There are just two new coronavirus cases in New Zealand today, as thousands of pages of dumped documents reveal the top-level advice received by the Government during the pandemic. Get all the important news and read the full stories in the links below.
Key developments in NZ
• New Zealand's contact-tracing capacity was for about 10 active cases at a time when the country already had 13 cases of Covid-19. The revelation is one of many contained in hundreds of documents of official advice that was dumped by the Government, which reveal top-level advice received by ministers, draft policy plans, and reports spanning a period since early February.
• There are two new Covid-19 cases today, one of which is an Auckland nurse. The nurse is being cared for at North Shore Hospital and has been in self-isolation. The nurse had been looking after St Margaret's patients at Waitakere Hospital and was among close contacts of another positive case announced last week. The other confirmed case is a probable case that has since been confirmed, bringing New Zealand's total of confirmed and probable Covid-19 cases to 1490. 90 per cent of all cases have recovered, with three people currently in hospital, and none in ICU.
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• Schools are delighted at news of a possible "economic lifeline" to keep their international student businesses – a $5 billion industry - afloat. Education Minister Chris Hipkins said that he is looking at reopening the border for foreign students, on the condition that they stay in quarantine for two weeks. At level 2, schools will be free to reopen playgrounds, contact sports and assemblies, while despite being allowed to reopen, most universities will remain closed until July. Early childhood centres will also be able to reopen their sandpits, though it is expected many parents will not immediately return their children to early childhood centres at level 2.
• A high-level scientific review has explored the vexed issue of face masks – finding there's not enough evidence to recommend people wear them to protect against Covid-19. The review, commissioned by the Ministry of Health's chief science advisor Dr Ian Town, found there was evidence of potential benefits - but also potential harm - around masks, and that the science wasn't conclusive.
• More than 1000 New Zealanders a day went on a benefit last month as the impact of Covid-19 hit, while demand for food grants rose dramatically, according to just-released data. Finance Minister Grant Robertson said that New Zealand was faring better than other countries at keeping people in work, but warned that jobless numbers would keep rising.
• The Government has borrowed almost $22 billion more than it had previously forecast over the last nine months, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to put pressure on the New Zealand economy. The amount of money the Government has spent, its total expenses, was $4.4b higher than expected over the same period, due in part to an increase in benefit payments, and support offered to businesses. The Government surplus expected over the past nine months has turned into a $2.7b deficit – some $4 =b lower than had been expected. The Treasury has also warned that the worst effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still to come.
• Air New Zealand jet pilots have forged a deal which sees them take a 30 per cent pay cut and limits the number of job losses to around 300. About 900 Air New Zealand jet pilots will remain on the payroll but will take what equates to a 30 per cent pay cut for the next nine months. They will continue flying the airline's jet aircraft on domestic and international routes with significantly reduced schedules.
Around the world
• Germany was a leader in the west in taking on the coronavirus pandemic, and then a leader in the calibrated restarting of public life. So far, their experiment in containing the virus while restarting the economy is working - good news not only for Germany, but countries eager for a sign that life can continue with the virus.
• Coronavirus has caused a spike in deaths worldwide. In a single week last month, 10,000 more Britons than usual died and there was a 526 per cent rise in deaths in New York compared to the year before. Yet in a select few nations something very unexpected is happening. Far from causing more fatalities, Covid-19 is causing fewer.
• Mass redundancies at New Zealand Rugby are expected to claim members of the executive team, with the cuts of nearly 50 per cent of fulltime staff emphasising the scale of the financial challenges confronting the game.
• New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker is set to become the first high-profile boxer to reignite his career post-Covid19 – and the fight could take place in a tent.