Still it continues

Today is Sunday February 12th, 2022. Kia ora!

Yesterday there was a record number of new cases of coronavirus, up slightly from yesterday at 454; there are 27 people in hospital, none in Intensive Care. It’s reported that the new community cases are located in: Northland (12), Auckland (294), Waikato (72), Bay of Plenty (23), Lakes (8), Hawke’s Bay (7), MidCentral (5), Taranaki (1), Wellington (5), Hutt Valley (12), Wairarapa (2), Southern (13). There are 8 new cases at the border.

Late last night I learnt that there are 13 new cases of Covid 19 at Auckland Hospital – 7 patients and 6 staff, I think. A staff member became symptomatic tested positive, and then far more people were tested – patients and staff. 

Last night, the weather grew steadily worse, with rain so heavy that we had to turn the sound way up on the television.  I watched Call the Midwife, and then we watched more of a new series we’ve found on Neon – This Way Up. It’s very quirky and well written, and the Irish accents are delightful.

In the morning, the weather is still pretty wild – it’s wet and windy in Wellington, and wild in Auckland too – so much so that they’ve closed the Harbour Bridge in Auckland.  There’ve been power cuts, there and here, and slips, and the police are advising people to stay home if they can.

It must have been very uncomfortable for those camping near Parliament Buildings; horrible music is being blasted from the speakers. Apparently hay is being brought in to combat the mud.  Metlink has sent a message saying the toilets at Wellington Railway Station are closed, because they’ve been vandalised.  Those portaloos must be overflowing now, surely! The New World supermarket in Thorndon was to close 2 hours early yesterday, for the safety of their staff.

This morning I went to church: an oasis of calm and sanity, amidst the awful weather.  I feel for the people who would normally go to St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Molesworth Street: you’d have to be brave to risk going there, today. By midday the weather here is not quite so wild.  Apparently flooding has blocked Holloway Road in the Aro Valley. Some state highways are closed.  But the protesters in Parliament grounds are dancing in the rain. I’m glad to be safe, dry and warm! There’s a power outage in Tawa, but not where I live.

The Covid 19 news, when it comes, is shocking: 810 new cases of Covid 19, and 32 people in hospital. There are 18 cases at the border. It’s reported that the new community cases are located across the country: Northland (13), Auckland (623), Waikato (81), Bay of Plenty (11), Lakes (11), Hawke’s Bay (8), MidCentral (3), Whanganui (6), Taranaki (5), Tairawhiti (3), Wellington (15), Hutt Valley (10), Nelson Marlborough (2), Canterbury (3), South Canterbury (2), Southern (14). Wellington – 15 new cases! People are now urged to get tested only if they have symptoms. I check the MOH website for newly added Wellington locations of interest, but there are none, so far.

Later this afternoon it’s reported that there are faeces in the grounds where the protesters are camped. It’s also reported that the police are afraid that there are far-right elements there, who may be armed – with baseball bats (or worse).  I listened to another American podcast this afternoon, where discussion of the protests in Ottawa and other capital cities makes me very afraid.

I heard that a student at one of the Halls of Residence at Canterbury University has tested positive; also a pupil at a Dunedin primary school.  Evidently someone at a hostel has tested positive, and consequently all residents are regarded as “close contacts”, and consequently have to isolate. They are not best pleased.  I wouldn’t be either! 

It’s now Monday February 14th, Valentine’s Day.  It’s a big thing in the US.

This morning I learnt that the Cubadupa Festival has been cancelled; also that Prime Minister Ardern has been asked to give the graduation address at Harvard – a “liberal enclave” of Boston. Ha-ha! It’s still a very highly regarded university, and it’s a huge honour to be asked to speak there.

The protesters in Parliament grounds are not daunted by the weekend’s very bad weather, as the rest of the country tidies up, moving fallen trees, opening roads and highways, and presumably moving people back who had to evacuate from their homes. One hopes the power is on again.  The Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard, has tried turning water sprinklers onto the protesters (before the rain came), and playing awful music over the loudspeakers. The police have publicly taken issue with these approaches. They are concerned, as are many of us, that people have brought children to this protest.  I get an email from Metlink this morning telling me that the restrooms at Wellington Railway Station are still unavailable. Concern is expressed again about unsanitary conditions at the protest.  I send an apology for my Tai Chi class this morning; I am due to see the orthoptist at the Terrace Eye Centre tomorrow morning. They have sent me many text messages; they want me to ring and tell them mu vaccination status; they also require me to show my vaccine pass tomorrow. Well, I’m not going to do both. I wonder if they have payWave yet?  Last time I went, they said they’d email the receipt. They did not, I had to ask for it, and there wasn’t even an apology!

There’s been a mandated increase in the minimum wage to $21.50 per hour. This is reported as being a “slap in the face”. To whom, I wonder? Is it too much for business, and not enough for workers?

With regard to the protest, there have been several medical incidents, but as yet no one has diagnosed positive for Covid 19. One woman had a “cardiac event” (presumably a heart attack), and had to be stretchered out because the ambulance couldn’t get to her.

In late morning we went into the city to get my watch fixed. JD decided to take the Thorndon exit from the motorway, which I thought very unwise, but there were no traffic problems at all. There’s quite a bit of traffic, but we found a carpark; I’d estimate probably over 80% of people are wearing masks. We dropped my watch off, and went to a café for lunch: we both had herb, cheese and mushroom omelettes. We had to show our vaccine passes to be served. After we’d eaten, we still needed to wait a few more minutes for my watch; it’s awkward when you don’t really want to go into any shops!

While we are eating, I learn today’s new case numbers: 981!  There are 39 people in hospital, still no-one in Intensive Care, and 25 cases at the border. Apparently Central Hawkes Bay (that would be Waipawa; it also includes Waipukurau and Porangahau) has its first confirmed case of Covid 19, although Hawkes Bay has several. Of the community cases, it’s reported that 768 are in Auckland, 21 in Northland, 82 in Waikato, 23 in Bay of Plenty, 12 in Lakes, five in Hawke’s Bay, five in MidCentral, one in Taranaki, six in Tairāwhiti, 12 in Wairarapa, six in Wellington, 14 in Hutt Valley, two in Nelson Marlborough, four in Canterbury, one in South Canterbury and 19 in Southern. It’s great to have my watch going again.

The protesters in Parliament grounds have evidently settled in for another week, despite the weekend’s wild weather. Apparently they vandalised the toilets at the wellington Railway Station: that doesn’t come as a surprise. There is criticism being flung about as to what the correct strategy might be to move them; who knows?  Tama Iti decided this protest wasn’t for him, he told National Radio’s Susie Fergusson.  Police have said they will start towing vehicles from 6:30 pm this evening, and have invited protesters to move them voluntarily before that: evidently parking is available at the nearby Sky Stadium. I watched a video tour of the site from a NZ Herald website, and I must say it seemed peaceful; there were several flags, mainly New Zealand’s, although I saw one Maple Leaf flag, and I did not see a single MAGA cap. 

New Zealand is to move to Phase 2 of the Covid response phase at midnight tomorrow night. This means: self-isolation requirements drop from 10 days to 7 days; it also activates a close contact exemption scheme. It also means the following: asymptomatic, vaccinated close contacts can keep going to work instead of self-isolating, Prime Minister Ardern said. Businesses signing up to an essential workforce scheme will be eligible for some free rapid antigen tests. While many cases will still be diagnosed by the more familiar PCR test, rapid tests will become more widely used, the PM said.  Dr Bloomfield said that Bluetooth notifications would be used less. 

It’s now Wednesday February 15th.

This morning I have another appointment with the orthoptist at The Terrace Eye Centre. They are very careful there, although the orthoptist is running a but late and there are several people in the small waiting room. They still don’t have payWave, but I don’t have to pay, so that’s good. Afterwards I go down to Lambton Quay. It’s interesting how people define a metre – or perhaps they don’t. I think you should keep two metres from another person indoors, or one metre outdoors; not zero metres!  I don’t want to get pinged again. There is an article in the NZ Herald about Bluetooth notifications, but I can’t read it without paying. Grr!  How mean is that?

In Florence (Firenze), Italy, rich people are being called on to pay utility bills for struggling pensioners, in a very altruistic bid. I remember that during one of the plagues in the Middle Ages the Florentine authorities decided to feed everyone – quite well, too, in a true bid of kindness. Methinks the world could do with far more of that.

In the UK, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has tested positive for Covid 19. Putin in moving more troops to the border with Ukraine. Why would he threaten, if he doesn’t plan to attack?  We are all on edge. Meanwhile, Putin and China’s Xi are grinning over their cooperation.  That’s not trustworthy behaviour, on either side.

The Covid 19 news here isn’t great, either. Last night it was reported that 164 schools, kura and ECE facilities, most of them in Auckland, have been affected by Covid 19 and are closed or partially closed. Two schools in the Wairarapa are affected, and a student at Onslow College has tested positive.

Today there are 774 new cases of Covid 19 – less than yesterday or the day before. Evidently about 5% of tests are positive for Covid 19. There are 40 people in hospital, (none of them in Intensive Care), and 19 new cases at the border. It’s reported that of the new cases, there are 535 in Auckland, 43 in Northland, 69 in Waikato, eight in Bay of Plenty, 10 in Lakes, one in Hawke’s Bay, six in MidCentral, two in Taranaki, seven in Tairāwhiti, one in Wairarapa, five in Capital and Coast, one in Hutt Valley, nine in Nelson Marlborough, nine in Canterbury and 30 in Southern (sic).  It’s reported that Queenstown will be “dead” by Friday – it’s true there are many “locations of interest” there. On the other hand, there are alarmingly few in the Wellington area. I find that concerning.  It’s as though one lives in two worlds: I was in the city again today, and there are quite a few people around; out in the suburbs where I live, we’re all terrified.  We have been, and continue to be, terrified. What am I looking forward to?  Being able to do regular stuff again, like using public transport, or going to a movie.

The protest in Parliament grounds continues.  The police’s offer of free parking under the Sky Stadium (it’s usually really expensive) has not been taken up. Nearby residents are fed up, and they’re not the only ones!  While there is a right to protest, having a bus driver spat on, and neighbours threatened, is just not on. Fears have been expressed of a gastro bug caused by the unsanitary conditions. The protesters claim this won’t happen, but it’s evident that they don’t speak with one voice; they are united in refusing to move, however. Where do they charge their phones? Go to the toilet? Wash and shower?  Do their laundry? One wonders. It must be getting a bit “high”, one thinks. The NZ Herald advertises (in a red headline banner) that they have some answers to these questions, but when I click on this, I find again, that have to pay to read the story.

Well that’s probably enough for now.  It seems crazy to me that while restrictions are being relaxed in favour of more individual responsibility, the protesters in Parliament grounds are still there, settled in, and causing all kinds of distress to people who would want to shop there, take the bus there, and go about their business – while trying to stay safe.  More news tomorrow. Ngā mihi.

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