Live updates, September 5: Three new cases, two in the community; potential case in Christchurch investigated

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for September 5, bringing you the latest on New Zealand news and the Covid-19 pandemic. The whole country is now in alert level two, with extra restrictions in Auckland. Official information here. Contact me at aliceneville@thespinoff.co.nz

6.40pm: The day in sum

The Ministry of Health was investigating a potential Covid-19 case in the Christchurch region.

Anti-lockdown protesters held a rally in downtown Auckland.

Three new cases of Covid-19 were announced, two in the community and one in quarantine at the border.

A new global survey ranked New Zealand the world’s second-safest country when it comes to Covid-19.

Dr Joe Williams, a prominent doctor and former Cook Islands politician, died in Auckland after contracting Covid-19 last month. It is New Zealand’s 24th Covid-related death, and the second in as many days.

Another survivor from the livestock ship that sailed from New Zealand with 6,000 cattle and capsized off the coast of Japan was rescued.

6.25pm: Potential Covid case in Christchurch – report

The Ministry of Health is investigating a potential Covid-19 case in the Christchurch region, TVNZ reports. 

The person is in a managed isolation or quarantine facility but it’s not clear if that has always been the case. The ministry wouldn’t confirm if the person had tested positive, according to the report.

4.15pm: Anti-lockdown protesters gather in Auckland

Anti-lockdown protesters held a rally in downtown Auckland this afternoon, breaching Covid-19 restrictions barring gatherings of more than 10 people. The rally, organised by a group calling themselves the NZ Liberty Movement, began in Aotea Square, with the crowd walking down Queen St chanting “we are sovereign, we are free” and “Aotearoa, make a stand”, reports Newshub.

1.30pm: PM ‘deeply saddened’ by passing of Dr Joe Williams

Speaking to reporters in Morrinsville, where she’s opening a new performing arts centre at her old school, Jacinda Ardern said she was “deeply saddened” by the death of Dr Joe Williams, who died last night after contracting Covid-19 (see 9.20am and 10.40am updates).

The prime minister said she always felt very proud to go back to Morrinsville College, where her mum worked at the canteen, reports Stuff. “It’s where I had my first leadership opportunities,” she said.

1.20pm: New Covid-19 survey ranks NZ second-safest country

A newly released global survey ranks New Zealand the world’s second-safest country when it comes to Covid-19, reports the Herald. The survey, by think tank Deep Knowledge Group, ranks Germany the safest country, followed by New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, Japan, Australia and China. The United Kingdom is ranked 31st and the United States 55th.

The rankings were first compiled in June, and placed New Zealand at number seven.

The rankings are determined not so much by whether a country has been hit hard by Covid-19, according to Forbes, but whether there’s “political will and social acceptance of quarantine and lockdown measures”, along with government cooperation, good monitoring and a strong medical system.

1.00pm: Three new cases of Covid-19, two in the community

The Ministry of Health has three new confirmed cases of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand – one of these is an imported case detected in a managed isolation facility. Two are community cases.

Both community cases have been epidemiologically linked to the wider Auckland August cluster, one connected to the Americold household sub-cluster, and the other a close contact of a confirmed case linked to the Mount Roskill Evangelical Church sub-cluster.

The one imported case is a young child linked to a previously identified case who arrived from India on August 23. The child was already in quarantine with family members at the Auckland quarantine facility.

New Zealand’s total number of active cases is now 112. Of those, 38 are imported cases in MIQ facilities, and 74 are community cases. One of the previously reported cases is now considered to have recovered. The total number of confirmed cases is now 1,416.

There are two people with Covid-19 in hospital today; one in North Shore Hospital’s general ward and one in ICU in Waikato Hospital.

Since August 11, 3,222 close contacts of cases have been identified, of which 3,177 have been contacted and are self-isolating. There are now 77 people linked to the community cluster at the Auckland quarantine facility, which includes 60 people who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Yesterday, laboratories processed 9,470 tests for Covid-19, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 807,460.

12.50pm: Case numbers to be updated at 1pm

There’s no media conference today, with the Ministry of Health to update today’s Covid-19 case numbers via an emailed statement around 1pm. Yesterday there were five new cases, two at the border and three linked to the Auckland community cluster. The day before there was just one case in the community, with another at the border. We’ll have all the details of today’s update here.

10.40am: Ministry of Health confirms New Zealand’s 24th Covid-related death

The Ministry of Health has confirmed the death of Dr Joe Williams last night at Auckland City Hospital, the second Covid-19-related death yesterday after a man in his 50s dies at Middlemore Hospital earlier in the day. It brings New Zealand’s Covid-19 death toll to 24.

In a statement, director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said, “Dr Williams was seen as a leading figure in the Cook Islands medical community and he will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family and community at this time of loss and grief.

“Today’s sad news again reinforces the importance of our shared vigilance against Covid-19, the very serious consequences the virus can carry with it, and the measures we all need to take to stop the spread, break any chain of transmission and prevent deaths.”

The ministry will be providing an update on case numbers at 1pm.

Meanwhile, foreign affairs minister Winston Peters also paid tribute to Dr Joe Williams, whom he said ran as a candidate for New Zealand First in 2005. “As a doctor, a health researcher and as a politician, Dr Williams made a serious mark on the communities he served. He will be greatly missed in both New Zealand and the Cook Islands.”

9.20am: Respected Cook Islands doctor Joe Williams dies with Covid-19

Dr Joe Williams, a respected Auckland doctor and former prime minister of the Cook Islands who was hospitalised with Covid-19 on August 13, has passed away. The death of Dr Williams, whose Mt Wellington practice was near the Americold cool store at the centre of the August Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland, was reported by the Cook Islands News this morning, and confirmed by the Pasifika Medical Association, of which Dr Williams was patron. He was in his 80s.

It is the second Covid-related death in a day, following the passing of a man in his 50s at Middlemore Hospital yesterday, the first death since community transmission reemerged last month.

“His love, generosity and kindness has touched so many families, friends and colleagues,” said Dr Kiki Maoate, president of the Pasifika Medical Association and Dr Williams’ nephew in a statement. “He has left us all with the gifts of his journey, and for that we are forever grateful.

“Rest well on your voyage to the heavens. Akangaroi ete Rangatira i toou teretere atuanga kite nagai i akapapa iaae e to tatou Atua.”

Dr Maoate also paid tribute to his uncle on TVOne’s Tagata Pasifika programme this morning, describing Dr Williams as “a huge gift” and “a giant of a man whose contribution touched everyone”.

“We were always hopeful that he would come out of the hospital, but we always knew the risks and the potential for this to happen,” he said.

Dr Joe Williams was born in Aitutaki. He attended Northland College, graduated from Otago Medical School in 1960 and later completed a Masters in Public Health at the University of Hawai’i. He returned to the Cook Islands in 1964 and was the medical superintendent, surgeon, physician and director of health and social Services, according to the Pasifika Medical Association.

Dr Williams served on the WHO’s executive board from 1995 to 1997 and was recognised as a world-leading researcher in eczema, prostate cancer and diabetes. He served as minister of health and education of the Cook Islands from 1974 to 1978, minister of health, tourism, transport and state-owned enterprises from 1994 to 1996, and prime minister in 1999.

He received the Queen’s Service Medal in 1974 and was invested with the Companion Queens Service Order in 2011 for services to the Cook Islands community.

Finance minister Grant Robertson has paid tribute to Dr Williams on Twitter:

8.50am: What does NZ look like in five years? The Spinoff sits down with Jacinda Ardern

Six weeks out from election day, with the New Zealand drawbridge firmly up, how does Jacinda Ardern see the years to come playing out? The Labour leader sat down with Spinoff political editor Justin Giovannetti to cast ahead to the world and New Zealand of the post-Covid future.

Read the full interview on The Spinoff here

8.00am: Second survivor rescued from livestock ship

Japanese rescue crews have found another survivor from the livestock ship that sank off the country’s southwest coast on Wednesday. The man, a 30-year-old Filipino, who was found on a life raft, was conscious and able to walk, reports RNZ via ABC.

The Gulf Livestock One left the port of Napier last month with 43 crew on board, including two New Zealanders, and almost 6,000 cattle. It was bound for China.

Filipino crew member Eduardo Sareno was rescued on Thursday night, telling coast guard workers the ship’s engine cut out and the vessel was then hit by a huge wave, causing it to capsize.

On Friday morning, rescuers saw dozens of dead cattle floating in the sea, and a lifejacket with the name “Gulf Livestock” on it. The search is expected to resume after Typhoon Haishen passes through the area.

On Thursday night, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) temporarily suspended consideration of cattle livestock export applications in response to the ship’s disappearance.

7.30am: Yesterday’s key stories

A man in his 50s with Covid-19 died in Middlemore Hospital, bringing New Zealand’s Covid death toll to 23.

Our current alert settings – level two nationwide, with extra restrictions in Auckland – will stay in place for at least 12 more days.

There were five new cases of Covid-19, with three linked to the Auckland community.

Winston Peters said he’d pushed for the army to be called in, masks to be worn and independent oversight of the Covid response back in March.

A new survey showed less than a third of businesses are operating at full capacity, despite the shift into level two.

Immigration minister Kris Faafoi announced an automatic five month extension for current onshore visitor visas.

Read all the key stories in yesterday’s live updates.




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