Live updates, November 27: Seven new cases of Covid-19; six from Pakistan cricket team

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 27. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

1.35pm: Seven new cases of Covid-19; six from Pakistan cricket team

Updated

There are seven cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation today, the Ministry of Health has announced. There are no new cases in the community.

Six of the cases are members of the Pakistan men’s cricket team announced by the ministry last night. The seventh case reported today arrived on November 23 and tested positive during routine day three testing.

There are now 66 active cases of Covid-19, with 1691 confirmed cases in total.

Yesterday, 7,454 tests for Covid-19 were completed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,260,055

Pakistan Cricket Team

The Pakistan Cricket Team will be undergoing day three testing today as planned, said the ministry.

The exemption to train while in managed isolation does not come into effect until after day three test results are available and only once a medical officer of health can be satisfied that they are unlikely to transmit Covid-19.

As per usual protocols, all cases have been interviewed and close contacts, including flight contacts, have been, or are in the process of being, contacted. All passengers who arrived on the same flight as the team are currently staying in an MIQ facility to carry out their 14 days isolation.

The ministry said that any of the team identified as a close contact would not meet the requirements for the exemption as there is a risk that they could transmit Covid-19 to fellow team mates.

The team members that arrived in New Zealand met the agreed pre-departure requirements for travel, including multiple PCR tests, and symptom checks.

“Exemptions allowing people to train while in managed isolation are very difficult to obtain and any team that receives such an exemption is in a privileged position,” a ministry spokesperson said.

“A number of the incidents reported yesterday that constituted breach of the rules of managed isolation, included players leaving rooms without masks, mingling and chatting in hallways, and passing items.”

The touring party is staying in a separate wing of the managed isolation facility at the Chateau on the Park in Christchurch. The reported breaches have occurred within the touring party and do not affect other guests at the facility, the ministry said.

“Since the team was issued with a warning, compliance with MIQ rules in the facility has significantly improved. We thank members of the team for their cooperation with the case investigations following the announcement of positive cases within the team.”

Air New Zealand case

The Ministry of Health also provided an update on the Air New Zealand worker who tested positive for Covid-19 while in China. It was confirmed earlier this week that this case was not linked to any existing New Zealand Covid infections.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service has continued to identify any locations of interest the Air New Zealand staff member may have visited, and any associated close contacts.

To date, there have been 17 close contacts identified. Of those, 11 have returned a negative result and the remaining six are pending.

The Ministry of Health has sent out six push notifications through the NZ Covid Tracer app for locations of interest that were visited by the Air New Zealand worker.

As at 10am today, 106 app users have received contact alerts from these notifications.

Black Friday

The Ministry of Health has also reminded members of the public to use the tracer app while shopping during the Black Friday sales.

“Customers should also wear a mask in places where you cannot physically distance yourself from others, and wash and sanitise your hands regularly,” the ministry said.

1.30pm: Ministry yet to release Covid-19 update

We’re still awaiting today’s Covid-19 update from the Ministry of Health. It’s coming via press release, and will likely provide an update on the Pakistani cricketers who tested positive for Covid-19.

Today marks two weeks since the last Ministry of Health press conference. Since then we’ve had the unexplained Air New Zealand case and the latest news involving the Covid-positive cricket team.

I’ll have all the news when it arrives.

12.50pm: Peppa Pig completes quarantine in NZ, set to appear in Auckland Santa parade

In slightly surreal news just to hand, Peppa Pig – who is in fact a 32 foot tall helium-filled balloon – is set to make an appearance in this weekend’s Auckland Santa parade.

Chief executive of the Auckland Business Chamber Michael Barnett said Peppa Pig has arrived from the US and completed quarantine, removing any fear of the oversized ungulate causing a Covid-19 superspreader event.

Peppa is joining an all-star line-up in the parade, including Buzzy Bee and Mickey Mouse.

So you can get a true understanding of just how immense Peppa is, I have attached this slightly confronting photograph.

Haunting. (Image : Supplied)

12.00pm: Trump admits he will leave White House – but only if Electoral College votes for Biden

Donald Trump is continuing to claim “tremendous fraud” will be uncovered, despite no evidence of the sort yet being revealed.

The president has faced reporters for the first time since losing the 2020 presidential election.

During a chaotic and rambling press conference, Trump repeated his claim that there was “no way” that Joe Biden could have won 80 million votes. He made an unusual claim that because Biden received more votes from African Americans than Obama did, it was evidence that fraudulent voting was responsible. Of course, voter turn out was up across the board, so this claim doesn’t make much sense.

Trump finally admitted that he would leave the White House if the Electoral College votes in favour of Biden, as it is required to do. He said a lot will be discovered before January 20, and that the whole world is “laughing” at the US electoral process.

Trump became visibly angry when one reporter asked him to justify his fraud claims, calling the journalist a “lightweight”.

“Don’t talk to me that way,” Trump told the reporter. “I’m the president of the United States. Don’t ever talk to the president that way.”

Asked whether he would run again in 2024, the president said: “I don’t want to talk about 2024 yet”.

11.25am: Whatever happened to Billy TK?

Remember Billy TK? No? Lucky for you.

The Public Party leader is continuing to speak to his supporters via the reliable forum of Facebook. And according to Stuff’s Charlie Mitchell, he has the power to comment on himself in the third person while broadcasting live to the masses.

I shaved today and nobody has yet told me it was “awesome”, sadly.

11.10am: Victoria officially eliminates Covid-19

The state of Australia once most overrun with Covid-19 has now officially eliminated the coronavirus.

Victoria has now gone 28 consecutive days without a new case. In mid-August, the state had almost 8000 active cases.

10.30am: Pakistani cricket great hits out at NZ cricket

Pakistani cricket great Shoaib Akhtar has criticised NZ Cricket for threatening to cancel the team’s tour over a breach of Covid-19 rules while in isolation.

The entire Pakistani team is on notice from the Government after players breached rules in managed isolation in Christchurch. Six members of the team have since tested positive for Covid-19.

In a video, Akhtar sent a strong message to the country’s cricket body.

“I want to give a message to New Zealand board that this is not a club team, it’s Pakistan national cricket team,” he said.

“You will get the broadcasting rights money. So, you should be indebted to us that we decided to tour your country in such difficult times.

“You are talking about Pakistan – the greatest country on the planet – so behave yourself and stop giving such statement. Be careful next time. Pakistan team now needs to smash them in T20 series.”

9.40am: Government moved too late on Pacific workers, Act says

The Act Party said bringing RSE workers into the country two months late is like “allowing sailors to come halfway through the America’s Cup”.

Leader David Seymour is welcoming the government’s decision to let Pacific workers into the country to help with the horticultural season, but said it came too late.

“Labour is willing to allow billionaire America’s Cup team owners, movies stars and their nannies, international sportspeople, and musicians performing at summer festivals into the country as essential workers,” Seymour said.

“ACT and growers have been raising this issue for months and Labour hasn’t listened. Why not allow Covid-free workers from the Pacific to come here now? There’s no good reason.”

Seymour used his allotted time during yesterday’s parliamentary debate to raise the issue, saying Australia has been poaching Pacific workers that we could have used to support local businesses.

8.00am: Māori Party co-leaders were ‘grandstanding’ – speaker

Speaker of the house Trevor Mallard has defended his actions in the house yesterday, when he prevented the Māori Party co-leaders from speaking during the first session of the new parliament.

It led to both Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer leaving the debating chamber, with the pair releasing a scathing press release saying it was an example of “the Māori voice being silenced”.

But Mallard told RNZ that the pair would have had the opportunity to speak, labelling their decision to walk out an act of “grandstanding”.

“I had them scheduled to speak at 4.30pm, after David Seymour,” said Mallard. The speech would have acted as the party co-leader’s maiden speeches, but taken place during debate.

“They wanted to have two speeches, which you don’t get on the address and reply [debate]. They were originally scheduled to speak next Thursday, I made some special arrangements for them to speak yesterday and they said they would only accept those special arrangements if they got to speak twice and that doesn’t happen,” Mallard said.

“[There’s] a certain frustration coming from me because some of us spent hours replying to emails explaining to people what the situation was.”

Mallard said he didn’t help his relationship with the leader of the house because he had the schedule changed so the Maori Party could speak yesterday “and then we had that performance in the house”.

Asked whether he could have used a bit of “first day discretion”, Mallard said he had given Waititi the opportunity to raise the point of order despite there not being a feasible point to raise.

7.40am: Top stories from The Bulletin

Two announcements from the government this morning will give the horticulture sector a major workforce boost. As the NZ Herald’s Derek Cheng reports, 2000 places in managed isolation will be made available to Pacific workers, starting early next year. This is something the industry has been crying out for, with dire warnings of fruit rotting on the vine, without the regular cohort of seasonal workers coming in. They’ll come from countries with low Covid risk, and arrivals will be staggered so as not to take up all the capacity at once.

Currently, there are about 6000 Recognised Seasonal Employer workers in the country, who have been allowed to stay on through Covid. As this Farmers Weekly piece about the busy times of the year for kiwifruit outlined, the industry didn’t get the numbers that it was expecting or needed over the autumn harvest. Working holiday visas can be automatically extended this year to enable work in horticulture and wine, but because of border restrictions the flow of new arrivals just isn’t there. Within those constraints, this is a pretty significant move from the government to protect the viability of the industry.

It won’t exactly be a free ride for employers though, who will be required to stump up a lot more money than they otherwise would have. For one, there will be a requirement to pay the seasonal workers a living wage – which could have a significant impact on setting the base rate pay in an industry notorious for talking big about the money workers can make, and then not delivering. Employers will also have to cover the costs of managed isolation, and pay 30 hours a week worth of wages while the worker is in managed isolation.

Read more and subscribe to The Bulletin here

7.30am: Yesterday’s headlines

The Air NZ worker who tested positive on arrival in China most likely caught Covid-19 overseas, said the Ministry of Health in a statement that also announced one new imported case.

Six members of the Pakistan men’s cricket team tested positive in managed isolation in Christchurch. The team as a whole has been issued with a final warning after repeatedly breaking MIQ rules.

The 53rd parliament commenced with a speech from the throne by governor general Patsy Reddy setting out the government’s agenda, and maiden speeches from Labour MPs Ibrahim Omer and Arena Williams.

Māori Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer walked out of the debating chamber after clashing with speaker Trevor Mallard.

Jacinda Ardern will officially declare a climate emergency next Wednesday, it was reported.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings handed over its findings. The report will be released to the public on December 8.

After a wet few weeks, Auckland water restrictions will be eased for summer, the council announced.

Another person has died from injuries sustained in the Whakaari/White Island disaster in December last year, police confirmed. 64-year-old Horst Westenfelder died on July 2 at a hospital overseas.

Read all the key stories in yesterday’s live updates




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