This morning on RNZ's Morning Report, Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that Aotearoa’s traffic light system is less suited to the Omicron variant than the Delta variant and will need to be adjusted. News and Editorial Director Jemima Huston speaks to Dr David Welch, a virus mutation expert at the University of Auckland, about what these adjustments may be and why they are necessary. Also, as the government is set to announce any changes to the public health repsonse in the coming weeks Jemima asks Dr Welch whether "weeks" is too long to wait to prepare for a major community outbreak of Omicron in Aotearoa.
With the threat of Omicron entering Auckland, the Auckland Council has announced an extension of vaccine passes being mandatory to etner any council run facilities. This extension will go on until the end of June 2022 and will then be revised by the council to see if the health and safety of the Auckland population would require further extension. Emily Bell spoke to the Auckland Council's Director of Customer Services about the extension and how council has adapted facility uses for those without a vaccine pass.
With the pressure placed on New Zealand's health system by the Covid-19 pademic, many units in hospitals are sturggling to cope. Just last week, Dunedin Hopsital's Queen Mary Maternity unit had to temporarily close due to lack of staff. However, Minister of Health Andrew Little has placed 60 million dollars of the 2020 Budget's maternity relief fund into the health system restructuring plan instead. National Pary's spokesperson for Health Dr Shane Reti has criticsed Little's handling of these funds as well as Labour's overall response to the health system during the pandemic. Emily Bell spoke with Shane Reti about the Dunedin hospital maternity ward, the current state of New Zealand's health system, and what National party would do to improve it.
The Pūtiki Protectors have been occupying Pūtiki Bay (Kennedy Point) on Waiheke Island since March 9 2021, to protect ancestral moana by stopping the construction of the Kennedy Point Marina. Tomorrow a hikoi has been organised to the Auckland High Court to support the Pūtiki 32 who were served an injunction banning them from protesting peacefully at Pūtiki Bay. The first court hearing regarding the injunction is taking place tomorrow following the hikoi.
News and Editorial Director Jemima Huston speaks to Zane Wedding from Mana Rākau - Save Our Trees, an ally of the Protect Pūtiki Movement, about the hikoi tomorrow, how the injunction came about and how people can support the movement.
The hikoi starts at 10am tomorrow (Wednesday 19 January 2022) at The Cloud in downtown Auckland. Head to the event page or the Protect Pūtiki Facebook and Instagram for more information.