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Morning Briefing April 12: New Covid case and new locations of interest revealed

The Ministry of Health reveals more locations of interest as another border worker tests positive for Covid-19, and tributes continue to flow for the Duke of Edinburgh.

The Grand Millennium Hotel in Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS

Another worker at the Grand Millennium MIQ facility in Auckland has tested positive for Covid-19.

The new case is a colleague and close contact of last week’s case and both are genomically linked to a hotel cleaner who tested positive for the virus three weeks ago.

The Ministry of Health says last night’s new case is considered low risk to the community given they’ve been isolating at home since being identified as a close contact, however, three more locations of interest related to these border cases were announced last night. They include two bakeries, a dairy and a phone repair store. 

The news comes as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says border workers must receive a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of this month or risk being moved on to other jobs.

She’s also used an interview with TVNZ’s Q+A to defend New Zealand’s slower vaccine rollout, saying it’s important the nations hit hardest by Covid-19 have access to the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Australia last night abandoned all targets for its own rollout of Covid vaccines following last week’s new medical advice regarding the AstraZeneca jab.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the Government will no longer be setting any vaccination targets given ongoing uncertainties.  

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Ardern defends travel ban

Jacinda Ardern has also been defending her Government’s move to halt arrivals from India for two weeks.

The temporary travel ban began yesterday afternoon, a move which is still being questioned by New Zealand’s Indian community.

Sandeep Singh is again asking why it’s “okay to leave Kiwi-Indians stateless”, while Green MP Golriz Ghahraman has also written about the nerves being felt by south Asian communities following the travel ban. She says “their questions around systemic prejudice are valid and important”.

However, Ardern told Q+A yesterday race didn’t play a part in the decision.

She says she has a duty of care for all New Zealanders, including those who appear to be contracting Covid-19 while in the process of travelling from India.

Over at The Spinoff, microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles has summed up the data behind the Government’s decision and how this currently differs for arrivals from other regions like the US and UK. 

The temporary travel ban comes as India says it’s become the “fastest country in the world” to administer 100 million Covid-19 vaccines. However, the BBC reports the country is currently still recording more than 150,000 new cases of the virus each day.

Covid is on the surge in other parts of the world, too, with some Brazilian hospitals under their biggest strain since the pandemic began and other countries that have kept the virus in check also reporting an uptick in cases.

Beneficiaries put in further debt

Calls to scrap interest-free loans from the Ministry of Social Development have been shut down by the Government.

Figures released to 1 NEWS under the Official Information Act show almost 560,000 people owe close to $2 billion to the Ministry. It’s 50,000 more people than in 2018, when $1.5 billion worth of interest-free loans were handed out for things like school uniforms, dentist bills, electricity, and car repairs.

Each person owes almost $500 more than three years ago, too, with the average amount being $3420.

Some are calling for the debt to be wiped, however Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says that’s not up for consideration.

More tributes for Prince Philip

Tributes continue to flow for the Duke of Edinburgh ahead of his funeral this weekend.

Prince Philip’s daughter Princess Anne has described him as her “teacher, supporter, and critic” in a statement released overnight.

Prince Andrew has also spoken of his father’s death, saying it’s “left a huge void” in the Queen’s life

Prince Philip has been remembered in several ways in New Zealand, with tributes in church and a 41-gun salute in Wellington.

His Kiwi goddaughter has also shared her memories of the man who wrote to her and sent her Christmas cards every year, as well as special gifts for her 21st birthday and wedding day. 

New Zealand Defence officials will play a role in the ceremonial funeral procession this weekend, with New Zealand to hold its own memorial for Prince Philip at a later date. 

Water woes more widespread?

Wellington may be earning a reputation for its burst pipes, but they’re not the only council facing water woes.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) says several areas of the country are grappling with water infrastructure that’s in decay.

LGNZ’s Stuart Crosby says a lack of expertise and a declining workforce are making it harder to “provide that high level of infrastructure”. 

Meanwhile, Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi has called on the Rotorua Lakes Council to act after residents of a Rotorua neighbourhood complained of "s**t in their backyards" caused by faulty sewage plant infrastructure.

Waititi attended a community hui in Ngāpuna last week where they say wastewater is being discharged into their ancestral waters. He wants local authorities to commit to a long-term solution to the problem. 

The hidden cost of being busy

As another work week begins for many of us, TVNZ’s Sunday is asking the question – is your job killing you?

The programme has spoken to four Kiwis, including former Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung, about being chronically busy and the effect it’s had on their lives.

Gattung says she “hardly left her bedroom for three months” after suffering burnout at work and is challenging other business leaders to empower staff to create boundaries around their time and prioritise their wellbeing.

Other news of note this morning:

- The BBC reports a nuclear facility in Iran has been hit by a "terrorist act".

- Samoa's two main political parties are again head to head in the general election following the discovery of an accounting glitch.

- The Government is being called on to urgently overhaul the Misuse of Drugs Act.

- Jacinda Ardern says she remains hopeful recent moves by the Government will curb New Zealand’s red-hot housing market.

- Kiwis enjoyed a warmer weekend than usually seen at this time of year, with some regions nine degrees warmer than average. 

- And it’s crunch time for a pioneering peanut crop in Northland.

And finally...

A young Rachel Hunter seen in a Trumpet ad. Source: 1 NEWS

This month marks 60 years since TV commercials started airing in New Zealand.

I could go on about advertising’s role in reflecting the country back to itself or how TV ads have changed in the face of streaming, but really, we’re all here to watch the old ads and reminisce about simpler times.

Think Spot the dog hawking Telecom’s wares. Crumpy and Scotty taking their Hilux for a spin. A young Rachel Hunter launching her modelling career with a Trumpet. The Fernleaf Family saga. The dog who spawned dozens of complaints by uttering the word “bugger”. Ghost chips. 

You can enjoy all of those (and a few other classics) here.