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Morning Briefing May 26: New travel headaches as NZ shuts door on Victoria

Passengers are left stranded as Melbourne's Covid outbreak halts quarantine-free travel, and there's growing concern over the cyber attack on the Waikato DHB.

Passenger at airport - stock image. Source: istock.com

New Zealand's travel bubble with Victoria has been paused as Melbourne’s latest Covid-19 outbreak grows to nine confirmed cases.

As with previous pauses, this one will last for 72 hours initially and remain “under constant review”.

More than 20 Air New Zealand flights have been cancelled so far, upending the travel plans of many Kiwis and Australians.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the Government understands the disruption this will cause passengers but says it’s the correct call given “there are still several unknowns with this outbreak”.

New restrictions have been put in place in Melbourne, too, including the use of face masks at indoor venues and a limit on both private and public gatherings.

The city’s new cases are genomically linked to a previous community case from May 11, however the epidemiological link still hasn’t been found. They have been confirmed as being the B1617 variant first identified in India.

The locations of interest connected to the outbreak continue to grow, with authorities confirming last night one of the cases attended an AFL match at the MCG on Sunday. 

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Questions over vaccine doses

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Covid vaccine rollout continues with health officials questioned this week about following official vaccine guidelines.

Pfizer states that each vial of its vaccine contains up to six doses and each dose must contain 0.3 millilitres of the vaccine. However, some vaccinators are getting a full extra dose out of each vial with the use of a specific needle.

National’s Covid-19 response spokesperson Chris Bishop is questioning whether that goes beyond what's been approved, saying there are concerns a seventh dose may mean some people haven’t got the right amount of vaccine.

But Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield is adamant extracting a seventh dose from a vial is all above board. 

“We wouldn't be doing that if there was any question about people being short-changed or not getting the full dose,” he says. 

DHB still grappling with attack

More than a week on from the cyber attack on Waikato DHB, there’s still no clear timeframe on when their crippled phone and computer systems will be fully back online.

The health board can’t guarantee the personal data of patients and staff is safe and is still working with police, the Privacy Commissioner, and cyber security experts in its response.

RNZ reports there’s now widespread alarm over what might happen to the information the alleged hackers claim to have. 

Health Minister Andrew Little said yesterday the Government won’t pay a ransom to resolve the situation “because this will encourage further offending”. 

More political upheaval for Samoa

Samoa's Chief Justice will decide today whether the country has a new Government or not.

A hearing is set for this afternoon after Samoa's Attorney-General filed a complaint with the Supreme Court claiming Monday’s swearing in of the FAST Party was unconstitutional.

But leader Fiame Naomi Mata'afa maintains the FAST party, which has the majority, is the new Government. 

Fiame spoke to TVNZ’s Breakfast about the legal action yesterday, saying it’s “all part of the election game, I suppose”.

KiwiSaver reveals extent of hardship 

An increasing number of people are withdrawing their KiwiSaver funds early just to get by.

In the year ending March, there was a 41 per cent increase in people taking money out for hardship reasons.

The Salvation Army says they’re seeing more people from all backgrounds wanting to access their KiwiSaver as they struggle to pay for housing and food.

Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen says it’s a sign of the growing inequality in New Zealand, where some Kiwis can get into the housing market and create wealth, while others struggle just to make ends meet. 

Meanwhile, another economist says the Government’s plan to address social housing issues is set to fail.

Shamubeel Eaqub told TVNZ’s Breakfast the plan to build state houses over the next four to five years is half the current waitlist.

Porirua mayor Anita Baker also spoke to the programme about the negative impact rent price increases are having in her community.

She says there are instances where three or four families are living in one house because they can’t otherwise afford the rent.

Biden meeting with Floyd's family

One year on from George Floyd's death, his family are to meet with Joe Biden at the White House.

The meeting with the President and Vice President Kamala Harris comes as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act remains stalled in the US Senate.

Events are being held around the US as they mark the day Floyd was killed by a now former Minneapolis police officer, sparking worldwide protests against racism and police brutality. 

Other news of note this morning: 

- The EU has agreed to impose sanctions on Belarus amid fury over the forced diversion of a passenger jet to arrest an opposition journalist.

- The National Māori Authority is calling for a halt on licences for new bottle stores, after multiple assaults in the Auckland and Wellington CBDs.

- A study of more than 2000 New Zealand children has found nearly half are sleeping in bedrooms that are too cold.

- A man who planted a spy camera in an Auckland gym's changing rooms has been named as Philip Barnes, the former CEO of Crown entity International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ).

- The Auckland community of Coatesville is in shock after a father and son died in a house fire yesterday morning. 

- University of Otago researchers are suggesting a shortened work week as the best way to adapt to increasing artificial intelligence in the workplace.

- And the clear skies forecast for tonight should give most Kiwis a good chance to see the super blood moon for the first time in nearly 40 years. 

And finally...

Source: 1 NEWS

We’re all just one step away from online fame – but how do we turn those millions of clicks into millions of dollars?

Seven Sharp investigated how unexpected internet stars can cash in on their newfound fame last night and discovered that all roads lead to NFTs.

And after watching this explainer, I finally know what a NFT is. I think?