Today is Tuesday, March 24, CV1. 

The news today is confusing. My youngest son and his wife are still en route to the UK, where a state of lock down awaits them. Perhaps their lockdown is not quite as strict as ours. In NZ lockdown begins officially at midnight, but it feels as though it has started here already.

I just went for a walk to our local supermarket. It is relatively busy; you can’t buy any bread at all, and there is absolutely no crowd control. On the way there I passed several people out for a walk, who all studiously swerved to make way and otherwise ignored me. No “Good afternoon” greetings here, then.

We are all wondering just what are essential services, not necessarily our local newspaper’s interpretation of them.

Hohepa asked if we want to bring our daughter back to Wellington (some families have already uplifted their loved ones, apparently). We said no – her home is in Hawkes Bay, and she’s in a good spot. We are satisfied that Hohepa are taking stringent precautions appropriate to this changing situation. I assume they provide an essential service; the people they support would be living with their families if that were possible and the best outcome for the person concerned. They needed to know pretty well right away, so our decision is that she’s better off there than here in Wellington.

Early this morning I rang the Medical Centre to make a booking for a flu jab. they said no, they couldn’t do it during the lockdown for the next 4 weeks. When I protested, they suggested I ring back after 8:30 am and speak to a nurse. I did so, and spoke to a doctor, but the answer was the same – basically no, not during the lockdown. I am in a supposedly vulnerable group, over 65, and I take daily medication for asthma, so I think I should have the vaccine. I was messaged when it arrived, but I stayed away deliberately because of our visitors from overseas. Using Manage My Health I messaged my GP, making her aware of the situation, and my frustration with it. I am probably overreacting, but this feels a bit like a ventilator-decision moment.

I look up the Stuff website to see that the Warehouse stores consider themselves to be providing essential services!!! This seems ridiculous. The shelves are close together, they’re large but compact stores, and most goods have no doubt been handled often. It’s not like shopping (or window-shopping) at a David Jones store. Postscript: the Prime Minister has indicated the Warehouse may not provide an essential service. I would regard libraries, cinemas and cafes as fare more needful than the Warehouse.

We hang out for the 1 pm daily briefing. Today there are 40 new cases, 6 in hospital, where they are stable, 4 cases not related to travel, and therefore probably contracted via “community” transmission. Thankfully, no one is on a ventilator, no one is in Intensive Care, and no one has died.  More tests are being done, and will be done, and there is not a shortage of masks.

On the other hand, the news from overseas is distressing. The UK is to put a lockdown in place (will it be policed?); the death rate in Italy is 9.25%, and in the US the president is recommending easing the restrictions; US  lawmakers cannot agree on a much-needed stimulus package. Oh, and the stock markets again are in freefall. When will this be over? Nobody knows. Perhaps never.

There is confusion about infection levels. Are people, or things they’ve touched, more infectious? Can the virus live on surfaces for 2-3 days, or 17? How long do airborne droplets survive? Apparently many people are asymptomatic, but test positive. They should then be isolated, but they probably won’t be unless they’re in China or South Korea. And how effective are protective measures like hand sanitisers, face masks, disinfectants, alcohol-based rubs? Everyone recommends handwashing with soap, warm water, and thorough drying. Full marks to the rest rooms that have disposable paper towels.

Odd facts collected today:

  • Amy Klobuchar’s husband has tested positive.
  • Idris Elba’s wife has tested positive.
  • Sadly a New York Times reporter, who worked on the situation in New Rochelle where they had drive-through testing and cleaned everything thoroughly, has tested positive. These folk were really careful, and I enjoyed listening to the podcast they made about this.
  • A Victoria University staffer, who came into contact with students and staff, has tested positive.
  • The Olympics has not yet been cancelled or postponed.
  • Loss of the sense of smell may be an early sign of having Covid19.

It’s important to have some kind of routine, while most of the things one used to do to stay sane and busy (have adventures) are now denied. While there is now no need to dress up or put on makeup, I have decided to use up all the hair product in my bathroom vanity before buying any more. I feel quite good about that.

On Wednesdays I would go to hymn singing at the Presbyterian Church in Khandallah. I really enjoyed this: the church seems to be a busy, community centre, where one feels really welcomed. We would sing, standing, upstairs in the organ loft, to the accompaniment of the rather beautiful organ. This started at 9 am, so it was quite a challenge to get there, given that the traffic at that time is quite heavy. Afterwards, I would have coffee in one of Khandallah’s cafes, and then catch a bus into Wellington.

Starting so early, there was plenty of time. Sometimes I would go to a movie, have a bite to eat, and catch a bus back to the northern suburbs. That way, I saw the Helen Kelly documentary at the Lighthouse Cuba cinema in Wigan Street. What a lovely person she was, and what a sad loss, her early death was.

There are a number of contradictory statements being made as people struggle to adapt to and make sense of this new, ever-changing reality.

“We are all in this together”. Well, we are, in a sense, in that we are all threatened, and the virus doesn’t distinguish its hosts; on the other hand, I am not caring for or teaching young children, or trying to hold on to a job, or desperately short of money, or homeless. If you have more money, it’s not much use to you now, although it may get you faster access to testing, better treatment, and a more comfortable living environment. We are all lonely, and some of us handle that better than others. Money can’t buy one protection.

“We are at war”. In a sense we are, but we can’t see this enemy; at least we aren’t being bombed, or sending our loved ones off to fight, which is a huge relief.

My favourite saying, for now, is “Fear is the enemy of compassion”.

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