Testing Times

An RAT home testing device

It’s now Tuesday March 22nd, 2022. Kia ora.

It’s now early afternoon on Tuesday. The 1 pm Covid 19 report is out, and it’s pretty dire. There are almost 21,000 (20,907) new community cases reported, (that would be an increase over the last few days), and there have been 15 further deaths, 8 men and 7 women. There are 1,016 people in hospital, and 25 of these are in Intensive Care. It’s reported that of the 15 people who died with Covid, nine were from Auckland, three from Waikato, and three were from Wellington. One of these people was in their 50s, three in their 60s, six in their 70s, and five were in their 80s. That makes 199 deaths from Covid 19. It’s reported that today’s community cases are in Northland (802), Auckland (4291), Waikato (1882), Bay of Plenty (1218), Lakes (594), Hawke’s Bay (1243), MidCentral (954), Whanganui (399), Taranaki (636), Tairāwhiti (382), Wairarapa (323), Capital and Coast (1377), Hutt Valley (808), Nelson Marlborough (683), Canterbury (3,488), South Canterbury (318), Southern (1439) and the West Coast (50). The locations of 20 of today’s reported cases were unknown. There were 34 Covid-19 cases detected at the border.

The 1016 people hospitalised with Covid-19 are at Northland (28), North Shore (170), Middlemore (227), Auckland (210), Waikato (79), Bay of Plenty (39), Lakes (10), Tairāwhiti (4), Hawke’s Bay (43), Taranaki (11), Whanganui (7), MidCentral (19), Hutt Valley (23), Capital and Coast (45), Wairarapa (8), Nelson Marlborough (12), Canterbury (56), South Canterbury (2) and Southern (23) hospitals.

I watch a video of Mehdi Hasan talking about Putin’s philosopher, a man called Ilyin.  He advocated fascism, and was an admirer of the Nazis. I also watched another one in Democracy Now! about a professor seeing great danger in the Russia/ China alliance, finalised during the Beijing Winter Olympics. I am wary of this too, but JD laughs off my fears saying the Chinese economy is in a very bad way.

Last night I watched another episode of The Gilded Age on Neon. Those dresses and bustles must be so uncomfortable, and the hats are ridiculous, the wealth is obscene, but the atmospheres are dark, and it’s fascinating in a morbid kind of way. I did see one overweight woman in last night’s episode. How “fashion” must have been extremely uncomfortable, at times. All this time people in the South were owning slaves, and treating them very poorly, in most instances.

There was an alarming thunderstorm – first in the early evening, then there was a break, and then another storm. It was quite warm during the night.

It’s now Wednesday March 23rd.

I got up early this morning and went to Hymn singing. It was great, as always: we sang “How Sweet the Name of Jesus sounds” (a hymn I remember asking for when we first sang again after coming out of the first lockdown in 2020), and “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken”, another of my favourites. I found out that while we were told that someone had diagnosed positive with Covid 19 after the Sunday service on Sunday March 13, apparently another couple caught Covid 19 from that person. The organist and I agreed that we wouldn’t mind people knowing if we were positive, so that they could take precautions if they thought they may have been exposed. Privacy be damned!  I thought I was “safe” at church.

Afterwards I got a message from the house where my daughter lives saying that her RAT test was negative, as were those of all her house mates. What a relief that it, and a relief that she took the test!  Some refuse, as is their right. You can’t make them. They’re to be tested again on Sunday.

I didn’t sleep very well last night, and listened to lots of podcasts. The Americans are currently obsessed with Biden’s nomination of a black woman to be on the Supreme Court (excuse me, isn’t Clarence Thomas a black man? I suppose that’s different). And how come the Supreme Court makes such major decisions?  They’re also obsessed with the coming mid-term elections, how awful the candidates are, and who’s been endorsed by DJT. Well, their politics is just awful, in my view; meanwhile there’s a terrible war going on, quite needlessly, and they’re arguing about the use of nuclear weapons and how you can’t possible have a no fly zone to guarantee safe passage out of Ukraine.  Meanwhile, Russian troops are in Mariupol, and the Russians have kidnapped 2,389 children from Mariupol.   This is just so terrible! Think of the anguish, of the children, and of their parents!  This is just so cruel!  Those who have it in their power to stop this should do so.  There are voices saying the US is right not to have troops there – when have the US ever helped?  Perhaps in the Korean War in the 1950’s? Perhaps at the end of World War 1 and World War 2 when they finally got involved?  I think we need President Franklin Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease here.  The Americans are not, by and large, heartless people, but they can be very preoccupied with their own affairs. I fear that the US will become less and less relevant to being a force for good in the world. 

Here, things are strange, politically.  There’s Covid 19 (mostly omicron) at large, which makes us all slightly strange – wary, distrustful, and feeling a desperate need to throw caution to the winds and enjoy stuff we’d normally enjoy again.  I fear that I won’t travel again, seeing it’s always an ordeal, and potentially will be even more risky in future. Back in the pre-Covid times, I was scared of catching something, of falling over, vomiting, or otherwise disgracing myself; now we are all older, and more afraid, if that were possible.  Every time we’ve been overseas, something fairly major has happened: in the 1970’s it was the oil crisis and terrorism at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, where a jumbo jet was blown up; in 2008, we came back to a bird-flu scare, which we didn’t really know about till we were back in New Zealand; in 2016, there had been another spate of terrorist events before we went, and then there was the Brexit referendum; as we were due to leave, there was another incident with a car being used as a weapon in Nice, and a coup in Turkey, forcing airlines to change their flight paths. In 2017 we went to the US and there were three big things: Harvey Weinstein’s arrest, the Las Vegas shootings, and wildfires in California. In New Zealand, the outcome of the general election hung in the balance, and we heard just before we left the US that Winston Peters had decided to go with the Labour Party, and its leader, Jacinda Ardern, would be Prime Minister. It’s always a wild time when we travel, but at least now I don’t have dependent children, and it doesn’t really matter what happens to me.

Politics is so weird here, now.  There are virtually no rules, everyone knows people who are sick; many services and cafés can’t operate because so many of their staff are sick or isolating.  So the protections are mostly gone, and yet Prime Minister Ardern and the Labour Party are struggling in the polls against the likes of Christopher Luxon and David Seymour. Really?  I cannot see either of those guys as Prime Minister, and I seriously hope neither becomes PM. They’ve called for all restrictions to be relaxed, and they almost are; yet I feel a duty to support Labour, but it’s increasingly difficult, since I (and I suspect many others) really miss feeling protected. Now, it’s everybody for themselves.

Apparently vaccine passes and mandates will go from midnight Monday 4th April.  I struggled to get vaccinated!  Oh, the irony!  What will we do without the kerfuffle of scanning and entering a secret code for my vaccine pass? On, and there’ll be no need to scan. Masks, anyone?

In Ukraine, it’s reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces are increasingly concentrating their air power and artillery on Ukraine’s cities and the civilians living there. Moscow’s invasion has driven nearly 3.5 million people from Ukraine, according to the United Nations, with another 6.5 million displaced inside the country. The UN has confirmed over 900 civilian deaths while saying the real toll is probably much higher. Estimates of Russian deaths vary, but even conservative figures are in the low thousands.

Ukrainian forces are fighting hard in Mariupol.  Hillary Clinton has tested positive for Covid 19. BIden’s wonderful press secretary, Jen Psaki, has tested positive (again!)

I am waiting for today’s Covid 19 report.  Today there are 20,087 new cases, and 11 further deaths. There are 960 people in hospital, and 33 of them are in Intensive Care. There’ve now been 210 deaths. It’s reported that of the 11 deaths reported on Wednesday, two people were from Northland, five from Auckland, one from Bay of Plenty and three from Wellington. Of the 11 deaths reported on Wednesday, two people were from Northland, five from Auckland, one from Bay of Plenty and three from Wellington. It’s reported that the new community cases were in Northland (727), Auckland (4122), Waikato (1726), Bay of Plenty (1290), Lakes (505), Hawke’s Bay (1064), MidCentral (919), Whanganui (388), Taranaki (679), Tairāwhiti (339), Wairarapa (276), Capital & Coast (1259), Hutt Valley (720), Nelson Marlborough (584), Canterbury (3468), South Canterbury (319), Southern (1631), West Coast (56); and 15 in unknown locations.

In Ukraine, the military conflict rages on.  There is news that a Ukrainian town has been retaken. There is fierce fighting, and continuous bombing, in Mariupol. People describe it as “hell on earth”, with no power and no water. The battle for Mariupol continues.  The 2,389 children who were deported to Russia were evidently from an orphanage. That’s still awful, but I guess fewer parents will be agonising over their future now.  There have been desperate scenes of wounded people, children as well as soldiers, and, of course, there’ve been many very sad casualties.  One thinks, in this situation, of the elderly, the inform, the sick, the so-called “feeble minded”, the people who cannot get away, for whom getting to some kind of shelter would be an ordeal in itself.

I listened to Tim Snyder, an historian from Yale University, talking to a BBC interviewer. What he said was depressing. It seemed to me that he argued that Putin’s world view is to distrust the west, always; and tell lies about Ukraine. Then he invades Ukraine. He doesn’t really need to “win” the war there – what is winning, anyway? He’s just going to wreck the place, and hopes to install a puppet regime obedient to Moscow and whatever it dictates. Snyder points out that Ukraine is bearing the brunt of Putin’s cruelty, on our behalf. He also pointed out that totalitarian governments are generally stable, without the inherent messiness of democracy, with its unpredictable (and sometimes hard fought over) elections, and the need for someone to concede defeat. In Putin’s view, that’s why they’re inherently better; no opposition is tolerated. To Putin, the West remains decadent and out to get him, for some reason. Does anyone really want Siberia? (My comment).

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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