COVID-19 pandemic

Pandemic presents big challenges for Pacific seasonal workers

New Zealand has a new one-way travel bubble with Pacific island countries such as Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga.

Vaccinated RSE workers from these countries can come to New Zealand without self-isolating or taking Covid-19 tests on arrival, after the one-way quarantine-free travel took effect last week.

Up to 5,000 workers are needed across the horticulture and viticulture industries during peak summer season in December and January.

The usual supply of backpackers to New Zealand's recognised seasonal workers scheme remains cut off due to Covid-19 border restrictions.

Covid-19 deaths pass five million worldwide

Vaccines have slowed the death rate, but some health experts say the true toll could be far higher.

The milestone comes amid warnings from health officials that cases and deaths in some places are rising for the first time in months.

Nearly 250 million cases of the virus have been recorded worldwide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the pandemic's real global death toll could be two to three times higher than official records.

In the US, more than 745,800 people have died, making it the country with the highest number of recorded deaths.

Airlines increasingly unlikely to fly unvaccinated passengers to Australia

Most international airlines who fly into Australia are likely to accept only vaccinated passengers, with larger carriers now considering whether it is logistically and commercially viable to sell tickets to unvaccinated travellers. Some carriers have had their allocation of unvaccinated passengers capped at zero.

Red Cross calls for urgent help for PNG after record COVID surge

Concerted international action is necessary to help Papua New Guinea (PNG) deal with a record surge in COVID-19 cases that is overwhelming the country’s health system, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has said.

The latest wave of COVID-19 has seen PNG report the highest number of daily cases since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The country reported 376 new cases on Saturday and is dealing with nearly 3,000 active cases of the disease, according to the latest government data.

New Clues Emerge About Whether Vaccines Can Help Fight Long Covid

Millions of people suffer from symptoms of long Covid, doctors estimate. Now, early research is offering some clues about whether vaccinations might help.

New Zealand COVID-19 pandemic strategy in doubt amid Delta spread

COVID-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said the variant "changes the game considerably" and makes existing protections "look less adequate".

It comes as the country announced a further 21 confirmed cases in the latest outbreak of the virus.

New Zealand had quashed earlier COVID outbreaks with rapid, strict lockdowns.

The country was praised for its efforts, which effectively stopped the spread of the virus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly referred to New Zealand as "our team of five million".

New Zealand Rugby scraps all first-class, club and school matches for this weekend

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) made the announcement on Wednesday after the return of Covid-19 cases in the community in Auckland.

From Tuesday midnight, the government announced that Auckland and Coromandel will remain at level 4 for seven days, while the rest of New Zealand is at level 4 for three days – at this stage.

There were seven community cases as of Wednesday afternoon’s Covid-19 press conference.

The next rounds of the national provincial championship (NPC), Farah Palmer Cup (FPC) and Heartland Championship will be played at a later date, NZR said.

Amazon predicts slower sales growth as COVID boost eases

Customers turned to Amazon and other online platforms during the COVID crisis, leading to record profits for the US giant.

But Amazon's breakneck growth is beginning to level as customers start to return to bricks and mortar shops.

Revenue climbed 27% to £113bn (£80bn) in its second quarter, but this missed analyst expectations.

Amazon shares fell 5% in after-hours trade.

Australia to halve arrivals and trial home quarantine

The country's strict border rules have only allowed Australians and people with exemptions to enter.

From 14 July, Australia will accept just over 3,000 people a week - a measure likely to last until next year.

The announcement sparked dismay among Australians who are overseas and separated from their families.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the measure would reduce pressure on the country's quarantine system.

Virus leaks from hotel quarantine - which is mandatory for all arrivals - have been the source of numerous outbreaks across the country.

Rugby League World Cup still on track

The Rugby League World Cup for men, women and wheelchair athletes will draw teams from 21 nations - including several which are still struggling with Covid-19.

Thirty-two teams from countries within the United Kingdom, Europe, North, South and Central America, the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean have qualified.

The tournament in England runs between 23 October and 27 November and for the first time, all three competitions will run concurrently.