Kia ora Katoa! Kia kaha!
Today is Wednesday April 15. I sleep until 8:30 am., so that’s good. The newspaper this morning is divided about how to open up the country. i.e. come out from lockdown. I think the four stages were a good idea, that is, the suggestion NZ goes to level 3 when the four weeks’ lockdown is up. The Prime Minister has said repeatedly that the government will take advice on any movement, and will be guided by the latest scientific reports. The newspaper carries stories divided on whether the lockdown was too severe, and what kind of strategies should be in place, especially with regard to contact tracing and testing.
There is also the news that Bernie Sanders and former President Obama have endorsed Joe Biden as Democratic candidate for President. It seems a bit sad to me that that’s the best they can do. Still, it’s a way to go before the November election.
Many governments are grappling with issues regarding lifting whatever lockdowns and distancing restrictions they have in place. Some countries were thought to have good management strategies in place, e.g. Sweden or Singapore, but now their deficiencies have been shown up; Sweden now has a higher death toll, and nursing homes have been severely affected, and Singapore’s migrant workers have been part of its downfall, seeing as the migrant workers live in very cramped conditions. Singapore is now to put a severe lockdown in place. Sweden tried not to impose too many restrictions on its citizens, but there were doubts about this approach, and they now have an alarming death rate which is fast catching up.
But reports are distressing, where restrictions have been lifted, or partially lifted. There are more cases of Covid 19, except in Taiwan, which stands out for its effectiveness. We remember the dreadful videos smuggled out of Wuhan, where, despite very heavy authoritarian measures of state control being put in place, the virus could not be completely dominated or eliminated. Now that it is freer of the virus, some are regretting their decision not to stay there.
Authorities are now saying that this virus cannot be stamped out, completely; that there are likely two more waves to come, which may be worse (!), that we will always need to be extra-careful about infection (many of us are already extraordinarily careful about getting ill), and that in future, restrictions are likely to remain in place, even after development and release of a vaccine.
In addition, there is really no “going back to normal”. We have been and will be scarred by this event, some far more than others, who have lost loved ones during this time as a result of Covid 19, or their natural passing. We have been unable to gather, to celebrate, to enjoy company of family and friends, to celebrate our faith as one would wish, much less enjoy everyday “adventures” and activities. Yet, some of us are fortunate during this time. Our challenges are not nearly as great as those many people face.
Remember Metlink, who changed everything about public transport in Wellington in July 2018? As we now watch empty buses go past, those challenges seem so far away. Who cares when the buses go? Or how windy the bus stops are? Or how difficult the whole issue became for so many people, including those of us who aren’t trying to get to work.
The US faces major challenges in getting people back to non-existent jobs – just how does that work? Why is the cruise ship industry and airline industry being given a bailout? Who in their right mind would go on a cruise, now? I think you’d have to have some kind of death wish to do so.
But supposing you are running some kind of operation, making things, or meals, who has money to spend? How do you project needs into the future? How do you plan? What’s happened to the various supply chains? Where do you reopen, and with what cleaning and staff protection protocols in place?
Who will be brave enough to go to the cinema again? Or take a trip anywhere? Or eat out? Or buy takeaways? Or go to the dentist? We miss all these things, yet there is a kind of perverse pleasure in proving we can manage without them.
It seems you must have a plan, and be prepared to monitor it for effectiveness and public support, and make adjustments where needed. I doubt that nay of us really wants to go back to the way things were. The WHO have set out 6 steps that countries should take before lifting restrictions. These form good general guidelines.
The 1 pm briefing is instructive. There are 20 new cases, bringing the total to 1386. 728 people have recovered. Another person has died, this time an elderly man in Invercargill, who died at his home, bringing the total deaths to nine. These are encouraging figures. Jacinda advises parents not to beat themselves up about educating their children, pointing out that they’ll be learning a great deal during this time, anyway. Dr Bloomfield notes that NZ will continue to support the WHO, saying that we need a strong WHO. There have been criticisms of this organisation.
There have been dramatically huge waves on Wellington’s South Coast, and although the it is quiet today, it has been very windy here. Someone was swept out to sea, and rescued.
Recoveries from Covid 19 are noteworthy, too. I talk about three main figures, the actor Tom Hanks, the CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They all look different – almost shockingly so. Tom Hanks appeared on SNL and seemed well, joking that people were avoiding him. But the other two looked shocked, as though they’d seen a ghost. Chris Cuomo spoke about how the disease messes with your brain, and Boris spoke about his gratitude for the treatment he’d received in hospital. He even mentioned a nurse from New Zealand – nurse Jenny from Invercargill. For each of them, it was a defining experience, an illness it takes a while to recover from, and definitely not a typical flu. While the flu can indeed make you feel absolutely ghastly, and wish that you were dead, Covid 19 is something else, and generally more extreme.
In New York, the death figures for Covid 19 have been revised upwards, and it now seems that 4,000 people have died in New York City alone, and 10,000 in New York State. The number in New York city greatly outweighs the number who died as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Yet now they are over the worst of people needing medical treatment, they are offering to help other states, like South Dakota, where a meat-processing plant has been closed down, with many of the staff sick, yet there is no lockdown order in place.
I listened to Dr John Campbell’s update today, where he answered a number of FAQs. He says that while there is lots we don’t know, the virus is unlikely to be carried by insects, is killed by heat or by boiling, but may be carried by water contamination. This is all sensible advice, really – always be careful about fluids, generally getting them out of a bottle that you can see, and only eating cooked food from a reputable outlet. But this virus defies many efforts to contain its spread. There is so much we still don’t know.
I did not go for a walk today. Today has not been a particularly good one, however the Pharmacy at Johnsonville rang to see how I was and if I would like anything delivered to save me going in to the store. They delivered a packet of face masks!
We have been watching Unorthodox on Netflix. It is a very well-made series, with great attention to detail in the costuming and displaying the huge contrast between the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, Queens, New York, and modern Berlin. There were renditions of Schubert’s An Die Musik, and that is my favourite piece for today. Here is a translation by Richard Wigmore. In German it is even better.
Beloved art, in how many a bleak hour,
when I am enmeshed in life’s tumultuous round,
have you kindled my heart to the warmth of love,
and borne me away to a better world!
Often a sigh, escaping from your harp,
a sweet, celestial chord
has revealed to me a heaven of happier times.
Beloved art, for this I thank you!
That’s it for today, on that beautiful note I shall retire.