Coronavirus update: One death and five more Covid-19 cases | Stuff.co.nz

There has been another Covid-19 related death in New Zealand.

The woman in her 70s was one of the residents from an Auckland rest home transferred to Waitakere hospital.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield also announced there are five more cases, bringing the total number of people affected by Covid-19 to 1445.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF
Leaves gather at Witherlea School, Marlborough.

This included two confirmed cases, and three probable cases. 

Education Minister Chris Hipkins joined director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield for the daily Covid-19 briefing on Tuesday.

Cabinet decided the country would stay in level 4 until 11.59pm on Monday April 27.

GETTY IMAGES
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said The current plan is for schools to be able to re-open for a Teacher Only Day on April 28 as part of their preparation, and the Government expects those who need to attend, to be able to from 29 April 29.

​Hipkins discussed the rules around schools during alert level three and explained what will be happening this week, in the lead up to schools opening safely.

  Under alert level 3, most children will be learning from home still. Schools will only be open for families that need to have their children at school, he said.

“Education for students in years 11 to 13 will continue remotely,” Hipkins said.

Universities will be mostly remote, only allowing staff and students to only attend when crucial – such as hands on research.

“If students went home to join their family bubble, they must stay home.”

1 NEWS
From next Wednesday, some schools will be welcoming back students.

Referring to early childhood concerns, Hipkins said he would continue to talk with the sector and provide further guidance.

“We’ve reached the point where the director-general of health is confident there is no widespread community transmission … so the chance of it coming through the gate or door is low,” he said.

The public health advice said it was safe for children to learn together, though Hipkins acknowledged that maintaining physical distancing would be difficult.

As leader of the House, he also gave an update about what will happen when Parliament sits again next week.

Christopher Furlong
Schools and early learning centres can be accessed this week for cleaning, maintenance and any other preparations.

This week, businesses will be allowed to get ready to open, such as re-entering premises to receive stock if necessary, but will have to stick to social distancing and their bubbles.

The same principle applies for preparing schools.

Schools and early learning centres can be accessed this week for cleaning, maintenance and any other preparations.

The current plan is for schools to be able to re-open for a Teacher Only Day on April 28 as part of their preparation, and the Government expects those who need to attend to be able to do so from  April 29. 

However, Ardern acknowledged it may take a bit longer for some schools and early learning centres to be ready.

During level 3, the Government still wants the vast majority of children and young people learning from home. 

The official advice is for children who can stay at home should, and so should at-risk students.

Early childhood centres, and schools right up to year 10, will physically be open for families that need them.

Ardern said children should still learn from home if they can – except for those situations where it was not possible.

For example, parents who cannot manage the kids as well as work. Those who do go to school will be kept within one bubble while there.

She was not expecting large numbers of pupils to be in attendance.

Bloomfield said international evidence and New Zealand’s experience so far shows that Covid-19 does not affect or infect children and teens in the same way as adults. There were low infection rates, they don’t become too unwell and don’t tend to pass the virus to adults.

School principals said they are still awaiting guidance on what level 3 will look like in the classroom. 

Senior ministry officials met with education unions and school associations early on Monday to discuss those guidelines. 

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Christchurch mosque attacks: Gunman pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism | Stuff.co.nz

The man accused of the Christchurch mosque attacks has entered shock guilty pleas, bringing relief to survivors and victims’ families.

Amid extraordinary coronavirus lockdown restrictions, Brenton Tarrant, 29, appeared via video-link in the High Court at Christchurch on Thursday morning and admitted 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and a charge of engaging in a terrorist act.

He’d previously pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was scheduled to stand trial on June 2.

GEORGE HEARD/STUFF
Fifty-one people died as a result of the March 15, 2019 attack.

Tarrant, who wore a grey prisoner sweater, was largely silent and emotionless throughout the hearing. He sat alone in a white room with a grey door at Auckland Prison, Paremoremo, where he’s held in maximum security.

The terrorist’s lawyers, Shane Tait and Jonathan Hudson, appeared via video-link from another court room.

Brenton Tarrant pleads guilty to murder, attempted murder and terrorism via AVL in the Christchurch High Court.

The names of all 51 people killed were read to Tarrant, before he was asked how he pleaded to the murder charges.

He replied: “Yes, guilty.”

The same process was followed for the attempted murder charges.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF
Terrorist Brenton Tarrant pictured at his first court appearance, the day after the mosque shootings.

Justice Cameron Mander remanded Tarrant in custody, but has not yet set a date for sentencing, when the summary of facts would be made public.

Few people knew of the special hearing, which was only scheduled late Wednesday, on the eve of an unprecedented nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Six New Zealand journalists attended. Also in court were the imams from both targeted mosques. An-nur (Al Noor) imam Gamal Fouda was visibly upset as the guilty pleas were entered.

JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF
Mustafa Boztas still has a fragment of a bullet inside him.

The hearing concluded at 10.30am, but the judge suppressed the outcome for an hour to allow victims, who were unaware of the hearing, to be notified.

The decision to hold the hearing amid the national state of emergency was not made lightly.

Earlier in the week Tarrant indicated to counsel that he might change his pleas. A formal request was made on Wednesday that the matter be brought before the court.

DAVID WALKER/STUFF
Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamal Eldin Abdel-Ghany was killed at Masjid An-Nur.

Mander said both the Crown and defence asked to have the hearing expedited, despite the severe health restrictions.

The courts were considered an essential public service that was able to deal with “priority proceedings without compromising people’s health”.

The judge said he felt the court had the capacity to safely hear the matter by limiting the number of people in court. In total, 17 people were present.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reflects on the last year following the Christchurch mosque shootings.

It was regrettable the Covid-19 restrictions prevented victims from attending, he said, but the imams had been asked to be present to bear witness to the proceedings.

“It was my assessment that taking the defendant’s pleas at this time was the appropriate course in the circumstances,” Mander said.

“The entry of guilty pleas represents a very significant step towards bringing finality to this criminal proceeding, and I considered the need to take the opportunity to progress the matter was particularly acute coming as it has at a time when the risk of further delay as a result of Covid-19 was looming as realistic possibility.”

Mander said the defendant would not be sentenced before the court returned to normal operations.

The defendant had been remanded to a nominal date of May 1. It was hoped a sentencing date would be confirmed in the interim.

“It is fully anticipated that all who wish to attend court for the sentencing hearing will be able to do so in person.”  

On March 15 last year, Tarrant drove from his Dunedin home to Christchurch with an arsenal of guns and ammunition he’d amassed since moving from Australia to New Zealand in 2017.

The white supremacist entered Masjid An-nur (also known as the Al Noor Mosque) on Deans Ave as Friday prayers were beginning, about 1.40pm, and opened fire – killing and wounding dozens of people.

He then drove across town to the Linwood Mosque where he continued his shooting spree.

Tarrant was arrested a short time later after his car, a gold Subaru Outback, was rammed off the road by two police officers on Brougham St as he tried to make his way to a third target, though to be a mosque in Ashburton, where he planned to carry out another attack.

When police searched the vehicle they found several guns and petrol bombs.

NZ’S WORST MASS SHOOTING

In total, 51 people were killed in the terrorist attack, the worst mass shooting by an individual in New Zealand history.

Tarrant was the first person to be charged under NZ’s Terrorism Suppression Act 2002.

Omar Abdel-Ghany, whose father Ahmed Gamal Eldin Abdel-Ghany was killed at Masjid An-Nur, said he could not understand what caused Tarrant to change his plea.

“I’m both shocked and relieved. Shocked at the sudden change in plea, relieved that my family and I, along with other victims won’t have to relive it all through the courts.”

Muslim Association of Canterbury spokesman Tony Green said his immediate reaction was one of enormous relief and great gratitude.

“I think the victims will feel a huge weight has been lifted from their shoulders. Our position has always been to let justice take its course, but a trial would have put a lot of pressure on our families. If you look at the anguish caused by the trial of Grace Millane’s killer you can see how bad it would be for 51 families.”

Mustafa Boztas, who lay on the ground inside the Masjid An-nur with a bullet in his leg, pretending to be dead, said from Turkey he always knew Tarrant would be found guilty. 

“I feel he basically played with our minds and emotionally upset us more for no reason.”

Boztas said he would have stayed in the country instead of going overseas if he’d known Tarrant was going to plead guilty. 

“While it can’t undo the damage it has brought upon our community and country, it gives me hope that this help bring not only justice but some closure to those touched by this event.

“To the families, I hope this brings you peace, and a sense that love can conquer hate. While this closes the criminal proceedings for the shootings, please know there is still a long way to go in recovery for some of us, so thank you for your continued support.”

Yasir Amin, whose father 67-year-old Muhammad Amin Nasir was shot in the back by the gunman shooting from his car, said the guilty pleas were good news.

“It’s good to avoid a trial because we would be reminded of everything, every day of the six week trial. We’ve avoided that mental torture and we’re not in a situation where the outcome is not 100 per cent sure.”

Nasir was to undergo another operation on Monday but the operation was postponed due to Covid-19 measures. He had spent two months in hospital after the shootings and had another 20-day stay in December.

“He is now doing well. He goes for walks and eats well.”

Just about every organ in his father’s body except his heart had been damaged by the shotgun pellets, Amin said.

Nasir was shot about 200 metres from the mosque on Deans Ave. The gunman drove past Amin and his father, who were walking to the mosque along the footpath, when he aimed a shotgun at them from his car. Both ran for their lives but Nasir was shot. Their plight was captured by a motel CCTV camera. 

‘HE’S GOT TO PAY THE TIME’

Tarrant’s grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, had no idea about the plea until called by Stuff.

“I feel sorry he did the crime, but he’s got to pay the time now.”

She declined to comment further.

Victim Support chief executive Kevin Tso said support was ongoing for hundreds of victims who still need help coping with the trauma of the event and rebuilding their lives.

“We’re pleased victims no longer have to face the trauma of the trial.”

The victims had shown remarkable courage and resilience in the face of a heart-breaking, shocking and senseless tragedy, Tso said.

“They have our utmost respect and promise that we will be here for them for as long as they need us.”

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the pleas were a “significant milestone in respect of one of our darkest days”.

“I want to acknowledge the victims, their families and the community of Christchurch – the many lives that were changed forever. They have inspired all of us to be a kind and more tolerant community.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it would provide some relief to the many people whose lives were “shattered” on March 15.

“These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, and other witnesses, the ordeal of a trial,” she said.

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So much for saying you want a quiet life, Meghan Markle | Stuff.co.nz

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COMMENT: ​So Meghan Markle is reportedly attending the Met Gala in May. Because where better to celebrate your newfound privacy and “space” than at “the Oscars of the East Coast”, “the Super Bowl of red-carpet events”?

What could be more perfectly suited to anyone fleeing “intense scrutiny” and “commoditisation” than a mega-bash to which anti-commodification activist Kim Kardashian once turned up dressed in a nude-effect wet-look dress? A celebrity Pavlova, where the 225 photographers will take an estimated 50 shots a minute, before blasting millions of images out into the ether? Although why this is more appealing than a royal visit to the Mumbles Lifeboat station in South Wales is anyone’s guess.

Anthony Devlin
Has Meghan Markle lost the sympathy of the public?

According to sources at the weekend, Markle is to leave Prince Harry at home for the night, so “she can establish herself once more in Hollywood”, apparently attending the Met Gala with Vogue’s editor, Edward Enninful. This makes about as much sense as a woman who craves the quiet life asking her LA agent to find her a leading role in a superhero film, “something that pays big” – which is exactly what one Sunday paper claims Markle has done.

As the Sussexes fly back to Britain to complete their final engagements as working members of the Firm – and face the Royal family for the first time since The Statement, the petulant Instagram post from a fortnight ago in which they whined about being made to drop the “SussexRoyal” brand despite there being nothing legal to stop them using it – the pair may have no choice but to brazen it out.

I’m not sure the Sussexes will understand just how colossal a miscalculation that statement was. After all, you have a young man and his wife turning on a 93-year-old grandmother at one of the toughest moments of her life. You have them disregarding the pain and sadness prompted by Prince Philip’s ill health, Prince Andrew’s involvement with a paedophile and her beloved grandsons falling out – all because they have a brand to promote. Is there any way back from that?

Had you asked me a month ago, I would have said yes. Despite the acts of clumsiness and the missteps we’ve witnessed over the past two years, I would still have said yes. So they invited a bunch of A-listers that they’d only met once to their wedding. How many of us would do the same if we knew George and Amal would actually come? Was their dispensing of certain royal traditions really so bad? The insistence on Archie’s christening remaining private and the setting up of their own “breakaway” website?

Harry has always been his own person. At this point, one could still push a convincing narrative that these two were “breathing new life” into an outdated institution.

But the precise moment the couple began to lose the public’s sympathy wasn’t when they chose the hospitality of a billionaire in Vancouver Island over that of the Queen at Christmas, or indeed when they decided to make the desired “break from royal duties” permanent. No – that moment can be charted back to a lament the misty-eyed Duchess of Sussex made in the ITV documentary charting the couple’s African tour last year: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.”

Because that single sentence managed to eclipse everything the couple were in southern Africa to highlight – from the 1,000 minefields that have yet to be cleared in Angola, to the abject poverty in Malawi and HIV-hit children in Botswana – and make it all about Markle.

Prince Harry Meghan Markle met with crowds when they visited Auckland.

It may be unfair to blame Meghan any more than Harry for these recent missteps. But one thing is certain: neither the words nor the sentiments in The Statement appear to be those of a happy young couple, revelling in the joy of each other and their nine-month-old baby.

And I worry that something is unravelling behind the scenes. Because if their intention were really to enjoy a quiet life, why would they care about a title that can only ever be used for professional profit and status?

Why would the team of LA-based agents, lawyers and publicists be necessary and the showbusiness parties and blockbuster film roles so appealing?

You don’t need those things or grand branding to live a serene and peaceful life. But solid family relationships? They’re essential.

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‘Your seat just ruined my livelihood’: Passenger furious after reclined seat destroys laptop | Stuff.co.nz

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A passenger aboard a Delta Airlines plane has slammed flyers who recline their seats after his laptop was destroyed by the person in the seat in front of him.

Pat Cassidy, an anchor on Barstool Sports’ ‘Hard Factor News’ podcast, was flying in the US when the incident occurred and took to Twitter from the air to voice his fury.

“@Delta small note for the suggestion box, maybe have a little warning sign or someway to prevent my laptop from being destroyed when the person in front of me reclines their seat,” Cassidy tweeted.

PAT CASSIDY/TWITTER
Pat Cassidy said the passenger in front of him had ‘castrated [his] livelihood’.

“Also, this one is more of a critique than a suggestion. I really appreciate that your flight attendant came over to tell me that the passenger in front of me ‘needs to be able to recline’ and then asked him ‘if he was okay?’ as if your seat hadn’t just ruined my livelihood.”

Infuriated by the incident, Cassidy took to the Barstool Sports website with a piece about his experience, where he referred to the person in the seat in front of him as “the selfish b—tard” who had “castrated [his] livelihood”.

@Delta small note for the suggestion box, maybe have a little warning sign or someway to prevent my laptop from being destroyed when the person in front of me reclines their seat. pic.twitter.com/QHmphXiDhH

— Pat Cassidy (@HardFactorPat)

In the article he explains that he was editing photos on his laptop when the person in seat 13A reclined his seat completely, “destroying” Cassidy’s laptop in the process.

“YOU NEVER FULLY RECLINE. It’s rude and a sign of sociopathy,” Cassidy wrote.

“People that fully recline have no souls.”

The incident reignited the ongoing debate over whether it’s socially acceptable to recline your seat on a plane, with people for and against reclining sharing their views.

Update: @Delta is giving me the equivalent of a $75 gift card and an explanation that you would give a six year old. Cool. pic.twitter.com/etGLUXOOjs

— Pat Cassidy (@HardFactorPat)

Some insisted that Cassidy’s laptop was proof that seats should never be reclined on planes, or at least not fully reclined, while others said that the person in front should have reclined more gently.

However, fellow Twitter users pointed out that it wasn’t entirely 13A’s fault that the laptop had been damaged.

“Am I the only one to think this is not the airline’s fault? You tucked the screen into the tray storage area. Frankly, it’s unsurprising that this would happen,” one replied to Cassidy’s original tweets.

Another chimed in: “Pretty easy to tell if you jam your computer under there that will happen.”

Am I the only one to think this is not the airline’s fault? You _tucked_ the screen into the tray storage area. Frankly, it’s unsurprising that this would happen.

— Hisham (@hisham_hm)

On Saturday, Cassidy updated his Twitter thread with Delta’s response to the incident, saying that the airline had offered him “the equivalent of a $75 gift card and an explanation you would give a six-year-old.”

Attached to the tweet was a screenshot of an email that looks to have come from the Delta customer care team, which explains that personal items damaged in-flight by other passengers aren’t reimbursable.

Instead Cassidy was offered 7,500 bonus miles “as a goodwill gesture” and the airline apologised for any “inconvenience”.

Delta later reached out to Pat, responding to his tweet with: “Afternoon, Pat. I would like to review this further with you. May I give you a call? HDR.”

This article first appeared on Nine Honey and is republished with permission. 

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Worshippers at the Al Noor mosque photographed in terror threat | Stuff.co.nz

Worshippers at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch were photographed in an apparent terror threat, two weeks before the first anniversary of the March 15 attack in which 51 worshippers were gunned down. 

The threat was issued on Sunday night on an encrypted messaging app, accompanied by a photo of a masked man sitting in a car outside the mosque. 

A police spokeswoman has confirmed an investigation into the threat is underway. 

Christchurch’s Al Noor was one of two mosques targeted in a racially motivated mass-shooting on March 15, 2019. The alleged terrorist, an Australian national, awaits a trial due to begin in June. 

Police and St John staff outside the Al-Noor mosque after the March 15, 2019 terror attack. (file photo)

Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge last month warned that some Kiwis have been inspired by the March 15 terror attack, and monitoring such people had been difficult.

The threat and accompanying photo was posted anonymously to more than 2000 followers on a messaging channel on the encrypted communication app Telegram.

Do you know more? Email thomas.manch@stuff.co.nz

The image shows a man wearing dark sunglasses and a balaclava printed with an image of a human skull. Through a car window the front of the Al Noor mosque can be seen. 

In the background, four people are visible at the entrance of the mosque. 

The message attached, written in both English and Russian, implies the people at the “same mosque” would be greeting each other for the “last time”. A gun emoji, or symbol, is also used in the message. 

The image was posted on a messaging channel dedicated to celebrating the March 15 terror attack. 

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF
Islamic Women’s Council national co-ordinator Anjum Rahman said police were already conducting enquiries into the threat.

Police were aware of the threat and enquiries were ongoing, a spokeswoman said.

Such threats to the community were taken “extremely seriously”. The spokeswoman declined to answer questions about security arrangements for the anniversary of the March 15 terror attacks. 

An SIS spokesman declined to comment on the specific threat.  

Islamic Women’s Council national co-ordinator Anjum Rahman​ said she was told of the threat early on Monday morning, and notified both mosque leaders and senior police officers. 

“[The police] were already aware and were looking into that threat,” she said. 

“There have been threats, more oblique threats, to other mosques in the last six to eight months or so. We know there is ongoing activity, I would just say the public should be vigilant and report anything that they see as suspicious.”

She said it would be helpful to have a visible police presence at the mosques as the anniversary of the attack approached.

Al Noor imam Gamal Fouda has been contacted for comment. 

In February, Kitteridge said New Zealand’s spy agencies were investigating some 30 to 50 people for a potential terror risk at any one time. 

She said it was challenging to monitor such people as they “tend to live in encrypted chat rooms” — such as Telegram. 

Kitteridge would not say if any specific terror plans had been intercepted.

Messages on the Telegram app first alerted the public to the arrest of a 27-year-old soldier connected to far-Right groups, in November 2019. 

The soldier now awaits a military trial, facing charges of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose and for disclosing information that prejudiced the security or defence of New Zealand. 

Authorities across western nations continue to grapple with the terror threat posed by adherents to far-Right and white supremacist ideologies. 

The director of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Mike Burgess, last week told reporters that small cells of such extremists posed a growing and enduring threat.

Days earlier, in the United States, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security increased the terror threat level regarding homegrown white supremacists to “high”. 

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‘They saved my life’: Stabbing victim meets bystanders who came to her rescue | Stuff.co.nz

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A young Auckland woman who almost died after being stabbed by her ex-boyfriend more than 20 times has met the bystanders who “saved her life”.

In November 2018, Crystal Tupou was lured to Anzac Ave by ex-boyfriend Micah Santos who used a fake Facebook profile to invite her to lunch.

When she arrived at the meeting spot, Tupou said she came across the “one person I didn’t want to see”.

NZ POLICE
Crystal Tupou said she wanted to share her story to encourage other victims of domestic violence to seek help.

After arguing and threatening to kill her, Santos attacked Tupou, repeatedly stabbing her in the street.

In August 2019, Santos plead guilty to attempted murder and was jailed for six years.

NZ POLICE
Crystal Tupou was stabbed more than 20 times by her ex-boyfriend Micah Santos.

Now, Tupou has met with the three men, Steve Smith, Daniel Coombe and Walker Hunt, who ran to her aid and stopped Santos.

Detective Tim Johnston said Santos told police he only stopped stabbing Tupou after seeing the men.

“I believe if they did not do that, the victim may have got more serious injuries and may not have survived.”

NZ POLICE
Crystal Tupou embraces Steve Smith, the first person to come to her aid during the attack.

Johnston said the men didn’t hesitate to help Tupou and put their own lives at risk.

“Their actions were nothing short of heroic.”

In a video shared by police of Tupou meeting Smith, Coombe and Hunt, she was in tears as she embraced them.

NZ POLICE
Detective Tim Johnston said Crystal Tupou may not have survived the attack had the men not intervened.

Smith, who was the first to reach Tupou, was also in tears.

“It’s very emotional to see something like that,” he said, “breaks my heart”.

Coombe said what Tupou went through was “horrendous” but people aren’t powerless to change the outcome of events.

ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF
Police at the scene of the stabbing on Anzac Ave, central Auckland.

Tupou said she was “incredibly grateful” for the men who stepped in that day.

“They saved my life. There’s no way I’d ever be able to repay them but I hope a big thank you would be enough, and not only that but I want everyone to know that they’ve played a big part in getting me here, because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here and alive today.”

Santos took two knives from the kitchen of his Henderson home in a Louis Vuitton bag and caught the train to meet up with Tupou on the day of the attack.

CATRIN OWEN/STUFF
Micah Santos was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to attempted murder.

After the three men scared Santos off, he ran from the scene, dropping a knife and his bag.

He was arrested at Orakei train station after calling 111 and telling the phone operator what he had done.

By sharing her story, Tupou hoped it may help other women in controlling or abusive victims seek help.

“There were signs but I chose to see the good side of him. People would say bad things about him but I chose to ignore it.

“I knew that one day it would get out of hand, and I let it happen.”

Police encouraged anyone who was in, or knew someone who was in a harmful relationship to ask for help.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Women’s Refuge Centre 0800 773 843

Family Violence Line 0800 456 450

Shine National Helpline 0508 744 633

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‘Desexed’ dog gives birth to eight puppies | Stuff.co.nz

dog

This article was first published by RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission. 

An Auckland couple who picked up a supposedly desexed dog from a Hawke’s Bay pound before Christmas are now caring for eight puppies. 

Sarah Bryant and Hera Nathan are now trying to get answers – and money – from the Hastings District Council, who she claims have offered to put the young pups down. 

Bryant told First Up‘s Lydia Batham that the advertisement on their website stated it would cost $250 for Bella to be desexed, vaccinated, wormed, and get flea treatment.

Bella was picked up the weekend before Christmas last year by Nathan’s sister, who handed over the sum upon arrival but was told Bella was not vaccinated, Bryant said.

“[She] just assumed that was part of the agreement and didn’t ask any questions. She was told she had to sign an adoption form on our behalf, so she did that, and on the form there’s a few boxes and it says vaccinated, wormed, desexed, etc, and there was a cross in the vaccination box, but that was the only one that had any marking in it.”

Bryant said they were confused when they were told by the sister that Bella was not vaccinated, but took her to the vet to get it done.

That was when they decided to ask to check on the other items on the list, including desexing.

“[The vet] looked at [Bella] and said she doesn’t have a scar or anything, it doesn’t appear like she is [desexed], it actually appears like she is on heat. 

“He said he wouldn’t desex her while she is on heat, apparently there’s a potential for that to cause a whole lot of bleeding and issues, so he said to bring her back in March to have her desexed or she could potentially be pregnant, and I’m not going to know for a couple of weeks, so bring her back.”

SUPPLIED/SARAH BRYANT
Bella was adopted the weekend before Christmas by Auckland couple Sarah Bryant and Hera Nathan.

In the meantime, Bryant said they had been trying to contact the pound but got no response. 

When Bella was taken again to be checked, the vet said it could be potentially be a false pregnancy but couldn’t be sure, Bryant said.

“He said the only way you’re going to know, so we can figure out if you can do desexing or not, is to take her in for an ultrasound.”

But while they waited for the day of the booked ultrasound appointment to arrive, Bella delivered eight puppies.

“It was definitely a surprise, and at the time we were just like ‘well it’s happening now’, and just sat with her and waited for all the puppies to come out … and made sure they were healthy.”

Bryant said it was “not what we signed up for”, and had been in touch with the council to possibly ask for money back or pay for Bella’s treatment and something to contribute towards the puppies.

“[The person contacted at the council] said that that wasn’t part of their policy and that their policy would be that we could surrender them and they could put them down, and so I said that’s not an option for us.”

After another chat, the council offered a refund of up to $250 for the desexing, vaccination, worming, flea treatment or again to surrender Bella with the puppies, Bryant said.

She said she was angry about being told they would be put down.

“I tried calling back to say that’s not an acceptable resolution and we need to work this through, and that was on Tuesday and I left a message, and I haven’t heard back again from them.”

SUPPLIED/SARAH BRYANT
Bella and her pups.

In a statement, Hastings District Council said dogs that were adopted were treated for fleas, wormed, vaccinated, microchipped, registered and desexed prior to release at a cost of $250.

However, the council claims that because the owners wanted the dog immediately, it was agreed for them to pay $250 up front but they would have to make their own arrangements for treatment and desexing.

It said the dog was registered and microchipped prior to release, and that the person who picked Bella up was aware none of the treatments, including desexing, were done.

The council said it offered to pay for the treatments up to a cost of $250, but 36 days later, Bella had puppies. 

Since Bella was at such an early stage of gestation when taken, the council said it could not have known she was pregnant.

“We have had discussions with the owner since the birth of the pups – they are wanting us to pay to look after the pups for three months, but this is not council’s responsibility.

“When you adopt a dog, or get a dog from anywhere, you run the risk that it may have health or behavioural issues or, as in this case, be pregnant.”

The council reiterated its offer for the owners to surrender Bella and the puppies, but said they could either foster them until they could be rehomed, or get SPCA’s help with this.

“Unfortunately, in some circumstances euthanasia is the best option.”

Bryant said she was in the process of filling out a Disputes Tribunal form, and would like to see the council apologise.

“I would really like them to change their policy and do what it says on their website they would do.”

Meanwhile, she said the puppies were  the “cutest little things”, and they were getting support from the community.

This article was first published by RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission. 

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Olympic officials shoot down cancellation rumours amid coronavirus outbreak | Stuff.co.nz

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Tokyo Olympic organisers are trying to shoot down rumours that this year’s 2020 Games might be cancelled or postponed because of the spread of a new virus.

Japan has so far reported no deaths from the coronavirus that has killed more than 200 people in China. Japanese organisers have hesitated to say much for several days, but on Friday they addressed the rumours. So did the International Olympic Committee, which also has said little.

Olympic organisers have finally addressed rumours that the Tokyo Games could be cancelled due to the coronavirus.

The Olympics open on July 24, just under six months away.

“We have never discussed cancelling the games,” Tokyo organisers said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with the IOC and relevant organisations and will review any countermeasures that may be necessary.”

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Rumours of a cancellation have spread in Japan with reports that the Swiss-based IOC has met with the World Health Organisation about the outbreak. The WHO has called the virus a global emergency.

“Preparations for Tokyo 2020 continue as planned,” the IOC said in a statement. “It is normal practice for the IOC to collaborate with all the main UN agencies, as necessary, in the lead up to the games and this naturally includes the WHO.”

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, speaking earlier in the week to the heads of 62 municipalities, warned about the dangers. Japan has also urged citizens not to travel to China.

“We must firmly tackle the new coronavirus to contain it, or we are going to regret it,” she said.

Rumours have spread online with thousands of comments on Twitter under the hashtag in Japanese “Tokyo Olympic Cancelled”.

The Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus, is pressing ahead with the construction of two purpose-built hospitals.

The IOC has faced challenges like this before, and carries insurance for such possibilities. It has cancelled Olympics during wartime, and faced boycotts in 1980 and 1984. It also held the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City just months after the 9-11 attacks in the United States.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus also cast a shadow over the run-up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The larger problem for the Olympics could come with qualifying events in China and elsewhere being cancelled or postponed. International federations will have to reschedule events and Chinese athletes could present extra challenges and screening.

World Athletics, the governing body of track and field, announced earlier in the week it was postponing the world indoor championships in Nanjing, China, until next year. The event had been scheduled for March 13-15.

Travel, screening and allaying fears are certain to be more complicated if the outbreak continues. The 11,000 athletes expected to compete at the Tokyo Olympics will also face pressure to stay safe.

Sponsors and television networks who have invested billions of dollars will also try to keep the games on track.

Demand for Olympic tickets in Japan is unprecedented, exceeding supply by at least 10 times. Organisers say 7.8 million tickets are being issued for the Olympics.

Organisers say they are spending about US$12.6 billion to put on the games. But a national audit bureau says the costs are twice that much.

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Coronavirus spreads to more than 800 in China: First death outside epicentre | Stuff.co.nz

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China’s National Health Commission said Friday afternoon (NZ time) the confirmed cases of the new coronavirus had risen to 830 with 25 deaths.

The first death was also confirmed outside the central province of Hubei, where the capital, Wuhan, has been the epicentre of the outbreak.

The health commission in Hebei, a northern province bordering Beijing, said an 80-year-old man died after returning from a two-month stay in Wuhan to see relatives.

The vast majority of cases have been in and around Wuhan or people with connections the city. Other cases have been confirmed in the United States, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand. Singapore and Vietnam reported their first cases Thursday, and cases have also been confirmed in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.

Many countries are screening travellers from China for symptoms of the virus, which can cause fever, coughing, breathing difficulties and pneumonia.

The World Health Organisation has decided against declaring the outbreak a global emergency, a step that can bring more money and resources to fight a threat but that can also cause trade and travel restrictions and other economic damage, making the decision a politically fraught one.

The decision “should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious or that we’re not taking it seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day.”

The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that originate in animals before making the jump to humans.

Chinese authorities moved to lock down at least three cities with a combined population of more than 18 million in an unprecedented effort to contain the deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds of people and spread to other parts of the world during the busy Lunar New Year travel period.

Chinese officials have not said how long the shutdowns of the cities will last. While sweeping measures are typical of China’s Communist Party-led government, large-scale quarantines are rare around the world, even in deadly epidemics, because of concerns about infringing on people’s liberties. And the effectiveness of such measures is unclear.

“To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science,” said Gauden Galea, the WHO”s representative in China. “It has not been tried before as a public health measure. We cannot at this stage say it will or it will not work.”

GETTY IMAGES
People wear face masks as they wait at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan

Jonathan Ball, a professor of virology at molecular virology at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said the lockdowns appear to be justified scientifically.

“Until there’s a better understanding of what the situation is, I think it’s not an unreasonable thing to do,” he said. “Anything that limits people’s travels during an outbreak would obviously work.”

But Ball cautioned that any such quarantine should be strictly time-limited. He added: “You have to make sure you communicate effectively about why this is being done. Otherwise you will lose the goodwill of the people.”

GETTY IMAGES
A resident wears a mask to buy vegetables in the market in Wuhan.

During the devastating West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, Sierra Leone imposed a national three-day quarantine as health workers went door to door, searching for hidden cases. Burial teams collecting corpses and people taking the sick to Ebola centres were the only ones allowed to move freely. Frustrated residents complained of food shortages.

In China, the illnesses from the newly identified coronavirus first appeared last month in Wuhan, an industrial and transportation hub. Local authorities demanded all residents wear masks in public places and urged civil servants wear them at work.

After the city was closed off Thursday, images showed long lines and empty shelves at supermarkets, as people stocked up. Trucks carrying supplies into the city are not being restricted, although many Chinese recall shortages in the years before the country’s recent economic boom.

Analysts predicted cases will continue to multiply, although the jump in numbers is also attributable in part to increased monitoring.

KEVIN FRAYER/GETTY IMAGES
A Chinese passenger that just arrived on the last bullet train from Wuhan to Beijing is checked for a fever by a health worker at a Beijing railway station.

“Even if (cases) are in the thousands, this would not surprise us,” the WHO’s Galea said, adding, however, that the number of infected is not an indicator of the outbreak’s severity so long as the death rate remains low.

The coronavirus family includes the common cold as well as viruses that cause more serious illnesses, such as the SARS outbreak that spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-03 and killed about 800 people, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, or MERS, which is thought to have originated from camels.

China is keen to avoid repeating mistakes with its handling of SARS. For months, even after the illness had spread around the world, China parked patients in hotels and drove them around in ambulances to conceal the true number of cases and avoid WHO experts. This time, China has been credited with sharing information rapidly, and President Xi Jinping has emphasised that as a priority.

Health authorities are taking extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the virus, placing those believed infected in plastic tubes and wheeled boxes, with air passed through filters.

The first cases in the Wuhan outbreak were connected to people who worked at or visited a seafood market, now closed for an investigation. Experts suspect that the virus was first transmitted from wild animals but that it may also be mutating. Mutations can make it deadlier or more contagious.

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Manwatū rugby mourns the death of ‘elder statesman’ Owen Gleeson | Stuff.co.nz

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WARWICK SMITH/STUFF
Owen Gleeson came from a staunch Manwatū rugby family and was regarded with respect as one of the union’s elder statesmen.

Manawatū rugby is reeling from the loss of another well-respected elder, after the death of  87-year-old Owen Gleeson at the weekend.

Gleeson was regarded as the elder statesman of Manawatū rugby after a long and storied career as a player, coach, president and life member of the Manwatū Rugby Union.

Union chairman Tim Myers said the rugby community had lost another legend,  just a week after the sudden death of former All Black Sam Strahan.

Both men were staunch supporters of Manawatū rugby, who made great contributions to the sport. “Like Sam, Owen was a true gentleman who will be missed by all who came into contact with him. Our thoughts are with his family,” Myers said.

Gleeson, standing on the right, served with the K Force in Korea.

Gleeson started his career as a flanker for the Feilding and Marist teams, before he was deployed to the Korean War in 1952, after volunteering to serve.

Gleeson was part of the New Zealand Kayforce rugby team, drawn from those serving in the Korean War, that toured Japan in 1953.

 After returning home, he played 24 games for Manawatū between 1954 and 1957.

The Gleeson name is a big one in Manawatū rugby. His son Mark Gleeson is a Manawatū Rugby Union board member, and Gleeson’s career began in the footsteps of his father William and his older brother Jack.

Jack Gleeson is a legendary All Black coaches, who led the team’s first grand slam tour of Britain for 50 years in 1978.

But first, he was the Manawatū coach, before handing the reins over to his little brother in 1970.

Rugby historian and chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Mueseum in Palmerston North Clive Akers said the younger Gleeson was also a great coach, with a real eye for talent, and his four years as Manawatū selector and coach left a big mark on the team.

Akers said he always thought Gleeson deserved to share the credit with his successor for the province’s famous Ranfurly Shield win in 1976.

The match against Auckland was Manawatū’s 13th challenge for the shield and its first win. Coincidently, Manawatū would fend off 13 challenges before losing the shield in 1978.

SUE WILSON/STUFF
Three legends of Manawatū rugby, pictured in 2011, from left, Hugh Blair, Sam Strahan, and Owen Gleeson.

Akers said it was Gleeson who systematically built and recruited a talented pool of younger players, largely from among Massey University students. Players such as Doug Rollerston and winger Hugh Blair went on to play a big part in the team’s Shield success.

After his coaching days, Gleeson continued to contribute to the Manawtū union, including a stint as president.

“He was very well respected and a top bloke. He was regarded as the elder statesman of Manawatū rugby,” Akers said.

​”Losing Sam Strahan was a big blow and now we’ve lost Owen too.”

Both men were always around to offer advice to the younger generations and tried to make every game despite their advancing years. Although, Gleeson’s declining health meant he couldn’t get to as many as he’d of liked in later years, Akers said.

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