Live updates, November 6: Auckland quarantine worker tests positive for Covid-19, had visited city bar

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 6, covering all the latest from the US election along with New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. See the latest results on an interactive US map here. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

8.10pm: Auckland quarantine worker tests positive for Covid-19

A worker at the Auckland quarantine facility has tested positive for Covid-19, the Ministry of Health has announced. This is the second worker at the Jet Park facility to contract the virus, after a health worker tested positive in September. The case is the third among staff of MIQ facilities in just five days, with two staff from the Christchurch facility at Sudima Hotel testing positive earlier in the week.

The latest individual has been tested regularly as part of the routine testing for staff in the facility, most recently being swabbed on November 3 and returning a negative test on November 4, says the ministry.

The staff member developed symptoms yesterday, on November 5, and was tested again that day. That test has returned a positive result. Contacts of the worker are being traced, isolated and tested.

The person visited two downtown businesses yesterday, during their infectious period – Mezze Bar on Durham Lane and Queen St bottle shop Liquor.com. Anyone who visited the Mezze Bar between 11.00am and 1pm on Thursday and Liquor.com between 1pm and 2pm is considered a casual contact and should keep an eye out for symptoms. You can find more information on the Auckland Regional Public Health Service website here.

A push notification has been sent via NZ Covid Tracer to everyone who scanned in to these businesses around the relevant time.

Full details of the case, and the actions taken in response to the positive result, will be provided in an update at 1pm tomorrow.

International mariners leaving MIQ

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has announced that all but seven of the 235 mariners from Russia and the Ukraine will leave managed isolation and quarantine in the next 24 hours to join their vessels. They arrived in New Zealand on a charter flight from Moscow on October 16 and have since been in a dedicated MIQ facility at the Sudima Christchurch Airport hotel.

The mariners had their 14 day stay in managed isolation extended by more than a week after 31 of them tested positive for Covid-19. Of these, 24 have recovered and have been cleared to leave. The remaining seven continue to be monitored and will be required to meet the recovered case definition and receive a final health check before leaving MIQ.

Two health staff working at the facility also tested positive for Covid-19. The ministry says all other staff at the Sudima Christchurch Airport have now been tested and returned negative results.
“Health services are confident that there has been no exposure of any of the crew by these two cases.”

The ministry says the mariners leaving MIQ will head straight to their vessels. “Of the group, a number are skilled maintenance workers here to carry out work on deep sea trawlers. While they undertake this work over the next six weeks they will live on board the vessel and, once complete, they will leave New Zealand.

“The fishing crew will also live on the vessels post release from the MIQ. Their employers wish the crew to isolate on board for a further week and shore leave will be restricted until all crew are tested and achieve a negative Covid-19 test.”

3.40pm: Parliament to reopen later this month, Ardern announces

Following the return of special votes this afternoon, and the swearing in of the new cabinet today, Jacinda Ardern has announced parliament will reopen on November 25. MPs will be sworn in and a new speaker will be elected on that day.

The following day will be the official state opening of parliament with a speech from the throne. The last parliamentary day of 2020 will be December 9.

On the announcement of the special votes today securing several seats for Labour MPs, Ardern congratulated Dr Emily Henderson, who has won Whangārei, Willow-Jean Prime, who’s taken out Northland, and Priyanca Radhakrishna, who has won Maungakiekie.

“I reminded cabinet that the honour of serving comes with enormous responsibility,” said Ardern. “We take nothing for granted in leading the team of five million for the next three years. It’s great to be officially able to now crack on with it.”

On learning she’d received 50% of the vote today, Ardern said, “I was incredibly humbled by that mandate. It’s extraordinary to have that level of support, and with that comes significant responsibility.”

3.05pm: Gerry Brownlee quits deputy leadership of National

National’s Gerry Brownlee has announced he will stand down as deputy leader of National following the party’s historic election defeat.

Brownlee, who was also National’s campaign chair, has revealed he won’t be seeking to keep his position as the party’s number two when caucus meets on Tuesday.

“It’s time to think about the three years ahead. I want Judith to have the strongest and most complementary support beside her as leader,” he said.

“My focus, moving forward, will be on rebuilding National’s base in Christchurch and representing our voters there.”

2.55pm: Northland’s Matt King requests recount after losing seat

Northland’s Matt King has request a recount after losing his seat to Labour’s Willow Jean Prime after the special votes were counted.

“The Electoral Commission published today that after special votes were counted, I have lost the seat of Northland by 163 votes. This is after being ahead by 742 votes on election night,” King said.

“I congratulate Willow Jean Prime on a close race, but this race is still far too close to call. Northland deserves every vote to be scrutinised to ensure that however close the result may be, that it is an exact account.

“For this reason, I will be requesting a judicial recount. With such a close result, it is only fair that we double check the results for the people of Northland.”

Meanwhile, Labour is celebrating the results of the specials, with the addition of a further MP. The party has scooped Whāngerei from National’s Shane Reti.

Jacinda Ardern will be speaking from parliament at about 3.30pm.

2.00pm: Final NZ election results bring good news for Labour, Māori Party; cannabis result unchanged

Updated

The final results of the 2020 New Zealand election show no change to the cannabis referendum, but the gap between the yes and no vote closed significantly.

The cannabis question ultimately failed with 50.7% opposed, compared to 48.4% who supported it. The end of life choice referendum passed with 65.1% confirmed support.

Meanwhile, Labour won 65 seats, up one from election night. National won 33 seats, down two. The Māori Party won two seats, up one. Both Act and the Greens are unchanged at 10 seats each.

Of the contentious electorates: Chlöe Swarbrick won Auckland Central, while the Māori Party’s Rawiri Waititi held Waiariki. The National Party lost three electorates on the final result that it won on election night: Matt King in Northland, Denise Lee in Maungakiekie and Dr. Shane Reti’s seat in Whangārei. Only Reti will remain in parliament.

Final voter turnout was 82.2%, the Electoral Commission said.

With several minor parties rising on the final results, the so-called ‘wasted vote’ is now up to approximately 7.9% of all votes cast. This included TOP going up to 1.5, Advance NZ going up to 1.0, and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party leaping from 0.3% to 0.5%.

A few electorates have finished with razor-thin margins. Northland flipped to Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime, who holds a 163 vote majority. And National’s Penny Simmons has hung on in Invercargill, but her margin has been cut to 224 votes.

Read more in our full write-up of the results here

1.00pm: One new case of Covid-19, in managed isolation

The Ministry of Health has released the following statement:

There is one new case of COVID-19 to report in managed isolation in New Zealand today. There are no new community cases.

The case reported today arrived from Singapore on 31 October and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

Twenty-four previously reported cases are now considered to have recovered, bringing our total number of active cases to 44.

Our total number of confirmed cases is now 1,618.

Yesterday our laboratories completed 6,856 tests for COVID-19, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,126,986.

Cases linked to managed isolation in Christchurch

Since identifying the positive test results in the two people who work in the managed isolation facility at the Sudima at Christchurch Airport, our systems have rapidly worked to put a ring around the virus and stop it spreading in the community.

The first health care worker reported as testing positive sought a test quickly after developing very mild symptoms, even though they had just been tested two days earlier.

This swift action allowed us to rapidly isolate Case A and trace and test their contacts.

We then identified a further positive case in another health care worker, Case B, and quickly traced and tested their contacts too.

Widespread testing has taken place in the managed isolation facility and in the contacts of the two health care workers.

Staff who worked at the Sudima Hotel since 23 October have been tested, with all 193 returning negative results.

All of Case A’s close contacts have returned a negative result, and all results received from Case B’s close contacts are negative to date, with one result outstanding.

Investigations are ongoing to determine when exactly the health care workers were exposed to the virus, but we believe them to have been infected by the international mariners they have been caring for, 31 of whom have tested positive for COVID-19.

The genome of Case A is B1.1.7 – of the international mariners who have tested positive for COVID-19, five are part of the B1.1.7 lineage.

Case A’s genome is an exact match with the genomes from these five mariners, indicating a high likelihood that one of these guests is the source of the health care worker’s infection.

We are awaiting genome sequencing results for Case B.

The health care workers wore PPE while conducting their work, but we know this virus is tricky and has thwarted our systems before.

As we have done after other events, a review will be undertaken at the managed isolation facility at the Sudima to assess where procedures could be improved to prevent similar infections in the future. These reviews have taken place at other managed isolation facilities and are part of our approach to continually improve how we manage COVID-19.

The Community and Public Health team in Christchurch has conducted detailed investigations including interviews and contact tracing and we are confident that there is only an extremely low risk of re-exposure from the health care workers to the mariners. The Community and Public Health team is working on an exit plan for the mariners, who will be transferred directly onto their ships once released from managed isolation.

The system here has worked as it is intended to. It is a reminder that we need anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 to act with haste in seeking advice on getting a test. The quick thinking from the health care worker has allowed us to stop this virus spreading into a larger outbreak.

12.50pm: ‘If you count the legal votes, I easily win’ – Trump speaks

President Trump has opened a news conference with an iconic lie, claiming: “if you count the legal votes, I easily win.”

“If you count the illegal votes, they can easily try to steal the election from us,” Trump continued.

Of course, there is no evidence for this, and the counting of legal votes has Biden on track to become the next US president.

The rest of his rambling address was filled with a range of bizarre comments, varying from blatant mistruths through to just plain old sulking.

While speaking, the latest results from Georgia have been released, showing the gap between Trump and Biden closer than ever.

12.05pm: Trump set to address nation as election teeters on knife edge

Donald Trump is expected to give a live news conference shortly, as the results of the US election continue to suggest a possible Biden presidency.

We’ll have all the latest live here as soon as Trump begins speaking. It’s about 48 hours since Trump was last seen in public, when he delivered an historic press conference calling the election for himself despite no evidence of a victory.

PS: I’ll keep using the cliché “knife edge” as long as the election remains on a knife edge, okay?!

11.50am: Second Ardern cabinet sworn in

A wee diversion from US politics now. This just in from government house, courtesy of political editor Justin Giovannetti.

Jacinda Ardern has been sworn in as prime minister again at government house in Wellington under the gaze of governor general Dame Patsy Reddy.

The ceremony is an important step in the creation of the next government and is pretty festive. In the coming days, the rest of the new parliament will be sworn in and legislators can return to the green chamber.

Today, the 20 members of Ardern’s new cabinet, as well as a number of ministers outside cabinet, have been joined by their families as they swear, or affirm, two oaths of allegiance to the Queen and to the executive council.

The first cabinet meeting will be later this afternoon at the top of the Beehive. Ardern has already indicated she’ll expect ministers to work on approving new wage subsidies, small business grants and fast-tracked infrastructure projects in the coming days.

The new ministers can take the oaths in English or Māori. Two more ministers are then expected to also take the oaths again in Samoan, Aupito William Sio, and Cook Islands Māori, Poto Williams.

Here are the oaths they’ve taken today.
They can also affirm the oath, which takes out the mention of God.

Oath of allegiance
I [name], swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, according to law, so help me God.

Executive councillor’s oath
I, [name], being chosen and admitted of the Executive Council of New Zealand, swear that I will to the best of my judgement, at all times, when thereto required, freely give my counsel and advice to the Governor-General for the time being, for the good management of the affairs of New Zealand.  That I will not directly nor indirectly reveal such matters as shall be debated in Council and committed to my secrecy, but that I will in all things be a true and faithful Councillor, so help me God.

On The Spinoff: Who plays who on The Comey Rule

If you’re getting tired of refreshing vote totals and trying to remember the county-level registration splits of Southern Arizona, why not take the opportunity to revisit one of the Trump presidency’s most shocking episodes (so far)? The Comey Rule is streaming now on Neon, and we’ve helpfully put together a rundown on its huge cast of crucial players here – it’s a two-parter, so if you start now you’ll probably finish right in time for the Philadelphia call.

11.15am: Trump’s lead in Georgia continues to slim down

The vote count in the state of Georgia now shows just 0.2% between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Worth 16 electoral college votes, a win for Biden in the state would almost definitely seal his presidency.

Currently, Trump is just ahead on 2.439 million votes, with Biden on about 2.430 million.

Meanwhile, Biden continued to lead in Nevada, and is catching up to Trump in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

10.35am: Biden speaks – ‘No doubt’ he’s won the presidency

Democratic contender Joe Biden has spoken with reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, where he said there’s “no doubt” he will soon be elected the 46th US president.

Biden reiterated that “the process is working” and urged for patience and reiterated that “every vote must be counted.”

“[Kamala Harris] and I continue to feel very good about where things stand. We have no doubt that when the count is finished Sen. Harris and I will be declared the winners. So, I ask everyone to stay calm — all people to stay calm. The process is working. The count is being completed. And we’ll know very soon. So thank you all for your patience but we’ve got to count the votes,” Biden said.

The day ahead:

  • 11am: Cabinet is being sworn in at a ceremony at government house.
  • 1pm: We’ll have the usual Covid-19 update.
  • 2pm: The results of the special votes in the NZ election will be released today, revealing the official outcome of the referendums and the shape of the next government.
  • 3.30pm: The PM will hold a media conference at parliament to comment on the special results.
  • The US election results will continue to roll in today. It’s possible we will have a preliminary result this afternoon.

8.25am: Trump still claiming he has won election, issues bizarre press statement

We’re used to seeing an all-caps tweet from the incumbent president, but today Donald Trump has issued a bizarre, one-line press statement claiming he should already have won the president.

“IF YOU COUNT THE LEGAL VOTES, I EASILY WIN THE ELECTION! IF YOU COUNT THE ILLEGAL AND LATE VOTES, THEY CAN STEAL THE ELECTION FROM US!” Trump said.

The press statement is so unusual, even Fox news had to clarify that it indeed was not a tweet.

It followed lawsuit by the Trump campaign trying to stop the count of legally cast votes in several states, and a series of tweets in which Trump called for vote-counting to stop.

8.00am: Trump lawsuits dismissed in Michigan, Georgia

Lawsuits initiated by the Trump campaign to try and halt vote counting have been dismissed in two states.

As CNN reports, Michigan judge Cynthia Stephens was highly skeptical throughout a virtual hearing about the lack of admissible evidence in the case and whether the campaign had sued the right party. Meanwhile, a judge in Georgia has dismissed a lawsuit by Republicans to stop “unlawful counting of ballots received after the election” in Savannah.

How the numbers are looking – Nevada could decide presidency

Good morning, here’s a look at the numbers today. To be honest, it’s not looking a lot different to yesterday.

According to the AP, Joe Biden is ahead on 264 electoral college votes, just six away from winning the presidency. Some networks, such as CNN, have Biden slightly lower than this on 253. Donald Trump is behind on 214 – but with some key states still be decided, it is too early to call the outcome just yet.

In Nevada, Biden’s lead has gone up from 7,647 to more than 11,000.

Check out our live election counter here

7.40am: Top stories from The Bulletin

If you’re hoping for a decisive update to the US election count overnight, bad news – it’s still on a knife edge. At the early morning time of writing, and according to the New York Times, Joe Biden had 253 electoral college votes in the bag, compared to 214 for Donald Trump – 270 is the magic number that puts a candidate over the top.

In terms of the key states,Pennsylvania is currently still showing a narrow lead for Trump, with full results not expected until at least tomorrow. Many of the remaining mail-in ballots to be counted are expected to favour Biden. Trump is looking likely to hang on in Georgia by a few thousand votes. Arizona has been un-called somewhat, and could still be in play for Trump. Nevada is leaning Biden and North Carolina is leaning Trump. There are various scenarios from here, but in short just Arizona and Nevada together, or Pennsylvania alone, would give Biden the win.

What has been notable in the last day has been the rapid emergence of post-election politics, with questions over the count itself now crucial for deciding the winner. The New York Times reports protests have broken out across the country, with Democrat-leaning protests demanding that every vote be counted, and Republican-leaning protests at times demanding the counts stop, or demanding access to observe the count. The impetus for these competing demands is based on the situation on the ground, and the urgings of Trump, as this excerpt shows:

Mr. Trump claimed early on Wednesday that he had won the election long before key states had counted all their ballots. He spent much of the day asserting, without evidence, that people were trying to “steal” the election from him and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the many ballots sent through the mail because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

7.30am: Yesterday’s headlines

The US election remained on a knife-edge, with Joe Biden’s position improving as early votes continued to be counted.

The US withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation, a year to the day since the Trump administration gave a formal notice of its intention to do so. Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin should he be elected president.

Two new cases of Covid-19 were announced, both in managed isolation facilities.

The wage subsidy and small business loan schemes will be extended over Christmas, the government announced.

Voters declining to party vote National is preventing the party from having a more diverse caucus, leader Judith Collins claimed in a radio interview.

Read yesterday’s live updates here.




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