Today is Tuesday July 6th. Kia ora katoa.

CCCCC – See! Climate change, Cybercrime, Coronavirus.

Today I have to highlight some stories in this morning’s Dom Post. The front page reads: “Runway repairs put lives at risk”. Well, excuse me, but I would think that not doing the repairs would put many more lives at risk, i.e. all the regular passenger and cargo flights that land here everyday. Also, the Wellington Regional Hospital has a helicopter landing pad, so they do have other options. I am truly sorry for some people who were inconvenienced, but Wellington Airport has one runway, and surely they have to seal it sometime. The notice reads: “The runway was shut so asphalt could be relaid between 10 pm and 6 am on Sundays to Thursdays from September 14 2020 until February 2021”. That seems reasonable to me.

Another annoying one reads “June warmest on record for Wellington – and NZ”.  Other stories have talked about June being the hottest month, despite a cold snap. I find this irritating. While daytime temperatures may have risen to break records, this must be cold comfort to those enduing even colder temperatures than we had in Wellington, and electricity outages. It has been (and continues to be) very cold here for the most part, and we’ve had to contend with frosts although we had little snow. The days have been very short around the winter solstice, so whatever warmth there is lasts only a few hours.

I realise that there’s not much news about here these days: homelessness, mental health issues, abuse in state care, sexual assault, domestic violence, bullying, the woes of the National Party, criticism of the Labour Party, and, by the way, when will we get the vaccine?  However there are two good new stories this morning: 150,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been delivered two days ahead of schedule. A million more doses are set to be delivered in the second half of July. The Ministry of Health has been on constant contact with Pfizer. So that’s good news. Group 3 will be invited to make appointments from the end of July. We have not been forgotten. The Wellington City Mission has opened a new transitional housing facility, and that looks really nice. And the Honourable Kiri Allan, is back at work after being ill with cervical cancer. These are things to celebrate.

We spoke with our loved ones in the US this morning. That was a real treat. They all look well. Where they are, no one wears a mask anymore, despite rising cases of (and deaths from) Covid 19.

In Australia, cases of Covid 19 continue to make big news (46 new cases yesterday).  In New South Wales, 640 nurses are self-isolating because they were in contact with someone who turned out to be infected. Two more residents have been diagnosed with Covid 19 in an aged care facility.  Meanwhile their treasurer says that Australia will have to learn to live with the virus, and it will be worthwhile to have open borders again. I think this right-wing nonsense is just that, nonsensical. If you had an outbreak of cholera, surely you’d try to protect your people against becoming infected. After all, who wants to nurse a cholera-infected patient? Or someone with bubonic plague? Covid 19 is almost as unpleasant; in fact, it must be dreadful seeing people struggle to breathe. There’s no guarantee that should you recover, you’ll pop back to normal health again. I think we’re blessed that sick folk don’t have dreadful dangerous emissions, like the bleeding that comes with a disease like Ebola. It seems there are people like Treasurers and some Prime Ministers who should take a turn at nursing severely ill infected patients, and keeping their families away; then see what their views are.

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems to be willing to throw caution to the wind, as any remaining restrictions are due to be lifted on 19 July. From then on, it will be a matter of personal choice whether to wear a mask or not. He’s always been careless, but what about our loved ones who live in the UK? There are multiple warnings, including from the World Health Organisation, against his “Freedom Day”.

In Wellington, in NZ in fact, there are no new community cases; a few in MIQ. So I think we are all going to relax for a bit (until the next big scare).

How do we learn to live with the coronavirus?  It’s very infectious in some people. We don’t know who is most infectious; often people are most infectious before they have any symptoms. We can all be extra careful, wear masks, avoid touching surfaces, be careful what we eat and where, wash our hands frequently (assuming there’s warm water, soap and paper towels or a hand drier. But avoiding crowded spaces is difficult. What about airports? Lounges?  To get out of New Zealand, you have to fly about four hours, and then you’re just in Australia. It’s another 12-15 hours usually to fly to Europe.

It’s now Thursday July 8th. There are still no community cases of Covid 19 here in Wellington. We’re starting to relax a bit more now!  In Australia, they’re still getting significant numbers: today New South Wales recorded 38 new cases (42 in Australia), and the Sydney lockdown has been extended, as has the travel “pause” between New Zealand and Sydney and Brisbane. So they are still grappling with this outbreak. When will it be NZ’s turn?  Prime Minister Ardern has said that we won’t be throwing caution to the winds, like Boris Johnson. That’s a relief.

Yesterday I went to see another French film, Adieu Les Cons (Bye Bye Morons). This was slapstick humour indeed, and although I enjoyed parts of it, I probably didn’t enjoy it greatly overall. The theatre was wonderfully warm, and I got a free coffee, but my pleasure was spoiled somewhat by the gentleman sitting next to me, who was very coldy.  Hymn singing was lovely, as was singing this morning. We had a shared lunch afterwards – a wonderful spread. JD and I made cucumber sandwiches, and they were very nice. My friends made beautiful cakes:  chocolate cake with whisky and prunes, and a yummy lemon cake. What a treat!

In the US, Rudy Giuliani has had his law licence suspended in Washington DC. The president of Haiti has been assassinated. Evidently he was narrowly voted out of office in a tight election, and refused to go. Everyone wonders what will happen now. In North Korea – who knows how they have been handling the coronavirus, although Kim Jong Un berated his staff for a Covid emergency that was mishandled. Kim has noticeably lost weight; perhaps he’s had Covid 19?

Various countries are struggling to contain the coronavirus. Indonesia and Fiji are in a bad way. We feel very sorry for them, and wonder at those Americans who refuse to be vaccinated, although vaccines are available.

In Peru they’re struggling with the Lambda variant of Covid 19. No one really knows yet how effective the vaccines will be against these new variants, like Delta and Lambda. All vaccines have a degree of failure, but they’re was better than nothing.

In Florida, they no longer expect to find anyone alive from the Surfside apartment block that half-collapsed. The rest of it has been demolished now. I recently listened to a Guardian podcast about the Grenfell tower cladding that proved so disastrous in the fire. There are many buildings with this type of cladding – residents are now stuck, unable to sell their apartments, and often unable to afford the increasing maintenance costs. In China, some buildings collapse – sometimes only a few years old. Surely everyone should have a safe place to live?

So much grief and tragedy. It puts one’s own troubles in a different perspective. We are so fortunate to live in a democratic country with a good government. While it has many challenges, it has shown that it cares about human life and well-being. Ngā mihi.

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