system. Not doing so may well be a short-sighted decision – as journalist and lawyer Cat MacLennan wrote on Newsroom at the start of the year, “our refusal to provide free dental care to adults carries with it costs for the entire country.”




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