OMC (Omicron)

It’s now Monday November 29th. Kia ora!

This morning there’s no new bad news locally, but overseas, it’s a different story. The two covid 19 cases in Sydney, that flew in from South Africa, have been determined to have the new omicron variant of Covid 19.  Thirteen people who came off a flight in the Netherlands are determined to have it. This afternoon, it’s reported to have been detected in Canada (in Ontario, two cases, coning from Nigeria).  For pandemic times, that’s a lot of flying!  One doctor in South Africa reports mild symptoms – severe fatigue and a headache; the rest of the world watches nervously as we wait to see how serious this one will be. There’s a view that the wealthy nations should have chosen to vaccinate the poorer countries, i.e. African nations, where vaccination rates are low; widespread vaccination would have made it less likely for a variant like omicron to develop.

I have forced myself to learn more about this omicron variant. Dr John Campbell has explained it quite well: it seems there are 32 mutations on the spike protein.  There were much fewer on the delta variant.

I go to my last Tai Chi class for the year. Some have brought food; some have stayed away. I am the only person who keeps my mask on, and I don’t stay for the party afterwards.

Today there are 182 new cases of covid 19, and 93 people in hospital, including 10 in Intensive Care. The new community cases are in Auckland (167), Waikato (10), and Northland (5). There is a new case in Nelson, which will be included in tomorrow’s total.

There is a press conference at 4 pm, outlining the country’s move to the traffic light system from Friday December 3rd. The entire South Island will be in Orange. Auckland and a clutch of other regions in the North Island with lower vaccination rates will start at red. Those are: Northland, Taupō, Rotorua lakes districts, Whakatāne, Kawerau, Ōpōtiki, Gisborne, Wairoa, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu Districts. Wellington and Waikato will be Orange.

Thankfully, health officials here are considering the potential impact of the omicron variant being diagnosed here in New Zealand, and whether the borders need to be strengthened as a result. Dr Bloomfield has announced that the Government’s approach was to “keep the virus out for as long as possible in order to learn more”. Changes made so far include limiting travel to New Zealand citizens travelling from nine countries in Southern Africa who then have to spend two weeks in MIQ isolation and quarantine and undergo five tests.

It’s now Tuesday November 30th.  Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

This morning I learn that omicron is moving quickly.  There are six cases in Scotland, and a further two in Sydney. There are also cases in Spain and Sweden. In the US, Dr Fauci said two weeks were needed to assess its potential impact, and what changes should be made, if any. I suspect the cat will be well and truly out of the bag by that time, given the daily announcements of its spread.   Australia is now reconsidering its decision to open up its borders. Many countries have, and continue to impose, travel bans.  Here in New Zealand, as we move to the traffic light system, with some trepidation, the Hon. Grant Robertson has promised some financial relief to Auckland businesses, affected by lockdown since the middle of August.  Meanwhile, omicron is coming here – surely – and we’re still dealing with delta.  The situation changes every day.

In the US, of course, they’ve other fish to fry: Lauren Boebert has made another slur against Representative Ilhan Omar; Marjorie Taylor Greene has railed against Kevin McCarthy, and men are encouraged to be monsters, by Josh Hawley and Madison Cawthorn, whatever that means. Kyle Rittenhouse is being hailed by the right—wing as a hero (the teenager who shot two people dead and wounded a third).  On the animal channel, it’s claimed the Democrats caused omicron, which will somehow help them in next year’s mid-term elections.  Huh?

In New Zealand, two people are contending for leadership of the National Party: Simon Bridges (a previous leader), and Christopher Luxon, formerly CEO of Air NZ and member of an evangelical Church.  I dislike both of them.

In New Zealand, Hohepa is assessing its plans for the future on a daily basis: will some folk go home for Christmas?  How will they travel, and where will they stop on the way? How many staff will be needed – can leave plans be broken?  I know we’re done this before, but it has lost its novelty value.  The uncertainty is unsettling, to say the least.  We plan to go and see our daughter for her birthday – perhaps we should take our own refreshments, instead of stopping somewhere like we normally do. Every day, what is the news overseas? What are the latest numbers here? This Christmas will certainly be memorable. As prime Minister Ardern has said, it’s really hard to plan.

Today there are 134 new cases of Covid 19. There are two new cases in the Nelson area, but these will be included in tomorrow’s tally. Other than, that spread, there’s nothing too alarming here, apart from the number of people in hospital: 89, and 9 in Intensive Care. That’s a new high, I think – no, I’m wrong, Monday’s total was 93, and this is down from that. The new community cases are in Auckland (116), Waikato (eight), Bay of Plenty (nine) and Northland (one).  That total is rather lower than previously, which has to be good news.

This morning I packed a parcel to send overseas.  That’s quite a task, now!  It includes gifts and cards for Christmas, a birthday, and Chinese New Year. It’s reported that many food outlets (including McDonalds) require a vaccine pass to be shown, so I really must download mine – again!

The UK’s Guardian reports that omicron has been detected in “at least” a dozen countries: Portugal and Singapore should be added to the list. Japan has said that only Japanese citizens may enter the country; Israel has closed its border to visitors.  Almost everyone is on the edge of their seat, it seems. Omicron is certainly spreading fast – it won’t be delta for Christmas – it’ll be OMC (omicron). In the UK, masks are now mandatory in most situations.

The UK has shortened time for booster shots of the vaccine to three months after the second shot; here, in New Zealand, you can book a booster shot two months after your second jab – from yesterday, so that’s a relief.

It’s now Wednesday December 1st. There are still no Christmas carols playing, or none that I’ve heard, thus far.

Last night I heard that Japan had recorded its first case of Covid 19/omicron. This morning I learnt that in fact it was in the Netherlands before two South African doctors issued a warning about it.  The US President Biden is saying to be concerned, not alarmed, about it, but suffice to say we are all pretty alarmed already. Last Christmas, vaccines were coming – the great hope!  This Christmas, it’s not just delta we should be afraid of, it’s omicron too. What will its effects be? Who knows.  Most countries are reacting in serious ways to curb travel and movement, and increase vaccination percentages. Will the current vaccines be effective, or do they need tweaking? We don’t know yet.  In the last Sunday Star Times and in the Dompost n Monday Hawkes Bay was advertised as a great holiday destination.  I’m saying – don’t do this! Don’t go there!  What about vulnerable people like my daughter?

We were due to go to Hawkes Bay for my daughter’s birthday, having decided not to go there for Christmas this year, but anyone visiting now needs a negative Covid 19 test beforehand.  Accordingly, JD and I will be tested. He’s been tested once already, before we went to a funeral in Auckland in September last year, and after he’d had a cold.  This is frustrating for us and our family, but totally understandable in the present circumstances.

Today the government announced that children aged 5 to 11 can now be vaccinated from January. I’m sure that will come as a relief to many of us.  Today there are 145 new cases of Covid 19 in the community: There are new cases in Auckland (124), Waikato (14), Bay of Plenty (four) and one new case in Nelson-Tasman region.  A cluster is forming at a Bay of Plenty school, where everyone is a Covid 19 contact. There is a location of interest in Nelson: a brothel!  It’s called Secrets Gentlemen’s Club. I wonder who’d admit to going there.

Apparently Waitangi Day (February 6, 2022) celebrations have been cancelled because of Covid fears.  Evidently Christopher Luxon is anti—abortion., as well as belonging to an evangelical church, and owning 7 (!) properties. He thinks house prices should fall, but not too much.

In the US, there has been a shooting at a school in Detroit, leaving three dead and eight injured.  Mark Meadows, chief of staff to the former guy, is now said to be cooperating with the January 6 Select Committee. Chris Cuomo has been suspended indefinitely from CNN, on account of his involvement with his now disgraced brother, Andrew Cuomo, former Governor of New York, whose sex scandals finally caught up with him. There is great fear that the Supreme Court in the US will in effect overturn the Roe v Wade decision regarding a woman’s right to abortion. Are we going backwards, then?  I dislike abortion, but I think it should be safe and legal, if a woman wants to have one; In my view, anyone having one will have to answer to God; it’s surely a private matter, in which the state doesn’t play a part. I think that folk who are so anti-abortion should see to it that every child’s life (and its mother’s) is worth living. I just cannot understand how people can be anti-abortion and pro-guns. It seems that killing a potential child before birth is a great sin; shooting them afterwards is acceptable if you’re Kyle Rittenhouse. How is that fair or just? The senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy, touched on this in speaking with frustration about this incident, yet another school shooting.

On that note, I’ll post this.  Talk again soon. Ngā mihi.

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