Mandy Wennekes had a horse roaming her property before – but never a sea lion. Photo / Provided
It’s not every day you look at your backyard and see huge sea lions just roaming around – but that’s what happened to Mandy Wennekes and her family yesterday afternoon.
A Dunedin resident said he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw a sea lion sitting in his yard.
“We’re just a little confused,” he said. “It’s not something we thought we would see.”
The family lived on Ocean Drive, very close to the beach, but this was the first time they had received a visit from a sea creature before.
“We’ve had horses emerge from shore before, by accident, because a wrong turn brought them into the property,” he explained, “but never sea lions.”
To reach their lawns, sea lions must go through three routes, including one up a steep hill.
The animal roamed for half an hour and didn’t seem bothered by the dog’s barking at him.
Hearing the noise from the dogs, her husband tried to see what the fuss was about. It was then that he saw a huge creature roaming their property.
“My husband tried to get closer to her and she started making noise so we stayed away from her.”
“I think they’re looking for a partner at the moment,” said Wennekes.
“All the females hide in the bush with their chicks.”
After about 30 minutes, the animal continued its journey, and was reportedly later seen back on the beach.
After posting a photo of his visitor to a local Facebook group, the residents of Dunedin were contacted by a member of the New Zealand Sea Lion Trust who clarified that the sea lion is over 10 years old and is male.
“What a wonderful visitor! I love how politely he sits on the fence. This big guy must be 10+ years old – that mane, wow – and that’s what we call a beachmaster,” Jordana, of the Sea Lion Trust, said citizens.
“I’m a little surprised that this guy is in Otago and not in the Sub-Antarctic Archipelago who rules over a beach full of women! But also …. he really still looks like a big puppy to me! A very, very big puppy. once you enjoy a special meeting that will not happen anywhere in the world, “he added.
The government has officially required nearly every traveler to New Zealand to test negative for Covid-19 before boarding a plane.
The new rules will come into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, January 25 – this is in an effort to minimize disruption to passengers leaving soon.
This regulation was signed last week by Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins. Previously, only travelers from the UK and US needed to test negative in order to come to New Zealand.
Starting January 25, it has been extended to any incoming tourists, except Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Island nations.
But not all Pacific Island countries are excluded – Papua New Guinea, which has nearly 1,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, is not on the list.
Likewise with French Polynesia, where 17,000 cases have been confirmed and 126 people have died from Covid-19.
Hipkins also said that the Government was “exploring several possibilities” whether they could get a small amount of the Covid-19 vaccine to frontline workers earlier than previously hinted at.
“If we can do it, we will be able to do it very quickly – but it all depends on whether the vaccine company will supply it,” he told a news conference this afternoon.
He would not elaborate because it is “quite a sensitive international negotiation”.
Hipkins said the new measures would not stop Covid from entering the country, but the government’s aim was to reduce the number of cases.
He said nearly all travelers had complied with the rules so far, and airlines were “very supportive”.
“New Zealand is not alone here – many countries are now proposing this.”
Hipkins said airlines have been vigilant to ensure travelers have followed the rules before they board their flights to NZ.
Asked about New Zealand’s access to the Covid vaccine, Hipkins said “we are very close to the front of the queue”. The first deliveries will arrive in the first quarter – “that’s the earliest time we can get … that’s the reality of manufacturing”.
Starting February 8, all passengers arriving in New Zealand – except those from exempt countries – without evidence of an approved negative test or medical certificate will be subject to an offense fee or a fine of up to $ 1000.
Hipkins said that so far only one person from the US or UK has not tested negative for Covid-19.
He added that airlines are increasingly refusing to board people who fail to produce negative tests.
But he said the Government could increase the fine if there was a higher level of non-compliance.
In addition to the new pre-departure requirements, the Government has also changed the rules surrounding Covid-19 testing in New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities.
From now on, travelers arriving to New Zealand will be required to take the test on arrival – again, except for Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Island countries.
They still have to undergo quarantine for 14 days, and undergo routine tests on the third and 12th day.
“New Zealand already has some of the strictest border protection measures in the world,” Hipkins said this morning.
“Today’s amendments further strengthen that position in line with the Government’s overall elimination strategy, and more actions can be added as needed.”
Asked about potential contact between people at MIQ facilities, such as in designated smoking areas, Hipkins said the Government has tightened social distancing measures.
Hipkins said the primary obligation was on travelers to comply with regulations – but airlines were also expected to play a role in checking whether passengers had negative test evidence.
Full list of countries and territories not included in the expanded pre-departure requirements:
• Antarctica • Australia • Cook Islands • Federated States of Micronesia • Fiji • Kiribati • Marshall Island • Nauru • New Caledonia • Niue • Palau • Samoa • Solomon Islands • Tokelau • Tonga • Tuvalu • Vanuatu • Wallis and Futuna.
New Zealand team boss Grant Dalton has offered to unlock his team’s resources to help the American Magic get their damaged AC75 back in the water.
The ship, named the Patriot, had a large hole in its hull as a result of a tumbling at the end of a Prada Cup race on Sunday afternoon, which submerged the ship and nearly sank.
The New Zealand team, as well as fellow Ineos Cup syndicates Team England and Luna Rossa, and local emergency services are on hand to help America keep the ship afloat.
Speaking to the media on Monday, American Magic captain Terry Hutchinson expressed his gratitude to the other teams, in particular Defender.
“I think the Dalts quote is ‘whatever you need, we have it for you’,” said Hutchinson.
“From a shipbuilding perspective, defenders are in the strongest position because we are in their hometown. They are halting part of their program so that there are lots of people available to help us and them straight away. [Team New Zealand] contact us. “
While members of all the syndicates helped save the ship, members of the New Zealand Team stayed with the American Magic crew on their nearly three-hour journey back to base from Hauraki Bay off the coast of Milford, and took pizza as their slow pace. having to make the return journey meant they wouldn’t be ashore until after 10 p.m.
Hutchinson described it as “the element of sportsmanship which is the highest level”.
“We have great support from all the teams… everyone has offered their services to bring the Patriots back to the water. As competitors, most of the time we argue with each other about things that are only about sailboat racing, we argue to make our point. “But today you can’t find more sportsmanship or a more generous team that we have around us,” said Hutchinson.
“With all the sincerity in the world, they gave almost all the facilities for us to use to rebuild the Patriot.”
Asked about their dinner options, Hutchinson joked that the Kiwi crew could get into trouble with a McDonald’s sponsor.
“I’m sure they stole from McDonald’s for not bringing us Big Macs and a quarter pounders, but we specifically asked for pizza so I don’t want them to get into trouble!”
Towards a Cup race?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about taking the ferry, train, or bus to watch the Cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.
• Don’t forget to scan the QR code with the NZ COVID Tracer app while on public transportation and entering America’s Cup Village.
Against the backdrop of the US Capitol, members of the National Guard change shifts as they exit through an anti-scaling security fence in Washington. Photo / AP
Busloads of buses and cargo of planes, National Guard troops poured into the nation’s capital on Saturday, as governors responded to US defense officials’ urgent requests for more troops to help guard Washington even as they watched anxiously at possible violent protests in their own states.
Military leaders spent most of the night Thursday and Friday calling on the state in an unprecedented call for more National Guard troops to help lock down large swathes of the city in the days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. In the dribs and drabs, the governor replied, some agreeing to send an extra dozen, 100 or even 1,000, while others said no.
The calls reflect concerns that violent extremist groups are targeting the city after a deadly uprising on the US Capitol on January 6.
Threats range from armed insurgents to possible attempts to plant explosive devices on so-called soft targets. But as Washington begins to resemble an armed camp, with more than 25,000 guards set to be in the city as early as next week, concerns about violence in the state capital have mounted.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown said she rejected a federal request to send at least 100 more National Guard troops to DC “I don’t think we can safely fulfill that commitment,” Brown said. Oregon has agreed to send 30 to Washington, but state leaders are concerned about violence at the state capitol in Salem.
Others agreed, sparking dizzying bursts of military and convoy flights into the region.
“The peaceful transfer of power is a central principle of American democracy, and Connecticut stands ready to help protect our country.” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, who initially agreed to send 100 guards and on Friday agreed to send 200 more.
In all, more than 130 US Air Guard flights in the past 72 hours have brought at least 7,000 Guard troops to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, according to US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal numbers. Thousands more were in buses and military trucks, rumbling down the highway to Washington.
Army General Dan Hokanson, head of the National Guard Bureau, called in general aides across the country, and others, such as Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, called in governors for help. McCarthy praised the state, saying defense and military officials were well aware of the threats they also faced.
“The governors and TAG were great. They helped us a lot,” McCarthy told The Associated Press.
“That’s the problem – that in the midst of a very dire situation you see how great this country is, everyone is getting together and helping each other get through this.”
What began in early January as a routine deployment of some 350 DC National Guard members to aid protests that are expected to explode over the past two weeks became a much larger operation to protect the inauguration and the US Congress Building, and to block access to the city and its many historical monuments.
When the protesters entered the Capitol on January 6, only a little over 100 National Guards were scattered around the city, guarding the Metro’s checkpoints and entrances. Hours later, five people are dead, the Capitol is in disarray and 1100 DC Guards have been activated.
The next day, as information arrived about more planned violence, requests went out for 6,200 members of the Guard from surrounding states.
On Thursday evening, as law enforcement and defense officials flooded maps and conducted security drills, they concluded they needed at least 25,000 to lock down Capitol grounds and vast areas of DC, including the National Mall. And they agreed that most of the Guards would be armed.
At that time, a new chapter of summons to state governors and military leaders began.
Many governors were willing to help, but they made it clear that the state capital was their priority. Some agreed to send more, while others couldn’t. And the numbers vary widely.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf doubled his initial commitment from 1,000 to 2,000. Other states managed to collect an additional dozen.
After reviewing threats against its own country, Minnesota decided it could significantly increase its contribution and would send 850 guards rather than the 130 originally deployed to leave, according to the state’s aide general, Major General Shawn Manke.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has agreed to send 700. On Friday, he announced he would send 300 more – even as he ordered nearly 600 to secure the Ohio state home in Columbus. So it is with the Governor of North Carolina.
Roy Cooper initially agreed to send 200 guards, and on Friday a Ford Porter spokesman said the country would send 100 more. Iowa first said it sent 250 and now the number is 265.
The big military response comes as Congress and law enforcement authorities try to figure out how the US Capitol captured the dramatic power of January 6.
The leaders of four committees in the Democratic-controlled House sent a letter on Saturday seeking briefings and documents from the FBI and other federal agencies as part of their review of the insurgency.
The call for more American soldiers also underscores the Pentagon’s limits on the use of active duty troops. Under the law, they cannot be used for law enforcement, and officials intend to avoid the emergence of armed active forces being used against US citizens on American soil.
Active duty forces routinely prepare to respond to emergencies in Washington, such as flight violations in restricted airspace over DC, and rapid reaction forces are on standby. Other active duty units will take part in various inauguration ceremonies.
Viral-fighting antibodies have been found in Kiwi Covid-19 patients for up to eight months after they were infected – a finding that could bode well for the upcoming vaccine rollout.
The new research, released before peer review, has also proven to be of global importance, given that antibodies persist even when no viruses are circulating in the community.
The study analyzed antibodies in a group of 112 New Zealand patients previously infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, most of whom had mild symptoms.
Antibodies play an important role in the immune system against pathogens such as the coronavirus.
Once a new virus is recognized, antibodies are specially crafted to bind to the “spike protein” and stop it from entering our cells – while signaling other parts of the immune system to destroy foreign invaders.
“Because antibodies are very specific for an invading pathogen or virus, they also provide a way to track and study a person’s history of infection,” said Dr. Nikki Moreland, an immunologist and biomedical scientist at the University of Auckland.
“In other words, by taking a blood sample of someone, and seeing if there are specific antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 in circulation, it’s possible to determine if they have previously had Covid-19.”
This is useful for diagnosis – especially when the swab has no more virus due to infection several weeks or months ago.
“By studying the level and function of circulating antibodies, it is also possible to determine whether a person has the types of antibodies that might provide protection if they encounter certain viruses or pathogens again.”
The new collaborative study, carried out by PhD student Alana Whitcombe and research scientist Dr Reuben McGregor on the Moreland team, investigates not only the quantity of antibodies in previously infected people – but also their quality.
“Specifically, do people have antibodies that bind to viral spike proteins, can these antibodies neutralize the virus, and how long do these antibodies last?” McGregor said.
In the laboratory, the researchers measured levels of circulating antibodies that bind to spike proteins, as well as whether those antibodies neutralized.
“Since we had samples from people who were infected months earlier, we can use this measurement to see how long the antibodies last.”
“The good news is we observed that the majority of people have neutralizing antibodies that bind to the spike protein and they can be detected for up to eight months after infection.”
While overseas research shows this too, the main difference is that this effect has been demonstrated in countries where Covid-19 has been successfully eliminated.
“People in New Zealand are not re-exposed to the virus like they are in countries with high community transmission rates,” Moreland said.
When someone is re-exposed, he explained, their immune system boosts, which can affect levels of circulating antibodies.
That makes similar data from abroad more difficult to interpret, given it’s unclear whether antibodies were there simply as a result of re-exposure.
“In New Zealand we are fortunate not to have that problem to consider when looking at our data,” said Moreland.
“We believe the antibodies we measured came from the initial infection, so seeing these antibodies last up to eight months was really encouraging.”
What does the vaccine launch mean?
Moreland said the study offers some “positive signals”, given the data from vaccine trials showing the agent induces similar – and in some cases higher – levels of neutralizing antibodies for natural infections.
“So the protection from the vaccine is also likely to last for months and maybe even longer,” he said.
“But we are still studying in real-time, every month we see that the antibodies last one month longer.
“Also, there are several different vaccines and it is important to track the antibody response to different vaccines to measure whether there is a difference in the quality and quantity of the antibodies they produce, and how long the neutralizing antibodies to vaccines last.”
Further studies showed that scientists could accurately measure spike antibodies from finger prick blood samples.
“This could drastically improve the feasibility of large-scale studies to track vaccine antibody responses.” Whitcombe said.
The paper, uploaded to medRxiv’s pre-print server, involved doctors and scientists from the University of Otago, New Zealand Blood Service, Te Punaha Matatini, Callaghan Innovations, the Maurice Wilkins Center, Southern Community Laboratory and the City of Auckland, Starship and Kidz First Children’s Hospital .
“This work would not have been possible without a national network of doctors, nurses, researchers and scientists and highlighted the collaborative nature of New Zealand’s science during the pandemic,” said Moreland.