Greatly Inconvenienced

Today is Wednesday February 23rd, 2022. Kia ora!

Actually, it’s still Tuesday. The latest Covid 19 case numbers are being reported, and New Zealand continues to break records, with 2,846 new community cases, and 143 people in hospital, with one person in Intensive Care It’s reported that the new cases were in Northland (36), Auckland (1802), Waikato (285), Bay of Plenty (86), Lakes (19), Hawke’s Bay (25), MidCentral (25), Whanganui (19), Taranaki (26), Tairāwhiti (17), Wairarapa (two), Capital and Coast (84), Hutt Valley (25), Nelson Marlborough (77), Canterbury (105), South Canterbury (four), and Southern (206). Nearly 450 (477 on Monday), with more than half of them in Auckland) schools and ECE’s are “managing cases”. The MOH says the positivity rate for Covid 19 tests is now 11.7%.  It’s taking longer for test results to be processed, so the tally is probably understated. It’s reported that 15 cases have been detected at the border.

On Tuesday afternoon it’s reported that police are taking a slightly more aggressive stance with the protest; they’re now “armed” with riot shields and helmets. I guess if you drive a car at them, and spray them with acid, (after throwing faeces the previous day), there has to be some reaction, no?  Apparently concrete bollards are being moved around the grounds of New Zealand’s Parliament, and there are a number of onlookers – protesters, and Wellingtonians. Will there be a show down? 

Wellington Girls’ College has closed for a few days, not because of Covid 19, but to protect its girls from the protest in the grounds of Parliament. The Victoria University campus near Wellington Railway Station has closed, and its students, albeit they have paid significant fees, have to learn online.

It seemed, last night, that the war of Russia against Ukraine has begun. During the day on Tuesday, Putin recognised the states of Luhansk and Donetsk, and then moved Russian troops in to ensure their security. Since then he has become even more belligerent. He gave a long, angry, ranting speech, where no one dared answer him.  It reminds me of Hitler’s rants, where no-one dared to interrupt the crazy, angry person. It’s fascinating, in a shocking way, how these guys portray themselves as victims – Trump, Hitler, Putin – and yet they have so much (to be thankful for).  I don’t think being thankful, or apologising, is part of their remit.

People have been asking is it war, yet? As former Lieut-Colonel Alexander Vindman says, it’s war when you move your troops into someone else’s country.

Others have distinguished themselves: the UN called an urgent meeting, where the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN gave a press conference: was a very good speaker, amusing, and fast on his feet. President Zelensky also spoke very well. All the diplomatic efforts, it seems, have not dissuaded Putin. Russian-speaking troops in the “break away” provinces have been sent to join Russian troops, leaving their families bewildered.  There are already lines of people departing the conflict that may come. Vladimir, this was quite unnecessary: how could you do this?  The world is already such a sad and dangerous place.

It is now Wednesday, February 23rd.

Last night was weird. I was awakened by a strong earthquake, followed by an even stronger jolt, the sort where one goes to investigate whether there’s any obvious damage. I checked my phone for the stuff and NZ Herald websites, and geonet, but there was no reporting of a sharp quake. The time was 00:46 am – not a good time to be awake.  I put my headphones on and listened to a podcast. Next time I woke up, I checked the websites again. Still no reporting of a strong earthquake. I realise I must have dreamt it!  Then I fell asleep again, and dreamed about telling someone about my experience.  It was very vivid. Perhaps my body shuddered involuntarily, as it sometimes does when I’m trying to go to sleep, when you feel as though you’re falling down a stair, but you’re safe in bed.

This morning I got up early and went to hymn singing. We sang in the church, this time, rather than in the organ loft. It was lovely, as always, although quite warm, and hard to sing with a mask on. Afterwards, rather than having morning tea at one of the nice cafés nearby, I bought a cheese scone and a date scone to take home. JD picked me up, and we had coffee and warmed scones at home.  There are very few people about, where I went.

I’m now catching up on today’s news. With regard to the Wellington protest, the Dompost has a big heading on the front page, Thanking the police for keeping us safe. Huh.  Evidently the students at Wellington Girls’ College and at the local Victoria University campus did not feel safe. I wonder if would-be church-goers feel safe?  I don’t feel safe to shop at the New World Supermarket in Thorndon, if people aren’t wearing masks. The mayor of Wellington, Andy Foster, has spoken to some of the protesters, unlike most politicians. He’s being thrown plenty of shade for this: “He won’t be mayor much longer”, said Nicola Young; I don’t agree with her about many things, but I do about this.  It’s said that the head of one gang has joined the protest; I’m sure there are many disparate elements here:  while many protesters are peaceful, some certainly aren’t, as is evinced by swearing at police and mask wearers, throwing faeces, and generally unlawful and unpleasant behaviour. It’s not at all endearing. Goodness, the present “red light” restrictions aren’t arduous; but the protest creates a host of difficulties, while we’re all just trying to stay safe. Ambulances won’t go to the protest site now, a carefully taken decision – they don’t want to be abused, and who can blame them? It’s said that some people have quietly left the protest, while others have joined it. I guess it remains a really annoying situation, and the police seem determined to handle it with kid gloves., despite the appearance of riot shields and helmets, and some more concrete bollards yesterday. Of course the far more important issue is the war in Ukraine, with potential escalation, and use of nuclear weapons. The poor people of Ukraine! I wanted to go there.  I guess it’ll join other countries, like Turkey, on my no-go list.

I say again, we’re not under war-time restrictions, like rationing, although this is a bit like a war; we’re not being bombed in our beds, like the people of Syria were; we’re not afraid of nuclear radiation, we’re not currently experiencing extremes of hot and cold, or fire or flooding; and people with Covid 19 don’t have bodily emissions: they don’t bleed, or have sores, or vomiting or diarrhoea. We have an amazing vaccine, too, developed quickly, which prevents extreme illness and death in most people. There is still much to be thankful for. Get a grip, people!

Today’s Covid 19 report is out. There are 3,297 (yesterday 2,486) new community cases (bearing in mind that it can take up to 5 days to get test results), and 179 people in hospital, with one person in Intensive Care. It’s reported that of today’s community cases, 1729 are in Auckland. The other cases are across Northland (40), Waikato (297), Bay of Plenty (157), Lakes (54), Hawke’s Bay (18), MidCentral (56), Whanganui (5), Taranaki (30), Tairāwhiti (16), Wairarapa (16), Capital and Coast (123), Hutt Valley (28), Nelson Marlborough (85), Canterbury (176), South Canterbury (7), the Southern (455) region and the West Coast (3). At the border, eight Covid-19 cases have been detected. Prime Minister Ardern says we’re getting closer to Phase 3 of the government’s response. What does that mean? I think Phase 3 means more use of RATs (Rapid Antigen Testing), a different definition of “close contact”, and ? It’s not easy to find out.

Regarding Putin’s attacks on Ukraine, some quite serious sanctions have been applied, and there is remarkable unity between the US and its NATO allies, including Germany. I won’t go into details here. It’s thought Bojo in the UK may be compromised because of his links to wealthy Russian oligarchs, and Russian donors to the Tory Party.

Locally, another Thorndon school has closed, not because of Covid 19, but because of the protest. They haven’t said which school. The Reserve Bank has raised the OCR by 25 basis points to 1.00 %. That was not unexpected.   There is a case of Covid 19 at Hōhepa; a staff member at one of the houses in Clive has been diagnosed positive. I guess it had to happen sooner or later. They are using RAT’s to test residents of that house, and getting good public health support.

Prime Minister Ardern has clarified what phase 3 will mean: at phase 3, the length of isolation remains the same but the definitions of who is a close contact changes. Only household contacts, or “household-like” contacts, will need to isolate for seven days. People with Covid-19 will still need to isolate for 10 days. The biggest change at phase 3 will be the change to contact tracing and testing regimes.

Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall​ said that at phase 3, those with Covid-19 should be able to personally notify their close contacts. She said there would also be greater reliance on self-service testing, rapid antigen testing and technology to identify “high risk contacts” and to self-report infections. The focus at phase 3 was “self-management” of Covid-19, with Government support for those identified as high risk, in need of medical care, or unable to use technology. “There will be continued support for those members of our community who are not digitally enabled,” she said. How will they be located, I wonder?

At 5:30 pm the NZ Herald reports that at least two of the protesters in parliament grounds have tested positive for Covid 19. They’ve been asked to isolate. It’s thought these folk may have been arrested, and subsequently tested.  The concrete blocks brought in by police are preventing rubbish collection and emptying of portaloos. Dear me, that’s very inconvenient.

You’re on your own, now, guys! Free to take most risks, as long as you wear a mask and have a vaccine pass (which may or may not be valid). Tomorrow morning I plan to go to Tai chi. In the meantime, Ngā mihi.

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