We were Protected

Live: Burnouts return outside Parliament
The Convoy protest in Wellington has now been joined by motorcyclists. There are fears it may be a “super spreader” event.

Today is Tuesday February 8th, 2022. Kia ora!

Yesterday evening it was reported that four students from Te Mata Primary School in Havelock North have tested positive for Covid 19. Close contacts are being followed up. We had lunch in Havelock North last Thursday!  That is a bit of a gut punch.  Testing rates are expected to be up after the long weekend. Apparently several schools are affected by having infected pupils or staff members. A convoy is progressing to Wellington, from Bluff and Cape Reinga.

Today it’s fine, so that’s good news for the convoy.  I fear that Trumpism is spreading here, as it has too Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, which has called a state of emergency, such havoc the convoy has wreaked.  But here for the most part people are well behaved.

This morning I spent some time with a son and his two pre-school children. Grandpa started teaching the 4 year old how to play chess; I found a Thomas train for my granddaughter. Afterwards, we walked to the local park, where we were the only ones there!

I walked to the local supermarket; then we had lunch. Today there are 202 new community cases of Covid 19, assumed to be omicron; there are 67 at the border. The locations are reported as follows: Northland (17), Auckland (119), Waikato (39), Lakes (4), Bay of Plenty (8), Taranaki (1), Hawke’s Bay (8), Hutt Valley (1), Capital & Coast (4), Nelson Marlborough (1). There are 14 people in hospital.

It’s now Wednesday February 9th.

This morning JD couldn’t take me to hymn singing, and I was too nervous to get an Uber.  Instead I went to have morning tea with two old friends. I used the bus (there was one other passenger), and the train from Johnsonville – it’s not at all crowded, so one feels quite safe on it.

This morning I learnt that a pupil at Mana College in Porirua has tested positive. Later, I learnt that there is a new case in Horowhenua – it’s not saying where, exactly. At 1 pm the new numbers come out: 204 new community cases, and 16 people in hospital (none in Intensive care). There are 46 new cases at the border. It’s reported that of the new cases, there were 135 new cases in Auckland, eight in Northland, 35 in Waikato, two in Lakes, 11 in Bay of Plenty, one in Taranaki, two in MidCentral, three in Wellington, three in Hutt Valley, one in Nelson Marlborough and three in Canterbury. More locations of interest have been published.  Prime Minister Ardern is reported as saying the omicron epidemic is likely to peak in March with up to 30,000 daily cases.  That’s according to some models; it seems a huge number, and late March seems a long way off. We’re all very scared; at least it’s fine and warm, and while it’s a bit sticky here, it isn’t as humid as Auckland (which is reported to be like Fiji). I think that 240-odd cases per day is the highest we’ve gone, so far.

Meanwhile, it’s fine and warm for the convoy, which is evidently causing some traffic problems around the Parliament area in Thorndon. I daren’t go to one of my favourite places: the New World Supermarket there, I certainly don’t want to run into protesters, or people who are anti-vaxx.   It’s said that some tents have been set up in Parliament grounds, and it’s been reported as follows: “Protesters at parliament trespassed by the police”.  Now that statement doesn’t make sense to me: the police may have given them trespass orders, but why not say so, if that’s the case?  There’s a growing police presence there. Neither Prime Minister Ardern nor Luxon will engage with them, but they claim they’re not going anywhere and they’re there for the long haul. Where’s a bone-chilling cold, windy spell (like we had last weekend) when you need one? Offensive language has been used, and some local businesses intimidated. It upsets me that protesters, perhaps following the Canadian convoy in Ottawa, are not, I believe, representative of the larger population; have no respect for others; and have no respect for our government’s amazing attempts (at the government’s expense) to look after us all and keep us safe. No one wants the coronavirus, and it’s been interesting to see how different governments have handled it. The New Zealand government deserves much kudos.

Today I visited a friend for morning tea and lunch, and saw another old friend at her place. It was very enjoyable. I used public transport to get there –  an almost empty bus, where there was one other passenger, and an almost empty train. JD picked me up. I was going to go to Tai Chi at Mana on Thursday, but it would have necessitated using a fairly packed train service between Mana and Wellington, via Porirua, and I cancelled out of this.

Later this afternoon it’s reported that three of the protesters have been arrested. There is a significant police presence. It’s also reported that a student at Pakaranga College has tested positive for Covid 19.

It’s now Thursday February 10th.

This morning I read that police were going to break up the convoy protest in Parliament grounds in Thorndon. There have already been traffic problems in the surrounding streets.  A 17 year old girl was mocked and egged for wearing a mask: evidently her freedom to choose to wear one was not respected.  Some vile language was on display.  This morning, it was reported that 130 arrests had been made; some friends were due to pick me up at 1 pm to go and play Scrabble, so I missed the 1 pm announcement. It was reported this morning that there was a confirmed case in Queenstown, and that the airport there is a location of interest.

Later I caught up with the news. Today’s number of new Covid 19 community cases breaks all records to date: 306! There are 12 people in hospital, but none in Intensive Care. It’s reported that today’s new community cases are in Northland (12), Auckland (216), Waikato (48), Tairāwhiti (4), Bay of Plenty (7), Lakes (6), MidCentral (2), Taranaki (5), Hutt Valley (3) and the Capital and Coast (3). Meanwhile, 30 cases have been detected at the border.

 Later this afternoon it’s reported that there are two cases of Covid 19 in Queenstown.

With regard to the Convoy protest, it’s that there have been 120 arrests, and two policemen have been assaulted; others say they’ll be there for days, but it’s reported that the remnants of a cyclone are coming, and it could be an uncomfortable weekend for protesters. They might wish they’d been nicer to the staff at The Backbencher. Last night there were reports of splintering amongst different factions of the protest, and there was exhortation to “remember why we’re here”.  I haven’t heard from anyone sympathetic to the protesters.  Correction: apparently Rodney Hide is on their side.

There is anecdotal reports that people are reluctant to get tested, fearing that they’ll have to isolate, and their close contacts will have to isolate – this would be very bad for some businesses; but what about their children, their parents, their friends and other vulnerable people? In the UK, Boris Johnson is abandoning the need to isolate if you’re diagnosed with Covid 19! He’s gone from flagrantly breaking the rules to not having any rules!  That is shocking.

The Hon Chris Hipkins has announced a potential reduction in isolation requirements for “essential workers” who are asymptomatic and score negative on RATs.  And on the West Coast, some householders face evacuation again for another heavy rain downpour.

It’s now Friday February 11th.

I had a bad night last night.  Something I’d eaten didn’t work for me, although I’m not sure what. Furthermore, I stubbed a toe, and it was really sore. I’d left my bed with the sheets half-changed, and had to finish making it before I went to bed. We watched the movie French Exit on one of the streaming services, but it wasn’t a very good movie.

This morning someone was due to come from Access to do some housework; JD had an appointment; and someone came to fix the printer, so it was quite a busy morning.  The lady from Access was a bit late coming, and I read on my phone that someone has diagnosed positive for Covid 19 in Dunedin; also someone has diagnosed positive at Petone Central Primary School, and consequently school is closed for two weeks.  New locations of interest are being added all the time, and they include the airport at Queenstown, a restaurant, and several other places. There are cases of Covid 19 in Levin and Shannon.

After 1 pm, the day’s total new community cases total really blows me away: it’s 446!  There are 23 people in hospital, but none in Intensive care. The new cases are reported as follows: Northland (16), Auckland (340), Waikato (48), Bay of Plenty (14), Lakes (13), Taranaki (1), Hutt Valley (7), Capital and Coast (4) and Southern (3). There are 32 new cases at the border.

After lunch, we go shopping. I figure that the New World supermarket at Tawa may be the safest one, but it’s pretty casual there. I read this afternoon that Covid 19 has been detected in Blenheim wastewater; also that locations of interest have been published in Cromwell and Wanaka.

Meanwhile, the convoy protest in Wellington in the grounds of Parliament Buildings continues; continues to block neighbouring streets; swearing continues as frustration continues with businesses closed and people unable to go about their business. Vehicles have been ticketed, and are now being towed away. There is a growing police presence, and some of them are carrying batons, but apparently the protest is growing, despite the police actions. A cold front is sweeping into Wellington – it’s been very hot and sticky, but already the temperature is dropping here, and rain is expected this evening.

Overseas, the Ukraine/Russia crisis is still very much with us.  Putin’s aggrandisement seems very like that of Hitler before World War II, and the Putin-Xi treaty seems eerily like the pact between Hitler and Molotov before the invasion of Poland; thus neutralising Russia.  Meanwhile, we learn more and more about Trump’s efforts to stay on as American president after the November 2020 election.

It’s now Saturday February 12th.

Last night I heard there were Covid 19 infections in Invercargill and Gore. This morning I learnt that more schools are affected: St Patrick’s College at Silverstream, and Martinborough School.  They have closed for a week, or partially closed as pupils and staff are isolating.  It’s reported that far more locations of interest are being published, including several in Queenstown, Lake Tekapo, and some far north locations, including several in Auckland. I guess we just have to get through this somehow.

I don’t know what’s more upsetting: the convoy protests, the letting go of any Covid 19 restrictions in many countries, the imminent invasion of Ukraine, despite many diplomatic efforts, or Trump’s destruction of documents. He had a great deal to hide, and it seems he did it well. In Wellington it’s a bit cooler, and it rained a bit during the night, but it’s not really cold or wet enough to deter convoy protestors.  Today they’ve been joined by motorcyclists, although their aims are still conflicted – peace and love versus threats and actual violence. They’ve brought children, too. How can it be good to teach children that it’s all right to transgress against lawful authority?  There are fears that the convoy protest in Wellington may be a super-spreader event; I feel really sorry for the policemen who are doing their jobs, and have family and friends of their own.  Even under a level 3 or level 4 lockdown, we all have circles of people we interact with. I wonder what the numbers will be like today?

I’ve been listening to a Lawfare podcast about the Convoy protest in Ottawa. It made for very depressing listening. The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, seems to be Missing in Action.  There was plenty of warning that something was planned; now they’ve raised a great deal of money, and it seems they’re not going away any time soon. Someone did sue on account of the noise they’re making, honking their horns, and won the court case! Consequently there’s less noise now. In New Zealand, several businesses are closing because lack of numbers has severely impacted their profitably. Some of them were quite good, too. I’m really sorry that I no longer feel safe to use public transport, as I used to, to get around. I still haven’t got my watch fixed, which is really annoying. Coffee bars, I liked, are also abandoned by me, for the mean time.  We’re not formally locked down, I’m just too scared to go anywhere that I don’t have to, especially after my scary experience of getting a message on my phone to say that a “close contact” had tested positive for Covid 19. I still don’t know who this person was, but the ensuing isolation, testing, and waiting for the test result, and then waiting for clearance, were terrifying. I had far to much time to think of all the people I would need to inform if I had tested positive. I’m very wary now about keeping my distance from any others.

That’s it for now.  Today’s case numbers? Tomorrow’s surprise! Ngā mihi.

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