One in Five

In some places, one in five of us has Covid 19.

It’s now Thursday March 17th, 2022. Kia ora.

I watched Zelensky’s powerful address to Congress, and the accompanying video. Both had me in tears, too. Zelensky invoked Mt Rushmore, Pearl Harbour, the 9/11 attach (in which Americans were powerless), and Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” statement.  President Biden called Putin a war criminal. The Kremlin was quick to respond, saying this is “unforgiveable rhetoric”. Evidently Russian soldiers, misled about the conflict they were fighting, will be shot if they desert. A Fox journalist and a producer have been killed, although Russian state media have been showing clips from Tucker Carlson’s show on the Fox News channel. It seems that of some seriously dangerous places to be at present, Ukraine has to be at the top. It seems that sanctions are really hurting the Russian economy (such as it is); the journalist who spoke out on Russian TV fears for her life, and Putin’s head of security and his deputy (who dared to challenge him at his security conference right before the invasion), are under house arrest. Apparently Russia has seized 500 foreign planes still in Russia: a form of stealing, perhaps? 

We are getting many podcasts and videos reminding us of Putin’s brazen cruelty and readiness to take risks, such as the polonium poisoning of Litvinenko, and the attempted poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. The poisoning of Litvinenko was not only inept, but caused a radiation scare in London. When UK police went to Russia to investigate the crime, recordings of an interview were mysteriously destroyed. The story was played out again, recently, on the British Scandal podcast (all 5 episodes). We’re also reminded of the brutal wars in Chechnya and Syria, as well as Putin’s aggression in Georgia and in the east of Ukraine, when Crimea was taken. He also swung the 2016 presidential election for Trump, and look how that turned out.  Aging white guys (amongst others) are wreaking havoc on the world.  There have been cruel female rulers, but they’re seriously outnumbered by the men (who despise them, by the way, unless they’re their nubile daughter).

On the coronavirus front, it seems the BA2 variant of omicron is wreaking havoc, however the rest of the world is determined to carry on “as normal”. In Germany, the Guardian reports 262,594 new cases, and 293 deaths. People are still dying of coronavirus in Australia, as they do in the US.  I see the price of travel insurance climbing dramatically, as if it weren’t already quite expensive to get comprehensive coverage in the before times, pre-2020. In China, the Guardian reported on March 15 that a total of 3,507 domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms were reported on Monday across more than a dozen provinces and municipalities. Coronavirus continues to devastate Hong Kong. It seems the Chinese vaccine, Sinovac, is not very effective.

Here in New Zealand, our water is not fluoridated, because of sickness. Kenepuru Hospital (north of Wellington) has closed to visitors, after a small group of patients tested positive for Covid 19. They’re closing to all visitors for 3 days while they do more testing. In Wellington Victoria University is footing a $50,000 bill for cleaning up its Pipitea campus. The Hon. Chris Hipkins has tested positive, and, reading between the lines, he’s not feeling great. Meanwhile, our borders are reopening, and hospo businesses are cheering.  Well, perhaps there’s not much Covid 19 in other places, but here in the Wellington area, and in Hawkes Bay, we’re very hard hit. You’d have to be a brave person to see the sights. Cruise liner operators are looking forward to coming here again; I guess, while the photos are beguiling, I should be even more fearful of cruises than I was before. Infections can spread at the best of times, and this ain’t the best of times.

This morning I sent an apology for Tai Chi. I looked at my Access roster last night, and found, to my astonishment, that they’d scheduled someone for today (Thursday!) I’ve told them time and again that Thursdays are no good for me. You’d think it would be on my file. Anyway, I’m off to get my new lenses fitted, and hopefully I’ll be able to see better after this. That will be my brave deed for the day, and I hope to find somewhere in the CBD that will make me a cup of coffee!  Late this afternoon, I’ve booked to join a Q & A with Prime Minister Ardern.  I’m looking forward to that.

Prime Minister Ardern has unveiled a new history syllabus, and says that New Zealand’s traffic light system will be reviewed next week. She also hints that the mandates and vaccine passes may be reviewed too, depending on case numbers and hospitalisations. There is still a desire to protect the health system. In  Auckland, a father of four has died four days after receiving a Covid 19 diagnosis.

Apparently Wellington’s Transmission Gully Motorway will open at the end of March. I honestly don’t know what the rush is, since we have a marvellous expressway around the Waikanae area, ever inching further backwards and forwards. But there we are, the Dompost can say it raised an outcry, and got a response.  The road was a part business/part government entity, authorised by John Key, raising some questions about responsibility; and it’s in quite a dangerous area, with steep slopes, isolation, and some earthquake risk. It’s reported that the transport agency will defer a number of quality assurance tests required under the contract with the road builders, CPB HEB, because it believes the 27-kilometre road is now safe for public use. Use everything here at your own risk! Freedom! You’ve got it. 

Early afternoon we went into town to drop my glasses off to be upgraded with new lenses.  Then we went to Lower Hutt, where we had lunch at Tutaki again. Sadly I dropped by KN95 mask on the floor, and it didn’t seem right to put it on again, so I had to resort to my emergency supply of medical masks.  They feel much less protective! We came back to Wellington, but we still had to wait a while.  The new lenses seem good, thus far.  It was good to be able to drive up Molesworth Street to get onto the motorway north, but there’s still plenty of security visible around Parliament Buildings.

The 1 pm Covid 19 report was a little better than yesterday’s, but it’s clear we’re not “out of the woods” yet. Today there are 19,566 new community cases, and there have been 10 further deaths (including a person in their 30’s). There are 930 people in hospital, and 23 of these are in Intensive Care. It’s reported that of the 10 people who have died, one was from Northland, five were from Auckland, one was from the Bay of Plenty, one was from Hawke’s Bay, and one was from the Hutt Valley. Of these people, one was in their 30s, one was in their 50s, three were in their 70s, two were in their 80s and two were in their 90s. Four were women and were five were men. Demographic information for one person was not yet available.

Yesterday there was a demonstration by a nurse on how to take a RAT test. It looked complicated! It’s also reported that now there have been more than 64,500 cases of Covid 19 in schools, kura, and ECE’s in the last 10 days. This us an increase of 40% from Monday’s total. It’s reported that 1 in 18 Wellingtonians have Covid 19; in the East Cape town of Ruatoria, 22% have Covid 19.

It’s now Friday March 18th.

This morning we went to New World in Thorndon.  There were lots of cars in the carpark, but the store didn’t seem too busy. Everyone is polite. JD is pleased because they have Guardian cereal again!  It hasn’t been stocked for ages; we feared it was gone permanently. On the other hand, I couldn’t find my Sanitarium muesli. But we did find everything we were looking for, except for a potato-topped pie and Black Doris plums. The prices didn’t seem too awful.  Late yesterday afternoon I attended a zoon Q & A session with Prime Minister Ardern. I enjoyed the session, but my two questions didn’t get chosen. I asked about protection for people like my daughter, who’s in care in Napier; I also asked about Labour’s commitment to dealing with issues like child poverty; I feel that treating employees better would help solve a lot of problems created by poverty. If people weren’t anxious about money, I would hope some if not all of them would see that their families have a better standard of living.

Today’s Covid 19 report is still concerning, with 5 further deaths, but there are (only) 14,128 new community cases of Covid 19. There are 943 in hospital and 25 in Intensive Care.  In Auckland Hospital things are particularly difficult, with people queuing to get treated in the ED, and coping with staff sickness. It does seem that people who are double vaccinated and boostered are much less likely to be hospitalised. Frankly, you wouldn’t want to be in hospital, with nurses and doctors under such pressure, and so much communicable disease around.

With regard to the conflict in Ukraine, there were hopes yesterday of a peace settlement; perhaps false hopes. Putin gave an alarming speech yesterday, talking about “scum”.  I listened to a bulwark podcast this morning which gave me a lot of hope, however, about Ukraine’s sabotage efforts, the amount of extra arms and drones being supplied, and Putin’s isolation in his corrupt country, where his armed forces are shown to be not nearly as efficient as he might have hoped, and their equipment isn’t up to much, either. Meanwhile, he’s increasingly paranoid. A theatre where people were sheltering was bombed in Mariupol yesterday, in a cynical move that further shows his complete disregard for human life, be it children or pregnant women. He seems determined to destroy Ukraine; one wonders what his endgame is. He has succeeded in one thing: uniting almost all of the rest of the world against him, and against Russia. Of course the Russian people aren’t all bad, but their leader is a terrible, monstrous autocrat. It seems that Kyiv is not in fact surrounded, given that three EU Prime Ministers were able to travel there by train to visit President Zelensky; Turkey’s Foreign Minister is evidently there today.  Plans to invade 3 other countries nearby have been leaked. The refugee crisis continues, compounded by the difficulty of obtaining visas for Ukrainians who want to go to the UK!  It’s not that UK residents don’t want them, it’s the UK government is very slow about holding interviews for applicants with all the correct documentation!.  I quote from Zelensky’s impassioned speech to the US Congress: “I see no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths”. Ngā mihi.

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