Morning Briefing June 25: Bubble pause extended as Kiwis await Covid results

The pause on quarantine-free travel from New South Wales is extended as Kiwis wait to see if Sydney's Covid outbreak has already reached our shores.

Chris Hipkins and Dr Ashley Bloomfield speak at a news conference. Source: Getty

The pause on quarantine-free travel from New South Wales to New Zealand has been extended for another 12 days as the state records more new cases of Covid-19.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says they’re in the "scariest" period since the pandemic began, with four cases still yet to be linked to the current cluster and the virus spreading into Victoria and Queensland. 

Meanwhile, health officials are still working to ascertain if Sydney’s outbreak has also spread to New Zealand, with ongoing testing in the Wellington region.

A new testing centre is opening in Te Papa’s carpark today to help cope with testing demand as other sites reach capacity.

Although no cases of Covid-19 were recorded in New Zealand yesterday, the Government is urging caution, saying “it’s still early days”.

Only those showing symptoms or those who have been at a location of interest (of which there are now 20) need to get tested. 

The Cook Islands Government is also asking any Wellingtonians who have visited locations of interest to isolate and get tested before flying to Rarotonga.

Those already in the Cook Islands are being contacted about getting tested and isolating until they receive a negative result. The move comes after a group of passengers from Wellington were removed from an Air New Zealand flight bound for Rarotonga yesterday.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will be giving a Covid-19 update on TVNZ’s Breakfast just before 7.30am.

Sign up to get the Morning Briefing delivered direct to your inbox – here.

Fiji's crisis deepens

China's President says his country will provide more vaccines and other support to help Fiji through its Covid-19 crisis.

Xi Jinping made the promise during a conversation with Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, saying China will set up a Pacific Island reserve of emergency supplies.

It comes as Fiji’s medical authorities warn its systems are overwhelmed by an exponential number of new cases.

With a record 308 new Covid cases confirmed yesterday, 1 NEWS Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver says the outbreak has "that feel of being uncontrolled".

Many feared dead in building collapse

A major rescue effort is underway in Miami after a wing of a multi-storey apartment building collapsed last night.

At least one person has been killed, with more than 50 others unaccounted for.

Rescuers have pulled dozens of survivors from the tower, however many of those people were in the part of the building that didn’t collapse.

The local mayor has warned the death toll will likely rise as the building “literally pancaked” and was quite full at the time of its collapse.  

Dilworth facing new complaint

New Zealand's wealthiest school, Dilworth, is facing a new class action complaint for failing to protect its students.

The Auckland school is accused of knowing boys in its care were being sexually abused and allowing it to continue between 1970 and 2006.

The class action is separate to ongoing court proceedings, where 11 men have been charged with sexual offending. 

It's understood another class action against the school was dropped last week, with the lawyers involved deeming it uneconomic.

The legal team involved in this new action are working pro bono, with litigation funder LPF Group paying all expenses associated with taking the claim.

Meanwhile, the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care saw a dramatic development yesterday, as police apologised to Lake Alice survivors.

Detective superintendent Thomas Fitzgerald says police failed to properly examine all allegations of criminal activity at the children's unit.

He says an eight-year investigation was insufficiently resourced, while vital information, including several victim statements, was also lost.

Payout over prison riot

The Government is set to pay $1.35 million to prisoners and Corrections staff following a riot at Waikeria Prison earlier this year.

The payments will cover prisoner and staff personal property which was lost during the riot due to smoke and fire damage. The prisoners charged over the riot won’t receive the payments.

Meanwhile, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis is defending a drop in the number of prisoners getting treatment for alcohol and drug problems.

He says investment is being made in more intensive programmes rather than putting every prisoner through a very short course.

Other news of note this morning:

- German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe is “on thin ice” as the Delta Covid variant threatens to undo pandemic progress.

- Hundreds of unmarked graves have been found at the site of another former residential school for Indigenous children in Canada.

- Managed isolation facilities are now booked out until November, although the Government says more vouchers will be released.

- Westpac Group has decided not to sell off the New Zealand side of its business.

- The jury will continue its deliberations in the trial of Arthur Allan Thomas today.

- The Auditor-General says it's unable to investigate a Labour MP rental arrangement labelled “dodgy” by National’s Chris Bishop.

- And Britney Spears has made shocking claims in court about who’s controlling her life – and her body.

And finally...

John Clarke as Fred Dagg. Source: 1 NEWS

John Clarke is widely regarded as one of the country’s greatest comedians and now his collection of work is available at NZ on Screen for fans old and new to enjoy.

So, if you’re at a loose end this weekend, have a flick through the back catalogue here - because if it weren't for Clarke (and the wonderful Fred Dagg) where would we be?