Highly unusual antibiotic resistant bug discovered at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital

The discovery of a highly unusual bug resistant to many antibiotics has forced the national burns centre at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital to limit admissions.

There have been three patients infected with the bug, first detected in December, with the third case identified on Saturday.

The organism is believed to have come from overseas, and can give vulnerable patients severe infections.

"The skin loss to infection is large anyway so they (burns victims) often do have a lot of infection as part of their course of illness during part of their healing," Middlemore Hospital acting chief medical officer Vanessa Thornton said.

"These ones have this particular organism which is more resistant to antibiotics and that's the concern."

While there's a low chance visitors and most patients will become infected, regional centres will now take on extra burns victims.

Three patients have caught the bug, first detected in December. Source: 1 NEWS



'A dip but not disastrous' as NZ sharemarket responds to Wall Street's meltdown

The NZX closed this evening down just over half a per cent, and brokers described it as a dip but not disastrous following yesterday's meltdown on Wall Street.

1 NEWS was on the trading floor as markets opened this morning and quickly dropped two per cent. 

The waves from Wall Street were felt around the world yesterday, but it was a delayed reaction today on the New Zealand stock market which was closed yesterday for Waitangi Day.

"While we were shut you saw falls of anywhere between three and five or six per cent across a lot of the other big markets. So for us to open, play a bit of catch up, but only be down two per cent that's not bad, we'll take that," said mark Mark Lister of Craigs Investment Partners.

International markets have been readjusting after the Dow dropped dramatically. 

"This morning we've seen a bit of calm emerge in the markets across Asia and the New Zealand market not performing too badly considering how things have been in recent days," Mr Lister said. 

The situation has been volatile for the last few days because better than expected wage growth in the US caught investors by surprise.

Traders had been worried growth would be higher than anticipated, with fears that could lead the Federal Reserve - America's version of the Reserve Bank - to raise interest rates faster than expected, enticing investors away from the stockmarket. 

"We expected a correction in the equity market, which we've seen," said Nigel Brunel, OMF financial markets director.

Of course this affects Kiwis who own shares, but it also matters for anyone who has Kiwisaver or a retirement saving scheme, because these often invest in the stock markets. 

Experts say don't panic. 

"If you look at Kiwisaver, for example, which really is a long term game, they shouldn't be concerned if it falls over a short period of time in the market," Mr Brunel said.

The Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, says New Zealand has rebounded because the economy is in good shape. 

"The economy has that stability in it which means that we've been able to avoid the worst of this," he said. 

In the US, markets rebounded after a rollercoaster day. 

"Even after all of this sell-off that we've seen in recent days, in just the last year stocks are still over the full year, up about 20 per cent," said Rebecca Jarvis, ABC economic correspondent. 

Back in New Zealand it's hoped the volatility has calmed for now. 

The NZX had a delayed reaction to the US fall with the market closed on Waitangi Day. Source: 1 NEWS

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Power prices in the spotlight in major Government review of electricity market

Are New Zealanders paying too much for their power?

That's the question the Government is asking, with a major new review of the electricity market.

The International Energy Authority last year said that household electricity prices have grown faster than in other countries and that rises between 2009 and 2014 were "significant".

Energy Minister Megan Woods points to a 50 per cent increase in retail prices since 2000 and she is particularly worried about the impact on low-income families.

So, she's launching a review of the entire electricity market - from generation to retail and distribution. It will look at whether the price we pay is fair, if the market is competitive and properly regulated and if companies are geared up for emerging new technologies.

The Government also wants all electricity generation to be from renewable sources by 2035 - so electricity companies agree that the time is right for a major review.

"We need to look at all the bits of the electricity sector to get a view of where it is that the price pressures are really coming on for what people see when they open their envelopes at the end of the month and see their power bill,"  Ms Woods said.

There are nearly 30 lines companies that distribute power across New Zealand. Many are owned by local communities.

"There certainly are a lot - for a country the size of New Zealand to have 29 lines companies there is no denying. What I want to know is what impact that is having on pricing, what impact that has on the market," Ms Woods said. 

"What we also do know is that many communities see this as security of supply - having more community ownership of their electricity. But what we have to do is examine that across the whole market, and in terms of the whole sector right from generation through to the retail side of electricity."

She is also concerned about a "low tariff" pricing system, set up 13 years ago to encourage people to conserve energy. Low users pay a lower price for power, but there are fears that middle-class households, with access to more energy-efficient housing and appliances, and solar panels are exploiting the system.

The Electricity Networks Association wants this subsidy scrapped before the Government introduces a $700 winter energy payment for pensioners and beneficiaries later this year.

"Smaller, wealthier homes who have really modern appliances who are very well insulated, probably own their own homes, they are paying less than they should. That's really unfair to those bigger homes, they might have four or five kids in the house, they don't have any other way of accessing energy and they might have a rented home that is not very well insulated," said Graeme Peters, the association's chief executive.

The Electricity Retailers Association's Jenny Cameron is also worried about poorer families.

"We've got this really high functioning market, but some people struggle to heat their homes. And that's a really important thing for the electricity sector to see how we can be part of working with the other agencies to see how we can help make that better," she said.

Mr Peters says consumers are getting good value for money.  

"If you look at it on an income basis, those numbers haven't changed in the last 12 years. So people are spending roughly the same amount on electricity as they were in 2004, which is about three per cent of their income."

Ms Cameron says prices did rise after major re-regulation in the 1990s, but have "flattened off" in the last five years.

Ms Woods wants the inquiry to report back by early next year. So, is our electricity going to get cheaper? 

"Well that is the hope," she said. "That we will have a really good understanding of what is driving the prices and that we can make sure and we can be certain that New Zealanders are paying a fair price for their electricity."

The International Energy Authority says power prices in NZ have risen much faster than other countries. Source: 1 NEWS