This time is different

Today is Sunday August 22, 2021. Kia ora, kia kaha!

This morning we are told that 10,000 New Zealanders are self-isolating, being regarded as contacts of people with a positive diagnosis of Covid 19.  (Actually this number was revised downward during the day, to something closer to 8,600). There are 219  places of interest. I just learnt that a worker at Fisher and Paykel HealthCare (which manufactures certain health care devices), has tested positive for Covid 19.  I attended a service at my local church on zoom, and a family reported that they attended Countdown in Johnsonville at a time of interest, and so are isolating. It’s noteworthy that in the past the Ministry of Health was only worried about what it classified as “close” contacts. Now, if you were at a location when an infected person was there, you are at risk, and you need to ring Health Line on 0800 358 5453, self-isolate, and get advice about when and where to get tested. Even though there are 300 people answering calls, there are significant waits on the line. Actually, that’s encouraging. Kiwis are by and large willing to help. I don’t think we were complacent: you go ahead and do what you can, when you can, with care. I still think it was a good idea to have our party last Saturday evening. Kiwis are compliant in the main about taking care, being kind, taking tests and having the vaccine. Thankfully.

Over the pond, police have had to break up protests against lockdown, the most significant being a protest in Melbourne yesterday. Today’s figures for Australia aren’t out yet (at 11:33 am), which means they’re probably awful (or maybe it’s just Sunday and some Aussies are having a day off).  Meanwhile, their Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, says the Sydney lockdown will be lifted when the vaccination rate reaches 70% ! That seems really stupid, to me. There are reports of Australian school children being really badly affected. How heartless can you be? There is concern about Aboriginal folk, too. I remember that the Delta variant of Covid 19 is thought to have come here from Australia, via MIQ. The Australian government has been very cruel at times, foolish, too, in my view.  Victoria has recorded 65 new cases of the virus, with 21 of them being from Shepparton (which is having a bit of an outbreak). There are no new cases in Queensland. At 1 pm the Guardian reports there are 830 new cases in NSW. There are fears of anti-lockdown protests spreading the virus.

Here Prime Minister Ardern has warned that there are contacts of known Covid 19 cases throughout the South Island.  No cases have been identified yet in the Mainland, but I fear it’s only a matter of time. Once again, there’s no rush. We aren’t going anywhere or doing anything.   I look at the coming week’s appointments in my diary, but I expect that none of them will be happening. 

Evidently Marcus Lush, a radio host, is self-isolating in Bluff after visiting an Auckland “place of interest”.  Kiwis get about, and indeed, why wouldn’t they?

This morning’s paper is filled with appealing travel options around New Zealand – your local Bali – but by the way, we’re under lockdown here, for the entire country.  It’s even scarier to think that there might be infections in the South Island.  Meanwhile, planned events have been cancelled, or put on hold, although you can still buy tickets for Auckland’s Fashion Week August 23 – 29, 2021. Somehow, I don’t think this will be happening. There are reports of people trying to go on holiday, or rent Airbnb accommodation.  While we’ve all tried to support local tourism, this is not the time to do so. Wellington’s celebrated Visa on a plate has been put on hold. I imagine the WOW organisers will be holding their breath, wondering if this can go ahead from 30 September to 15 October this year as planned. It was cancelled last year.

We await the 1 pm news, which will give us more information (and, I hope, not more confusion).

Chris Hipkins and Dr Bloomfield attend the 1 pm Press conference.  There’ll be a 3 pm press conference tomorrow (Monday), at which there should be a decision about remaining in lockdown, with perhaps different statuses for different areas.  Sign-in will become compulsory with the event organiser being responsible for people signing in or scanning the QR code on their mobile phone. There are 21 new cases, although we’re not told where specifically. Some wastewater testing in Wellington at Moa Point has indicated the presence of coronavirus. This outbreak is significant because of the number of large organisations or gatherings involved. The Church of Christ gatherings in Freeman’s Bay are more significant as a location of interest – apparently 7 cases came from there. There are five people in hospital, none in ICU. The cases from the Crowne Plaza Hotel MIQ are considered to be part of the community cluster. We still don’t know if there are any cases in the South Island. Don’t travel unless you have to!  Maintain social distancing!  I’m sure that my upbringing in a very strict religious group has prepared me well for this. There’s plenty of vaccine, it’s still arriving regularly. You can have a six-week gap between jabs.  There is some confusion over numbers of new cases in Wellington. Apparently there are 20 new cases in Auckland and one in Wellington. The Wellington case was reported on Saturday evening, but added to Sunday’s (today’s) total, bringing the total number of cases in Wellington to six.  It’s confusing but it seems that the Wellington cases are connected to each other, after Auckland exposure, and are not seemingly random like many of the Auckland ones, popping up at quite disparate locations in Auckland.  That’s a relief.

JD’s family in Australia want to have a phone get-together this afternoon. In my experience, these can be rather frustrating link ups, but I’m prepared to give this a go. Actually some of us hooked up, and had a great chat. One of my sons rang, and we had a good talk. He is enjoying lockdown! So that’s a relief.

Late-afternoon there are reports that a third AUT (Auckland University of Technology) student has tested positive (I didn’t know there’d been a second).  Let’s hope that future cases are limited to the known locations of interest in Auckland. From now on, it’s compulsory to sign in to any location, or to scan the QR code. This makes good sense. Some adjustments have been made, and I think the government’s response has been quite amazing. We only found out that there was an infected case in the community on Tuesday afternoon, August 17th! That’s not even a week ago! Now almost 10,000 people are isolating, and there are many locations of interest. The list is growing – as at Sunday afternoon it was 280. It’s very helpful to be able to access this easily, and to have the dates and times affected.

Some Countdown supermarkets have closed in order to do a “deep clean”, whatever that means. 

Some lovely photos of our party have come through. That’s a big thrill, I worried that we wouldn’t have a photographic record of it.

I’m pleased we celebrated while we could. That’s it for today. Ngā mihi.

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