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Today is Friday August 20th, 2021, third day of our snap level 4 lockdown. Kia ora. My home help has been cancelled, which is hardly surprising.

This morning my computer is going very slowly indeed. I’m typing this in Word, but it’s taken ages for Word to open. Fortunately I have the news on my phone. My computer is not multi-tasking at present.

There’s lots of news this morning. Don’t get bored yet! We may be in for a long haul, back to the anxieties of March 2020, when New Zealand was subsumed by a rash of cases of Covid 19. I remember chafing at restrictions, and then being thankful for them. You just have to get into a different gear. Once again, I am thankful not to have young children, or active teenagers, or even a boarder at home.

Early this morning I learnt more news. The school pupils at Northcote and Lynfield Colleges were part of the community cluster; but their close contacts, or even peripheral contacts, are all regarded as being at risk; think of their families, too, their sports, and whatever transport they may have used.

Also I learnt early this morning that someone has tested positive (22nd community case) who went to the Emergency Room at North Shore Hospital, and then went to Waitakere Hospital. Consequently the Emergency Room at North Shore Hospital has been closed, begging the question: if you are sick, where do you go?  Auckland is huge, covering a large distance. We also learnt that a staff member at Auckland’s NZ Post Mail Centre in Highbrook has tested positive.

Then at 11 am the stuff website announced that there are probably 2-3 cases of Covid 19 in Wellington. The new totals are to be announced at the 1 pm news briefing, where the “Dynamic Duo” are set for another series of their rather absorbing reality show.  That’s absorbing, of course, if you’re safely out of contention for having the coronavirus. But it’s getting closer and closer. Wellington! That’s scary.

My cousin just rang from her home in Seatoun. She says that the new cases are not yet confirmed, but are thought to be in Miramar and Johnsonville. That is getting very close to our homes, seeing that I live in Churton Park.  Apparently the Government’s decision about lockdowns is set to be announced at 3 pm. My computer is still playing up. I’ve had to create a new document, and I can’t look at any other site. I can’t reboot, either. My computer’s time is stuck on 11:06 am.

Testing and vaccinations are to be ramped up in Wellington. I’m due to get my second jab next Monday – in Johnsonville. Cheers for that! I should have stuck to Plan A, which was to have Jab 2 last Tuesday. Then, on the other hand, I might have picked up Covid, given that stricter protocols weren’t in place. At midday the NZ Herald reports that there are at least 30 cases of Covid in the community, including in Wellington, and that the lockdown is to be extended. Well, frankly, I’d now be upset if it weren’t. In Auckland, 5 vaccination centres have been closed and the staff directed to help at overrun testing sites. There are reports of people frustrated at having to queue for testing, but hey, they’re in their cars, they can listen to the radio or spend time with their phone, and when did traffic in Auckland ever not have to queue? Dr Bloomfield always expresses confidence that everything can be taken care of, and expresses amazement that this may not be so in reality (“Oh, is that right? I haven’t heard that”).

In Australia, 55 new cases have been reported in Victoria (that’s slightly down from 57 yesterday). Our local situation, together with what’s happening across the Tasman Sea, has distracted us from the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan. It’s later reported that NSW recorded 642 (644 according to The Guardian newspaper)  new cases, and four deaths.

As it turned out, there was no “presser” (as the Americans call them) at 1 pm, but there will be one at 3 pm.  Instead, there was to be an announcement from the Ministry of Health at 1 pm, which eventually turned up. It confirmed that there are in fact three new cases of Covid 19 in Wellington, and 8 in Auckland, bringing today’s released total to 11 (the same as yesterday). It turns out that of the Wellington cases, two of them are in the same household, and the three of them all went to Auckland, to a location of interest (the casino, perhaps?)  I only ever visited the casinos at Christchurch, Auckland and Nice once, and found them to be desperately sad places.

I think that’s all we know about the new Wellington cases, at this stage. Oh, and by the way, Sir Michael Cullen has died of cancer, at 78. He just had a memoir published. He was a great statesman and Minister of Finance, and his skills are sorely missed. I reflect on this loss. Isn’t it strange how, during lockdown and a time of fear, one gets lazier and hungrier. I will have to go shopping again sometime soon.

My eldest grandson has told us what he’d  like for his birthday, and I’ve ordered these things online. I was going to wait for the 3 pm press conference, but given that there are confirmed cases in Wellington, I doubt that our lockdown will be lifted just yet. I fear the presents won’t come in time for his birthday – I wish I’d got them last Tuesday before we knew this dreadful news.

We just had the 3 pm press conference. Once again, I marvel at Prime Minister Ardern’s ability to communicate without showing any frustration with some of the journalists’ rather silly questions. With Dr Bloomfield, she performs very well, with the right amount of gratitude, information, and a “please be sensible” attitude.

The whole of New Zealand is to stay at Level 4 until midnight on Tuesday. There will be a press conference on Monday to indicate which areas, if any, might go to a lower level. Today, there are again 11 new community cases, this time 8 in Auckland and 3 in Wellington. These three (two of them are in the same “bubble”) all visited Auckland, two of them flying back, and the other driving, visiting four (!) petrol stations en route, and cafés, etc. Locations of interest are to be advised on the Ministry of Health website. Of course, as the PM pointed out, the sites have to be notified first, before they are published. So that’s that, then. No movies, no church on Sunday, no cafés.  Severe boredom continues.

It turns out that one Wellington person went to an Awards dinner in Auckland at the Spark Arena held on August 12, That does seem rather a long time ago, although, of course, many would have been there.

A local location of interest has also been published: a sushi shop in Porirua – One Sushi at North City Porirua’s Food Court on Tuesday August 17. Oh dear, you think you’re safe, but perhaps not so safe.

I listened to the Rachel Maddow Show. In the US, three senators have tested positive for Covid 19: Roger Wicker, Angus King, and John Hickenlooper. They had all been vaccinated. Vaccination no longer seems to be the magic bullet that we had hoped for. Countries like Israel which had a high rate of vaccination now have high case numbers and deaths. In Alabama, there is a quite desperate situation with more sick people than the medical system can cope with. More and more young people are getting ill very quickly with Covid 19 than previously. There is genuine fear everywhere about children in schools. On one podcast I listened to, a doctor predicted that this pandemic would be with us for three years. It’s already been almost two: perhaps the end is in sight? Or will this always be with us?

I just received a text advising me that my Monday booking for my second jab has been cancelled, and asking me to book again. I can’t rebook until September 15th, some time away. That is just so annoying! Don’t they know that I have a myriad of medical conditions?

We certainly live in interesting times. Nga mihi.

PS as I get ready to go to bed, there is more news. Several locations of interest in Johnsonville have been named, and I can safely report that we went to none of them. None of them are places I would normally go to, and they’re not in the Shopping Centre. The Countdown supermarket in Johnsonville is the one in Johnsonville Road, not the one in the Johnsonville Shopping Centre, where I sometimes go. An Air NZ flight from Auckland to Wellington between 5 and 6 pm on Sunday August 15 is named; we were at Wellington Airport, having coffee with friends, but they were flying to Auckland; we would have been well out of the Airport before that flight arrived. We were there the next day, however.

There is more news from Auckland, too. An Auckland University student has tested positive, who flew home to Wellington on Wednesday (by which time we were all in lockdown, and I didn’t go anywhere). Students from, two more Auckland Colleges have also tested positive: one from De La Salle College, and one from McAuley High School. Hilary Barry is isolating – she MC’d the big dinner at the Spark Arena last week, where a bar worker has tested positive. There are now over 130 locations of interest, in Auckland, Coromandel, and Wellington. This outbreak has tentacles which spread out wider and wider. I fear that soon there’ll be so many people isolating that there’ll be few left to “man the pumps”, i.e. offer essential services like food, medicines, petrol, vaccines or tests. It is an offence not to self-isolate if you were at one of the locations of interest at the specified time; you’re required to follow the instructions given. Some institutions have already closed, or are open for fewer hours. I’m sure there’ll be more news tomorrow morning. In the meantime, go well, and be at peace.

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