Low Sunday

The Mariupol Steel Plant

It’s now Saturday April 16th, 2022. Kia ora!

Today we get a Covid 19 report. There are 13,636 new community cases of Covid 19, and there’ve been 30 further deaths.  It’s reported that today’s community cases included 7763 on Good Friday and 5748 today, while the 30 deaths, included 20 on Friday and 10 today, the ministry said in a statement. There are 500 people in hospital including 15 in ICU.

Among the new cases today 638 are in Northland, 869 in Auckland, 1079 in Waikato, 532 in Bay of Plenty, 266 in Lakes , 460 in Hawke’s Bay, 556 in MidCentral, 244 in Whanganui, 429 in Taranaki, 120 in Tairāwhiti, 121 in Wairarapa , 822 in Capital and Coast, 522 in Hutt Valley, 451 in Nelson Marlborough, 2255 in Canterbury, 325 in South Canterbury, 1747 in Southern, 137 in West Coast and 14 cases yet to be classified.

Saturday is a very quiet day.

On Sunday morning, it is Easter Sunday.  I don’t go to the 7 am service, but I do go to church at 10 am. We sing Thine be the Glory, This is the Day, In Christ Alone my hope is found, and Te aroha.  The texts are from Acts 10, where Peter preaches the first sermon, and from John’s Gospel chapter 20.   It is quite wonderful. Afterwards I wait for JD to pick me up outside the library, where it is sunny. The only places open are the dairy and one café.

In the afternoon, our youngest son and his wife are to come and see us.

The 1 pm Covid 19 report is so-so: there are 5,933 new community cases, and there have been a further 10 deaths. There are 537 people in hospital, and 20 of them are in Intensive Care.

On Monday evening we went to Wellington Airport to farewell our loved ones. It wasn’t too busy there. We managed to park in the “right” (convenient) area.

It’s now Wednesday April 20th.

Today I got brave and went to a movie in Brooklyn with a friend. JD took us in, and we had coffee afterwards and talked about the movie, Nowhere Special.  James Norton was the lead actor, sporting an Irish accent; he acted very well, and the child was superb.  It was such a sad, but uplifting story.  We caught a bus to Wellington Railway Station, and then another bus to the Northern Suburbs.

On Tuesday there were 8,270 new cases, and 5 deaths reported, with 305 people in hospital – marked reductions.

The Covid 19 report is as follows: 11,217 new cases, and 13 further deaths. That’s up a bit from the previous two days. There are 547 people in hospital, and 14 in Intensive Care. It’s reported that the locations of those who died include Nelson-Marlborough (1); Auckland (1); Hutt Valley (2); Northland (1); Hawkes Bay (1); Whanganui (2); Canterbury (2); Waitemata (1); Mid-Central (1); and Taranaki (1).

It’s reported that the cases in hospital are split between Northland: 41; Waitemata: 92; Counties Manukau: 82; Auckland: 83; Waikato: 38; Bay of Plenty: 22; Lakes: 7; Hawke’s Bay: 17; Taranaki: 9; Whanganui: 4; MidCentral: 12; Wairarapa: 4; Hutt Valley: 18; Capital & Coast: 15; Nelson Marlborough: 9; Canterbury: 49; South Canterbury: 4; West Coast: 1 and Southern: 40. There are no people with Covid-19 in hospital in Tairāwhiti on Wednesday. There are still an alarming number of people in hospital.

In Ukraine, the brutality continues.  Another Russian general has died; the Ukrainians have taken out another expensive Russian missile; a friend of Putin has been found dead in his Moscow luxury apartment, along with his wife and younger daughter; their bodies were found by the elder daughter, all shot with his pistol. The Russians have been bombing Lyiv, and seven people were killed;  the Russians have concentrated forces in the Donbas region, and the battle has already begun. It’s reported to have been raining in Eastern Ukraine, thus creating muddy conditions for Russian tanks and troops. Besieged Mariupol has been asked to surrender, twice, and has refused.  In some cities, there is no food or water and conditions must be dreadful. The early “romance” of sheltering in underground railway tunnels has long lost its lustre, as we continue to see the brutality of Russian troops: their theft, and their cruelty. Europe is trying to avoid its dependence on Russian gas and oil, but this is in doubt if Marine le Pen wins the French presidential election.  In her show today Rachel Maddow outlined what a dreadful person her father was, and emphasised her friendship with Putin.

It’s now Friday April 22nd.

I have not been writing recently. I am rereading the novel Stalingrad, by Vasily Grossman (translated), a book which so impressed me when I first read it during our first lockdown two years ago. How naïve we were then! To think that life would “go back to normal” any time soon. The first lockdown was a circuit breaker, and a welcome relief to many of us, who were so relieved that the government was taking action to protect us, and there was a wage subsidy too. I don’t doubt that many people were severely affected, but few complained, back then; furthermore, we saw the results of our efforts, with numbers of Covid 19 patients steadily falling, and pretty soon we could get back to doing things here in New Zealand again, like going to church, movies and concerts, eating out, and travelling within the country. Children could go back to school, and by and large we were free from fear, as we watched the  dreadful scenes in overseas hospitals of ambulances queuing to unload their patients, refrigerated morgues for the dead bodies, and people on ventilators. But twas not thus here: we were protected; the dreadful scenes overseas made us thankful, or at least less complaining, about the fact that we couldn’t go anywhere outside the country.

I have also been listening to podcasts, many about warfare and history. They seem to go together, somehow. I’ve also been listening to the Collapse Surfside podcast, about the collapse of the Champlain Towers apartment building.  It’s most interesting to me to hear how the disaster unfolded, and the individual stories of how different people and their families were affected. You would think, well at least they’ll get the insurance, but that’s where it gets complicated. As in so many of these sad stories, building and maintenance was shoddy, and while you might have paid handsomely for your lovely home, it probably wasn’t worth much when disaster struck.

Now in 2022 here things are very different. Thankfully, vaccination rates are very high, but there are still an alarming daily number of deaths. We have just been through what was for us hopefully peak Covid 19, with the infectious omicron variant at large, affecting many of us, and many services. Thankfully, with being doubly vaccinated and boostered, it’s hoped that most of us won’t be ill enough to go to hospital or die with it, should we get it. But no one anywhere wants to get it!

Today a friend visited in the morning, bringing us some fruit cake (yum!); late this afternoon, someone from Access came to do some housework. Thankfully I feel better today, and it wasn’t such a struggle for me to have a previously unknown person come to “help”.

Today’s Covid 19 report tells me there are 9,390 new community cases, with 56 new cases identified at the border, and 522 people in hospital. There have been a further 13 deaths, including a person between 10 and 19 years old. Other than that, they were older folk – all over 70. Yesterday there were 10,294 new community cases, with 66 identified at the border. There were 524 cases in hospital, and there had been 18 deaths. The death total is now 646. It’s still a scary time, and you can get Covid 19 more than once (some people just don’t get it – which is still unaccounted for).

This virus is still very much with us, and people are still dying – here, in Australia, in the UK ad the US, just not nearly as many as previously. In Australia, the Labour Party leader, Antony Albanese, has tested positive, as has the premier of Western Australia.

In China, in Shanghai they are seeing their first deaths; it seems the lockdowns have been somewhat relaxed, after people rioted because they couldn’t get food.  Some have been quarantined – many are covid 19 positive but asymptomatic, and they complain of lights being on all night, and no hot showers. In Taiwan, the numbers of community cases of Covid 19 are increasing now, but they won’t do a lockdown, they’ll continue to take sensible precautions.

In Ukraine, the conflict grinds on. Satellite images show a mass grave in Mariupol mass grave; the steelworks there are still being bombarded; and some say Mariupol will be the resounding image of this war. Evidently the Russians rejected the suggestion of an Easter truce (they don’t need a risen Saviour, then); in Moscow the chief exec of Lukoil has resigned after speaking  out against the war in Ukraine. There was some more scare-mongering from Putin, but the US i.e. President Biden announced another $800m aid package.

On Saturday we went to a movie in Pauatahanui, Everything Everywhere all at Once.  It had a very good review, but it was very long and not really my cup of tea, with lots of sci-fi adventure and kung fu. I think JD enjoyed it more than me. The theatre was by no means full, but we weren’t asked where we’d like to sit, and discovered that there were couples seated either side of us, with no gap in between. I was reluctant to move, not knowing how many seats had been sold. So that was a little strange. The movie lasted so long that most cafés had closed or were about to close, so we went to the Borough in Tawa to have something to eat. They advised they could offer us pizzas and bar snacks only; that was fine, but the flies were alarming!  We were handed dirty menus, and ordered a pizza and some fries. I ordered a mocktail, but it wasn’t very enjoyable, and fortunately not very large, as it came in a sticky champagne flute with no straw, and was quite difficult to drink. I decided I will have a RAT test before a friend visits during the week.  We went home for coffee.

Saturday’s Covid 19 report was alarming, with 19 deaths, including 2 children under 9. There were 7,930 new community cases, and 494 people in hospital, including 15 in Intensive Care.  One assumes that young people who die with Covid 19 are immune-compromised in some way, or already living with major health issues. It’s mostly older people who die – from 50/60 upwards.

It’s now Sunday April 24th.

This morning I went to church, and was happy to hear the organ played again. It is Low Sunday, apparently – the first Sunday after Easter.  There weren’t many there – perhaps almost 40, but the Wadestown congregation joined us too. Of course, I have no idea how many were on zoom.  Today’s theme was about spreading the good news of the risen Jesus.  It’s again a beautiful sunny day with little wind. Afterwards, I went shopping at New World, but there were no raspberries today. I consoled myself with buying some more feijoas.

This morning I listened to Preet Bharara talking to Bill Browder, on his podcast, Stay Tuned with Preet; and The Rest is Politics podcast, with Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart. I’m not disposed to like Alastair Campbell very much, but I am interested in what they have to say, seeing as they’re both intelligent and well travelled! I am realising how limited we are here in terms of travel abroad. In the earlier one it was very interesting to hear Bill Browder again. The oligarchs, far from being Putin’s best friends and this likely to influence him, operate at Putin’s pleasure and discretion, and daren’t annoy him. In fact, there’ve been a number of unexplained deaths recently of seriously rich and influential people close to Putin.  One doesn’t believe the Russian police stories about their deaths, especially after they were spectacularly uncooperative with British police after the painful death of Alexander Litvinenko from polonium poisoning.  That death caused a scare in London for potential radiation poisoning, as did the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury (they later recovered). 

Today’s Covid 19 report is as follows: there  are 5,662 new community cases, and there have been 9 deaths.  The XE variant of omicron has been discovered (in an overseas arrival, I think), and is not thought to pose much of a problem. I must say most of us wouldn’t have a clue whether we had it or not, since most of us are using RAT tests at home. Presumably some of the PCR tests are further analysed for BA1 or BA2 or XE (which I gather is a combination of BA1 and BA2).  There is still a lot of Covid 19 about here; it’s very infectious, whatever variant it is. In the UK, one in a hundred people have died from Covid 19! People are still dying in the US, and in Australia. Here, there are presently 490 people in hospital, and 20 in Intensive Care. It’s reported that Of the nine people who have died one was in their 50s, one in their 60s, one in their 70s, one in their 80s and five people were over 90.

The locations of today’s cases are in Northland (203), Auckland (1455), Waikato (365), Bay of Plenty (223), Lakes (85), Hawke’s Bay (187), MidCentral (196), Whanganui (68), Taranaki (152), Tairāwhiti (50), Wairarapa (53), Capital and Coast (355), Hutt Valley (191), Nelson Marlborough (224), Canterbury (978), South Canterbury (128), Southern (666), West Coast (81), Unknown (2). The total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 is now 674.  These numbers would have freaked us out a few months ago; in fact, I still find them alarming, although they’re slowly dropping.

In Ukraine, the sad saga continues. Putin claims to have taken Mariupol; Zelensky says troops are holding out there. The Ukrainians are damaging much Russian equipment; the Russian soldiers’ morale is still very poor. It seems Russian troops have captured several small towns; there are more reports of mass graves; yet Zelensky is still willing to negotiate.  Meanwhile, brutality continues. A baby has been killed in Odessa.  On it goes.  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi.

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