Live updates, October 28: Two imported Covid-19 cases, no new community cases

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Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for October 28. All the latest New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. Reach me on

1.15pm: Two imported Covid-19 cases, no new community cases

There are two new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation today and no new community cases, the Ministry of Health has just announced via press release.

The first imported case arrived from Paris via Dubai and Kuala Lumpur on October 23. The second arrived from London, also via Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, on the same day. It’s not known whether they were on the same flights from Dubai.

Both cases were identified during routine testing around day three of their time in managed isolation and have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

Four cases have now recovered, meaning the total number of active cases is now 66. The total number of confirmed cases is now 1,587.

Yesterday, 3,335 tests for Covid-19 were completed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,075,827.

Auckland testing

Testing in Auckland is available today at seven community testing centres (CTCs) in addition to the usual testing in general practice and urgent care clinics, the ministry said.

Testing is available at Northcote Community Testing Centre, Northcare Accident and Medical, Whānau House in Henderson, Western Springs Community Testing Centre, Health New Lynn Community Testing Centre, Whānau Ora Community Clinic in Wiri, and the Otara Community Testing Centre.

Today is the last day testing will be available at Northcare Accident and Medical as this was set up in response to the latest outbreak.

Ken Rei

The cargo ship Ken Rei remains docked at the Port of Napier, the Ministry of Health said.

The crew are reported to be well and in “good spirits”. They have all previously returned negative Covid-19 test results. All crew members were tested again yesterday afternoon, these tests are being processed today.

No crew members have applied for shore leave in New Zealand. The ship will depart Napier on Thursday and head for Tauranga.

International mariners in managed isolation in Christchurch

There are no new cases today from the international mariners who are staying in managed isolation in Christchurch.

To date, 29 from the crew of over 200 Russian and Ukrainian fishermen have tested positive for Covid-19. Day 12 testing for all the other mariners who did not test positive during prior tests is underway.

A decision on how long the international mariners will remain in the facility will be confirmed after these test results are received and reviewed, the ministry said.

Genome sequencing has been completed from 11 high quality samples taken from the positive cases – the results are consistent with infections originating overseas.

Child who tested positive after leaving NZ believed to be ‘historical’ or ‘false positive’ case

The Ministry of Health still suspects it was a “historical case” or “false positive” that resulted in a New Zealand child testing positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Japan on October 23

The ministry continues to work with its Japanese counterparts and will provide further details when they are available.

NZ Covid Tracer App 

A total of 757,592 scans were recorded yesterday, which shows the increase in scans seen over Labour weekend has continued.

“It is encouraging that New Zealanders are responding to the call to get back into the habit of scanning codes with the app, but we still have a way to go to get back to the level of usage seen in early September,” the ministry said.

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12.10pm: Tackling climate change requires ‘broad transformational change’ – Adrian Orr

The Reserve Bank governor has suggested addressing the risks of climate change “requires broad transformational change”.

Adrian Orr has delivered a speech this morning at the Pacific Ocean Pacific Climate Conference, where he reflected on the need for a collective and urgent response to climate risks.

“There’s a lot to do and we are late in leaving port,” Orr said. “Climate change is a risk that requires a collective response. Grounding a response in our collective knowledge, data and expertise will strengthen and compound the effects of our actions.”

The Reserve Bank sees climate change as a risk to the financial stability underpinning our economy, Orr said.

“As New Zealand’s central bank, we are the kaitiaki of the financial system tasked with maintaining and enhancing financial stability.”

Orr welcomed developments towards mandatory climate-related financial disclosures.

“Ultimately disclosure by our companies in New Zealand under a commonly-adopted framework will support a shift to smarter investment in a low-emissions economy.”

10.30am: Labour might want Greens in cabinet to ‘blame’ them for mistakes – Collins

Judith Collins has spoken to media ahead of today’s National Party caucus meeting, and speculated on why the Labour Party might want to invite the Greens into cabinet.

A review is planned to evaluate what went wrong and right with National’s ultimately disastrous election campaign, and portfolio allocations have not yet been decided upon, Collins said.

Collins said the purpose of today’s meeting is to discuss the review and update on any possible changes. The reviewers who will head the campaign evaluation have not yet been decided on.

Asked about whether Gerry Brownlee will remain in the role of deputy leader, Collins said it’s a matter for the caucus. She would not be pressed on what her personal preference is, saying: “I’m always keen to have Gerry with us”.

She added: “I’m very happy to have the decision made by the caucus”.

Collins did not want to speculate on any other possible portfolio allocations, including whether Paul Goldsmith will stay as finance spokesperson, saying she’ll be meeting individually with all her MPs.

“We’re going to have the meetings first, and then I won’t make the allocation until after the government has made its portfolios,” Collins said.

Collins expressed a desire to fill portfolio roles with MPs who have not necessarily been in the role before. “I think it’s good to have ‘test MPs’,” Collins said. “They often bring a real energy to it.”

It’s not just a matter of keeping people close to her, Collins said in response to a question from Newshub’s Jenna Lynch. “I’d like to keep everyone close to me… even you Jenna,” Collins quipped.

Labour is meeting today with the Greens to continue discussions about the possible formation of the next government. Collins speculated that Labour may want to invite the Greens into cabinet in order to “blame” the party for any mistakes made by the government.

She wouldn’t be drawn on what today’s discussions might involve, but joked that they’ll probably discuss “who brings the chocolate biscuits”.

Right now on The Spinoff:

This morning on The Spinoff, Justin Latif has spoken to our parliament’s five newest migrant MPs – the Green Party’s Ricardo Menendez-March, and Labour’s Gaurav Sharma, Naisi Chen, Ibrahim Omer and Vanushi Walters.

Here’s an extract:

Of the five, Menendez-March has made the biggest splash so far, with a petition calling for him to be blocked from entering parliament after his tweet reflecting Green Party policy was misinterpreted as treasonous.

“I guess it is a sign that we have systemic racism and systemic homophobia that when someone like myself, who’s a queer Latino, tries to have a nuanced conversation [about constitutional reform], people immediately to shut me down,” he told The Spinoff.

Referring to earlier comments by John Key and Jacinda Ardern, he continued: “But when a Pākehā prime minister tries to have a conversation about the make-up of our government, the level of backlash is quite different. I guess my concern is that it’s my friends and family at home who also see it.”

Read the full article here

7.45am: All arrivals into the country should be tested – health minister

The health minister Chris Hipkins has called for all arrivals into the country to be tested for Covid-19, including shipping crews who don’t need to spend two weeks in managed isolation.

You might think this is how the rules currently operate, but a gap in our testing regime has been exposed over the last few weeks as Covid-19 reemerged through the border.

Under current rules, as RNZ reports, only crews that spend three or more days in a managed isolation facility while waiting to board their ship are tested. If you are here for less time, you spend it in managed isolation but do not get tested.

“Everybody should be tested, even if you’re only here overnight,” Chris Hipkins said. “I’m due to get the advice on that later this week.”

Hipkins’ comments come after revelations eight crew members from the Philippines transited through the country to board a ship in Auckland without receiving a test.

Questions remain around how the latest community case of Covid-19 made it through the border. At this stage, it’s believed the Sofrana Surville ship is the source – but it’s not known whether the Phillipines crew passed the virus onto the port worker or not.

Infectious diseases expert professor David Murdoch told the Herald the fact a confirmed Covid case could visit venues including an Auckland bar, without the virus spreading further, shows the system was working.

“It has been picked up quickly, we’ve managed to find the source – unlike the previous outbreak, there’s been rigorous contact tracing and genome sequencing.”

7.35am: Top stories from The Bulletin

The government’s decision on whether to back New Zealander Chris Liddell for the top job at the OECD looks likely to split parliament. There was a mention of this in yesterday’s Bulletin, bouncing off this Newsroom piece outlining some of the relevant factors. But since then, there has been a significant update, with parties staking their case for and against the leading Trump administration official getting diplomatic support.

National came out strongly in favour of supporting Liddell’s candidacy, reports Stuff’s Henry Cooke. The argument from foreign affairs spokesperson Simon Bridges is that it would be in New Zealand’s interests to have a dual-citizen in the job, and that it was the right thing to do for the country to back a high achiever who is also “a boy from Matamata”, as Bridges put it. “It would be a foot in the door for New Zealand. It would be incredible access. This is a guy who has been a CFO at Microsoft and high up at General Motors”. Act also put their support behind Liddell.

However, the Greens are strongly against any support for Liddell, on the grounds that he has been a key figure in the Trump administration. Foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said “it starts to get a bit scary at a time of pandemic when you look at his role not only in eroding multilateral approaches to things like the Paris Agreement, but in terms of the pandemic response and the attack on the World Health Organisation.”

It’s hard to pin down exactly what Liddell is and isn’t responsible for within the administration, as the White House deputy chief of staff. However, a disputed NBC report alleged that he was involved in a meeting in which the policy of separating asylum seeker children from their parents was decided, a moral stain of a policy that has had appalling outcomes. Regardless of whether Liddell was directly involved in that, there’s a wider argument to be made against enabling the policies of the Trump administration, and by all accounts Liddell has been exceptionally competent in his work. For many, simply being part of Trump’s inner circle is disqualifying.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

7.30am: Yesterday’s headlines

There was one new case of Covid-19, and again no cases in the community

Police reminded people not to spread unverified information on social media about an ongoing investigation into sexual assault allegations within the Wellington music scene

Judith Collins said “clearly more went wrong” than right for the party this year, ahead of a review into National’s election failure.

In the US, Conservative Catholic judge Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, a lifetime appointment.

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