Day Two

Today is Thursday August 19th, 2021. Kia ora.

It is now day 2 of our level 4 lockdown.

Yesterday afternoon I went shopping at our local supermarket.  I was careful to  take all precautions that had been required last year, including some that weren’t: I wore a mask and plastic gloves, I shopped alone, and I was careful not to take any bags into the store. It transpired that I could have done so: many customers brought bags into the store; you just had to pack them yourself. Instead I put everything back in the trolley and wheeled it to the car, where my bags were.  The previous stickers for distancing were missing; the person who served me didn’t wear a mask, and didn’t wipe down the counter with disinfectant between customers. From midnight on Wednesday, masks become compulsory.

I was appalled to see many items missing, or in very short supply, namely sausages, flour, toilet paper, and bread. That is quite annoying. We don’t know how long this lock down will continue, and I’d feel safer if we had a few more items in the kitchen that I like. The type of eggs I like to buy was also missing.

A series of photos were sent of my daughter making Louise Cake at her house in Napier. I would really like a nice piece of Louise Cake! The cafés are all closed here, so no Louise Cake for me, unless I make it myself.

Boy, does this virus move quickly! At 6:30 pm yesterday I learnt that there are three more confirmed cases of Covid 19/delta variant in Auckland, confirmed on the stuff website an hour ago, bringing the total in this cluster to 10. One of them attended an 84-person lecture at AUT.  There is suspicion that the virus may have entered via the Trans-Tasman travel bubble.  It’s certainly here now, and it’s pretty scary.  Several of those infected are younger people, who are therefore more likely to have visited several areas of entertainment or hospitality where there were lots of others. More locations of interest have been published.  Experts are saying that 50-120 people may have been infected thus far.

It’s being reported that one case (a woman in her 60’s), is linked to the border, but at present it’s really hard to get any details about this case. The reporting is confusing. Nevertheless, in 24 hours we’ve gone from one to ten community cases of Covid 19/Delta. That’s scary.

Last night as I went to bed I learnt that a woman Air NZ Hostess had flown from Narita, Japan to Auckland and had tested positive as part of normal flight crew testing. Her case is not part of the current cluster, but takes the number of cases of Covid 19 in Auckland to 11.

It’s now Thursday.  This morning, Dr Ashley Bloomfield appears on television, but there is no news of new cases. We have to wait for the 1 pm press conference with Prime Minister Ardern and himself to learn that there are 11 new community cases, all in Auckland, bringing the total to 21 (22?) Already I’m confused. Actually, on thinking about this, I am not. There are 21 community cases of Covid 19/Delta variant.  The Air NZ Hostess (on the overseas run) who was routinely tested was not a community case. Two people are in hospital in a stable condition: one in their 20’s, the other in their 40’s. No one is in an ICU. This morning’s newspaper publishes details of ICU beds and ventilators available.

More sites of interest have been published.  One of my friends who flew up from Christchurch last weekend asks me anxiously about Auckland attendees. I fully understand her concern, but our friends are all seriously elderly and most are physically impaired, so I very much doubt they’d go to the casino or a fast-food outlet. Nevertheless, we all have networks of family and friends.

Many of the new cases are young people. Is this a blessing or a curse? More sites of interest will be notified during the day.

The government think they have found the link to the Delta variant of Covid 19 from New South Wales, that being a passenger that flew from Sydney and went into MIQ.  So perhaps MIQ has been breached. There is still no apparent connection to Covid Joe (case 1). There is another MIQ drama, this time at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Some folk who were due to leave have tested positive for Covid 19 on day 12 of their stay, so they’ve been transferred to the Jet Park facility, and no one else is allowed to leave.

It’s positive that there’s lots of testing going on, that all cases detected so far have been in Auckland, and that wastewater testing for the rest of the country (barring Thames and Coromandel) has been negative for Covid 19. Wastewater testing in Auckland thus far correlates with known cases of Covid 19. There are more pop-up testing centres in Auckland. Vaccination is continuing, and will be opened up to 12 – 16-year-olds. If you are booked, and have a young person in your bubble, you can take them along when you get vaccinated.

In Australia, Delta covid is still at large. Victoria had 57 new cases, the ACT 16 cases; Queensland none, again; and NSW, 681.

I listened to Dr John Campbell’s update again today.  He has found it strange that in the US, a Mr Greg Abbott has tested positive for Covid 19, was vaccinated in December last year, and was evidently seen in public not wearing a mask. Ah ha! No one does irony quite like the British. Evidently Abbott was at  a Republican fundraiser event the night before, an event which was mask less and crowded. Evidently he’s receiving Regeneron, the “magic” drug Trump and Giuliani received, apparently made from foetal cells. Yet he signed a drastic law into effect, which is effect bans most pregnancy terminations. He has also banned mask wearing, but apparently schools in Texas are making mask-wearing part of the dress code, to get around this.

In other news, the evacuation from Kabul in Afghanistan continues to dominate. There is a great deal of recrimination, but today perhaps more acknowledgment that the US really needed to get out, and there was no good way to do so. Having said that, it seems a great shame that there wasn’t a better escape plan for the hundreds of Afghani and other nationals who are desperate to leave. What about the rest of Afghanistan, apart from Kabul?  It’s a mountainous country, and hardly well-supplied with good roads.  New Zealand has sent a Hercules military aircraft to assist with evacuations from Bamiyan province.

On The Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel told a very harrowing story about an Afghani translator who was assisted by a US Marine (in the US) to get out of Kabul, together with his wife and four young children. Their journey is by no means over yet, but, last seen, they were on a plane heading out of Kabul. They had lift off – “wheels up”. This was by no means an easy exit. But Zak got out alive, together with his family.

In other news again, the price of oil has dropped from $70 (US) to $64 a barrel.   I’m told this is a good thing.

Today it has been fine, and not too windy. This afternoon we went for a walk, but we didn’t go shopping. Some people wear masks, but not all, although supermarkets are not permitting shoppers not wearing masks. There are lovely photos of my daughter and her house mates at Hohepa, having home-cooked fish and chips with salad by candlelight.

During the day, there hasn’t been much news apart from the 11 new cases of Covid 19 in Auckland. I go to bed (after watching the last episode of The White Lotus, and the first episode of War and Peace (the 2016 BBC series) – like Downton Abbey, but with better costumes. Actually, it’s a much better series, in my view. As I go to bed, I check the local news: in Auckland, students from two large secondary schools have tested positive for Covid 19: one from Northcote College, on Auckland’s North Shore, and one from Lynfield College.

No doubt we’ll hear more tomorrow (which is only Friday, by the way); secondary schools are large places with multiple contacts, as students move from one area to another. The list of places visited will continue to increase. The student at Northcote College was infectious for two days while attending school. Poor Auckland!  This virus must have been circulating out there a week ago, as people were flying to Wellington for our party.  I do hope that no one who was there contracts Covid 19.  No doubt there will be more news tomorrow.  As the PM said today, things are probably going to get worse before they get better. Community cases of Covid 19 are still confined to Auckland.

Down in the South Island, they must think all this anxiety is somewhat ridiculous. The government is going to announce tomorrow next steps with regard to lock downs and Covid 19 levels. I hope we can do stuff and go places again, but I feel very selfish in doing so. I do feel very sorry for the people who are unwell in Auckland, to say nothing of their worried families and friends.

More news tomorrow. Ngā mihi.

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