Morning Briefing July 15 - Kiwis in Victoria told: Get out now

The Government urges Kiwis travelling in Victoria to head home as soon as possible, the country's first mass vaccination event nears, and the days of rock bottom interest rates appear to be over.

A Covid testing station in Melbourne. Source: Getty

Kiwi travellers in Victoria are being told to “get home as soon as possible” as new Covid-19 cases are confirmed in Melbourne.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins issued the warning late yesterday as case numbers in the city climbed to 11, with dozens of exposure sites also revealed.

He says he’s seeking further advice from public health officials about the situation in Melbourne but is encouraging anyone with concerns about a pause in the travel bubble to get their pre-departure test now and head home. Hipkins will give an update on the situation on TVNZ’s Breakfast just after 7am today.

Meanwhile, the lockdown in New South Wales has been extended for another two weeks.

The state recorded nearly 100 more Covid cases yesterday with a third of those out in the community while infectious.

It comes as Kiwis once stranded in Sydney begin their 14-day stay in managed isolation back home, although there’s been anger over the Government’s decision to have the taxpayer foot their MIQ bill. One expat told Stuff yesterday the move is a “slap in the face” for others struggling to get home. 

Kiwi taxpayers are also paying the MIQ bill for the 16 mariners who became infected with Covid-19 on the Viking Bay vessel.

Most of these cases have been confirmed as having the Delta variant of the virus. University of Auckland professor Des Gorman says the Viking Bay saga has posed an unnecessary risk to New Zealand that now needs to be mitigated

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Mass vaccination event nears

Fifteen thousand Manukau Institute of Technology students, staff and their whānau will soon take part in New Zealand’s first mass Covid vaccination event.

The Vodafone Events Centre in South Auckland will be turned into a vaccine super site for one weekend at the end of the month, with another event scheduled for six weeks after.

It comes as Government officials confirmed another 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine are scheduled for delivery in August.

And as the vaccine rollout’s long heralded ramp-up gets underway, a new survey suggests Kiwis’ willingness to receive the Covid jab is at its highest level yet

Meanwhile, saliva testing is also finally being properly rolled out to border workers, nearly a year after experts urged the Government to introduce it.

From mid-August, border workers on seven-day testing cycles will be able to opt for a saliva test over a nasal swab. The move comes as Chris Hipkins reveals 16 border workers have been fined for refusing a Covid test so far. 

Interest rates begin bounce back

While the Official Cash Rate (OCR) has been kept at 0.25 per cent for now, the days of rock bottom interest rates appear to be over.

The country’s second biggest lender, ASB, surprised many with their decision to lift interest and term deposit rates across the board yesterday.

The Reserve Bank also made moves to take some heat out of the over-performing economy by calling a halt to its bond buying programme, a necessary precursor to raising the OCR.

Some banks are now predicting the OCR could rise as early as next month.

Midwife scheme 'too little, too late'

Midwives aren’t ruling out strike action if the Government doesn’t improve pay and working conditions for the sector.

Funding was announced yesterday for retraining those returning to the profession, as well as for one clinical coach per District Health Board to help provide support. 

But while those on the frontlines welcome the move, they say the measures don’t go far enough to reverse New Zealand’s shrinking midwifery workforce. They say the issue really boils down to “better pay and conditions”.

Hopes fade for finding pod

Hopes for returning Toa the orphaned orca back to its family are quickly diminishing as bad weather looms in Wellington.

With strong winds and rain forecast for the region, the healthy calf may have to be moved from its temporary pen.

The Department of Conservation has been unable to locate its pod after the young orca became stranded in a rock pool on Sunday afternoon. 

Other news of note this morning:

- A man has been shot and killed by police in Hamilton following an exchange of gunfire overnight.

- Long queues are growing outside shops and petrol stations in South Africa after days of deadly riots.

- The EU has revealed draft climate change legislation that will effectively ban the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered cars within the next 20 years. 

- The Financial Markets Authority is issuing a warning as a new hybrid romance-investment scam builds traction in New Zealand. 

- The joint head of MIQ says more measures will be brought in to make the booking of managed isolation vouchers faster - but won’t commit to a system overhaul.

- Stuff reports mayors and business owners are planning to join farmers in what might be the biggest mass rural protest in the country’s history tomorrow. 

- Labour MP Tamati Coffey's surrogacy bill has received backing from the ACT Party

- About 1000 staff at Inland Revenue's office in central Wellington have been sent home after seismic issues with the building were found to be worse than thought.

- Queensland have denied NSW a State of Origin sweep, winning game three of the series last night.

- And Baby Spice Emma Bunton and her partner Jade Jones have secretly wed after more than 20 years together. 

And finally...

Comedians Cook is back for another episode and this time Fred Award winner Eli Matthewson is doing dessert.

Eli Matthewson stars in Re: series Comedians Cook Source: 1 NEWS

As he potters around the kitchen and is briefly upstaged by a cat named Martin, Matthewson tells us that pre-pandemic he had been planning to move to the UK and become a star - but is now at home, showing us how to make Earl Grey bread and butter pudding. You can check it out here.