Once more, with Feeling

Today is Monday August 23rd, 2021. Kia ora, kia kaha.

This morning, early, there was an alert on my phone saying that a contractor who works at two Weta Workshops sites in Miramar had tested positive. Later, this news was withdrawn. It’s not beyond the Stuff website to stuff up, sometimes.  Meanwhile, in Auckland experts are looking at three people who used the walkway next to the Crowne Plaza Hotel’s exercise area (the Crowne Plaza Hotel is a designated MIQ spot). A Gym, a doctor’s rooms, and several KFC outlets, and a Taco Bell outlet are now locations of interest – they now number over 300.

There was a secretive political meeting in Auckland last Wednesday evening, about mass hysteria; this is thought to be a far-right group), which of course, broke the rules about staying home and limiting exposure.  There’ve also been an armed incident on the North Show, and very sadly, a child run over in a driveway. In Wellington, the Grand Mercure Hotel has now been converted to a quarantine-only facility (it was previously an isolation facility, although the language is confusing here – some overseas travelers isolated here, before entering the community. Now it is equivalent to Auckland’s Jet Park facility near Auckland Airport, where you go if you have been diagnosed with Covid 19. One wonders how the health system is coping, but they are managing record numbers of tests and vaccinations. There’ve been some stupid violations of the level 4 lockdown, but no large protests, and people seem quite ready to dob in transgressors to the police. We’re all pretty well-behaved here.

In Australia, the NZ Herald reports that NSW has 830 new cases and three deaths, and Victoria 65 (later reported as 71). That’s their news so far today.  There have been really violent protests against lockdown; on the other hand, state governors are upset with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that Sydney’s lockdown will be lifted when vaccination rates reach 70%. That’s a totally misleading statement, of course, seeing you can’t vaccinate children under 12, and it will take a while to vaccinate 12-16 year olds, especially in hard to reach places. The distances in Australia are vast.  In Sydney, a number of churchgoers have been fined after attending a service against the rules.  That’s a big contrast to reactions in the US, which would hold that religious freedom (for some) is the most important thing (for some). Over the weekend 204 children between 0 and 9 years were diagnosed with the virus in Sydney.

The press yesterday were, I thought, quite vicious in their attacks on the Labour Government. Of course there is the occasional stuff up, but I think they’ve adapted their practices very well to cope with the present situation. There are some saying that NZ’s health system couldn’t cope with a Sydney-like outbreak; well, hopefully it won’t have to! That’s what the current lockdown is all about. I simply cannot see how it is worthwhile to “open things up” so that we can have continuing fear and anxiety for our precious children and grandchildren. We are already on edge, but these restrictions are to keep us all safe. Today there is to be statement at 1 pm (in about ½ an hour), which will presumably include new case numbers, and a press conference at 4 pm to indicate the way forward.  A Guardian columnist has accused Prime Minister Ardern of being arrogant; how so, I wonder?  There is now a note of ridicule, rather than wonder, at NZ going to level 4 lockdown for a single case of Covid 19.  Having seen the consequences of that single case, in less than a week, I consider it a wise decision (as did most Kiwis at the time), I am expecting my Tai Chi class tomorrow morning to be cancelled, but I haven’t received a notice yet.

At 1 pm we are told that there are 35 new cases of Covid 19: two in Wellington, the rest in Auckland; so still none in Coromandel, or the Waikato, or the South Island. There are now 13,000 people considered to be contacts, and a growing list of locations of interest: including the Mobil Service Station in Wellington last Tuesday. We sometimes go there, but not on this day, or at that time. So far, that’s all we know. There’s to be a press conference at 4 pm.

At 4 pm we learn New Zealand’s fate for the next few days. The entire country is to remain at level 4 until midnight on Friday; however Auckland will remain at level 4 until midnight on Tuesday August 31st.  Dr Bloomfield has advised Prime Minister Ardern that parliament should not be recalled  right now; consequently it has been suspended for a week.  Wastewater testing shows evidence of the virus in Auckland and Wellington, but nowhere else, at this stage, although wastewater is being tested around the country. Several contacts of Aucklanders are isolating in the South Island.

Meanwhile, information about the positive cases continues to trickle out, as does the names of new locations of interest. I read that St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland is a location of interest: fortunately our friend goes to St Matthew’s in the City, the big Anglican church. But the Auckland Art Gallery is now a location of interest, as is MacDonald’s’ in New Lynn, where a worker has tested positive.  Four more students at AUT have tested positive; an Auckland Primary School is now a location of interest, as is Green Bay High School. Oh boy, this thing just gets everywhere. There’s still some mystery as to how what is now regarded as the original case from Australia who went into MIQ in the Crowne Plaza Hotel transferred the disease. Nevertheless, most if not all the cases are genomically connected, and are the delta variant of Covid 19.  So I think there’s an acknowledgment that, frustrating as this is, we all need to be extra careful during this trying time.  Although young people are ill, no children are ill yet.

I guess there’ll be no Tai Chi class tomorrow morning – I haven’t been notified of any outdoor classes, so I will probably attend a zoom session instead. It’s my eldest grandson’s birthday tomorrow: this afternoon we dropped off a card which thankfully I’d bought him, and JD found a present for him, since the things he really wanted are on order, and unlikely to arrive any time soon.

I went shopping at New World in Newlands late this afternoon, and actually felt safer there than I did during lockdown last year. I was wearing a mask and rubber gloves; I could scan the QR code on my phone; everyone was masked and dutifully obeying the up/down directions on each aisle. However many shelves were empty, the delicatessen was closed, and I was unable to get raspberries. I was unable to get JD’s Guardian cereal (perhaps they don’t have it any more); in the absence of things I did want too buy, I resisted the urge to buy chocolate snails and other treats, but I did buy a fruit Danish pastry. The checkout operator wiped down the conveyor belt before I unloaded my trolley, and I didn’t feel rushed at all.

Are things getting any better? Every day, the locations of interest come closer: I do hope they don’t affect us directly. Everyday there are more locations of interest in Auckland, but I guess it’s some relief that there are clusters forming, and the new cases are not all completely random. What a lot or worried folk there must be in Auckland, and how they must loathe this whole business. We are all duly warned, and just want this to be over, and for the children to go back to school. This time is different. It’s cold outside, and the days are shorter. We have some food shortages in the shops, although now you can get plenty of masks, rubber gloves, and sanitiser. That’s something to be thankful for.

That’s it for now. Ngā mihi.

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