Bubbling On

Antiques Atlas - Bubbles Pears Print Original John Everett Millais
Bubbles by Millais

Kia ora katoa! Kia Kaha!

Today is Sunday April 19th.

Bubbling on, burbling on, babbling on…

Last night I slept well, not waking till almost 8 am. Then we had a video conversation with our eldest son and his family in the US. I am very concerned about them and another son and his wife who are in the UK, but it was great to speak with them. They all look well. The children are building wonderful lego machines and vehicles. They are very creative. None of us is especially into growing our own vegetables.

Meantime, in New Zealand, the Sunday newspaper is mostly about coping mechanisms for lockdown, and, to some extent, about the economy.  There is a lot of talk about podcasts, and I have added some new ones to my list.  I think it is easier to write than speak – you certainly need to have a pleasant voice to record podcasts, but I find it’s great to listen to them, especially if they have a warning if themes or language may be difficult.  It’s like being in a warm bath, really, that doesn’t get cold.  The interviews can be so interesting, and convey details of stories or situations that you don’t get in the newspapers. I am an unashamed podcast junkie.

There was no 1 pm briefing on Saturday, but there is one today, and the PM and Dr Bloomfield both show up.  There is a question about sport under level 3, and Jacinda says that she will hand over to the Sports Minister to answer that (he’s evidently in the Beehive Theatrette, wearing shorts), but we don’t get to see him.  The rest of the world seems to marvel at these briefings, which are greatly valued, for the honesty of the PM and Dr Ashley. The press is not the “enemy of the people”, rather journalists are valued as playing a significant role in asking questions (sometimes they’re silly ones), and disseminating information.  The presenters are not derided, they’re valued, and Jacinda expresses thanks to Kiwis who, by and large, have cooperated with the lockdown.

There were 13 new cases of Covid 19 yesterday, and 9 today. This brings the country’s total to 1431. Yesterday there were 20 Covid 19 patients in hospital, including 3 in Intensive Care, one of them critical. Some rest home residents up north were taken to hospital, six of them having tested positive for Covid 19.

Testing has been expanded, and some random testing has been done at a Queenstown supermarket, and in Auckland. I understand no one has tested positive from these tests. Dr Bloomfield says that there will be continued emphasis on contact tracing, and that the target is that 80% of a case’s contacts will be followed up within three days. We are asked to remember our movements (such as they are, within our bubble!). I knew there was a good reason for writing this blog! Other than helping to keep me sane, of course.

There is now common mention of New Zealand’s success in managing this pandemic, within our country, and this lockdown, and the subsequent effects on the economy. There is appreciation that Maori and Pasifika do not appear to be worse affected than European New Zealanders (Pakeha). There is astonishment overseas at New Zealand’s actions: “Are they trying to eliminate it, or something?”  Well, yes, they are, actually.

Daily, it seems an this is an even taller endeavour. I wonder how long NZ can remain hermetically sealed off from the rest of the world.  At least we can feed ourselves, and others, too.

The figures from overseas just get more dramatic. When it’s claimed that not se many people are dying in New York hospitals each day, it’s still several hundred that are dying. What a chaotic mess the US is. This pandemic has certainly highlighted the extreme poverty, the backward stance of poorer people and people of colour in terms of their survival, the sad fact that for many, loss of employment means loss of their health insurance, the very low hourly rate of pay, the plight of undocumented immigrants; this was all visible before this crisis, but this pandemic has surely made these problems even more pressing and apparent.

The need for Medicare for All has come to more and more people to seem totally reasonable, and as to paying for it, the government has shown it can afford whatever it likes, viz. the cheques to most citizens, the bailouts of certain industries, and the huge amount spent (in a socialist way) on the military. Whom is the US defending itself against?

It is extremely distressing to see protests in defiance against measures to regulate against Covid 19, and to prevent or limit infection.  It is sad indeed to see these being encouraged, not condemned. Surely these people fears for their lives, and those of their loved ones?  I often wonder if there isn’t something in the water there. A great many environmental regulations have been lifted in the last three years; that’s not to say the situation was great before that. They had a huge water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and there was a crisis in New Jersey, to mention a couple of examples.

It’s not just the US. In the UK, there is a lack of PPE. Some of their practices, e.g. in nursing homes, seem casual to us. Places where they have horrific daily death tolls (Italy, Spain, France) seem to have not taken this disease as seriously as they should at the beginning. And yet it was 1 December (I heard somewhere) that the first death from the coronavirus was recorded in China. That is less than six months ago!  Swift action was needed to manage this at all. The infectious nature and alarmingly rapid severity of this disease, and its expansion, have all but overcome efforts to manage it.

There is still so much we don’t know about this disease, except that you really don’t want to get it, or have any member of your family and friends get it.  Wearing of masks is now compulsory in many countries. I guess it’s like advertising – we presume some of it does some good, in terms of increased sales, but we don’t know exactly what works. Can you get reinfected? Should you be tested for recovery? Should those infected be isolated? Definitely. Should they remain at home? Probably not! And what about asymptomatic carriers? What about blood transfusions? Should they now be screened for Covid 19? I should think so. And how long do droplets live on surfaces? Will there be a second, and a third wave? Will these be worse? (That’s hard to imagine!). When will a vaccine be ready? And what will the anti-vax brigade do then?

Last night we watched the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I had read Truman Capote’s book, but never seen the movie. What a great film! It was beautifully made. How gorgeous Audrey Hepburn was, and Patricia Neal. Audrey Hepburn (dressed by Hubert Givenchy) always looked wonderful, and I will always remember her singing Moon River with the guitar.

Moon River is not necessarily my favourite song, but a chorus from Handel’s Messiah is among my faves. It’s I Know That My Redeemer Liveth, from the book of Job in the Old Testament.   You can find recordings on Youtube.

The past two days I have not been for a walk. I feel rather guilty about this, but I did change the sheets on my bed, and wash my hair, and climb up and down the stairs several times. It is nice that there is no rush, and to enjoy the peace and quiet. Tomorrow I will go out, if only for a walk.

Good-bye for now. Nga Mihi.

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