Someone murdered in Bucha, Ukraine

It’s now Monday April 4th, 2022. Kia ora.

This morning I walked up to the local supermarket. It’s fine and warm.  There is still no hand sanitiser in the container at the entry.  The stone fruit is all but gone – there are a few plums, but kiwifruit are back, both green and gold, and mandarins. There are feijoas, at a much more reasonable price, but after watching a woman handle and squeeze each one, I decide not to buy any. I buy strepsils for JD, and I go to buy croissants for lunch, but there are none baked today, so instead I buy Kaiser rolls.  Of course, I buy too much, and it’s quite heavy to carry home. At the supermarket two old dears stand far closer to me than I am comfortable with, while I am waiting for a free checkout, and then while I am at the checkout. They don’t have a trolley, either. I tell the chemist about my recent Covid 19 alert and test recording experience, but she is no help. I make bookings for us to have the flu vaccine, at the Johnsonville Shopping Centre, on Wednesday afternoon.

When I get home, it’s almost time for the 1 pm Covid 19 report.  Today there are 9 deaths, and 10,205 new cases, with 734 people in hospital and 25 in Intensive Care. Of the nine new deaths reported, one person was from Auckland, three were from Waikato, two were from Lakes, two were from the Wellington region, and one was from the Southern region. One person was in their 50s, one was in their 60s, one was in their 70s, two were in their 80s, and four were over 90. There are still 16 people in hospital in Wellington. We’re not told whereabouts the new cases are.

From 11.59pm on Monday there will be no requirement to use My Vaccine Pass, and the vaccine mandates will mostly be eased except for some public and healthcare sector jobs.

From Tuesday some government vaccine mandates for workers will also be removed. Those still covered include health and disability sector workers, including aged-care workers, along with prison staff and border and MIQ workers.

I had an email from Hōhepa, hoping for a Covid 19 update, but the “Good News” subject of the message indicates that they’ve won several awards for their wonderful cheeses.  That’s good news, although I’d be interested to hear how they’re coping with the coronavirus.  New Zealand is to remain in the Red traffic light setting until it’s reviewed again on April 14.

Overseas, the news isn’t good. The UK has coronavirus – now 1/13 people. And there is a new variant XE which is a combination of the BA1 and BA2 variants of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.  Apparently the XE variant is 10% more transmissible.  I think the government here is considering whether adults may need another booster; that would make two jabs to be vaccinated, plus two booster jabs. 

In Shanghai, a city of 25 million people and China’s largest city, there are two lockdowns (now a single lockdown) as authorities battle Covid 19. On Sunday  13,146 new cases were reported. The streets are eerily quiet, in what looks like a scary and complicated motorway system.  That’s the most new cases that have been reported since the initial outbreak in Wuhan, just over three years ago.

In Ukraine, the dreadful war drags on. Since we can see news within hours of its being reported, it seems like it’s been going on for ages, although it’s only a few weeks.  There are fears that Putin’s regrouping his troops; meanwhile, it’s apparent that the parts for fixing tanks and much Russian weaponry are made in Ukraine.  There are dreadful scenes in Bucha, a town near Kyiv, of dead bodies, apparently shot with their hands tied behind their backs. There are fears of mass graves there. It seems that the Russian troops are displaying some Nazi tendencies of their own. And there have been sexual assaults and rape as well. A Ukrainian journalist released 8 days after being taken by Russians talks about his ordeal, and his torture. And for the Russian troops things aren’t much better: evidently they’re shot if they desert, and there’s no medivac system to try to treat their injuries and keep them alive. There’s also a report of Russian soldiers being offered poisoned piroshki by Ukrainian villagers; I can’t find the story now, but at least one Russian died (two, actually), and almost three dozen were taken to Intensive Care in a nearby hospital.

I listened to a podcast this morning that discussed classical history – the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, where Octavian (later Augustus) defeated Antony and Cleopatra and became Emperor of Rome. I’ve also listened to some theorising about Putin, claiming that he’s not going after money now but wants to leave his mark on history by conquering Ukraine, and who knows what else? His war is against the US and NATO.  And it seem the sanctions are really hurting. While indeed they hurt the local people, at least they’re not being bombed in their beds, or attacked, threatened, or shot at.  Putin doesn’t really have a circle of advisers; he’s a dictator, and I guess his “mates” try to stay in favour.

In Hungary, the strong man Viktor Orbán (and Putin supporter) has been re-elected; in Pakistan, Imran Khan has somehow avoided a no-confidence vote. How fortunate we are to live here, where things are pretty quiet, on the whole, and our main worry is how our sports heroes perform, now that they can (mostly) play sport again. And what about the All Blacks? We haven’t heard of them in some time.  Meanwhile, in spite of woman’s liberation in some senses, many of them are desperate to play rugby, or learn ballet, or both.  Women, you don’t have to hurt yourselves doing these crazy things!

It’s now Tuesday April 5th.

The world is outraged by photo of atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, specifically in the town of Bucha. There are photographs of Ukrainian citizens that have had their hands tied behind their backs, and then been shot. The scenes are horrifying, of atrocities committed when Russian troops occupied the towns. Now they have left.  There’s a feeling that this takes things to a new level of horror.  The Kremlin claims no one was ill-treated; that’s a lie, again; that the killings were staged. How do you believe anything Putin says?

The Covid 19 report today is not as good as yesterday. The official number of new cases is 14,120, and there have been 23 deaths. There are 692 people in hospital, with 30 of them in Intensive Care.  You get the feeling that Covid 19/omicron is hanging in there, and although we may have peaked, there’s still an alarming number of new cases each day.

It’s now Wednesday April 6th.

This morning I went to hymn singing. It was lovely, as always. We sang My song is Love Unknown, There is Green Hill Far Away, and O Sacred Head Sore Wounded, to Bach’s beautiful Passion Chorale from his St Matthew Passion.  Afterwards I bought some scones for morning tea and went to the supermarket, where I met someone from my Thursday morning singing. Like me, she misses it and hopes we can sing together again soon.  I still quite nervous – having received a second Bluetooth alert on my phone. One of my hymn singing friends says that her daughter and her boyfriend live in a small flat, but one of them caught Covid 19 and the other didn’t.  Another hymn singing friend says he doesn’t have the Covid ap on his phone, and so doesn’t get alerts. Yesterday JD spoke to a friend in Hawkes Bay who has it and is isolating at home; his wife is just going back to work.  My friend at church says he only knows of three people who’ve had it and who are known parishioners.

We met my son and his wife at Kaizen Café in Porirua.  It’s quite mild today, so we were quite happy to sit at a table in the hallway – where it would often be draughty.  I had an omelette and my special – rhubarb shortcake.

I miss the 1 pm report, no doubt enjoying my cheese omelette. I learnt two major things: Dr Bloomfield is leaving his position as Director-General of  Health in July, and, in an interview, Trump admitted that he lost the presidential election in November 2020.  Not that it was his fault, of course; it was rigged. That would seem to be like a public admission of guilt. It’s a shame Dr Bloomfield is leaving before his term is up, but who can blame him? The stress must have been very difficult, over the past two and a bit years. Although he made mistakes, he earned the confidence and trust of most if not all New Zealanders, and he and Prime Minister Ardern made a great tag team, cheerfully fronting up to the podium most days to tell us the latest news, and to cheer us up, especially though the first scary lockdown.

The 1 pm report tells that there are 12,575 new cases reported, and there’ve been a further 15 deaths. There are 654 people in hospital, and 23 of them are in Intensive Care.  It’s reported that there were new cases of Covid-19 in: Northland (619), Auckland (2147), Waikato (1101), Bay of Plenty (604), Lakes (299), Hawke’s Bay (602), MidCentral (678), Whanganui (321), Taranaki (437), Tairāwhiti (128), Wairarapa (149), Capital and Coast (775), Hutt Valley (464), Nelson Marlborough (436), Canterbury (2108), South Canterbury (249), Southern (1368), West Coast (81), and nine in unknown locations.

On Thursday JD and I had our flu vaccinations at the Johnsonville Shopping Centre.  There weren’t many there, to my surprise, although there was plenty of room. The numbers at 1 pm were as follows: there were 11,364 new community cases, and 51 new cases at the border. There were 639 cases in hospital, and there were 13 deaths.  I was upset to get a call from Hōhepa to learn that my daughter had been exposed to someone who had subsequently tested positive for Covid 19.  Accordingly, she will have RAT tests on day 3 and day 7.   This is quite upsetting; Covid 19 is still very much with us. (To follow up: her RAT day 3 test was negative on Friday morning. DV).

On that note, I’ll end for now. Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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