Summer of Discontent

Where will delta go next? Where will it spend Christmas?

“Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorius summer by this duke of York”, Richard the Third, by William Shakespeare.

My apologies to the Bard.

Today is Tuesday October 19th, 2021. Kia ora!

I didn’t write yesterday. This week I have decided to get out and about more. I went to a Tai Chi session on Saturday afternoon; on Sunday I went to church, and then shopped at a different supermarket.  Yesterday I tried to get a catalogue for the coming Film Festival – I made my way to the Lighthouse Cinema in Wigan Street, but the printed catalogues haven’t arrived yet. The film festival in Auckland has been cancelled, but I understand it’s still on in Wellington later in November. I then walked to the Gordon Harris Art Supply shop and bought a sketch pad, which was rather heavy to carry. I didn’t get any of my other chores done, but came home on the bus. I must admit it’s hard to read on the bus with a mask on. In the Wellington CBD, perhaps 70% of people are wearing masks.

This morning I went out with one of my sons and a granddaughter. We went to a Garden Centre and had coffee, and walked around admiring the plants and the shop there.  It is fine today, but north of Wellington it was quite overcast and very windy.

Yesterday there were 60 new Covid 19 community cases, three in the Waikato and 57 in Auckland. There was a press conference at 4 pm, in which it was said that Auckland would remain at level 3 for two more weeks, while Northland would move to level 2, and Waikato would remain at level 3.

Some experts were calling for an Auckland “circuit-breaker” of moving back to level 4 for a few days, but this was discounted by the government.

Imagine my shock and horror today then, when it was announced at 1 pm that there are 94 new community cases of Covid 19!  Of these, the bulk are under 39 years of age; there are 38 people in hospital, and 5 in ICU.7 cases are in the Waikato, the rest are all in Auckland.  Third Pfizer vaccine shots are advised for those severely immune-compromised. Prime Minster Ardern says that last Saturday’s Vaxathon was an interim step on New Zealand’s vaccine journey, and should not be seen as an end in itself. It’s evident that any loosening of restrictions will be linked to increased vaccination rates. It’s very disappointing to have our highest number yet of community cases.  Covid 19/delta is right across Auckland, evidently.

It’s now Thursday October 21st. I didn’t write yesterday, but there were 102 new community cases of Covid 19.

On Wednesday I went to Tai Chi at the Churton Park Community Centre. It’s very different from what I’m used to, but there were just a handful of us, and I quite enjoyed it. Afterwards, I had lunch at Simmer, where I met some old friends.

This morning I went to singing in Khandallah. There were just four sopranos there!  Thankfully, there were several altos and men – perhaps 12.  I signed them all in, then went to have coffee with a friend. The café we went to was very busy. I couldn’t find my phone, then an old dear couldn’t make her eftpos card work. Thankfully, they have payWave now, and I got myself sorted eventually. It was good to sing in a group again, and to chat with friends.

Today there are 102 new community cases of Covid 19, of which there are 8 in Te Awamutu, and the rest all in Auckland. That’s over 100!  We had shared fears and frustrations before this news was published.  A friend has a son who works for NZQA. They are trying to solve the difficult problem of what to do about this qualification this year. JD and I spoke to a friend in Auckland; he’s fine, but feels for those who are disadvantaged, and schools desperate at the best of times, providing an anchor for their students, and pastoral care. Of course, they’re all closed at present.

South of the Waikato, we are fortunate to be stuck here, and not to have young children at home.  Having said that, it’s still really frustrating not to be able to catch up with loved ones overseas, and not to be able to travel. We know we’re well off, but what happens at Christmas is anybody’s guess. I, for one, would like to see a lower-key Christmas. The birth of the Saviour needs to be the highlight of Christmas, in my view. Thank goodness we don’t have sound of Christmas carols in the supermarkets yet – perhaps they’re waiting until after Labour Weekend, or till November?

It’s now Friday October 22nd.  Today there are 129 new community cases of Covid 19 – 9 in the Waikato, and the rest in Auckland.  The new Kmart store in Napier is a location of interest. In Auckland, it’s been announced that schools i.e. colleges can reopen for older (masked) students – years 11 and 12. People are not very happy about this, many seeing it as a risk.

Prime Minister Ardern has said that lifting of restrictions depends on the three Auckland DHB’s reaching a target of 90% vaccination. A “traffic light” system is envisaged. This afternoon it’s announced that there are now in addition two Covid 19 cases in Northland. This is all not good, and it seems Covid 19/delta is not going away any time soon.

Overseas, there is now concern about variants of the delta variant – one currently known as the “delta plus” variant. Various nations are taking more stringent actions to combat the spread of the coronavirus, whatever the variant. Of my activities, more and more are insisting on vaccination – you don’t have to have it, but you won’t be welcome at many venues if you don’t.

It’s now Saturday October 23rd.  Just before lunchtime I learnt that there’s a positive case in Blenheim, of a person who flew from Rotorua to Blenheim.  The 1 pm statement comes late, but when it does, there are 104 new community cases of Covid 19: 4 in Northland, 8 in Waikato, one in Blenheim, and the rest in Auckland.  So the South Island has been “breached” – there’s now a positive case there, the first for this current run – the first for almost a year.

In the afternoon we had planned to go to the movies, and so we did: we saw the new James Bond film, No Time to Die. Daniel Craig was pretty amazing in it, but Ramy Malek turned in a truly amazing performance, and I hope he gets credited for it. We went to the Penthouse Cinema, and it was pretty empty there. There was no one at the counter when we bought our tickets, and we were well spaced in the theatre. Nobody coughed. Everyone seems quite subdued.  They still don’t have the printed booklet for the Film Festival – it’ll be out on Tuesday, I’m told.

Afterwards, we went to New World supermarket in Thorndon, where I bought pâté, raspberries, bananas, kiwifruit, and salads, resisting other temptations.  They had evidently sold out of doughnuts, which was probably just as well.

It’s now Sunday October 24th.  I went to church this morning; it was very pleasant, my friend was playing the organ, before, during and after the service. Afterwards I bought a brioche for morning tea, and some pizza bread for lunch.

Today there are 80 new community cases of Covid 19. Somehow that doesn’t seem as bad as triple figures. But we really don’t know what’s around the corner for us, what news each day will bring. Will we be plunged suddenly back into lock down? Nobody on earth knows. I feel I should do what I can while I can, and it’s nice for me to have fewer people around – everywhere. The government has yet to announce how one gets a vaccine passport; I’m picking that I’ll need one to travel to Hawkes Bay in future.

Of today’s new cases, 77 are in Auckland, two in Waikato, and one in Northland. 46 of the current cases remain unlinked (as reported by the Ministry of Health, today). Locations of interest in the Marlborough area are published, and residents are encouraged to get tested, even if they only have minor symptoms. Apparently the case in Northland is linked to the four new cases published on Saturday. Apparently the new Blenheim case noted yesterday was unvaccinated.

The media is doing its bit by saying we’re so divided as a nation. I would say ‘twas ever thus, but surely everyone needs to be tolerant.  You certainly don’t want to make matters worse. I feel deeply for Tamaki Makaurau, but in this time of crisis, I tend to focus on my own needs, and those of my family. It won’t do anyone any good if I become ill, either physically or mentally. Thankfully, it’s not my job to lead the country, or make rules for anyone other than myself. The delta variant is advising us to be careful, and to take it seriously, although even when you do, as NZ’s government has done, it feels as though it’s spitting right back at you, and laughing at your efforts.  Covid for Christmas? I guess that depends on vaccination rates. Here’s looking at you, Auckland!   Ngā mihi.

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