Everywhere (in Auckland)

Today is Saturday August 21st, 2021. Kia ora, kia kaha!

Today it’s fine, after a very cold start. But it’s nice to have a fine day. Already teddy bears are appearing in people’s windows. Several folk are out walking in the sunshine.

I went shopping early this afternoon, hoping to get bread that I like. And I did – a loaf of Vogel bread, and one of Mohlenberg (I could have got Freya’s Roggenbrot, which I also rather like). The store was quite busy, and the distancing stickers have been put out again. All staff and shoppers were masked.  It is a tad annoying to get everything out of one’s trolley, only to put it back in again. Shopping is really different under lock down: one tends to buy whatever one can, not wanting to go shopping very often at present. I also noticed that, as last year, coffee beans were really scarce, so  I felt fully justified in buying more expensive ones.  I also bought eggs, tinned food, and more toilet paper (yes, I fear we are down to our last half dozen rolls! I wouldn’t want to run out!). We were both hungry, but I didn’t buy a ready-made roll, I felt that was a bit risky. I did buy a sultana scone. It  had been cooked!

There isn’t so much news today. At 1 pm it was reported there were 21 new community cases of covid 19, three in Wellington and 18 in Auckland.  One of the Wellington cases is a student from Auckland who flew to Wellington to be with family, and tested positive. More locations of interest have been published: these presumably include service stations along the way between Auckland and Wellington (in Tokoroa, Waiouru and Bulls); a second student has tested positive from AUT; a dental centre in Glenfield is a location of interest, as are St Pierre’s Sushi at one entrance to the Johnsonville Shopping Centre, a Countdown store in Newtown, and the large Pak’N ’Save store in Kilbirnie. More locations visited by the Miramar case are still to be published.  Meanwhile, there’s not much news as yet about the 21 new community cases The list of locations of interest keeps  growing,  although the Government is now pretty sure that the original Delta case came in through MIQ, and consequently they have taken some early sites off the list. Oh, and one infected student of Auckland University attended a Ball with 500 students present. And the other party celebrating at the Spark Arena in Auckland was Bayleys’ Real Estate. By now thousands of people must be self-isolating, and trying to get a Covid test. Additional testing sites have been set up .Apparently an Auckland  bus driver has now tested positive. That’s hardly surprising. Late on Saturday night I learn that a Sky City employee has tested positive for Covid 19, and a member of the Pukekohe High Scholl staff, as has a student at Western Springs College. This virus certainly gets around. I am thinking of a nephew of ours who lives in Auckland with his wife and three young children. I do hope they’re all right. The other people I know are mostly older folk, who would not get around so much; also, this Delta virus seems to be hitting young people much harder this time; when we had it badly, almost eighteen months ago, it was older people who were mainly affected. All the deaths from the virus in New Zealand were of older folk.

We knew about the Sky City Casino exposure; that a bus driver is infected is hardly surprising, although he was driving in the Onehunga area; a Sky TV worker based at Mt Wellington has been diagnosed positive. There are cases popping up all over Auckland, which is very alarming. The Honourable Grant Robertson warned this morning that things will get worse before they get better, but this is ridiculous!  This virus must spread so easily.  I just hope there are no locations of interest identified where we’ve been there at the date and time specified. I fear for those who came to our party last Saturday night: was it really only a week ago?  It seems like ages now. The warm glow it left has largely worn off.

In Australia, Victoria has recorded 77 new cases; NSW has a whopping 825 new infections. ACT has 8 new cases.  It must get to a point when you have so many cases that contact tracing and location tracking become rather pointless: already people are affected, and are isolating, at 6 large Auckland schools, two universities, the Spark Arena, the Sky City Casino, and several large supermarkets.  When will this peak?

The press today is rather unruly. Commentators have gone from everything’s reasonable and wise to things are terrible and there are many complaints. I realise this is annoying, but for the most part this is being very well managed. If one gets caught up in feeling hard done by, I think you have to be kind and nice and acknowledge that most people are doing their best, be they shop workers or medical staff. It’s anxious and frustrating for them too.  Really, the more we all play our part and behave nicely, the sooner this will be over (one hopes). A few mistakes are bound to be made.

The situation in Afghanistan remains challenging, with harrowing sights at Kabul Airport still, and reports of the Taliban torturing and killing people.  President Biden has made another speech on television, and been accused of not taking enough responsibility, or showing enough empathy. He mentioned in his latest speech that his son Beau (who later died of cancer), served there. That must have been an anxious and terrifying time for him, and his father. From listening to podcasts today, the general view seems to be that the war was unwinnable, lacked a clear objective, and cost a very great deal of taxpayer money; on the other hand, contractors to the military did quite well out of it. Remember when Betsy de Vos’s brother, Erik Prince, wanted to send a private army there? I bet he intended to charge the US government a great deal of money. It seems that Trump and his allies (like Mike Pompeo and Stephen Miller) made several very unsavoury deals with the Taliban, and had thwarted efforts to approve specialist visas for those who had helped the Americans. Biden inherited this mess, and is now being blamed, unfairly to some degree, for it.  It does seem to me, however, that a better effort should have been made to ensure the safe evacuation of those who were entitled to leave Afghanistan.  Evidently helicopters are being used to fly people from some of the more remote areas in Afghanistan to Kabul Airport, also to convey people to the Airport and thus avoid the Taliban-controlled checkpoints. It seems very sad that not only will this be a tragedy for many who wish to leave, but it may cast a blight on Joe Biden’s presidency, as if Delta weren’t doing that already. Joe, we’re rooting for you!  My friends and I! 

That’s it for now. I’m sure there’ll be more sad news tomorrow. Ngā mihi.

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