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Morning Briefing March 2: Tensions rise within team of five million

Cracks emerge within NZ's team of five million over the current Covid cluster, the next group to receive their vaccine is revealed, and Fair Go investigates open homes that have been a little too open.

Source: Getty

While New Zealand waits and holds its breath as a deluge of Covid test results flood in, tensions are rising over how the latest cluster of cases has spread.

Health officials yesterday revealed the two most recent cases became infected after one of them went for a walk with another infected person from a different household during Auckland’s previous Level 3 lockdown. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is now urging all Kiwis to call out whānau, friends and members of the public if they’re not following alert level rules – albeit “with kindness”.

She says she understands people’s frustrations with the various rule breaches, adding that the individuals concerned would be feeling the "entire weight of the nation" right now because of their actions.

Ardern says there are ways to prosecute those who break Covid-19 rules, but that the decision should be left to police, not politicians.

However, the NZ Herald reports the police can only launch an investigation if asked to do so by the Ministry of Health. Police say they’ve received no such referrals yet. 

Some within the current cluster are pushing back on Ardern’s comments, with a KFC employee who tested positive for the virus disputing reports they were told to isolate at home. She says her family have been targets of online abuse and she wants an apology from Ardern.

The Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) is also pleading for kindness as a student who tested positive for Covid-19 faces their own cyber-bullying.

South Auckland councillor Fa’anana Efeso Collins says talk of a tough crackdown on lockdown breaches won’t help his community.

He says the latest outbreak is also a failure on the part of officials in overestimating how well informed people are about the need to isolate.

Other Kiwis Stuff has spoken to have shared similar sentiments, saying the Government’s messaging around the Covid crisis is “too old, stale and pale” to reach everyone. 

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Next group prioritised for vaccine

The Government has revealed frontline health staff are next in line to receive a Covid vaccine.

This group includes those administering Covid tests, midwives and child support workers, ambulance and emergency staff, GPs, nurses and medical receptionists. This second wave of vaccinations is expected to begin within a month. 

The move comes as some concerns are raised over the way spare vaccines are currently distributed.

DHBs in the Auckland region have apologised after some South Auckland GPs were turned away from getting a Covid-19 vaccine when they were told spare doses were available.

The Northern Region Health Coordination Centre acknowledged things could have been done better and are working to refine their process in an evolving situation with a vaccine that comes with “unique logistical challenges”.  

Meanwhile, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has joined calls for New Zealand’s largest city to be prioritised in the wider vaccine rollout later this year.

He says as the gateway city to New Zealand and with significantly more quarantine facilities, “Auckland carries the burden of risk on behalf of the country”.

He says protecting Auckland will help ensure Covid-19 doesn’t spread to other parts of the country. 

How safe is your open home?

Open homes are traditionally one of the most effective ways for somebody to sell their property – but Fair Go has discovered some homes have been open for anyone at any hour.

Christchurch real estate company Harcourts gold has been caught accidentally disclosing details online which allowed anyone to get inside their clients’ homes.

Fair Go alerted the company to the issue, which saw 27 live listings taken down within three hours.

Harcourts gold says the problem has since been resolved and reported to the Privacy Commissioner - but some clients, who say items have “gone missing” from their home, are still unhappy. 

Leaders pull out of KiwiSaver scheme

Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson have both pulled out of a KiwiSaver scheme which has links to the Saudi military.

They have been calling for a reform of financial institutions after Kiwi Wealth decided on Friday to continue investing in an American company that sells missiles to Saudi Arabia.

Kiwi Wealth says excluding companies from investment portfolios isn't a "strong driver of actual change".

The Greens co-leaders’ move comes a couple of weeks after MP Chlöe Swarbrick said she was horrified to learn her ANZ KiwiSaver was investing in companies fuelling the war in Yemen. She promptly dumped the provider.

Oprah teases royal interview

Prince Harry says the process of separating from royal life has been very difficult for him and his wife, Meghan.

That statement came from one of two new promotional clips for the couple’s upcoming interview with their Montecito neighbour, Oprah Winfrey.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are seen holding hands in a lush garden setting during the promos, with Winfrey telling them, “You said some pretty shocking things here.”

The interview is due to air in the US on March 8 (NZ time).

Meanwhile, Prince Harry’s grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been transferred to another hospital. His treatment for an infection continues as he begins testing and observation for a pre-existing heart condition. 

Other news of note this morning:

- The Brazilian strain of Covid-19 has been discovered in the UK for the first time, with six cases detected across England and Scotland. 

- France's former president Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to jail for corruption – but it’s unlikely he’ll spend a day in prison

- “Do you miss me yet?” Donald Trump has used his first post-presidential speech to hint at another run for the White House

- Some of the country's most powerful business leaders are demanding the Government make its Covid-19 plans public. 

- Mayors are calling for a formal inquiry into the impact of banks closing branches in provincial communities.

- Muslim groups say they want more action over the Christchurch mosque attacks.

- The Student Volunteer Army is re-starting its contactless grocery delivery service in Auckland, aiming to help those vulnerable to Covid-19 who can’t shop during Alert Level 3.

- And the Golden Globes have been doled out during a very socially distanced ceremony.

And finally...

Person getting a haircut - stock image. Source: istock.com

Whether you're sporting a bob, lob, buzz cut, perm or a glorious mullet, all of us need a little trim now and then.

But how much should a haircut cost? And given the line between men’s and women’s cuts is getting blurrier, is it time we ditched gender-based pricing that often sees women paying considerably more for a simple trim?

Fair Go’s Gill Higgins went along to the salon to find out