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Morning Briefing May 27: Warning for other DHBs as hack becomes national crisis

The Waikato DHB hack is elevated to a national crisis, Melbourne finds itself on the edge of another lockdown, and New Zealand waits on its Covid vaccine deliveries.

Source: istock.com

The Privacy Commissioner is warning all DHBs they need to fix any security failings in their IT systems or face prosecution.

It comes as the fallout from the Waikato DHB cyber attack continues, with fears hackers may have leaked patient files online. Police are investigating an email sent to some media, believed to contain detailed personal data. 

RNZ reports the Government and DHBs were warned last year of vulnerabilities to “significant” cyber threats. The Waikato breach has now prompted calls for Andrew Little, who is both Minister of Health and the Minister responsible for the GCSB, to resign. 

The Government yesterday stepped up its response to the hack, calling on the help of a special committee chaired by the Prime Minister's top official.

And as that response group met, the true scale of the disruption to Waikato Hospital was revealed, particularly for patients going through cancer treatment.

One of those patients, Lara Wall, has told Stuff how the hack has made life even tougher for her as she deals with an aggressive cancer. Some patients may yet need to be sent to Australia for treatment. 

Andrew Little will be speaking to TVNZ’s Breakfast about the cyber attack around 7.20am today. 

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Melbourne on edge of lockdown?

New Zealand’s travel bubble pause with Victoria will be formally reviewed today after the Covid cluster in Melbourne’s northern suburbs grew to 15 cases yesterday.

Australian Government sources told The Age last night a lockdown is one of the options being considered for the city with the number of exposure sites now totalling more than 70.

There are also concerns the virus may have already jumped state lines with New South Wales officials urgently contacting people at a sports club who attended an event in Victoria alongside one of the confirmed Covid cases. 

Back on this side of the Tasman, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is asking anyone who has been in the Whittlesea area of Melbourne since May 11 to get a Covid test. Anyone who has been in Victoria since that same date is also being asked to monitor for Covid symptoms.

He asked Kiwis to remain vigilant as he referenced the current outbreak in Taiwan.

Those calls were echoed by other local experts yesterday, who said New Zealanders shouldn’t assume the risk of Covid-19 has disappeared

NZ waits on vaccines

While Kiwis keep a nervous eye on the situation in Melbourne, attention has also turned to when the general population can expect to receive their Covid jab.

New Zealand officials should soon be receiving a delivery plan from Pfizer, which could determine the speed of the wider vaccine rollout.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says start times have always depended on delivery of the vaccines and that the general public will likely be waiting “a little bit longer” for their jab. 

Meanwhile, the Government has revealed saliva testing will be rolled out for 1400 border workers to help reduce the number of nasal swabs they need.

Workers are currently tested once a week, with some people having had as many as 100 of the invasive tests. Now they can get a nasal swab once a fortnight with saliva tests in between.

Hipkins says the combination of the two tests plus an almost fully vaccinated border workforce should make the border secure.

Questions over MPs' resignations

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won't confirm or deny whether there were security concerns about two Chinese MPs, one from National and one from Labour, who resigned within days of each other last year.

It comes as news website Politik says Jian Yang and Raymond Huo’s resignations were orchestrated by the offices of Ardern and former National leader Todd Muller.

Ardern and Muller both say they don't comment on security and intelligence briefings.

It comes as Ardern and Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta try to delicately dance between keeping a solid diplomatic relationship with China, but also warning New Zealand businesses that growing tension could cause problems.

In an interview with The Guardian this week, Mahuta said exporters should diversify in case trade with China sours. 

House prices picked to stall

New Zealand’s property market could lose some of its heat in coming months, with Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr yesterday predicting house price growth to fall to almost zero.

He made that bold projection as he announced the Official Cash Rate will remain at 0.25 per cent.

And while short term interest rates look set to stay put for now, there are warnings long term rates could spike next year due to global economic uncertainty.

Other news of note this morning: 

- Boris Johnson’s former chief advisor has launched a blistering attack on the UK government’s disastrous handling of the Covid crisis.

- A cyclone has lashed parts of eastern India and neighbouring Bangladesh where more than 1.1 million people have evacuated.

- A person who was involved in and promoted ISIS is returning to New Zealand.

- The cost of a draft report commissioned by the Broadcasting Minister into the merger of RNZ and TVNZ is raising eyebrows. 

- A coroner has warned about the dangers of synthetic cannabis after an Auckland mother of five was found dead after using the illicit drug.

- A fire that razed a historic North Canterbury lodge to the ground is now being treated as suspicious.

- After 26 years in foreign hands and three years on the market, a private island near Nelson worth millions of dollars has returned to New Zealand ownership. 

- And the super blood moon lured Kiwis out of their homes in droves last night as they witnessed the phenomenon for the first time in nearly 40 years.

And finally...

Landline phone - stock image. Source: istock.com

The landline was once our main line of communication, with those phone cords nearly as long as the conversations.

But in 2021, many Kiwis have hung up their home phone for good – which is very bad news for the mothers-in-law and telemarketers around the country.

So, Seven Sharp has examined the demise of the landline and looks at what we can expect as those home phones continue to be phased out.