7 May 2022

The Week in Detail: Long Covid, debt, extradition and diplomacy

From The Detail, 3:00 pm on 7 May 2022

The Detail makes sense of the big news stories - this week on the podcast we've covered everything from New Zealand's "complex and convoluted" extradition laws to the looming threat of Long Covid in the workplace. Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed. 

Kyung Yup Kim, China and NZ’s extradition laws 

Kyung Yup Kim is a New Zealand resident and South Korean citizen who is accused of murdering a woman, Peiyun Chen, in Shanghai in 2009. The Chinese authorities want him sent back to China to face trial.

Supreme Court in Wellington

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Enter New Zealand's "complex and convoluted" - in the words of the Law Commission – extradition laws. China requested his extradition in 2011. The case has been winding its way through the New Zealand courts ever since. It's 2022 – why is Kyung Yup Kim still here? 

Anna High, a senior lecturer at the University of Otago's faculty of law, says the government needs to be sure that Kim will be treated fairly by the Chinese legal system – and that there's good reason to be wary. 

What happens if you've got Long Covid and can't work? 

It's estimated that 10 to 30 percent of people infected with Covid-19 will go on to develop Long Covid. Now that total case numbers in Aotearoa are in the hundreds of thousands, there could be a sizeable chunk of our workforce out of action for a long time with debilitating symptoms like fatigue, brain fog and breathlessness.  

Express corona test. Positive covid antigen test.

Photo: 123rf.com

So how do we respond to this problem? 

ACC appears unlikely to cover Long Covid, and the government's proposed income insurance scheme is still a long way off. Stuff business editor Susan Edmunds says unless people have private income insurance, they might be out of luck.

Being in debt to the government 

More than half a million low-income New Zealanders collectively owe the government $3.5 billion, with debts across Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). 


The number is shocking, and according to a Cabinet paper released earlier this year, many will struggle to pay it back. 

Ngā Tāngata Microfinance Chief Executive Natalie Vincent says the unaffordability of debt is being aggravated by the increasing cost of living. 

"People are having to borrow to keep up with just basic living costs," she says. 

And while Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Justice have the power to write off debt on hardship grounds, MSD doesn't.

Crossing the diplomatic line: When do ambassadors get expelled? 

What do the National Party's Gerry Brownlee and the Green Party's Golriz Ghahraman have in common? 

The Russian Embassy in Karori, Wellington

The Russian Embassy in Karori, Wellington Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Usually, not much: but they are both calling for the Russian ambassador to New Zealand, Georgy Zuev, to be expelled from the country in light of Russia's war on Ukraine.

International analyst Geoffrey Miller explains it's a dramatic move to expel a foreign diplomat, and one that could carry serious political consequences. 

Trying to walk again 

More than three years on from a paddle boarding accident at Omaha Beach that left him tetraplegic, top sailor Simo de Mari is determined to walk again. 

No caption

Photo: The Detail/Sharon Brettkelly

Simo has sailed in five America's Cup campaigns, most of them with the Italian syndicate, Luna Rossa. 

"His life was his physicality," his wife Sonja says.  

He spent five months in hospital in 2019, undergoing surgeries that left him struggling to breathe and swallow in order to fix the broken bones in his neck. After being told he would never walk again, the couple started looking into other treatments. 

Simo and Sonja have just returned home from two weeks in Panama, where he's undergone a second round of radical umbilical cord stem cell treatment. 

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