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A child being very brave about getting a vaccination (Getty Images)
A child being very brave about getting a vaccination (Getty Images)

The BulletinMarch 12, 2019

The Bulletin: Measles cases surge in Canterbury outbreak

A child being very brave about getting a vaccination (Getty Images)
A child being very brave about getting a vaccination (Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Measles cases surge in Canterbury, Vodafone reportedly outsourcing jobs to India, and Shane Jones says Kupe facility funding story is a beat up.

Measles cases are surging in Canterbury, and there are warnings that the highly infectious disease is now “circulating widely in our community.” The local DHB said late last night the number of cases are now up to 25, and that under-immunised people have a 90% chance of contracting the disease if they come into the smallest contact with an infectious person – that probably gives a good indication of how quickly this can spread. The number of cases is expected to rise. The DHB’s goal is to now keep the outbreak confined to the region, rather than letting it go nationwide.

Furthermore, the DHB says up to 30% of cases will result in complications developing – and many of those cases will be children under five. Stuff reports that “several” people have ended up in intensive care from a bout during this outbreak. Some children are already at extreme risk of serious complications if they catch it. One mother told Newshub that she has had to take her 3 year old son, who has leukemia, into isolation as a last ditch effort to keep him safe.

As of the result of the outbreak, there’s now an overwhelming demand for vaccines. The NZ Herald reports that a month’s worth of supplies were used up in the space of two days – more doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in Canterbury by Wednesday. 100,000 people around the region need some form of vaccination, and supplies will be prioritised in the following order: People aged 1-29 who haven’t been vaccinated at all, children who require a second vaccination, and then adults between 29-50 who want to make sure they’re fully immune.

So, part of the reason why these outbreaks of preventable diseases happen, is that some people refuse to get vaccinations for themselves or their kids. The editorial on The Press today has some good points to make about anti-vaxxers. Chief among them is that it probably won’t help anyone to have big social media pile-ons against anti-vaxxers – rather it will probably just result in their position becoming entrenched. As frustrating as it may be to not hammer dangerous ignorance when you see it, the key message that needs to get out is that nobody who has had both doses of the MMR vaccine has got sick in this outbreak. Having a widely vaccinated population also helps those who cannot get vaccinated – I wrote about the concept of herd immunity last week.

Finally, some believe that measles – while it may make you sick – is relatively harmless. This is not the case. Figures were quoted on Morning Report this morning that show deaths still happen. 260 people have died of measles this year in the Philippines, and 7 people have died in Ukraine. Yes, those death rates are low relative to the thousands of cases in those countries. But measles deaths are avoidable if everyone who can get vaccinated does so, and it would be a tragedy if someone were to die in the Canterbury outbreak.

The NZ Herald is reporting that Vodafone appears to be culling hundreds of jobs, and outsourcing others to India. That second part is based on a source who the Herald have not named, along with testimony from a former employee that the layoff process for them also involved training offshore replacements. There’s a hugely wide ranging restructure going on at the company, nearly all employees have been asked if they want to take redundancy, and Vodafone says they’re being transparent with all staff who might be affected. A union who represents some of the call centre staff says hundreds have expressed an interest in voluntary redundancy, reports Radio NZ.

An update to yesterday’s story on minister Shane Jones, and the approval of funding for the Manea Footprints of Kupe facility in Northland. Mr Jones went on Radio NZ yesterday, and extremely strongly defended his conduct in the matter. The “whole story is a beat up”, he says. However the NZ Herald’s political editor argues that while it might not be a sackable offence, Mr Jones gave a “blatantly misleading answer,” and must correct the record and apologise to parliament. She adds that it appears the bar for what might be a sackable offence for Mr Jones appears to be much higher than what it would be for another MP.

Insurance companies have been stung saying one thing and doing another towards Wellington renters. Radio NZ’s Charlie Dreaver was told by AIG (who own AMI and State) that there was no blanket policy about contents insurance. But posing as a customer, Dreaver was told no new customers would be taken on, because of the high risk in the area from earthquakes. It’s leaving plenty of Wellingtonians in the lurch, with few affordable options available.

A national policy statement aimed at protecting productive growing soil is expected in the future from the government, reports Farmers Weekly. The publication has been keeping an eye over the issue, over concerns a lot of fantastic land is being paved over for housing. That in turn raises serious concerns about food security for cities. An NPS would give the government the ability to go over the heads of Councils, who are often under pressure from developers to release more land for housing.

PM Jacinda Ardern has deferred questions regarding the NZDF report into an Afghanistan incident, reports Stuff. The report relates to conduct allegations made against SAS soldiers, and disputes some elements of the allegations, while revealing new information about other aspects of the event. The PM says she hasn’t been directly briefed on the report, and that they should instead be directed to Defence minister Ron Mark.

By the way, I speculated on something yesterday that more light can now be shed on. The NZDF says it was actually coincidental that the report was released on the same day as Corporal (not Colonel, as previously stated) Willie Apiata VC’s organisation was launched. A spokesperson said that the report wasn’t released with any connection whatsoever to the launch, and that it was released in response to questions from Stuff, who had placed a 4pm deadline on answers – hence the late afternoon release. Stuff journalist Paula Penfold agreed that questions had been sent with that deadline, but argued that they weren’t directly related to The Valley, and she stood by her earlier criticisms of how the report was released.

This will be a fascinating story for anyone who lived in Wellington in the early 2000s. The costs and benefits of the inner city bypass have not matched up to the projections made when the road was being built, reports the Dominion Post on their front page today. The road was hugely controversial, because of the damage building it did to the Te Aro suburb – some argue it also revitalised the area. But since it was built, fewer than expected cars have actually used it – meaning better than expected time savings for commuters.) However, there have also been more accidents than expected on the road.

People who more want superyachts and cruise ships to come to Auckland are gearing up for a fight over a proposed new anchor fee, reports the NZ Herald. Auckland councillor Chris Darby says ratepayers are subsidising the extra work the harbourmaster has to do when these big beasts dock. But the industry says the boats bring in enormous sums of money through onshore spending, and Auckland wouldn’t want to do anything to harm the city’s reputation as a good place to dock. A reminder though, many of the people who might be asked to pay this fee own superyachts.

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Extinction Rebellion protesters in England holding a ‘die-in’ along with a mock funeral to protest government and business inaction on climate change (Getty Images)

Right now on The Spinoff: Terry Baucher writes about the tax risks SkyCity faces with their forthcoming offshore online gambling venture. Gareth Shute profiles the state of the Auckland City Mission, and looks ahead to what the future holds for the nearly 100 year old institution.

There’s few pieces to share about climate protesting too. Auckland secondary school students Grace Wilkie and Libby Morrison have declared their reasons for being part of the upcoming school strikes. And in a counterpoint, New Plymouth secondary school student James Macey writes that while climate action is important, he doesn’t think the strike will do any good.

And I’ve written about the climate protest group with chapters springing up all over New Zealand and the world. They call themselves Extinction Rebellion, because the science indicates that at the current trajectories of carbon emissions and climate change, neither human society nor vast swathes of the animal world will survive. To be honest, I’m not sure how anyone is able to deal with the magnitude of that as an idea, and the piece is an attempt to process it.

It’s not a long read today for the feature, it’s an audio documentary. I highly recommend you carve out some time to listen to this episode of Te Ahi Kaa from Radio NZ. I happened to hear it on Sunday evening and was engrossed all the way through. On one level, it’s about the artist Harry Sangl, who travelled around Tūhoe country in the 1970s asking Kuia in the area if he could paint their portraits. But it’s also about the practice of Tā Moko more generally, and the experiences of the Kuia getting their tattoos when they were younger. It’s an absolutely fascinating story all the way through.

For those reckless enough to bet actual money on the Warriors, bookies are not rating their chances this season. They’re picked to come 11th this year in the market consensus, reports Stuff, the season after finally making it back into the playoffs. Much will depend on how the team goes in the first few weeks without Shaun Johnson or Mason Lino. Of course, all of this will just make the ride on the bandwagon sweeter when it starts rolling.

From our partners: Climate change has already affected how electricity gets delivered to customers, and it’s only going to get more challenging. Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha outlines what the lines company is doing to respond.

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