Morning Briefing Aug 27: Regions await lockdown verdict

Anna Murray
Source: 1News

As most of the country awaits today's decision on Alert Level 4, experts say Auckland is set for several more weeks in lockdown.

But first, at least 60 people are believed to have been killed in suicide bombings at Kabul Airport in Afghanistan overnight.

Thousands of people were gathered outside the airport at the time of the attacks. US personnel and children are reportedly among the wounded and dead.

The bombings follow warnings from several countries the airport could be a target.

The attack also comes hours after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said New Zealand is no longer accepting applications from Afghan nationals for resettlement, “given the rapidly deteriorating situation” and a “diminishing window for evacuations”.

Another alert level decision due

It's lockdown decision day for most of the country as Cabinet meets to discuss whether any regions besides Auckland can shift down from Alert Level 4. That decision is due to be revealed at 3pm.

The South Island and Stewart Island/Rakiura haven’t detected a case of the Delta variant yet, which Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says is “so far, so good” for them . However, he said yesterday he doesn’t anticipate the regions skipping straight to Alert Level 2 .

Auckland is already at Alert Level 4 until at least 11.59pm on Tuesday, however experts say given the scale of the Covid outbreak, the city is likely set for several more weeks in lockdown

Another 68 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the community yesterday, with a staff member at a retirement village north of Auckland and a student at another school testing positive for the virus.

The number of locations of interest has now passed the 500 mark, too, with a tourism school, a schoolboy rugby game and a clinical centre among the new sites added

And as the number of confirmed cases grows, a second hotel will now become a quarantine facility in Auckland. The Ibis Hotel in Greenlane, near the Ellerslie Racecourse, is set to become the new facility, helping house additional cases as the original Jet Park location nears capacity. 

NZ vaccine passport in the works

1 NEWS can reveal the Ministry of Health is developing a digital vaccine passport .

Known as My Covid Record, the new app will allow people to create an account and upload health records, including vaccination and testing data.

Other countries, including China and those in the European Union, already have such vaccine passports, and Kiwi expats say a New Zealand version can’t come soon enough.  

The Ministry of Health says it expects to have more to say on the new app in the coming weeks. 

Study to examine Covid's impacts

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has awarded the Victoria University of Wellington a contract to study the impact of Covid-19 on Kiwis who have had the virus .

The study will focus on Māori, Pasifika, people with disabilities, and those who contracted Covid-19 through their employment.

Its findings are aimed at helping health authorities to be more accessible, equitable and to meet the needs of those with the virus.

The ministry's chief science advisor, Dr Ian Town, says the more we understand the different effects Covid-19 has on people, the better we can plan the health responses.

News of the study comes as another Kiwi suffering the long-term effects of Covid-19 shares her story.

Sharyn Gallagher, 57, caught Covid in March last year and told the NZ Herald she still has very little energy or strength and is suffering stomach aches and nausea 16 months later. 

"This is not just the normal flu, it's not funny and not fake, it is a different beast altogether,” she says.

Air NZ reports massive loss

The current lockdown has struck another blow to Air New Zealand, as the company reports a $289 million loss .

During its first full year under international travel restrictions, the airline reported a $2.5 billion operating revenue, down nearly 50 per cent on the year prior.

Just seven flights a day are currently operating under Level 4 and CEO Greg Foran says he can’t rule out job cuts if lockdown is extended. 

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has addressed other Kiwis’ financial worries through lockdown.

He joined TVNZ’s Breakfast yesterday to answer viewers’ questions about access to the wage subsidy and what employers can and can’t do at Level 4. 

Pascoe wins NZ's first medal

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 26: Sophie Pascoe of Team New Zealand reacts after competing in her women's 100m breastroke - SB8 heat on day 2 of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on August 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Swimmer Sophie Pascoe has claimed New Zealand's first medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, winning silver in the women's 100m breaststroke SB8 final last night.

The medal comes on the second day of competition and is only the first of five events for Pascoe at these Games.

You can find out which Kiwi athletes are competing for medals today here .

Other news of note this morning:

- As New South Wales pushes past the 1000 daily Covid cases mark , restrictions are easing for those who are fully vaccinated

- An essential worker who's been self-isolating for a week says she's surprised the Ministry of Health only told her yesterday she's also one of the people who may have received a diluted vaccine in July

- High school students in South Auckland are going hungry as they try to learn in lockdown , the head of a mentoring programme says.

- Immigration New Zealand has apologised to a grieving mother whose husband died in a crash last month, and who hasn’t seen her children in nearly two years.

- Research shows popular app TikTok is hosting a worrying amount of extremist content , including footage of the Christchurch terror attack. 

- The UK Government is looking to recruit New Zealand's Privacy Commissioner.

- The All Blacks are leaving several leading players behind when they travel to Perth for the third Bledisloe Cup test, while the England Roses netball team are on their way to New Zealand to play the Silver Ferns next month. 

- Seven Sharp’s Rhys Mathewson has judged the live cross mask removals undertaken by 1 NEWS reporters this past week. 

- And Re: have compiled 10 te reo Māori phrases to get you through lockdown, including Kua whakangūtia koe (you’re on mute) and I taea e tātou i mua, ka taea anō e tatou (we’ve done this before, we can do it again).

And finally...

As I mentioned yesterday, today is my last at the helm of the Morning Briefing (while the Briefing itself is also going on a lockdown hiatus).

Thank you for the kind emails many of you sent yesterday. I’ll miss putting these newsletters together each day, the early starts rather less so.

If anyone needs me through the remainder of lockdown, I shall be sleeping and home schooling a couple of kids with varying levels of success. And then sleeping a bit more. But first, I’m off to throw my alarm clock into the harbour. 

Take care of yourself and each other, please.