Borders

Today is Sunday October 10th, 2021. Kia ora. Kia kaha!

Yesterday I did not write.  I took a break, after venting somewhat the previous day.  Yesterday there were 34 new cases of Covid 19; a positive case was discovered in the Bay of Plenty (in Katikati). We are all pretty nervous. Northland is in level 3 lockdown, and the positive case in Northland is thought to have a companion who cannot be found by police. Last night we heard about the positive BOP case; one person is in Palmerston North hospital (presumably a truck driver with an exemption to cross the Auckland border.

On Sunday morning I learnt that a sex worker had travelled from Auckland to Wellington during the Level 4 lockdown. I wouldn’t have thought sex was an essential industry.

Today imagine my dismay on learning that there are – wait for it – 60 (sixty) new cases of Covid 19. Of these, 56 are in Auckland, 3 in the Waikato, and one in the Bay of Plenty.  Waste water tests in Palmerston North have shown presence of the virus. So that’s not good news. The delta variant is still rampant in Auckland, and while we feel for them, just how safe are the rest of us?

I zoomed into a lovely St Anne’s service this morning. They are thinking about discontinuing it, given that they can now attend Mass in person (online registration is required).  But there is a move to keep the zoom sessions going. It’s been very empowering, to have so many take part, and in so many different languages.  It’s very meaningful to say the Lord’s Prayer in Te Reo Maori. Given that we don’t know what will happen, it may be wise to continue these sessions; even though I can rejoin some activities, I may wish to limit my exposure.  As I reminded them, the Good Lord gave us a brain.

They are endeavouring to get people vaccinated in the Newtown area, especially the residents of the various blocks of flats, some of which are owned by the council.  It seems vaccine hesitancy is greatest in the most needy and disadvantaged residents of Aotearoa.

On going to bed, I learn that a staff member at Auckland Hospital has tested positive for Covid 19. I am very apprehensive about this, and about New Zealand’s Covid 19/delta status. We are expecting a press conference on Monday to announce any changes to Covid 19 levels.

There’s great (and justified) outrage about the Facebook whistle-blower’s witness to just how awful and manipulative Facebook is, and some of its viler practices. There’s a very amusing sendup on SNL about this.  The whistle blower is female, well-educated, good looking, blond, and very credible. I am somewhat surprised and distressed that Peter Thiel’s involvement in Facebook has not been mentioned, despite a recent book being published about him: The Contrarian, by Max Chafkin. Its author has been interviewed on two podcasts I’ve listened to recently.  Thiel was the first big donor to Facebook, sits on its board, and is a big supporter of Trump – he was on Trump’s transition team, and Trump has not mocked him. Some would say that he’s Stephen Miller’s evil twin, but richer. There was a recent announcement that Thiel was behind Facebook’s commitment to not fact-checking Trump’s political claims. This information seems relevant to me.

It’s claimed in the press that one country let covid in, that country being Singapore. Nobody willingly lets covid in! C’mon, man!  They may relax restrictions, or throw caution to the winds, as many do, but I cannot think if anyone reckless enough to let covid in. I think all would prefer to be without it. Now Singapore is very different from New Zealand. Whatever comparisons are made, It’s being acknowledged that Prime Minister Ardern and her government and health advisors have some very hard decisions to make. Even Bill Ralston, usually against Labour, acknowledges this. By and large, the press acknowledge this.  The country went to level 4 over one case, before it was confirmed that it was the delta variant of Covid 19. One case! The world’s media thought this was absurd. Yesterday 60 new cases were reported. We are all in trepidation.

Today there are 35 new cases of Covid 19, all in Auckland.  At 4 pm there is another press conference, fronted by Prime Minister Ardern, Dr Bloomfield, and Minister Hipkins. It’s announced that Auckland will remain at level 3 for another week, while Northland and the Waikato will move to level 2 at midnight on Thursday. In Auckland, schools will not reopen next Monday on October 18th, like they will in the rest of the country.  In Auckland, a patient who was on dialysis at Auckland‘s North Shore Hospital has tested positive, and two staff members have subsequently tested positive.  Two staff members at Auckland Hospital have also tested positive, one of them fully vaccinated.

There are weeping new vaccination mandates for those working in the health and education sectors, and also working in the disability sectors, i.e. anyone working with or caring for vulnerable people. These kick in quite soon – by 1st January. This makes good sense, really. Prime Minister Ardern has made it pretty clear that high levels of vaccination are the key to having reduced restrictions.  Once again, she is quite marvellous, and has great control over events. She shows masterful handling of this crisis. As usual, there are questions about vaccination rates among Maori; once again, some of them need a lot of encouragement to trust this treatment.

It’s now Tuesday October 12th.  The media seem to be narrowly favouring Prime Minister Ardern.  David Seymour, leader of the Act Party, favours loosening of restrictions once a target of 90% vaccination is reached. Seriously, does anyone want this guy for Prime Minister? Judith Collins continues to struggle for relevance. The Maori Party claim it would be “modern genocide” to reopen New Zealand amid the covid outbreak. That’s a very serious term to use. In Australia, there are photos of happy Sydneysiders enjoying their new freedoms, now that covid restrictions have been lifted. Victoria is still in the grip of a delta outbreak, despite their lockdown.  Here, we don’t want more deaths, and we certainly don’t want our health system to come under more pressure.  So, frustrating as it is, the PM’s moves seem to be wise, and have a wise reception.

New Zealand police have found the woman they were searching for – in west Auckland! She is now showing symptoms of coronavirus.  It seems that truck drivers and sex workers have spread coronavirus; truck drivers may be essential workers; sex workers more certainly are not. Someone claims in this morning’s newspaper that they should claim the wage subsidy, rather than crossing borders to maintain their income. That’s assuming they’re not breaking government rules under some kind of duress. Evidently the second woman (i.e. the person the police were looking for) has now tested positive for covid 19.  It must be so frustrating for all the law-abiding citizens that these breaches are happening.  Everyone’s frustrated, but it seems that breaking the rules is causing disaster; for Auckland, level 2 is increasingly remote.  The rest of the country is on edge.

Apparently Brian Tamaki, who held a rally in Auckland’s Domain, has pled not guilty to charges against him. Undeterred, he’s planning another rally.

Meanwhile, the MIQ entrance system is literally a lottery. Many people are very frustrated by this, and not just us.  I know of people who genuinely need to come here, or come back here, and they can’t. There’s now a legal challenge to this system, and people are asking how it can be legal to deny New Zealanders the right to come home.

It’s also reported that the Katikati (Bay of Plenty) case has now tested negative for Covid 19.

It seems that approval will soon be given for children over 5 years to be vaccinated.  This is likely to be a thorny issue for parents, in my view.

Today there are 43 new cases, three in the Waikato, the rest all in Auckland. Once again, Prime Minister Ardern and Dr Bloomfield take to the stage to front a press conference. What a great communicator she is!

She announces a blast from the past – a Vaxathon (remember the old Telethons? Back in the day, when there were only two television channels, and there was no social media).  This will be held on Super Saturday (October 16th) on TV Three and Māori television between 12 and 8 pm. 

Of the current cases of Covid 19, there are 34 people in hospital, 5 in intensive care, and one requiring ventilation. All the new Waikato cases are close contacts of existing cases, and were already isolating themselves.

Experts have also called for borders to be strengthened. There are anecdotal reports of people getting through without correct documentation.

I have been watching Scenes from a Marriage, on my own now, since JD can’t stand it. It is a pretty bleak series, to be sure.  I’ve just read the review in the Guardian:  this “uncoupling is all killer, no filler” it says, and I’d have to agree with that. Having said that, I’ve found the series extremely frustrating so far. Right from the beginning this couple did not communicate effectively. Both were struggling, in their way, she probably more than him.  The pregnancy test at the beginning, where his attitude is “you should do whatever’s right for you, and I’ll support you in that” seems to be interpreted by her as he doesn’t really want another child.

It’s so annoying to me that this couple, who both have good jobs, a nice house, and one beautiful daughter, can’t seem to make a go of their marriage.  What’s not to like?  How would you be better off?  Where are the (un)supportive family members and friends?  Who’s advising these guys?  How about some real problems, to deal with, like death, or illness?  I the last episode I watched, Mira has lost her high-paying job, she and her lover have split up, and they failed to make more babies; she seemingly  baulked at infertility treatment. So there are some real problems there, and it seems Mira and her new lover don’t have the fortitude to face them together. I have to admit that this series is very well made, and thought-provoking, but the couple’s inability to communicate, and Mira’s muddled and misunderstanding response, are irritating to me. Does she not understand men at all? I think that I do, a little more than her.

I have had a message about one of my singing groups. To sum it up, everyone must be vaccinated, masks must be worn to enter the Hall, but can be removed for singing, and there’ll be no morning tea; numbers are limited.  I expect the local cafés will receive very good custom.  It’s good that we are allowed to remove masks for singing.

There seems to be a general consensus that Prime Minister Ardern is getting it right. That’s it for today. Ngā mihi.

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