Morning Briefing April 15: Concerns border worker tests slipping through cracks

There are concerns other frontline staff may be missing regular Covid testing, the Government reveals new vaccination targets, and the Christchurch terrorist launches a fresh legal challenge. 

Source: Getty

There are concerns some frontline workers are failing to be regularly tested for Covid-19 as it’s revealed a security guard who tested positive for the virus last week hadn’t been swabbed for months.

The Prime Minister yesterday accused the guard at the Grand Millennium MIQ facility of "lying" to their employer about getting regular Covid-19 tests.

Official records show he last had a Covid test in November - but he may not be the only one missing mandatory testing. RNZ reports there could be up to 60 frontline staff who have also missed regular tests. 

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has now signed an order making it mandatory for employers to use the Ministry of Health’s register for keeping tabs on border staff testing.

But National’s Judith Collins yesterday slammed the border testing regime, saying Kiwis can't "trust anything we're told".

Meanwhile, Hipkins says "difficult conversations" have begun with unvaccinated border workers.

He says there will be no one working in front-line roles who hasn’t had at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the month.

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New vaccine targets revealed

The Government is aiming to have one million Covid-19 jabs administered by July in a plan newly released by the Ministry of Health.

The plan includes a breakdown of vaccination numbers at each District Health Board and sets out weekly targets.

The Ministry expects an average of 12,000 vaccines to be given every day over the next three months. So far, the most jabs administered in one day was on April 8, when more than 8000 vaccines were given. 

News of the targets comes as Counties Manukau DHB says Auckland has only half the number of vaccinators it needs for the rollout. GPs have also told RNZ they don’t know what the rollout expectations mean for them. 

Meanwhile, there’s been another blow for the AstraZeneca vaccine overseas.

Denmark has become the first country to cease using that particular jab altogether, citing a “real risk” of serious side effects. The move is expected to delay their vaccine rollout by several weeks.

Terrorist's new legal challenge

The Christchurch mosque gunman will represent himself via phone in court today after launching a legal challenge over his prison conditions and possibly his status as a “terrorist entity”.

He’s the only person in New Zealand to be designated as a terrorist. 

The High Court will be asked to review the conditions under which he’s being held by the Department of Corrections.

The hearing doesn’t relate to his conviction or sentence for murdering 51 people in March 2019.

He’s currently serving life without parole in Auckland Prison at Paremoremo.

Groups lash out at live exports ban

The Government’s confirmation that it’s ending live animal exports by sea within two years has been met with anger in some quarters.

The Animal Genetics Trade Association is among those lashing out at the decision, calling the ban “morally and practically unjustified”.

Exporter Dave Hayman says the move will hurt farmers financially and require the premature slaughter of thousands of livestock every year. 

Golden Bay Federated Farmers president Wayne Langford says the organisation’s members have “very mixed” opinions about the ban. He says the news is disappointing for some, but “a relief for others”.

He says they had been working with the Government on the live exports issue and were “quite surprised” over the move to a complete ban. 

But the Government’s decision was welcomed by others yesterday, including the Green Party and animal rights campaigners.

World Animal Protection New Zealand thanked Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor for "finally phasing out the abhorrent live export trade".

Prison kapa haka initiative extended

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has announced an inter-prison kapa haka competition involving up to 18 prisons nationwide.

It comes after a successful pilot scheme involving eight prisons last year.

Davis says the initiative aims to connect prisoners with their whakapapa and provide a positive environment that may help with their rehabilitation.

Corrections says last year’s kapa haka competition had a positive impact on the relationship between staff and prisoners.

Other news of note this morning:

- The US police officer who shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man during a traffic stop, sparking three nights of protest, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

- Bernie Madoff, the financier who orchestrated the largest Ponzi scheme in history, has died in prison.

- Scientists warn airborne microplastic particles from broken-down rubbish have become so widespread that humans are breathing, drinking and eating them daily.

- Egyptian authorities have impounded the massive cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal last month amid a financial dispute with its owner.

- The Reserve Bank has kept its official cash rate at the record low rate of 0.25 per cent.

- A freak waterspout appeared over the sea across from Napier's Marine Parade yesterday, giving people a spectacular view as it moved around the coast.

- Sir Bryan Williams is celebrating the announcement that two Pacific teams will join a new Super Rugby competition next year. 

- And New Zealand's longest running TV ad has come to an end.

And finally...

Rawiri Paratene. Source: 1 NEWS

From hosting Play School to starring in award-winning films like Whale Rider, Rawiri Paratene has been on our screens in one form or another for nearly half a century.

Now he’s back with a swan song season of Peter Paka Paratene, a cheeky look back at his extraordinary life and career.

Paratene struggles with words since having three strokes but told Seven Sharp last night he’s refusing to let that stop him.