Morning Briefing June 28: Australia teeters on edge of new Covid crisis

Anna Murray
Source: 1News

NZ eyes the situation across the Tasman nervously as new Covid outbreaks sweep across Australia, and Sir Bob Parker reveals how dramatically his life has changed following a stroke last year.

Police patrol past the Sydney Opera House during lockdown

Australia is now battling Covid outbreaks on several fronts with millions of people living in lockdown or under tough new restrictions across multiple states and territories .

The country’s Covid battle worsened significantly over the weekend, with New South Wales reporting another 30 cases on the first day of Sydney’s two-week lockdown , Western Australia imposing new restrictions after a positive case in Perth, Queensland recording a third new local case , and Darwin entering an immediate 48-hour lockdown amid fears hundreds of miners have been exposed to the virus.

New Zealand officials say the mine incident in the Northern Territory was a large influence in the Government imposing an immediate halt on the entire trans-Tasman travel bubble on Saturday night.

Hundreds of miners have been potentially exposed to the virus and are now scattered across Australia. Officials are working to determine if any of them are in New Zealand.

Wellington is also remaining at Level 2 for an extra 48 hours , with Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins warning the community is “not out of the woods yet” following last week’s visit by an infected Sydney traveller.

Confirmation that the man’s partner has now tested positive for the virus a week later leads officials to believe he was infectious throughout his stay in Wellington. 

It comes as a New South Wales epidemiologist issued a stark warning to New Zealanders over the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Speaking to TVNZ’s Q+A yesterday, Professor Mary-Louise McLaws said populations need to respond “very fast” as soon as Delta is detected in the community.

Covid-19 modelling expert Shaun Hendy also says the Government needs to review its alert level system so that we’re better protected in the event of a Delta outbreak.

He says “we need new tools” to deal with highly contagious variants and that Alert Level 3 “might struggle to contain an outbreak” .

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Sir Bob's biggest battle

Sir Bob Parker once led Christchurch through the deadly 2011 earthquakes and the city’s subsequent rebuild, but now the former mayor is facing an even bigger challenge – rebuilding himself .

After suffering a stroke in October, Parker now needs 24-hour care and struggles to remember the events that made him so well-known.

He and his wife, Lady Jo Nicholls-Parker, spoke to TVNZ’s Sunday last night about the very different future they’re now facing.

The show also examines why strokes are expected to rise by up to 40 per cent in New Zealand over the next decade. 

New rate for new builds

The country’s biggest lender is moving to slash mortgage rates for new builds .

ANZ has told 1 NEWS it will introduce a floating rate of 1.68 per cent for borrowers building a new home. The bank says it’s their way of helping increase the supply of houses.

Although fixed mortgage rates have been low, floating rates have remained much higher and economist Cameron Bagrie says it’s about time there was more competition in the market to bring the “eyewatering” floating rates down.

ANZ’s move comes as the Government continues to push investors towards building new homes , rather than buying up existing houses and squeezing out first-time buyers. 

Govt takes aim at 'problem plastics'

The Government will phase out hard-to-recycle food packaging and some single-use plastics from late next year as part of its promise to rid the country of "problem plastics" by July 2025.

Those items include polystyrene packaging, cotton buds, straws, and labels on fresh produce.

The phase-out will take place over three stages, beginning with items that are easier to replace with more environmentally friendly options.

Environment Minister David Parker says the rollout needs to strike a balance between the public call for urgent action and allowing businesses time to adjust and find replacement products. 

The action to minimise waste comes as part of the current Cooperation Agreement between the Labour and Green parties.

University develops weight loss device

With New Zealand weighing in as one of the most obese countries in the world, University of Otago researchers are working on a world-first medical weight loss device that’s produced very fast results in its first clinical trial.

However, the device, which uses magnets to limit jaw movement , will only be used in the most extreme cases. 

Other news of note this morning:

- The death toll from an apartment block collapse in Florida has risen to nine, with more than 150 people still unaccounted for .

- The UK has recorded its most new Covid-19 cases since early February as massive protests over their continuing lockdown take place. 

- Former US President Donald Trump has held his first campaign-style event since leaving the White House, where he continued his baseless claims of election fraud.

- Survivors of sexual violence say they're having to wait too long to access counselling through ACC.

- Heavy rain in the lower North Island has caused surface flooding, slips and road closures , while much of the country can expect temperatures to drop dramatically this week.

- New South Wales have humiliated Queensland in game two of State of Origin to claim the series.

- The start of the Tour de France has been marred by a fan taking out a large part of the peloton with a cardboard sign

- And 1 NEWS’ Good Sorts series celebrates a Christchurch man who developed a gym franchise by accident after supporting his wife after major heart surgery.  

And finally...

Comedian Brendon Green attempts to make chocolate self-saucing pudding

Re:’s ongoing series, Comedians Cook, is back with another instalment and this time Brendon Green is attempting to make the chocolate self-saucing pudding of his childhood.

Watch as he relives a few more childhood memories while trying to follow his mother’s recipe instructions, sift some ingredients using air, and add boiling water to a bowl in a technique I really don’t recommend unless you enjoy first-degree burns.