blog upd sept 30

PoliticsSeptember 30, 2021

Live updates, September 30: Two Middlemore ED patients test positive for Covid-19

blog upd sept 30

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for September 30, by Stewart Sowman-Lund. Send me thoughts and feelings to

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9.00pm: Another two Middlemore ED patients tests positive for Covid-19

Two people have tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving at the emergency department of South Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital last night seeking treatment for unrelated issues.

“In the first case, the patient answered no to all screening questions but, while in triage, clinical staff noted a very minor cough and took steps to isolate and test them,” according to a statement from the Ministry of Health. The person subsequently returned a positive Covid-19 result and they’re now in an isolation ward at the hospital.

“In the second case, the patient answered yes to one of the screening questions, which was also a symptom consistent with the non-Covid-related reason for going to hospital. They were tested and given initial treatment,” said the statement.

“After learning of their positive test result, the second patient chose to self-discharge but is now being managed by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS).”

The statement said all staff were wearing appropriate PPE and none are required stand down, but “out of an abundance of caution”, 66 patients are being considered as close contacts.

Thirty-four of them have been moved to isolation wards, while 32 who have been discharged or did not require admission following their ED visit are now under the management of ARPHS for testing and follow-up.

The risk to public health of these events is deemed to be low, said the statement.

6.30pm: More locations of interest added in suburbs across Tāmaki Makaurau

There’s been another drop of locations of interest, with supermarkets and grocery stores in Mt Roskill, Glen Innes and Panmure, a dairy in Hillsborough, a petrol station in Parnell and a takeaway outlet in the CBD added to the Ministry of Health’s website. The exposure times are from Thursday to Sunday last week – see the ministry’s website for full details.

Our interactive map of all locations has been updated – check it out here.

5.10pm: New locations of interest across Auckland

Following 64 new Covid-19 cases being reported in the past two days, the Ministry of Health has added locations of interest in suburbs across Auckland today.

These include supermarkets and dairies in Manukau, Flat Bush, Wattle Downs, Glen Innes, Greenlane and Mt Albert, with the most recent date the Flat Bush Laundromat in Ōtara just yesterday afternoon.

Last night, petrol stations in Clover Park and Clendon Park were added as locations, as was a Clover Park laundromat, an Ōtara dairy and Weymouth beach, near Manurewa.

For the full list of locations and potential exposure times see the Ministry of Health’s website, and see our interactive map of all locations here.

4.45pm: Gone By Lunchtime on the many Covid plans

New Zealand’s main opposition parties (and Sir John Key) have all released their master plans for what to do about Covid-19 in the past week – take the quiz here to see if you can tell them apart. On this week’s Gone By Lunchtime, Toby Manhire, Annabelle Lee-Mather and Ben Thomas weigh up the various plans and pathways, as well as talking vaccination rates, MIQ and Ben’s new air-fryer.

Listen now on Apple PodcastsSpotify or your favourite podcast provider.

4.00pm: New survey reveals impact of Covid-19 on teen mental health

A survey by Youthline has revealed the profound impact Covid-19 has had on how young people feel about themselves.

The new study found that young people aged 16-24 years were more stressed, anxious and worried about finding a job than before the Covid-19 pandemic. For younger teens, concerns about schooling or education, depression and anxiety had worsened. The research also found that rainbow young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic when compared to non-rainbow youth.

“This research highlights the importance of having a safe place to talk and be heard,” said Youthline CEO Shae Ronald. “We want young people to know that our Helpline team are available 24/7 to listen and support them with what they are going through.”

Ronald said the survey results aligned with the “the elevated levels of risk” that Youthline had seen across its services since the pandemic began.

3.15pm: More details revealed after police find missing family

Police have revealed more details after a father and his three children were located after weeks missing.

Tom Phillips (34) and his children Jayda Jin, Maverick and Ember disappeared on September 11, leaving behind a vehicle and sparking a mammoth police hunt. They were located today after they returned home to Marokopa.

At a press conference this afternoon, Waikato west area commander Will Loughrin said the family of four had been through “17 days of hell”. The Phillips had been camping in dense bush, living in a tent inland from Kiritehere beach.

He said the mother of the children was incredibly relieved to be reunited with her family. Police were in the “early stages and working through what has occurred,” said Loughrin.

2.05pm: The ‘infectious in the community’ chart

Yesterday’s jump in Covid cases resulted in a high number of cases that were infectious while out and about in the Auckland community. It’s the highest number since September 1, with the month bookended by sudden case number jumps.

Here’s how it looks on the chart.

Check out more fancy graphs like this with The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker, here

1.25pm: Auckland border ‘likely’ to stay even after level two shift

Jacinda Ardern has signalled that Auckland’s boundary will remain in place, even if the city shifts to alert level two.

Speaking at today’s 1pm presser, Ardern said there was a “high likelihood” the border would stay in place. “I think I owe that level of certainty to Aucklanders,” she said.

The number of sub-clusters has also grown by two, with four remaining active. One is being called the south-east Auckland cluster comprising five households, along with a new west Auckland cluster. Those two sub-clusters are giving rise to new cases at the moment.

1.00pm: 19 new delta cases, including one outside of Auckland

There are 19 new community cases, including one outside of Auckland. A student at Mangatangi School in upper Hauraki has tested positive after being in self-isolation for the past 10 days.

The student became symptomatic and was tested at home around day 11. A small number of household contacts of the student are being followed up today. As the student has been in isolation, Bloomfield said the risk to the public was low.

That student is one of 98 students and staff given day 12 tests. So far, 96 negative results have been received, along with the the one positive and one is outstanding. The student had previously returned a negative result

Of today’s cases, 16 are known contacts, one is a household contact who hadn’t previously been identified, and one is a possible contact, said Ashley Bloomfield.

Four of yesterday’s 45 cases remain unlinked. “We’re expecting another 30 or so cases from day five and day 12 testing of contacts,” said Bloomfield. 19 recent cases are linked to transitional or emergency housing. There are no 15 unlinked cases from the past fortnight.

Meanwhile, an MIQ worker at the Naumi hotel has tested positive, said Bloomfield. Urgent follow-up testing is now under way.

There are now 18 people in hospital with Covid-19, including four in intensive care.

Suburbs of interest updated

Henderson and Papakura have been added to the Ministry of Health’s “suburbs of interest” list, while Ōtara has been removed.

Everyone in Henderson and Papakura is encouraged to get a Covid-19 test even if they are not symptomatic.

Ardern: ‘We have full control of the outbreak’

Despite volatility in the daily number of recent cases, we continue to have full control of the outbreak, said Ardern.

“This is not an outbreak in just one area of Tāmaki Makaurau,” said Ardern, and there’s currently a cluster in west Auckland. “Everyone needs to be on high alert.”

Ardern reiterated the importance of vaccination rates to ensure restrictions can ease. 83% of eligible Aucklanders have now had their first dose. Nationwide, 80% have had or are booked for their first dose.

Both Bloomfield and Ardern mentioned a new free taxi and shuttle service – in partnership with Blue Bubble taxis – that will take people in Auckland to vaccination centres from tomorrow. People can contact the company on 0800 28 29 26. More combined testing and vaccination opportunities are being rolled out in Auckland, said Bloomfield, for example on different sides of a bus parked at Manukau Bunnings.

12.40pm: Bloomfield to reveal new delta cases after yesterday’s surge

Today’s Covid-19 update will be fronted by Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield. After yesterday’s surge in new cases we’re hoping for a sizeable drop today.

A reminder of yesterday’s headline figures:

  • 45 new community cases of Covid-19, all in Auckland.
  • Of these, 33 had been linked.
  • 15,437 tests were processed on Tuesday.
  • 44,649 vaccine doses were given out on Tuesday.

While you wait for the update: why don’t you check out The Spinoff’s Covid Tracker page, featuring 20 graphs that break down the delta outbreak. Or, test your knowledge of the different Covid reopening plans with this quiz by Toby Manhire.

Here’s today’s livestream or keep this page refreshed for live coverage from 1pm.

12.15pm: Family found after 20 days missing

A family who went missing on September 11 have miraculously been found alive and well, say police.

Tom Phillips vanished along with his children, Jayda Jin, Maverick, and Ember roughly three weeks ago. The disappearance sparked nationwide headlines and a manhunt after Phillips’ car was found on a beach.

According to police, the family were located in Marokopa.

More information will be provided at a press conference later today.

(Image / Police)

11.20am: Freed Britney

Pop star Britney Spears has been “freed” after her father Jamie was suspended as conservator at a court hearing.

The singer’s father has, since 2008, been in charge of Spears’ finances and personal life. The conservatorship prompted the Free Britney movement that has picked up momentum over the past year due to a number of documentaries and news coverage.

Spears herself had been quiet on the matter until earlier this year when she emotionally spoke out in court, criticising her entire family for their complicity.

According to CNN, a second conservatorship of Britney’s person, managed by Jodi Montgomery, remains in place at this stage.

Britney Spears performs at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards in New York on September 7, 2000. (Photo: Scott Gries/Getty Images)

11.00am: Two supermarkets latest locations linked to delta outbreak

Two supermarkets were visited by a Covid-infected person earlier this week, according to the Ministry of Health. 

Countdown in Manukau and Supervalue in Flatbush are the latest locations of interest linked to the delta outbreak.

Both exposure events were for relatively short periods of time, suggesting the infectious individual was a customer rather than an essential worker.

We’re expecting the next Covid update at 1pm where we will hear how many new cases were confirmed overnight.

10.35am: Counter-terrorism law passes

The government’s counter-terrorism bill has passed its third and final reading.

First brought to parliament in April this year, the new law will criminalise the planning or preparation for a terrorist act, and amend the definition of terrorist to include the “intention to intimidate”.

“These changes bring our definition of a terrorist act into line with counter terrorism laws in other countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, and mean we have the tools we need so we can act early to prevent, respond to, and disrupt terrorist activity,” said the justice minister Kris Faafoi.

“The nature of terrorism has changed. Across the world there are more lone actors, rather than larger organised groups; as we saw with the March 15 attack on mosques in Christchurch two years ago, and the attack on shoppers in a West Auckland supermarket earlier this month.”

The law will officially enter into force from October 4.

9.20am: National – but not Collins – the big winners with business, shows new survey

The government has struggled to win over small and medium business owners since retaining power in last year’s election.

A new MYOB poll of around 800 business owners showed that 45% were dissatisfied with the government’s overall performance since the election, while 39% have been pleased.

The poll brings good news for National, showing that those surveyed still believe the opposition are the best when it comes to understanding business. 46% thought the National Party had the greater understanding of business needs, followed by Labour on 30% and Act on 23% – a surge up from just 4% in the 2020 survey.

However, despite the overall disapproval with the government’s performance, Jacinda Ardern was still the preferred PM among those surveyed – 40%. Reflecting recent polling, David Seymour was in second on 17% and Judith Collins just behind on 16%.

8.35am: Tauranga wastewater returns negative result

Follow-up testing in Tauranga has not revealed any more positive results of Covid-19 in the wastewater.

The Bay of Plenty was on high alert after the unexpected result earlier in the week led to a call for symptomatic people to get tested urgently.

Meanwhile, on RNZ this morning, Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said Aucklanders should expect “a smaller number” of cases today. Yesterday’s 45 led to a collective intake of breath around the super city, with hopes of a move to level two next week.

“That was a big case number, and it’s understandable that people will look at that and think that’s a lot of extra people,” said Hipkins. “But the vast majority of those were known contacts of existing cases, or household members of existing cases, were already in isolation and so the risk of further spread from those people was relatively contained.”

A drop in alert levels was not off the table just yet, Hipkins said.

8.00am: New visa created to fast track skilled migrant residency

The government has announced a one-off resident visa that will allow up to 165,000 migrants currently in the country to settle.

Covid-19 has disrupted the residency pathway, leading to an exodus of skilled migrants over the past 18 months.

Immigration minister Kris Faafoi said the 2021 resident visa will help migrant families and the businesses that employ them. “The changes give migrants certainty about their future here, allowing them to continue putting down roots, and will help reunite many families who were separated by the border restrictions that prevent Covid-19 entering the community,” he said.

“The 2021 resident visa will also help us attract and retain the skills that our businesses need to help relieve labour pressures caused by Covid-19.”

Immigration New Zealand estimate that over 5,000 health and aged care workers, around 9,000 primary industry workers, and more than 800 teachers will be eligible for the new visa. “There are also around 15,000 construction and 12,000 manufacturing workers on relevant visa types, some of whom will be eligible for the one-off pathway,” said Faafoi.

The government has long been pushed by the opposition to speed up the residency process during the pandemic. National’s Erica Stanford posted on Facebook to congratulate the government for “adopting the main elements of [National’s] policy.”

7.30am: From The Bulletin

Are yesterday’s 45 Covid cases a blip or the start of something new? The NZ Herald reports that the spike in Auckland’s case numbers is the result of the city’s move to level three a week earlier and could remain elevated for some time. We should know within a few days. While the director-general of health said most of the cases were in households, or were close contacts of existing cases and expected, it was jarring news after the previous day’s total had fallen into the single digits. A bigger issue is that many of the cases involve groups of people in transitional housing. Important questions are now being raised about whether enough was done to support Auckland’s marginalised communities during this lockdown.

The Covid numbers: 45 new community cases were reported yesterday in Auckland and 50% (4) of the previous day’s total were in the community while infectious. There are now 244 active cases. 44,649 people were vaccinated on Tuesday, of which 70% were second doses.

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

A large class action lawsuit has been launched against ANZ and ASB. The banks face allegations that they failed to refund fees owed to 150,000 customers, according to RNZ. The class action follows two settlements with the Commerce Commission where the banks acknowledged they’d failed to provide accurate information to some customers taking out loans. Despite the banks paying out nearly $40 million in the settlements, the action claims that customers are entitled to all the money they were overcharged. In effect, banks can’t keep money they were never allowed to charge.

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 latest numbers

  • There are 45 new community cases of Covid-19, all in Auckland.
  • Of these, 33 have been linked but 12 remain a mystery.
  • This is the largest daily number of new cases since September 2.
  • 15,437 tests were processed on Tuesday.
  • 44,649 vaccine doses were given out on Tuesday.
Keep going!