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Morning Briefing Jan 28: New cases, new locations of interest in Auckland

Two new cases of Covid-19 are discovered in the community, checkpoints in Northland move forward, and Kiwis await the imminent decision on trans-Tasman travel.

The managed isolation facility at Auckland's Pullman Hotel. Source: 1 NEWS

Two more people have tested positive for Covid-19 after completing managed isolation at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel.

They were at the facility at the same time as the recent Northland case.

Both returnees are asymptomatic and previously recorded two negative tests for the virus. Health authorities say test results so far indicate they may have contracted Covid-19 towards the end of their stay in managed isolation.

Genome sequencing results for the two new cases are due today with serology results expected tomorrow. 

The Ministry of Health has also released a new list of locations of interest in Auckland’s northern suburbs, including supermarkets and restaurants. You can find that full list here. Those who were at these locations at the same time are advised to stay home and call Healthline. 

Authorities say the Northland woman who contracted Covid-19 has since recovered, while her close contacts have all returned negative Covid tests.

However, Stuff reports the Ministry of Health chose not to release the names of at least two businesses visited by the woman, including a hairdresser and holiday home. 

Meanwhile, Kiwis travelling to Australia will find out today whether the new cases in Auckland change the situation for their arrival across the ditch.

Australian authorities froze quarantine-free travel for 72 hours earlier this week following the Northland case. 

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Northland checkpoints reinstated

Mana Movement leader Hone Harawira has slammed the Government's handling of the two new Covid cases and confirms Northland will resume checkpoints to try and keep the virus from spreading through the region.

Harawira says tens of thousands of people are expected to swamp Northland over Auckland Anniversary Weekend, yet authorities haven’t announced plans to “support Tai Tokerau through this dangerous period”.

The checkpoints will go ahead without police support.

RNZ reports iwi leaders in the Far North are also asking residents over the age of 50 to stay home while authorities work to contain the spread of Covid via these latest cases. 

Vaccine roll out a long haul

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says finishing New Zealand’s coronavirus vaccine roll out by the end of this year is something the Government is aspiring to, but “there’s still a lot of ‘what-ifs’” to navigate.

He says the process is dependent on vaccine shipments and approvals. 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says they’re aiming to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the population.

He says the Covid vaccine could also become a repeated effort if the virus keeps changing, in a situation similar to the influenza virus. 

Meanwhile, the vaccine row in Europe continues with the EU urging AstraZeneca to supply it with more doses from UK plants.

The vaccine juggle comes as the total number of Covid cases globally surpasses 100 million. 

Nats eye Māori seats

The National Party plans to contest the Māori seats at the next election after 20 years of ruling out running for the seats and calling for them to be abolished.

Former National MP Jo Hayes says she and other Māori MPs had previously pushed the issue without success. She says National now putting their hand up for the seats is a win for Māori. 

“It gives them a voice right across all of the political spectrum,” she says.

Others aren’t so sure. Another former National MP, Tutehounuku Korako, told 1 NEWS more needs to change within the party before it becomes a comfortable place for Māori candidates.

There are currently seven Māori electorate seats, with Labour holding six and the Māori Party one. National last campaigned for the seats in 2002.

Where's the flexi-wage subsidy?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last year said a flexi-wage subsidy would be here by Christmas but there’s still no sign of the Government’s key election promise.

The $300 million scheme was meant to help employ up to 40,000 Kiwis whose jobs have been impacted by Covid and was considered the Government’s second highest economic priority back in November. But the expanded subsidy appears to still be at least a month away.

National says it’s a failure on the Government’s part with the risk more New Zealanders will move into long-term unemployment.

However, Kirk Hope of Business NZ told 1 NEWS he could understand why the scheme hasn’t been a focus for the Government.

“There are a lot of other things that have probably been keeping them awake at night and, again, I think if the conditions deteriorated they could pull it out then,” he says.

Banks taken off air

John Banks has been removed from his radio show after a “blatantly racist” incident this week where a caller said Māori were “genetically predisposed to crime, alcohol and under performance educationally”.

Several companies pulled their advertising from the Magic Talk network following the incident, with NZ Cricket also promising to review its broadcast relationship with them if action wasn’t taken.

Magic Talk says Banks will be taken off air from next week.

Other news of note this morning:

- The chances of Donald Trump being convicted in his second impeachment trial are looking slim.

- A New Zealander who went missing while swimming in South Australia is believed to have died of natural causes before being attacked by a shark.

- Stuff reports cameras will be sent along pipelines at the Pike River mine to investigate the area where 29 men died.

- An accidental discovery is giving those with asthma new hope.

- The reappearance of Covid-19 in the community has disabled Kiwis calling for more support for any future lockdowns. 

- As one coffee shop is rebuked for banning recent managed isolation returnees, a small restaurant in central Otago is offering an incentive to get customers scanning. 

- Six60 and Lotto NZ have pulled scratchie cards featuring the band after a public outcry.

- And the last car to roll off Holden's production line in Adelaide is up for auction with bids expected to reach $535,000.

And finally...

Source: istock.com

Another year, another list of baby names declined by New Zealand's Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Once again, royal baby names made up the bulk of the declined names in 2020, including Royal-Reign, Royalty, Royalty-Rain and Royell.

The full list, also including Constable, Mistah and MyHonour, can be found here.