Trade Minister Damien O’Connor seems to be earning his keep on his overseas travels. He and his Irish counterpart have just signed a statement to re-affirm the agricultural cooperation partnership between Ireland and New Zealand.
Among the consequences, and building on bilateral dialogues held late in September, Irish agricultural officials and officials from our Ministry for Primary Industries will develop a joint cooperation agenda around the central mission of Advancing a Progressive International Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture.
But much more media attention has been paid to the announcement from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins on Northland’s move to Alert Level 3 restrictions
“… following recent information on the risk presented by the positive case initially tested in Whangarei earlier this week and confirmed in Auckland yesterday…”
That person is now in an Auckland Managed Isolation Quarantine facility.
“A public health investigation continues to identify close contacts and any potential locations of interest.”
PM Jacinda Ardern and her government have developed a Covid-speak which holds its own fascination and, according to some, needs its own interpreters.
In much the same way (according to Forbes) the World Health Organisation is monitoring a new coronavirus variant known as “Mu”, amid concerns that it has mutations which suggest it is more resistant to vaccines.
In a weekly pandemic bulletin, the UN agency said Mu – known scientifically as B.1.621 – has been designated as a “variant of interest”, a classification used to target research and highlight potentially worrying new strains.
“The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape,” the WHO report said.
It seems an aeon ago, but it was only last week that New Zealand’s wellbeing-focused government was contemplating how to connect the country safely with the rest of the world. Now, achingly, the question is how long the lockdown will last.
Whereas last week the headlines (like this one from Newsroom) chorused “Covid success weighs on Ardern’s shoulders”, feelings among the team of 5 million might now be deepening over why such a relatively small percentage of the population is fully vaccinated.
Or why the elderly, in particular, are not queueing for booster shots.
NZ, by some counts, has had the slowest vaccination rollout in the developed world.