Morning Briefing Sept 21: Will new cases endanger alert level move?

A new group of community Covid-19 cases is weighing on the Government’s alert level decision expected later today.

Source: Getty

Three people from the same household, including a student from Auckland’s Three Kings School, have tested positive for the virus - and none of those cases are linked to the existing Auckland cluster.

Instead, one of those people is a recent arrival from India who returned two negative tests while in managed isolation and fell ill several days after being released.

Health authorities say the man has either had a rare, long incubation period after catching the virus on his flight from India or he caught it on his flight from isolation in Christchurch to Auckland. 

Epidemiologist Michael Baker told Stuff a third option is more likely – that the man was infected at the managed isolation facility late in his stay. Baker is now calling for stricter rules for returnees.

He says the effect of these new cases on the Government’s alert level decision depends on the information the Ministry of Health has about the returnee’s movements before he tested positive. 

The Government had earlier indicated a move to Level 2 for Auckland and Level 1 for the rest of the country was on the cards this week. Their alert level decision is due at 1pm today.

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

Police apologise over patient info

A new inquiry into the handling of Covid-19 patients’ information has recommended a review of how it's used.

It follows the leaking of patient information by former National party president Michelle Boag and MP Hamish Walker earlier this year.

This latest inquiry into the issue found the Ministry of Health should have reviewed providing information to emergency services such as police, who then disclosed that information to potential employers during vetting procedures.

Police have apologised for the privacy breaches.

A Harbour Bridge headache

Further traffic chaos is expected in Auckland this morning as commuters grapple with the knock-on effects of a damaged Harbour Bridge.

Strong winds tipped a truck on the bridge on Friday, bending a strut and leaving the four middle lanes out of action.

Engineers are working on the complex task of removing and replacing that damaged strut, which is an essential load-bearing part of the bridge’s structure. 

Hundreds of thousands of people have been urged to either avoid travel or use public transport this morning, while freight transporters, couriers and other businesses in the area also face big delays. 

National’s ‘irritating mistake’

Judith Collins finally launched National’s election campaign via a slick virtual event yesterday, however it was overshadowed by an issue with their fiscal plan.

Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson lobbed a perfectly timed grenade just before the event, in the form of a press release pointing out a $4 billion error in National’s calculations.

National’s Paul Goldsmith called the error an “irritating mistake” and apologised to Collins. 

Meanwhile, National is also defending targeting middle-income earners with their proposed policy to provide 16 months of tax relief, despite economists saying tax cuts to lower-income earners leads to more spending and economic stimulus.

Goldsmith told TVNZ1’s Q+A it’s natural that those who earn more would get the most benefit from tax relief.

More party pledges

And as National officially got its campaign underway, other parties were revealing more election promises over the weekend.

The Greens vowed to crack down on destructive commercial fishing practices to restore the Hauraki Gulf and help stop fish stocks from dwindling.

Labour, meanwhile, released their workplace relations policy, promising to double annual sick leave to 10 days and further increase the minimum wage.

And it’s not an election pledge as such, but both sides of the cannabis legalisation debate came together on TVNZ’s Q+A yesterday – you can find those arguments for and against the upcoming referendum here.

Stoush over Supreme Court

US President Donald Trump has said he will choose a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as early as next week.

The move has sparked outrage after Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama from making a Supreme Court appointment in 2016 because it was an election year.

Trump says he’ll put forth a female nominee to replace Ginsburg. The Washington Post has looked at who that might be here.

Ginsburg, who lost her battle with cancer last week, reportedly dictated a statement to her granddaughter during her final days that said: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Other news of note this morning:

- The UK Government has introduced $19,000 fines for people who fail to self-isolate – and has warned Covid restrictions could get tougher

- Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran says quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is unlikely to resume until at least March

- The body of a Kiwi paraglider who has been missing in the United States for nearly a month has been found.

- The Ministry of Heath says it will investigate the release of a video from Advance New Zealand that features Dr Ashley Bloomfield speaking about vaccinations.

- There are calls to press on with plans to extend the age range for free mammograms.

- And Jacinda Ardern has found herself on the receiving end of more international praise – this time from Sir David Attenborough.

And finally...  

Jackie Trevdeich. Source: 1 NEWS

1 NEWS’ latest Good Sort is a landlord who values people over profits.

Jackie Trevdeich could have rented her investment property many times over, but decided to keep it empty for months while she waited for one special family to move in.

When Trevdeich met prospective tenant Shelley Clarke and her disabled son, Jethro, she realised Clarke was in a “race for a house that she just can’t win”.

So Trevdeich decided to help them win that race – and completely changed their lives with a patience and determination to give them the roof over their heads they so badly needed.