Morning Briefing Sept 14: Decision day arrives amid new Covid case warnings

As Cabinet meets to review a potential shift in the country’s alert levels, two recent cases of Covid-19 have proven cause for concern.

A health worker checks a swab at a Covid-19 testing station. Source: Getty

Health authorities last night revealed one of those confirmed cases visited several places on Auckland’s North Shore before testing positive.

The person visited The Warehouse and a Countdown supermarket in Milford and attended several gym classes at Les Mills in Takapuna. Anyone who attended the gym classes is now considered a close contact and is asked to stay home and contact Healthline.

Meanwhile, the use of PPE at Auckland’s quarantine facility is being urgently reviewed after a health worker at the Jet Park Hotel also tested positive for Covid-19.

It’s not yet known how the nurse contracted the virus. Officials say the case, which was found during routine weekly testing, highlights the importance of such regular testing

Cabinet will be taking the current nature of Auckland’s Covid-19 cluster into account as they decide on any potential changes to alert levels today. Auckland has spent the past two weeks at a tailor-made Level 2.5, with the rest of the country at Level 2.

University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker told RNZ it’s “too soon” to drop alert levels with new cases still rolling in each day.

He says he’d like to see Auckland kept at Level 2.5 for at least another two weeks.

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Expert praises police response

A science denial expert says more punitive action against the anti-lockdown protesters who flouted social distancing measures in Auckland over the weekend is unnecessary.

Police decided to take an “educative approach” to the large crowds of people who gathered at Aotea Square to protest lockdown measures.

Dr Fiona Crichton says that approach was the correct one, as forcefully dispersing and fining people could further disenfranchise them. 

One of the organisers of the protest, Advance New Zealand co-leader Jami-Lee Ross, says he has no concerns over the breach of Covid-19 restrictions on Saturday.

He says the protest was ultimately about questioning whether the country is on the right track with regards to Covid-19. However, protesters also used the opportunity to voice their opposition to 5G and vaccines.

Meanwhile, anti-lockdown protests continued in Melbourne over the weekend, with police arresting more than 70 people in the Australian city yesterday.

Assisted dying debated

Sir Michael Cullen says he's responding well to cancer treatment, but he doesn't expect to be alive this time next year.

The former deputy Prime Minister told TVNZ’s Q+A he wants people in his position to have the option of choosing an assisted death.

The End of Life Choice referendum was covered extensively on the programme yesterday, with another terminally ill Kiwi, Vicki Walsh, telling Q+A she believes the bill is “flawed”

MPs David Seymour and Alfred Ngaro also laid out their differing perspectives on assisted dying.

Seymour said the issue was about “the dignity of people who have lived good lives and want their death to carry on the same way”.

Ngaro said there are “just too many risks”, describing the End of Life Choice Act as “so broad and open”. 

Auckland GP Dr John Cameron, meanwhile, explained the practicalities of the proposed law. You can also read both sides of the assisted dying argument in this referendum explainer

More policy reveals

The three parties making up the most recent coalition government revealed further election promises over the weekend. 

The Green Party released its Farming for the Future Plan, which includes banning Palm Kernel Expeller, levying nitrogen and phosphorous fertiliser and setting a "strong limit" for dissolved inorganic nitrogen in freshwater.

Labour, meanwhile, has promised to roll out Living Wage agreements to many other public sector workers if elected. They’re also pledging to increase the amount of money people working part-time can earn while on a benefit and to reinstate the Training Incentive Allowance. 

And New Zealand First has again committed to providing St John Ambulance with all the funding they need, if elected.

Surge in illegally held firearms

The number of firearms seized by police has risen over the last decade, according to figures obtained by 1 NEWS.

Statistics show police confiscated 1866 firearms last year - more than double the 864 firearms taken out of circulation 10 years ago.

The Police Association’s Chris Cahill says the numbers are "very disappointing but unfortunately not surprising".

Other news of note this morning:

- France has seen a huge spike in Covid-19 cases overnight with the number of people admitted to hospital and intensive care also increasing.

- Oxford University has resumed its trial for a coronavirus vaccine, just days after the study was suspended following a reported side-effect in a UK patient.

- Blazes have now scorched nearly five million acres across America's west, while Brazil is also experiencing a record-breaking wildfire season

- Auckland's water restrictions are being reviewed, despite dams being 22 per centage points lower than usual.

- And a home and wedding décor trend is turning into a biosecurity nightmare, with calls for florists and the public to be reported for using this noxious weed.

And finally...


It would appear New Zealand’s most competitive sport right now is finding somewhere to rent.

Re: reporter Zoe Madden-Smith spent eight weeks looking for a flat in Auckland and got so tired of the constant rejections, she asked some property managers and a landlord what she was doing wrong.

Here, she delivers her complete guide to their advice – and the many, MANY hoops young people need to jump through just to find somewhere to live these days.