Fear and Shortages

getting tested: if you can

It’s now Saturday March 5th, 2022. Kia ora.

In Wellington, the clean up from the protest continues. Tomorrow, the bus interchange at the Wellington Railway Station reopens. We are all traumatised by having seen so many police in riot gear, seeing a line of police retreating, seeing rocks thrown at police.  This couldn’t be happening here, but it was. The protesters have gone to other places, I don’t know where exactly. But they’re not here. I remember the signs at Cambridge University ordering one not to walk on the lawn. Ha ha! They camped on the lawn in Parliament grounds; it might have been “their” parliament, as it is ours, and is special to all New Zealanders, but it was desecrated by some who had no respect for it.  The ghastly, messy, odoriferous clean up operation proves that. Apparently 5 Dompost journalists who were reporting on the protest have Covid 19. They worked really long hours, too.

Meanwhile, we are battling a coronavirus surge, and hoping that it peaks soon. Hong Kong is in a really bad way; we won’t be like that, surely.  It seems older people there were really hesitant to get the (Chinese – sinovac) vaccine.  We are warned that Covid 19 could be worse for asthmatics; in the autumn, breathing difficulties tend to be worse (mine are, anyway).  Still, it’s fine and warm, not as hot as it was, and we’re getting by, with lots of time now to focus on what’s happening in Ukraine.

I woke up this morning to the news that Shane Warne has died at 52 of a suspected heart attack, at a resort in Thailand. Rod Marsh has died as well, but he was much older at 74.

With regard to the war in Ukraine, misinformation persists.  Putin ended a speech and then got back up to say the war was going really well. It seems there are two main fronts: the one in the East, where Russian troops are having some success; and the one in the West where a stalled convoy of tanks is heading towards Kyiv. Various pundits are having their say, but no one really knows what will happen. What I have learnt so far is that Kyiv may be very hard to take; Putin has blocked Facebook and is giving the Russian people a very different message from what is actually happening, and treating severely anyone who doesn’t comply; that the brave Ukrainians are putting up a brave resistance; and this war could go on for 5 years! 

Zelensky is being called Churchillian; I don’t think that’s a great comparison but he’s an amazing hero (and good looking too).  There may well be issues with supply lines, getting fuel and food to the Russian troops. I listened again to the WHWOMYT podcast, and assessed from that that Kyiv may be really difficult to take; supplies could be a big issue; generals may be disagreeing with Putin about what steps to take; and not all battles are worth winning. There’s talk of Putin besieging Kyiv, (and lots of talk of the Siege of Leningrad, now St Petersburg again) during World War 2. I feel that a lot of discrimination is required when viewing reports of the war.  Americans love good sound bites; there’s a lot of filming of refugees at the moment. One hopes that Zelensky has good generals in charge of his troops, and that they’re making wise decisions. But no question, there’s a terrible amount of death and destruction, along with some rather knee-jerk reactions to what’s happening. Is the US doing enough? Is NATO doing enough?  Will anything dent Putin’s paranoia?  How can one man (for now) hold the world to ransom?  No doubt the president of China is watching carefully. 

Today’s Covid 19 update is released. There are officially 18,833 new community cases of Covid 19, and there’ve been 5 more deaths (two at Middlemore hospital, two at North Shore hospital, and one at Auckland Hospital). They were all older people. There are now 597 people in hospital, including 10 in Intensive Care. More than 9,700 of the new cases are in Auckland. While the total is less than yesterday’s, people are advised to be cautious as we may not have peaked yet. People are asked to report their RAT test results, even if they’re negative. If the test is negative, and you still have symptoms, you’re asked to continue isolating, and take another test when you feel better. We aren’t told yet the locations of the positive cases.

Later on it’s reported that the locations of the new community cases were given as follows: Northland (483), Auckland (9789), Waikato (1575), Bay of Plenty (1222), Lakes (459), Hawke’s Bay (327), MidCentral (417), Whanganui (95), Taranaki (264), Tairāwhiti (153), Wairarapa (94), Capital and Coast (1308), Hutt Valley (576), Nelson Marlborough (258), Canterbury (1170), South Canterbury (57), Southern (558), West Coast (17), and unknown (11). 7 cases were identified at the border.

It’s reported that some protesters set up camp at Remutaka Forest park, but DOC has closed the camping site there. I don’t really want to say roll on, winter, but I’d pick that come June it will be very cold, too cold for camping.

It’s now Sunday March 6th.

Last night I watched footage of Russian equipment being damaged, set on fire, or blown up by Ukrainians and also film of helicopters being shot down. That is heartening, especially against the grim evidence of deadly bombing raids and damage to cities, where power and water is cur off. It hasn’t been two weeks yet, and already there are many disaster zones. Yet things don’t seem to be going as well as expected for the Russians. There was supposed to be safe passage out of the city of Mariupol, but the Russians failed to observe this. Putin has declared that imposition of sanctions is akin to a declaration of war. Everyone is terrified of nuclear war (please say it correctly, it’s pronounced nu-clear not nuc-oo-lar), but there’s also the possibility of using chemical warfare or cyber war, as well as big, dirty nasty cluster or thermobaric bombs.

I went to church this morning, the first Sunday of Lent.  The main message I took away is a saying that Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship with God. It was lovely to go, an oasis of peace and calm amidst all the sorrow and suffering and fear outside.

Today’s Covid 19 report is interesting. The number of new cases is down again, at 15,161, but there are more people in hospital – 618, and 10 are in Intensive Care.  It’s thought we should be careful about this apparent reduction, fearing that many people don’t report a positive RAT test result. There has been another death, of a person who was in hospital for unrelated causes but tested positive for Covid 19.

Sunday’s new cases are in: Northland (382), Auckland (7,226), Waikato (1,334), Bay of Plenty (937), Lakes (434), Hawke’s Bay (336), MidCentral (378), Whanganui (59), Taranaki (239), Tairāwhiti (166), Wairarapa (85), Capital and Coast (1,161), Hutt Valley (648), Nelson Marlborough (233), Canterbury (1,019), South Canterbury (52), Southern (444), West Coast (17); Unknown (11).

It seems all Interislander passenger services have been cancelled for today, Sunday March 6th, because 55 members of staff are off due to having Covid 19 or needing to isolate. In Wellington, there are about 40 anti-mandate protesters outside Government House, calling for Parliament to be dissolved. The Governor-General cannot dissolve Parliament herself.

Now back to Ukraine. Visa and Mastercard have pulled out of operating in Russia, and several media outlets have stopped their journalists reporting there. Evidently some Sky News journalists were shot at. There is conflict over appointing a no-fly zone; everyone else is too frightened to do this for fear of escalating the situation; one wonders though how much worse things are going to get. I find the US “spin” quite frustrating, grateful as I am that this crowd (the Democrats) are now in charge.

It’s now Monday March 7th.

Yesterday afternoon I visited a friend; this morning another friend rang up, I walked up to the local supermarket, and I visited another friend this afternoon, so although lots of activities have been cancelled, I have had lots of social engagement. At the supermarket,, I bought the second to last loaf of Vogel bread. Amazingly, they had cheap raspberries for sale. I wasn’t affected by shortages, although many supermarkets are.

Last night we watched Summer 1993, a Spanish movie on Māori Television, about a girl whose mother dies, and she goes to live with relations. I found it quite absorbing. On Saturday night I watched the final episode of the current series of Call the Midwife, about the aftermath of the terrible train crash.  That was absorbing too, although I know it’s all made up, of course.

Today’s Covid 19 report is mixed. There are reportedly 17,522 new infections (which is no doubt underreported), and 696 people are in hospital – an ever rising toll. Thirteen of them are in Intensive Care.

The location of today’s reported community cases (PCR and RATs) is: Northland (509), Auckland (7,639), Waikato (1,541), Bay of Plenty (1,174), Lakes (475), Hawke’s Bay (435), MidCentral (400), Whanganui (95), Taranaki (311), Tairāwhiti (217), Wairarapa (99), Capital and Coast (1,545), Hutt Valley (837), Nelson Marlborough (329), Canterbury (1,308), South Canterbury (82), Southern (506) and the West Coast (14). The location of six of today’s cases is unknown.

It’s reported that Simon Bridges and his family have Covid 19; now apparently new National Party leader, Christopher Luxon, has tested positive for Covid 19. Now it seems that almost if not every school has someone with Covid 19 or a close contact who is isolating. It’s a very scary time, although people seemed pretty casual up at the supermarket.  They’ve got dividers now for the checkout rolling benches, but I daren’t use one.  The one checkout operator who was on duty did not wipe down the rolling bench between customers. It seems far more results are being picked up by RAT’s than PCR tests, although I understand false negative results are more frequent when RAT’s are used. I can’t get RAT’s up the road here, but apparently you can get them from one of the chemists in Johnsonville. This morning’s newspaper tells me there are several kinds of RATs: you need to follow the instructions carefully. Between incorrect swab taking, mishandling the apparatus, and misreporting of the results, plenty can go wrong. It’s reported that so far 28 people have tested positive for Covid 19 who were at the protest site. There were two large student parties in Christchurch on Saturday night which could be supper-spreader events; gatherings this large are not allowed under the Red light setting (maximum 100 vaccinated persons). Some train services are cancelled due to staff unavailability.  

That’s it for now. Ngā mihi.

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