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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 20 (@L3)

7 September 2021 Leave a comment

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6 September: Day 20 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 801

Cases in ICU: 6 (4 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

Twenty new cases today – the same as yesterday. Not a drop down – but not a rise either.

Meanwhile, as reported, Aotearoa New Zealand :

“… outside of Auckland, will move to alert level 2 from 11.59pm Tuesday 7 September.

Auckland will stay in level 4 until 11.59pm next Tuesday, 14 September.

Cabinet will review the alert level settings for all of New Zealand next Monday, 13 September.

It’s a positive move which reflects that this risk-averse government accepts we are on the right track.

Meanwhile, business interests – notably the trucking industry – is bleating like stuck pigs – at requirements for truckies to be tested as they move from Auckland to the rest of the country.

Because these never happened:

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— right?

The grim prospect of an infected truckie driving the length and breadth of Aotearoa New Zealand, transmitting Delta along the way, does not bear thing about. One infected truckie could plunge the country back into Level 4 lockdown, giving the trucking industry more headaches than a simple nasal swab test.

Time to grow up, fellas.

And speaking of immature, self-entitled, plonkers of the worst sort:

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Seymour this morning released a written statement with an attached image displaying the priority access codes, which allow Māori and Pacific people to receive the vaccine at Whānau Ora locations without needing to book ahead.

“The virus doesn’t discriminate on race, so neither should the rollout,” the statement said. “Access to vaccination has been the same for people of all ethnic backgrounds. If fewer Māori are vaccinated it can’t be a problem with access, but this move by the government insinuates that Māori have trouble making a booking.”

However, the virus does discriminate. The New Zealand Medical Journal has found that after controlling for age and underlying conditions Māori and Pacific people have 2.5x and 3.06x higher odds of being hospitalised for contracting Covid-19 than other ethnicities.

Researchers estimated risk of death for Māori from Covid-19 was at least 50 percent higher than European New Zealanders and infection rates are also significantly higher while vaccination rates have languished.

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“The virus doesn’t discriminate on race, so neither should the rollout” – he doesn’t even understand the basic science behind infection; underlying co-morbidities; and heightened risks. His wilful ignorance is Trumpian, to put it politely.

Look, I get that the two right-wing parties are scrapping over the diminishing red-neck voter demographic. There are probably a few hundred thousand right-wing voters which could mean a couple of extra MPs for either ACT or National.

But if National and ACT are going to get dirty with their politicking, and put us at risk of a raging pandemic, I doubt they will endear themselves to the majority of New Zealanders.

What David Seymour did was so wrong that it reveals an immoral aspect to his nature that makes him unfit to be anywhere near political power.

A person who exploits a minority for political gain is the last thing this country needs.

We already have one deadly germ to deal with. We don’t need another.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 821

Cases in ICU: 6

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

So ended the twentieth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

Newshub: As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak –  Sunday, September 5

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 20 new community cases reported in New Zealand today

The Border Mail: Truck driver in isolation with COVID, exposure site listed at Henty

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – Truckie’s ‘guilt’ after spreading Covid-19 in Victoria

WA Government: COVID-19 update 27 August 2021 – NSW truck drivers test positive to COVID-19

RNZ: Māori vaccine equity scheme criticism blows back on Seymour

RNZ: Covid-19 Delta outbreak day 20: How it unfolded

Other Blogs

A Phuulish Fellow: Down to Level 2 – 2021 Edition (+ Rant about Australian Plague)

The Standard: Seymour undermines vaccine roll out for Maori

Previous related blogposts      

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 17 & 18 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 19 (@L3)

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 19 (@L3)

6 September 2021 1 comment

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5 September: Day 19 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 782

Cases in ICU: 7

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

Another day spent mostly at home. Plenty of housework to finish, and a chance to catch up on some tree and flax planting I’d been meaning to get around to for since Lockdown. The front lawn is slowly becoming a micro-“Zelandia, with native trees and other plants gradually replacing flat grass:

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New flax plantings, and Whao (encircled in red)

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New ‘Whao’ (centre)

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The flax was obtained from a professional garden-maintenance team who were going to dump it. The flax was perfectly fine, simply needing to be split apart, pruned back, and planted.

As I was doing the work (surprisingly easy, as the holes did not require to be large or deep), I spotted a ‘friend’ high over-head on a power-line studying my exertions:

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Perhaps in a few decades, when my ‘mini-Zelandia’ garden has become more mature, Kereru, Tui, and other native birds will choose to roost in branches that are only a few metres from my lounge.

How cool would that be?

Trimmed other trees around my property. Much needed, as they were over-growing a pathway, and entangling each other.

Went to ‘Repco” for car engine oil. The contactless-service was well designed; a table at the back of the retail outlet; roped off; masked retail attendant; QR codes well displayed; sign-in sheets filled with names and details of customers: a responsible corporate citizen.

Waited until after the 1PM press – more on that at the conclusion of this blogpost.

Phoned my partner. We chatted. Hoped that the North Island outside Auckland would drop to Level 2 this week. She had been gardening as well. If the nationwide lockdown lasted long enough, the entire country would have the most well manicured gardens on the planet.

Waited until 8PM to do grocery shopping. At this time, the supermarket was not as busy as usual, and social distancing was a simple, non-stressful matter.

A day where I managed to do the things I’d been meaning to do for months, but always managed to deflect my attention elsewhere.

Jarring note for the day, unsurprisingly, came from TV3’s Tova O’Brien, in an exchange that beggared belief. Ms O’Brien asked Dr Bloomfield this bizarre question about exemptions for funerals:

“Funeral directors are pushing for that because there’s this inconsistency where under Level Four, strangers can be socially distanced in a supermarket queue and they can be socially distanced on the waterfront, but they can’t be socially distanced at a burial outdoors at a cemetary.”

The utter incoherent stupidity of that question/assertion cannot be over-stated.

Firstly, it is not an “inconsistency”. Many businesses and services have either closed or been forced to offer reduced services.

Secondly, it defies rational understanding that Ms O’Brien compares a supermarket queue or people on the waterfront with a funeral service. Strangers at a supermarket, standing in a queue, do not – generally speaking – comfort each other in a heightened emotional state of grief. Strangers passing by on the waterfront, likewise, rarely grab each other for a ‘comforting’ hug.

Thirdly, comparing going to a supermarket for a loaf of bread with a funeral service where a family’s loved one is being buried or cremated, is offensive. Who makes such comparisons?!

As Dr Bloomfield explained – with the sainted patience of a teacher addressing a six year old:

“Indeed, one of the comments I would make and I know the Prime Minister has made it before, is that funerals and tangihanga tend to be places where people like to comfort each other and so its… that’s a very important consideration here where it may be more difficult for a whole lot of reasons for people to maintain physical distancing, but of course we’ll continue to keep talking with the funeral director groups. If the request comes through we’ll assess that on it’s merits.”

Ms O”Brien followed up with a loaded question that can only be described as appallingly bad taste:

“Do you support the arrest of grieving families at a ceremony if they were socially distanced?”

If she was looking for headlines, thankfully TV3/Newshub’s news-editors wisely decided against it. Little wonder that public irritation with some individuals in the mainstream media has increased throughout the covid crisis. And little wonder that social media lit up with outright disgust at her inappropriate line of questions.

Because most people with at least a modicum of comprehension realise how – during a raging pandemic – funeral services can be potential super-spreaders leading to more covid cases; more hospitalisations; more ICU patients, and ultimately, more deaths:

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I don’t know what Ms O’Brien thought she was doing, but it wasn’t journalism.

But to end the day on a good note, there were only twenty new cases today (same as yesterday); no covid viral particles detected in wastewater outside Auckland and Wellington.

And no one died.

There’s your headline, Ms O’Brien: no one died.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 801

Cases in ICU: 6 (4 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

So ended the nineteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 wrap for day 18 of lockdown      

Facebook: COVID-19 update – 5 September 2021 (video, @ 25:22)

BBC: Coronavirus doctor’s diary – A super-spreading funeral that led to three deaths

Fox4: Texas funeral becomes ‘super spreader’ event after 40 people contract COVID-19

ABC News: Health authorities fear Wilcannia funeral could be a ‘major’ COVID event as NSW Far West cases climb

France24: Fiji’s capital enters lockdown after Covid-19 ‘superspreader’ funeral event

Newshub: As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak –  Sunday, September 5

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 20 new community cases reported in New Zealand today

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 17 & 18 (@L3)  

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Acknowledgement: M David

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 17 & 18 (@L3)

5 September 2021 2 comments

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3 September: Day 17 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 736

Cases in ICU: 6 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

It started of as a great day.

The covid lockdown was working. Yesterday there had been 49 new cases.  Today. the number was down to an an amazing 28 new cases. This would give the anti-lockdown cranks here and abroad (especially where covid is rampant; hospitals are failing to cope; and the corpses are mounting) something to get hysterical about.

There are plenty of covid-cowards who cannot abide our success at controlling this deadly disease. They would rather that we fail – as their leaders have utterly failed. It rationalises their own deficiencies.

Even National’s Covid Spokesperson, Chris Bishop, found good cause to cheer from the sidelines:

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Greater Wellington had one of the finest days since… last summer. With a bright blue sky and not a single cloud in sight, it was the promise of summer to come. (Chillingly, little did I know as I took those pictures that dark clouds were gathering over Auckland…)

Along Oriental Bay, Wellingtonians made the most of this perfect Spring Day:

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Oriental Bay, looking north

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Perhaps the loveliest sky in the entire Solar System (Ok, with possible exception of Saturn, with it’s dazzling rings)

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Southwest, toward the city

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Mask wearing could have been better, as I estimated only around two thirds (?) bothered.

That afternoon, before 3pm, reports started coming over the radio: an incident at LynnMall in New Lynn, Auckland. People had been hurt, one person dead.

As events unfolded it became clearer. Aotearoa New Zealand had been struck by another terrorist extremist. He had attacked and injured six shoppers at the supermarket (later, it was announced there was a seventh victim/survivor).

He had used a knife.

Acknowledging the horror of this incident and the deep harm caused to the seven people; their families; and to supermarket workers – there was an immediate thought that crossed my mind.

Thankfully he had not the same access to firearms that the Christchurch terrorist had.

The contrast in blood-letting was staggering. The Christchurch terrorist had used firearms and shot dead 51 people. The LynnMall terrorist had only a knife, and had not succeeded in wounding more than seven. All seven are still alive (though three remain in Intensive Care in critical condition), and hopefully none will lose their life.

We can be thankful to this government that semi-automatics have been mostly (but not all) eliminated from this country; that gun licensing has been tightened up; and that this deranged individual was under constant surveillance.

On a day we should have been rejoicing and being insufferably smug to the rest of the world, it felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under all five million of us.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 764

Cases in ICU: 9 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

So ended the seventeenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

 

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4 September: Day 18 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 764

Cases in ICU: 9 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

A day off. Have not gone out – I still take Level 3 lockdown meaning precisely that: stay at home.

Another beautiful day outside. Breakfast time: feed companion animal. Feed myself.

Watched ‘The Nation‘ on TV3. A Tauranga port worker interviewed, demanding his right to choose whether or not to get the vaccine. I wonder if the virus will offer him the same choice to be infected or not? I’m 100% certain the virus will respect his right to decline infection.

Viruses are nice like that. They ask permission first.

Tova O’Brien interviewed Associate Minister of Health, Peeni Henare. When the issue of the recent absconder from Novotel & Ibis Ellerslie MIQ facility was raised, Ms O’Brien suggested to the minister:

“Your focus also has to be on your constituents in Tamaki Makaurau and keeping them safe.”

Considering Minister Henare is not a police constable on-the-beat on the streets of Ōtāhuhu, it is unclear how he could have intervened directly to apprehend the absconding idiot. She might as well ask him why he can’t walk on water.

On a lighter note,  this exchange took place between National’s Caretaker Leader Collins and another Twitter-user on the social-media platform. A subtle ‘burn’ if I ever saw one:

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*Ouch!* That reposte would sting.

And worse still, the Twitter-user had more “Likes” to his post than the Official (Caretaker) Leader of the New Zealand National Party.

Some work to do around the house; a week’s worth of laundry (done); hang-out to dry (done); change kitty litter box (done); do dishes (done); have fun jousting with RWNJ trolls on Twitter who have been harassing another Twitter-user (done)…

The 1pm figures are released and it is more happy news – tinged with tragedy. My fear has come to pass; we have had a loss of life due to Delta, the first for this current outbreak.

We have now lost 27 souls to this pandemic and 27 families (if not more) are grieving.

The sadness makes the good news harder to appreciate. Only 20 new cases of Delta infections. Less than half the number from yesterday. I should be punching the air in triumph and giving a whoop of delight.

But we’ve lost a fellow New Zealander.

If the Universe is playing a joke on us, I don’t get the punchline.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 782

Cases in ICU: 7

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

So ended the eighteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

 

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – what happened today, September 2    

RNZ: Covid-19 case numbers – 28 new community cases in NZ today

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – what happened today, September 2

RNZ: Covid-19 case numbers – 28 new community cases in NZ today

Twitter: @cjsbishop – 89,000 new vaccinations – 3 Sept 2021

RNZ: Man shot dead at Countdown supermarket in Auckland

Stuff media: Auckland terror attack – Victims aged between 29 and 77, three still in critical condition

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Man who allegedly fled managed isolation was given ride home by friend

Newshub Nation:  Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare promises priority for Māori should COVID-19 vaccine stocks run low

RNZ: Covid-19 wrap for day 18 of lockdown

Additional

TVNZ: Covid-19 wrap for day 18 of lockdown

Other Blogs

Bryan Gould: A Grim Future for National

The Standard: Judith’s very bad two days

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell on the messaging to the vaccine hesitants

Previous related blogposts

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)

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Acknowledgement: Guy Body

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)

2 September 2021 5 comments

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1 September: Day 15 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 612

Cases in ICU: 8

Number of deaths: –

Day 15 of Level four lockdown in Auckland and Northland. For the rest of Aotearoa New Zealand, the first day of moving down to Level 3 – or Level 4 with takeaways, as others describe this alert level.

It’s a beautiful spring day outside. There are few clouds in our over-carbonised, clear blue sky.  According to 9AM news bulletin on RNZ, traffic around Wellington is “near normal”.

As I leave for work around mid-day (Wednesdays at the moment are short work-days for me) for my one and only client, I drive past the local railway pak & ride. A lot more cars today, around ten or a dozen.

Out on the motorway and the level of traffic stuns me. It is almost as heavy as pre-L4 lockdown. And… roadworks are back. Damn.

Though I notice that road-working crews are all masked up. It’s a warm, sunny day, and these guys are klitted up with work clothes, safety boots; flouro-jackets, and face-masks. They must be bloody hot with all that kit.

These guys are heroic. I hope their employers slip them a little “something extra” in their Christmas pay-packet.

On the Hutt River-bank, a few people are strolling or lying in the sun.

In Wellington I took a slight detour around Oriental Bay. My suspicions are confirmed: the footpaths are busy with strollers and joggers. And the beach has attracted a few families and others:

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Oriental Bay – northward

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Oriental Bay-Freyberg beach

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Only around half or two-thirds maximum were masked up. (Note: the photos do not do justice to the actual numbers that were present.)

So much for staying home during Alert Level Three. Some folk must have missed that memo.

This blogger wasn’t the only one who noticed the apparent, unannounced drop down to Level Alert 2, seemingly skipping L3 altogether:

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No wonder the government was so cautious before moving to Level 3. They had to make absolutely certain that there was no community transmission outside of Auckland before dropping a Level.

Government and Ministry officials understood that human behaviour being what it is, moving out of L4 would signal to people that there was no further imminent danger. To all intents and purposes, Level 3 and Level 2 are one-and-the-same for a significant portion of the population.

Danger over.

Slip back into complacency mode.

Time for fish and chips.

The Mystery of the Delta Strain

Yesterday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield admitted that government and ministry officials had no clear understanding of the source of the current outbreak:

Contact tracers have hit a brick wall in their efforts to find the source of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield explained all while evidence points to Auckland Crowne Plaza hotel managed isolation facility, the virus’ exact path remained a mystery.

“We’ve gone down a number of roads and they’ve all turned out to be dead ends so far,” Dr Bloomfield told a news briefing. “We may never find the exact way that the virus got from the facility into the community but we are very confident that’s the place where it came from.”

All that is known for certainty is that the Delta strain emanated from Sydney (or somewhere in New South Wales). The virus entered through a Returnee from Sydney (“Index Case”) in early August soon after the Trans Tasman bubble – originally strongly supported by the National Party – was closed on 23 July.

But the Ministry of Health has been unable to ascertain how the Returnee transmitted the virus to others.

There is one possibility that has not been publicly discussed: that the Returnee infected a member of the flight crew. This is a real option, as flight crews are not required to isolate for fourteen days at MIQs like everyone else.

They are provided with separate facilities at Heartland Hotel situated at 14 Airpark Drive, Māngere, some 3.5kms from Auckland International Airport; at Grand Windsor in down Auckland’s Queen Street, and Ramada Hotels at Auckland CBD and Manukau.

For more information, I refer the reader to two previous stories on this issue:

If the outbreak was caused by the “Index Case” transmitting the virus to a flight attendant, it will not be the first time an Air New Zealand cabin-crew member has been infected and transmitted the virus to others.

Whilst flight crews are not required to isolate in MIQ for the full fourteen days, that are required to provide a negative nasal-swab test before allowed to leave their facility:

Air NZ crew returning to Aotearoa have to enter managed isolation, just like the passengers they are transporting, but are allowed to leave if they return a negative test after 48 hours.

However, as the most recent Delta case in Wellington showed, negative results are not always accurate. Not even two negative tests. Or three negative tests!

All but one of the cases reported on Wednesday were in Auckland, the other is a household contact of a Wellington case who had returned three negative tests and remains asymptomatic.

If that Wellington person had been an Air New Zealand flight crew member, they would have left their isolation facility after their first negative test.

For reasons that can only be guessed at – but may involve strong financial incentivess – Air New Zealand flight crews continue to be exempt from isolation rules that are strictly enforced for others.

Private Enterprise, a pandemic, and consequences

ACT Leader David Seymour is not short of ideas. Most of them impractical, to put it politely.

One such very dim “light bulb” moment – which government has thankfully dismissed as downright dangerous – is to allow private MIQ facilities to operate:

ACT’s plan for managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) – were it to be in Government – would be to allow private hotels to provide MIQ services under contract to the government as a way to relieve the shortage of MIQ beds. Governed under strict rules, both workers and guests in these facilities would have to be vaccinated.

“ACT has a plan to expand MIQ places and make it safer than what the Government is doing now. Under ACT’s plan, owners of currently mothballed hotels could seek a licence to operate MIQ according to strict criteria,” ACT leaders David said in a statement accompanying the release.

How successful would it be?

Who knows. But if two recent incidences are any indication: not very good:

Two students have now been caught breaching lockdown rules by flying out of Auckland, receiving fines for breaking the rules.

Over recent days, a Victoria University student flew from Auckland to Wellington without an exemption.

An Otago University student flew from Auckland to Dunedin.

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said this was “disappointing”.

“These people should not be travelling, there will potentially be consequences for them, for breaking the rules.”

But more critically still, Minister Hipkins made it clear these students had breached critical security protocols to board their flights:

“They should be being checked even before they get into the airport terminal. Previous level four restrictions, and I just want to check to make sure this has absolutely operating as it has previously, have had people at the door at the airport terminal checking why people are entering the terminal, before they can even get anywhere near the plane.”

So the Auckland airport terminal – a private company – had such poor security that two students were able to breach the facility and board their flights, without being detected?

If those two had been carrying the Delta Strain, Aotearoa New Zealand would now be facing new clusters of the virus in Wellington and Dunedin. It would cost the country billions more.

Would Auckland airport pay the bill for the economic damage that would result?

And if private MIQ facilities failed, allowing Delta (or a worse strain) into the community – would David Seymour take responsibility?

Did National take responsibility for the failed Trans Tasman bubble they pressured the government to open up?

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The answer to all three questions is a resounding “no”.

As the sign on the wall states quite clearly:

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Wiping the Debating Chamber Floor with ACT

National and ACT got their wish: Parliament sat yesterday. Though going by Hansard and video, National’s Caretaker Leader Collins and  ACT Leader David Seymour may be ruing that it happened at all.

A series of questions from Mr Seymour to Minister Hipkins resulted in hard answers that the former was perhaps not expecting. Minister Hipkins wiped the floor with the hapless ACT Leader.

But matters took a dark turn when Mr Seymour asked:

“Has he, his officials, or anybody in the Ministry of Health at all—or the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, for that matter—offered to pay additional money to Pfizer, as Canada has done, to get additional doses faster?”

Minister Hipkins made his response crystal clear; Aotearoa New Zealand would not be bribing its way to vaccinating the population ahead of other countries:

“Pfizer have been very clear: their production, the production that they have of the vaccine, is fully committed around the globe and they are not willing to offer rich countries the opportunity to pay more in order to displace countries who cannot afford to do that—which suggests that big pharma has a higher ethical and moral standard than the ACT Party does.”

Mr Seymour quickly changed his line of questioning.

For good reason. Various cranks around the country have been pushing the line that we should outbid other nations for the vaccine.

Former minister; ACT politician; and relic from a by-gone age, Richard Prebble made the same disturbing demand in a NZ Herald article*:

“The government is innumerate. They are willing to spend $685 million on a harbour cycleway with negative cost/benefit but not $40 million for an early vaccine rollout to save billions of dollars and possibly many lives.”

As did NewstalkZB ‘host’ and right-wing fellow-traveller, Heather du Plessis-Allan who said on 7 July:

“Why did we agree to $56 and then baulk at another $10 to get it earlier? Why would we say ‘nah we’d rather be right the back of the queue thanks, literally last in the developed world’?

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I do not buy the government’s argument that it’s unethical to pay more to vaccines ahead of others

We didn’t elect them to prioritise citizens of other countries, they’re elected to look after us

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But isn’t it an insight into the lack of urgency behind the scenes. For a mere $10 a person, we might’ve actually been front of the queue, instead of dead last in the developed world”

A free marketeer Twitter-user also called for jumping the queue by paying a “premium” (a polite way of calling an outright bribe):

“Of course you can. By drug companies selling to the highest bidder, they increase their resources to ramp up production. ECON 101 which this government, and its defenders don’t understand”

The only people who do not understand “econ 101” are neo-liberals who are so blinded by their simplistic ideology that they cannot see the consequences of their reckons.

Let me oblige them.

Assume that pharmaceutical companies auction of their vaccines to the highest bidder(s). What would be the consequences (because free-marketeers/neo-libs must accept that everything has consequences, whether intended or not)?

As I pointed out to the ACT-supporting Twitter user:

Firstly, it is just plain wrong. It is neo-liberal, hyper-individualist self-interest taken to it’s deadly conclusion. Even if we could, is that the soul of Aotearoa New Zealand?

Bidding for what’s already available just pushes up the price & we WILL lose out every time to richer nations. There is no avoiding that reality. 

There are 49 other countries richer (GDP, 2017 figures) than us. Calculated per capita, there are thirtyone wealthier nations ahead of us. Imagine entering a bidding war with the US, China, UK, France, etc. This would be the scenario confronting us if certain foolish people had their way. We would end up with nothing.

Bidding for vaccines creates a law-of-the-jungle instead of international co-operation. Again, there is no way small nations would benefit from a tooth-and-claw struggle with richer economies.

To assume otherwise demonstrates a childlike lack of understanding of international affairs and human nature.

Pharmaceutical companies are already producing at full capacity. A bidding war would not create more supply; just push up prices. (Our electricity supply has similarities.)

How would out-bidding poorer, developing nations to grab vaccines  benefit us? It wouldn’t. It would simply create vast breeding grounds of new mutant strains of covid. These mutations would likely end up with strains more infectious; more deadly, and more critically, more resistant to current vaccines.

In effect, bidding and grabbing vaccines would end up with covid spreading and evolving, becoming vaccine-resistant, and we would end up back at Square 1.

It is obviously from the witterings of the likes of Mr Seymour, Mr Prebble, Ms du Plessis-Allan, Mr Wrathall, et al, that none of them have thought this through. Their shallow thinking would doom us all to repeating cycles of vaccination; new mutations; new vaccines; new mutations; new vaccines, etc.

With a lot of dead people in body-bags along the way. But then, Mr Seymour is prepared for that eventuality:

“If vaccination doesn’t work, then we’re isolated forever. Clearly, we have to have a plan B from vaccination being the endgame. And if we’re not prepared to do it at the start of next year, then when are we prepared to do it?

That could mean living with Covid-19, even if that led to large outbreaks, more hospitalisations and even fatalities because the level of population is not high enough to keep health services from being overwhelmed.”

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 687

Cases in ICU: 8 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

So ended the fifteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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* This blogger will not be linking directly to Mr Prebbes or Ms du Plessis-Allan’s articles. To do so would reward them and their media platform with “clicks” this blogger is not prepared to encourage.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update on 31 August – 49 new cases in the community

Twitter: @FranklNZwe missed the L2 announcement – 1.9.21

Newshub:  Coronavirus – Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak – Tuesday, August 31

Newsroom: Sydney returnee likely source of Covid outbreak

NZ Herald:  Covid 19 coronavirus – Bluff wedding cluster – Air New Zealand flight attendant is possible origin

Newshub: Air New Zealand crew claim they’re being ‘forced’ to work on COVID-19 quarantine flights

Stuff media: Covid-19 – 75 new cases in Delta community outbreak, but curve is ‘gradually bending’

Stuff media: ACT proposes private MIQ and ending ‘the four horsemen of bad regulation’

RNZ: Uni student who flew from Auckland to Wellington didn’t understand guidelines

Twitter: National Party – Sign the Trans Tasman bubble petition

Hansard: Seymour, David; Hipkins, Chris; Mallard, Trevor

RNZ: Week in Politics – Learning to live with the virus – or not

Twitter – @SteveHWrathalldrug companies selling to the highest bidder – 31/8/21

Twitter: @fmacskasy – Bidding for what’s already available – 1/9/2021

Worldometer: GDP by Country

Worldometer: GDP per Capita

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – David Seymour -Open the borders next year regardless of vaccination levels

RNZ:  Covid-19 update – 75 new community cases in NZ today

Previous related blogposts

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

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Acknowledgement: Jeff Bell

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

1 September 2021 5 comments

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30 August: Day 13 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 511

Cases in ICU: 2

Number of deaths: –

Another gray, overcast day. It’s been raining and though there’s no wind, there’s an edge of a chill in the air.

Local railway park n ride has four cars. On SH2 River Road, I counted half a dozen cars in sight – and a rainbow! Yet again, commercial vehicles dominate the road, including a car-transporter with two cars on the deck.

South of Petone, on SH2, a car had broken down, it’s rear end up on jacks. An AA Service vehicle and police car with flashing emergency lights were in attendance. (Just one example why people need to stay home and shop or exercise local: a break-down involves emergency services in attendance and the potential for those in the immediate vicinity to break their “bubbles”.)

Traffic surprisingly south of Ngauranga was lighter than usual.

Radio on in the car, Nine to Noon’sKathryn Ryan’s first guest was  University of Auckland Professor of Epidemiology, Professor Rod Jackson. It was a hard, in-your-face discussion, but worth listening to. For all those immature adults constantly demanding certainty, Professor Jackson had an apt saying:

“The only thing certain about covid is uncertainty.”

He added that the best way to contain covid is simple: keep infected people away from everyone else. That stops the spread. Blindingly simply. But surprising how many people don’t get it.

The  interview is worth listening to. Prof Jackson knows his stuff. He’s not a NewstalkZB “shock jock”; fear mongering columnist; or business whinger.

There is a world of difference between professional experts who have spent decades learning their science and telling us hard truths – as opposed to business whingers always demanding the impossible (because Sydney shows us where that road leads) or doom-merchant columnists who mock and deride us for our collective efforts to carry on fighting this viral foe. Or a media platforming bad-take “reckons” from overseas and local commentators that serves no useful purpose. Except gain ‘clicks’ for advertising revenue?

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Or, sadly, opportunistic and ambitious politicians (not mentioning any names) who will undermine the government in the hope that it will win them votes. It won’t. Team 5 Million are committed to this struggle; we have too much invested; and we identify with the empathetic, yet determined, leadership of PM Ardern. Anything that detracts from our collective “mission” creates an “Us and Them” resentment.

With the Opposition National party being the “Them”.

It is also a dangerous strategy  because Delta is apolitical. Any chink in our collective armour, and the virus will exploit it mercilessly.

Undermining the government undermines us all.

Later in the day, at the 1PM ‘presser’, the nation learns that we have 53 new cases! 53! A significant drop from yesterday’s 83.

Judging by the responses on social media, the entire nation just went nuts with joy. It’s like we just beat our Yankee cuzzies in KZ7 all over again.

The grim news is that numbers have reached mid-500s with five in ICU. These are not good figures to have. About now, statistically speaking, people will start dying.

Driving home tonight, I realise it’s been several days since I’ve listened to my usual news programmes, mostly RNZ’s “Checkpoint” and TV1 News. I’m not really missing either of them.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 562

Cases in ICU: 5

Number of deaths: –

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31 August: Day 14 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 562

Cases in ICU: 5

Number of deaths: –

First up on RNZ’s Nine to Noon programme: serial business whiner, Michael Barnett. I switch off.

It’s a new day and the big question on Team 5 Million’s collective mind is – was it just a ‘blip’? Or is it a real, downward trajectory. This afternoon’s 1PM presser will be top-rating, must-watch TV (or must-listen radio).

Pre-empting the announcement, I post on Twitter:

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And the announcement is made…

…the number of cases has fallen for a second day running: 49! And the crowd goes wild!!!

Meanwhile, in Wellington, having totally failed to read the room, National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins, has demanded that Parliament sit – physically – instead of conducting business by modern technology.

Instead, she and a handful of picked cronies (but, curiously, not including Chris Bishop – the National Party’s covid spokesperson) fly to Wellington from Auckland.

Breaking lockdown in Auckland to fly to Wellington. According to Ms Collins, as an elected Parliamentary representative, she is an “essential worker”.

Bad news for Ms Collins.  Five million pairs of eyes just rolled simultaneously: a politician – by definition – cannot be essential.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 612

Cases in ICU: 8

Number of deaths: –

So ended the thirteenth and fourteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 NZ – Delta outbreak sees 83 new cases, worst day of outbreak yet

RNZ: Covid-19 update –  83 new community cases reported in New Zealand        

RNZ: Cabinet considers tougher restrictions under Level 4

Twitter: @FoxyLustyGrover – stoically getting on with – 29/8/21

Twitter: @MariaSherwood2Are the media nitpicking – 26/8/21

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown day 13 – How it unfolded

Twitter: @fmacskasy –  if our new positives drop further, I expect – 31/8/21

RNZ: Covid-19 update on 31 August – 49 new cases in the community

Additional

Other Blogs

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: (author unknown)

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

30 August 2021 6 comments

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29 August: Day 12 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 429

Cases in ICU:  2

Number of deaths: –

Not a work day, so I’ve stayed home. Housework to do, writing, and went to Pak N Save. A long queue outside, so decided to go back later when it’ll hopefully be quieter.

On Jim Mora’s Sunday Morning programme on RNZ, panellists Mike Williams and Linda Clark were a breath of sanity after the doom-merchants and lockdown critics we’ve been enduring for the last week. Listening to them both- especially Ms Clark – allowed some measure of composure after the gloomy cynicism much of  the MSM has been platforming and amplifying lately.

Ms Clark said, in part:

“I think comments by people like Scott Morrison, and other overseas commentators who various media outlets have chosen to publish in the last week, and some of our own commentators actually, are very critical of the New Zealand strategy because of their politics and not because of the science.

…If the New Zealand strategy works… if it works, people like Scott Morrison will have to speak up to their own population and explain why a whole lot of people needlessly died. Because that is the consequence of the so-called Plan B. And if you look at those countries overseas that are… cliche of the moment is living with it, ‘they’re living with it’, but a whole lot of people in their countries are dying with it. So… the number of deaths in countries like Australia, the UK, those numbers are as high now as they were in April… In the UK had 140 deaths yesterday or the day before; 1,200 deaths in the United States two days ago; and of course in New South Wales yesterday… more than a thousand cases.

So I think there’s a really deep and pretty cynical strand of politics around a lot of the criticism about New Zealand’s strategy.

Now you can criticise how it’s been implemented; it can be improved absolutely. I’m not arguing about that. But the politics of this is messy. Because as I said, the living with it strategy means that some people don’t. And you just have to look around you and think, “Ok if we lived with this, if let it in, if we give up like other countries have, I mean Boris Johnson just got bored with it, if we get bored with it and we want to do what Boris Johnson has done and what Scott Morrison is now talking about; which of us in our community are you willing to sacrifice”?

Is it nana? Is it grandad? Is it your aunty? I mean, actually, its not going to be just old people, because at the moment in Australia, in New South Wales hospitals there’s a whole lot of young people under the age of 9.

So, your nephew, your daughter, your son? That’s the question here.

And those columnists that are constantly on about this, just simply don’t want to face up to that. And added to that I put David Seymour who yesterday talked about the fact we we can’t eliminate any longer. Well we actually can stay with the strategy, and we are, and New Zealanders have a good sense of this and that’s why they’re following the rules, by and large.”

[Blogger’s note: some repetitive words and halted-speech have been omitted.]

I suspect she spoke for a great number of Team 5 Million, if not nearly all. It is abundantly clear; giving up means we allow people – young and old – to die.

Who get’s to draw the ‘short straw’?

This afternoon, took a call from one of my clients, “D”. He’s anxious and just needed a supportive voice. A few minutes of casual chit-chat and he’s fine. I confirm I’ll catch up with him at our appointed time tomorrow afternoon. “D” is reassured and sounds happy.

“D” is one of many New Zealanders with underlying conditions. It is doubtful he could survive Delta.

This evening, chatted with my partner. It’s now two weeks since we’ve seen each other: we have separate ‘bubbles’.  We share our weekly activities and discuss our respective ‘bubbles’, work, family. There is no grizzling; no complaining; it is unspoken what needs to be done.

Later tonight, went back to Pak n Save to buy a few groceries – including six rolls of toilet paper (I know, I’m such a hoarder!). Double masked and scanned in. Nearly everyone seemed to be scanning-in and wore masks – except, again, a woman in her mid-to-late-twenties. Not many people present; the aisles are relatively clear. Easy to maintain social distancing.

Just before I’m about to log off, I spot this article written by Stuff writer,

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It’s a great way to end the day and prepare for Monday.

Back to work in the new morning.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 511

Cases in ICU: 2

Number of deaths: –

So ended the twelfth day of our journey to beat this thing.

 

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – What happened on Saturday, August 28

RNZ: Sunday Morning

RNZ: Sunday Morning – The Weekend Panel with Mike Williams and Linda Clark

Stuff media: During Covid, spare a thought for our leaders’ mental health

Stuff media: Covid-19 NZ – Delta outbreak sees 83 new cases, worst day of outbreak yet

RNZ: Covid-19 update –  83 new community cases reported in New Zealand

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: Emma Cook

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Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

29 August 2021 7 comments

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27 August: Day 10 of living in lock-down… (cont’d)

The park n ride at my local railway station had only two vehicles. As the lockdown proceeded, the number of parked cars became fewer and fewer.

The weather worsened. There would be few strollers and joggers, hopefully, out and about.

Traffic on the motorway around Lower Hutt; about half a dozen cars. Commercial vehicles were much in evidence, including a gas cylinder truck;  firewood truck with a covered full load; “Wellington Electric” truck carrying a power pole; gravel hauling truck; car-transporter carrying three vehicles; et al. Police presence on the roads was also noticeable.

On RNZ’s 9AM news bulletin, a story about a woman complaining bitterly that her Function Room business could not open whilst shopping malls were allowed. Not sure what Alternative Reality she’s from, but nearly all shops whether in Malls or not, are closed during Level 4. More entitlement.

At the Wellington Evans Bay Marina, there was on-going evidence that campervans and housetrucks were still moving about.

The first two appear to be staying put:

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27 August

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But it’s not all bad news. (We get sufficient amount of that from the msm and the hacks that are passed of as “informed commentators”.)

Building sites and roadworks, in the main, appeared to be adhering to lockdown more than any other commercial activities aside from retailing. Just a few from Wellington’s eastern suburbs:

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Miramar “Cutting” roadworks

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Building site, Rongotai Rd

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Building site, Evans Bay Pde

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Building site, Onepu Rd

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There were many more sites, left temporarily abandoned as builders and road workers respected the need to isolate and stay home.

By afternoon, the weather had turned drizzly, with a cold wind and heavy cloud. A few joggers braved the miserable, gray day on Oriental Bay but otherwise it was deserted.

The evening was busy, work-wise and I again missed listening to RNZ’s “Checkpoint” or television news bulletins. Again, my evening was less stressful not having to listen to whatever  nay-sayer “experts”;  business whingers; and political opportunists msm news-producers had scraped from the bottom of the news-cycle barrel.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 347

Cases in ICU: 1

Number of deaths: –

So ended the tenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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28 August: Day 11 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 347

Cases in ICU:  1

Number of deaths: –

Morning started with usual; coffee; breakfast; coffee; and then settling down to watch Newshubs “The Nation“, hosted by TV3’s Head Prefect, Simon Shepherd.

When “The Nationstwitter feed announced “experts”:

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– a sense of unease struck me. Which self-interested business heads; ambitious political vultures; untrained commentators, had they lined up to spew their depressing “concerns”?

I was pleasantly surprised.

The show’s producers had indeed lined up real experts. Medical, sciencey; epidemiological – people who had spent years, if not decades, understanding the microscopic menace we faced.:

  • Professor Michael Plank
  • Professor Michael Baker
  • Professor Quentin Grafton

They were a pleasant contrast to the stream of bullshit we’ve been subjected to, from NewstalkZB (Aotearoa’s wannabe FoxTV); NZ Herald, to even the state-broadcaster, Radio NZ.

The latter has been indulging in a depressing orgy of scraping self-appointed “experts” and commentators from around Aotearoa New Zealand to overseas.:

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The above article was penned by Marc Daalder.  He is not described as a Health reporter:

“Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers Covid-19, climate change, energy, primary industries, technology and the far-right”

The story itself is categorised under “Politics”.

Which begs the obvious question: why is a pandemic reported by a political journalist? Do we see Health reporters writing stories on the share market?

When did a medical-health crisis become political? (In the US, UK, Brazil, et al, covid has indeed become politicised – usually at the behest of the Right.)

I look forward to seeing a motoring journalist reporting on flower arrangement at the next flower-show. Or vice versa. Both are equally ridiculous.

Micky Savage writing for The Standard analysed some of the media stories and media response to criticisms made of material presented to the public. It is well worth reading.

He referred to Andrea Vance’s defensiveness in a recent story published for Stuff media where she complains bitterly how unfairly the public have been treating the msm and journos:

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Ms Vance is being disingenuous.

The criticisms of the mainstream media (msm) have, by and large, not been targetted at their scrutiny of the government. This blogger himself has written countless blogposts highly criticical of aspects of government MIQ policies.

The criticism from the public – which is  how she dismissively describes as “us vs them’ group think mentality” -has been largely focused on the media’s willingness to platform a pale-yellow stream of negative opinions framed as expert commentary. Every single day, we are presented with carping businesspeople and commentators, often from overseas, with little or no medical or science training.

The response of the public has been one of exasperation at this negativity. That negativity is a covert denigration of us and our willingness to temporarily sacrifice our liberty for the greater good. The platforming of nay-sayers in our media – especially from overseas where the horrifically high death toll from covid19 has been tragic – is undermining and pointless.

No one in the msm has yet explained what benefit we get when a professor from the United Kingdom – current death toll 132,376 – is platformed and given airtime to effectively suggest we’re all idiots for pursuing an elimination strategy.

That exasperation from the public is every bit  “freedom of expression” as she demands for herself and her colleagues.

The media do not get a free pass from the public’s scrutiny that the media themselves exact on politicians.

The propensity of non-commercial, public broadcaster, RNZ to platform negative opinions as faux “expert commentators” has been noticed on social media. The response has not been good for the  broadcaster, going by comments after this post I made:

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Other observations have been in a similar vein.

When RNZ has reported rational comments as from Dr Richard Webby – an infectious disease researcher working at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee, US – the headline was less than helpful – and more tabloid-flavour:

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At least it was in the “Health” category.

The medical experts on Saturday’s “Nation” was contrasted by the jarring comments by Westland mayor and possibly deranged individual, Bruce Smith. His bizarre comments raised a storm of angry criticism on social media.

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His remark that covid19 was “no worse than polio” would have been met with 5 million slippers thrown at the TV screen.

No doubt next time Mr Smith is feeling unwell, he will seek medical advice from his mortgage broker.

By contrast, the medically-trained and sane human being, Professor Quentin Grafton, had a very simple and coherent response to “Plan Bers” like Mr Smith:

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To repeat:

“… Living with the virus means dying with the virus.”

How lucky does Mr Smith and his ilk feel?

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 429

Cases in ICU: 2

Number of deaths: –

So ended the tenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 – 70 new cases in Delta community outbreak, total now 347, one person in ICU

Twitter: The Nation – experts – 27 August 2021

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown – Ardern struggles to give New Zealand certainty

Stuff media: If the Government is making the right decisions on Covid-19, it will withstand scruntiny

RNZ: Covid-19 – UK-based critic on New Zealand’s exit strategy

Worldmeter: UK Covid Death Toll

Twitter: @fmacskasy – RNZ – 28/8/21

Twitter: @nealejones – state of New Zealand’s media – 25/8/21

RNZ: Dr Richard Webby – ‘We’ll all catch Covid-19 eventually’

Newshub: Coronavirus – Westland Mayor Bruce Smith sick of hearing from health experts about COVID-19, wants business leaders to have more say

Twitter: @Tim_McCreadyBruce Smith10.23AM  28/8/21

Newshub: Coronavirus – What 59 essential workers testing positive means for elimination

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – What happened on Saturday, August 28

Additional

Gizmodo: New Zealand Pursues Covid-Zero as Right-Wing Idiots Lose Their Minds

Other Blogs

The Standard: Covid and the media

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: Tom Scott

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Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

27 August 2021 8 comments

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26 August: Day 9 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 210

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

A fine day, cloudy but warm. 

Five cars at the railway station park and ride. Traffic seemed lighter than previous days, with about six to eight vehicles in sight at the Melling interchange.

There will be no further listing of branded commercial vehicles. Previous blogposts have given a ‘flavour’ of the wide-range of commercial and public service vehicles that were traversing the main roads from Hutt Valley to Wellington.

However, spotted were three firewood trucks (one branded “Chopps”) and two gas-cylinder trucks; a small campervan heading northalong SH2 north of  Ngauranga Gorge interchange;  a car transporter (not carrying any cars) flat-deck truck; a tow truck towing one car and carrying a second on its deck; a Fulton Hogan light-arrow truck with usual cargo of orange road-cones; and a couple of police cars.

The sighting of police cars is noteworthy. Last year’s lockdown was notable for the near-total absence of police vehicles on our Wellington-Hutt Valley roads. This time they appear to be out in force.

It is unclear if their focus is on speedsters and issuing infringement notices, or perhaps more critically, monitoring potential breaches of the lockdown.

By 10AM the weather had turned inclement. A good sign to keep folk away (hopefully) from popular public walkways along the harbour front.

Meanwhile, activity continued to be apparent at Evans Bay marina carpark. Campervans were obviously coming and going, or moving about and returning to different parking spotspots, as the following images demonstrate.

Comparing 20 August with today, six days later later:

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Let’s hope none of these travellers spread Delta as they are moving about. For these folk, it seems to be life-as-usual.

I recommend educating these folk on Delta Covid. If that fails, wheel clamps.

With pressures of work well into the evening I missed listening to RNZ’s “Checkpoint” and haven’t watched recorded episodes of TV1 or TV3 news bulletins. Surprisingly, my head seemed clearer and calmer.

Not listening to a torrent of “news” stories comprising of whining entitlement from businesses having to close; so-called “experts” who decry the government’s  and people’s efforts to stop the spread of Delta; and Opposition politicians who have their own agendas – I think I’ll sleep well tonight.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 277

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the ninth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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27 August: Day 10 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 277

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

A good night’s sleep. Woke up to an overcast day and starting to drizzle.

Sadly, the positive mind-set didn’t last long.

RNZ’s “Morning Report” featured two stories, one after another:

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The first story, at 8.43AM, featured Susie Ferguson interviewing clinical psychologist, Karen Nimmo on the stresses and anxiety people were feeling during the current lockdown.

Cited as reasons were:

“…it’s mid-winter”

“…the novelty factor has been stripped out”

“…we’ve got uncertainty”

“…the same old thing”

“…feeling flat”

“…feeling fatigued”

“…people jammed together in flats”

“…not warm flats”

“…boredom”

“…pressure cooker with flatmates and kids”

“…lonely”

I wasn’t entirely convinced.

Lo and behold, the reason why I wasn’t convinced came approximately a few minutes later. 

Ms Ferguson was followed by her colleague, Corin Dann interviewing Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine from the UK University of East Anglia.

It was another critic of Aotearoa New Zealand’s strategy to eradicate and keep covid19 from our shores. The five minute 38 seconds long interview was a confusing, incoherent mess of poorly-thought through “reckons” by a supposed foreign “expert.

Questions abound as to why RNZ thought it worthwhile to interview this man.

I listened to him. I pondered his answers to Mr Dann’s probing questions. I considered what point he was trying to make.

I still cannot fathom what he was trying to say. Because at the end of the interview, Professor Hunter then finished by endorsing our elimination strategy:

“Yes, carry on at the moment trying to stop it spreading.”

Which leaves unanswered questions about who, at RNZ, thought it was a good idea to platform this person?

What was the point of yet more criticism and undermining of our eradication policy?

What did RNZ hope that listeners would learn?

How did it help us?

How did it further our collective efforts to contain and remove this deadly virus from our midst and save many lives?

What was the purpose of it?

And how many more of the thousands of nay-sayers and self-appointed experts has RNZ lined up to beat us over our collective head with?

If anyone at RNZ can offer even a wee glimmer of light on the rationale for this depressing interview, I will be fascinated to know it.

I will send my questions to RNZ and hope for an answer.

But in answer to Dr Nimmo, she left out one of the culprits for stresses and anxieties which some (or many) of us in Team 5 Million may be feeling:

“…a constant mainstream media diet of debilitating “news” and “reckons” which belittles and undermines our resolve and leave us wondering if our efforts are actually really worthwhile”

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 347

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the tenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

TVNZ: Covid community cases reach 210, most in Auckland

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown day 9 – How it unfolded

RNZ: Covid-19 – Clinical pyschologist on getting through lockdown

RNZ: Covid-19 – UK-based critic on New Zealand’s exit strategy

Twitter: Neale Jones – state of New Zealand’s media – 25/8/21

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 70 new community cases reported in NZ today

Additional

Gizmodo: New Zealand Pursues Covid-Zero as Right-Wing Idiots Lose Their Minds

Other Blogs

The Standard: The mysterious socialist hermit kingdom

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch (ft National Party)

Liked what you read? Feel free to share.

Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

25 August 2021 9 comments

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24 August: Day 7 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 107

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

A cool,  grey, overcast, morning. This is a good start. Unpleasant weather deters people from taking strolls along crowded, popular walkways such as Oriental Bay Parade. As mentioned in previous diary entries, most do not wear facemasks and joggers run past pedestrians, breathing hard all about them.

The possibility that one of these is carrying Delta, running through unmasked strollers puffing virus with each laboured breath, does not bear thinking about. The inescapable irony; a healthy activity that could land many people in hospital…

At my local urban park n ride railway station there are three cars parked. Yesterday there were four.

It is deathly quiet. No wind, very little traffic around my streets.

But noticeable on the main roads are plenty of commercial vehicles. Just some spotted; “Intergroup” street-sweeping truck; “Bidfoods” truck parked by a Dairy; “Wellington SCL” van; “Newshub” stationwagon parked on SH2 roadside; “Greater Wellington Regional Council” ute; a gravel-haulage truck; “Noel Leeming” truck; “Drain Doctor” van; “Arb Innovations” ute; “Global Welding Supplies” hatchback; red “NZ Courier” van; “Waste Management” soft-sided truck; a glaziers van; “Bidfresh” soft-sided light truck; a ute marked “Filtec”; “Crown Lift” truck; “PBT” courier van; “Coca Cola” soft-sided truck; a firewood light truck; “Mainfreight” double tandem heavy truck; a large heavy flat-deck truck, empty; an “Owens” truck bearing a container; a “Downer” van; “Waste Management” truck; green “Toll” van; two green gravel-haulage trucks; “Pacific” fuel tanker truck; “Morepork” truck carrying a light ‘bobcat’ digger; “NZ Couriers” heavy truck; van marked “Proflow Plumbing and Gas Solutions”; “PBT” courier van; “Mainstream” soft-sided truck; “Jets” soft-sided truck; white van marked “High Rise”; black SUV marked “One News”; van marked “Plumbing World”; light truck, “Service Foods”; ute marked “kiwirail”; black ute, “Chill”; black hatchback, “Spark”; soft-sided truck, “Booths Transport Ltd”; ute, “Jennian”; van, “Wasabe Group”; van, “Chorus; two “Coundown” food delivery trucks; et al.

There were many other commercial vehicles whose markings could not be easily determined. The list above is perhaps a quarter  of commercial vehicles sighted.

The two heavy diggers spotted over the last few days, and reported on yesterday were operating:

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Their support vehicles parked nearby:

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Despite considerable commercial vehicles present, traffic volumes on SH2 was light, around three to four vehicles at any one time. Traffic density increased approaching Melling Interchange, with around a dozen vehicles present at Belmont/Kelson.

By Petone, the over-cast skies had become a light drizzle with temperature cooling.

At the automated BP Fuel station on SH2, workmen and heavy commercial vehicles were again operating today.

Around the northern suburbs, it began to rain heavily by mid-morning and the weather had become colder. This would hopefully motivate people to stay home and not cluster at popular walkways.

In the late evening, there were roadworks just south of the automated BP Fuel station on SH2, in the northbound lane. A crew comprising of three light-arrow trucks; some other heavy vehicles, and workmen on-site. Nothing quite says banal normality during a deadly pandemic crisis than roadworks.

The day finished on a jarring note.

Not the pandemic. Not the grim news that there were 41 new covid cases today.

Not that our cuzzies in New South Wales had another terrible day of increased covid numbers.

These were indeed bad news stories.  But the thing that was depressing came from our own media.

Mainstream media had finally ramped up it’s stories from carping quarters.

Radio NZ’s “Checkpoint” led off with an interview with serial-whinger and business-at-any-cost lobbyist, Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO, Michael Barnett.

Unchallenged by host, Lisa Owen, the two carried on a five-minute long moan as to why supermarkets were allowed to operate but butchers, greengrocers, bottlestores, et al, were forced to close. It was a frustrating example of child-like entitlement and neither understood the crisis that New South Wales was now in because retailers were allowed to open at will.

For Barnett, it was a simplistic situation where he suggested:

“I think that’s to hard to define… I think what you should do is give me the conditions under which I can operate. And if I can operate a butchery, or bakery, or a supermarket under those conditions then I should be able to do it. If I can do it, I can do it one on one and contactless, and if that’s the rule, that’s what I should be able to do.”

When Ms Owen asked Barnett to define safety parameters, he replied glibly:

“Absolutely, It’s health and safety. We’ve got to comply with that. Set those parameters, set the conditions which I can operate, should operate, and let me comply with that. Business is very good at doing that.”

He continued his rant:

“That’s the stupidity of the system that they’ve [government] got.”

At no point did either of them bring up the dire situation that New South Wales was in. The Australian state has failed to contain covid and the numbers of new cases each day are staggering:

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In case anyone was wondering what the differences was between New Zealand and New South Wales, these are the retailers allowed to be open during respective lockdowns:

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So New South Wales has followed Michael Barnett’s demands. Almost every retailer is open to trade. Their covid cases have exploded as well.

To date, the death toll for New South Wales is 128. For Victoria, the death toll is 820. For Australia, the combined death toll is:

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984

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Ours remains at 26.

Remember Barnett’s assertion:

“If I can do it, I can do it one on one and contactless, and if that’s the rule, that’s what I should be able to do… Set those parameters, set the conditions which I can operate, should operate, and let me comply with that. Business is very good at doing that.”

Retail Meat New Zealand spokesperson, Kit Arkwright, also echoed Barnett’s demands to open up retailing:

“If we could provide click and collect at our front door on the high street like most butchers are placed, I think that would be a pretty practical step in the right direction.

An eftpos machine at the front door and an open environment on the high street I can’t see to many risks there.”

But other businesses have disclosed they cannot ensure public safety. On compulsory QR scanning, Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) spokesperson Alan McDonald was explicit:

“If you make it compulsory then that implies somebody has go to enforce this thing and if you’re looking at particularly small businesses … that’s putting a lot of onus on the owner or people running the store to perhaps front somebody who doesn’t necessarily want to scan in.”

And Retail NZ chief executive, Greg Harford was equally clear:

“It’s not a retailer’s job to be enforcing the rules, whether it’s contact tracing or mask use – it’s just really not what we’re there for, and I think you get pretty good levels of compliance from the public on these sorts of things anyway.”

So much for Barnett’s glib and meaningless assurances that “business is very good at doing that.”

To be clear, Barnett is advocating nothing more than “all-care-but-no-responsibility”. And no responsibility for inevitable deaths should we follow his lunatic demands.

The man’s sole motive is money, not keeping people alive.

And shame on RNZ, “Checkpoint“, and other mainstream media for platforming him without robustly challenging him and exploring the consequences of his demands.

There was more whinging and demands for “certainty” and “clarity” from the South Island – again helpfully platformed and amplified by a mainstream media eager for clicks.

Sadly, the juvenile whingefest on RNZ was not alone. TV1 News today led with not one; not; two, but three noisy critics with their own agendas. Let us be crystal clear: those agendas are not focused on our well-being.

The constant flow of carping is not a matter of “free speech”. Aotearoa New Zealand is facing a deadly pandemic that, to date, has killed 4.44 million people world-wide (certainly an under-reported figure); flooded hospitals with covid patients; created a syndrome of on-going suffering called “Long Covid”; and dragged away resources from other healthcare priorities.

To defeat covid, all New Zealanders must work collectively.  The alternative is clear for us to see in India, Brazil, United States, Britain, Fiji, and closer to home, Australia.

The discordant voices from business lobbyists concerned with their profit-taking or Opposition party-leaders (yes, Ms Collins and Mr Seymour, I’m referring to you both) vying for votes, distracts us from what should be our collective responsibilities to help one another.

We should all be pulling in the same direction. But when noisy business people and ambitious, irresponsible, political leaders appear to be pulling in opposing directions, it becomes apparent that the virus has allies – or “useful idiots” –  in our midst.

For the rest of the week, I will be reducing watching or listening to mainstream media.  Yes, that includes RNZ’s “Checkpoint” and possibly “Morning Report“. Too much amplified crazy bleating during a global disaster just does one’s head in.

And as a community worker, I want my head clear to focus on my clients. Not with the clamourings of business-sotted death-merchants and those aspiring to be the next Prime Minister.

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 148

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

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25 August: Day 8 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 148

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Another fine day, cool, breezy, but sunny. Just when we needed it the most, the stormy weather that battered the country the last couple of months seems to have subsided.

Four cars only at the local park n ride railway station.

Road traffic seemed decidedly heavier than the last few days. Noticed on the roads; a “Driving Miss Daisy” hatchback; a ute towing a trailer filled with cut firewood; ute marked “Plimmer Plumbing; white van marked “KPC Laundry Hire Services”; “Downer”; “X Couriers”; a high-sided open truck carrying a full load of cut firewood; “Fliway” truck; gray van, “Patch and Paint”; “Eurofins” marked SUV; gravel-hauling truck, “Downer”; gray ute, “Gemco”; white van marked “Bottle-O – Stokes Valley”; a police car racing north with flashing lights; another firewood-laden truck; “KAMS” large soft-sided truck; white van, “Initial”; “K&M” truck carrying a container; glass-glazing truck; “Fliway” truck; “Kiwirail” ute; “Envirowaste” truck; gray “Poste Haste” van; a truck carrying gas cylinders; a ute at the side of the road, “John Everiss”; a container-laden truck, “PBT”; a soft-sided truck, “Owens”; heavy truck, “Big Chill Distributors”; heavy truck, “Goodman Fielder”; a rental van, “Budget”; a van, “Jones Services”; a soft-sided, double-tandem truck, “Mainstream”; a rental van, “Hirepool”; double-tandem truck, “Toll”; yellow van, “Abe’s Bagels”; white van, “AEL Electrical”; truck, “Fliway”; “Downer” roadworks truck, laden with ubiquitous orange road cones; “Newshub” ute; two black cars, “Recon Security”; ute marked “Treescape”; police car parked-up by Jville “McDonalds”, on the round-a-bout; truck, “Ablaze Landscaping”; dumpster truck, “Downer”; truck, “WheelieBin”; truck, “New World”; car-transporter laden with three cars; truck, “K&M”; another police car with flashing lights; soft-sided truck truck, “Pak N Save”;  van, “Chorus”; van, “A to Z Flooring”; “Bidfood” truck; “Rinnai Service” van; “New World” truck; “Apparel Line” truck; police car, flashing lights, heading south on SH2; empty stock-truck; “L.G. Anderson” truck; another “L.G. Anderson” truck, laden with a container; flat-deck ute, “Aurora”; a suction-tanker truck marked “Southey’s Hydro Excavation”; an ambulance; another police car; another ambulance; a “Poste Haste” van; flat-deck truck, “Zoo”; truck, “Groundworks”; “K&M” truck; trucked marked “Firewood” (in very large letters!) with a large, full load; van, “JMAC”; van marked “Tungsten Electrical”; green van, “Toll”; truck carrying a digger, “Treescape”; black van, “Blackwell Plumbing”; van marked “Bottle-O”; car, “SCL Wellington”; van, “Chorus”; van, “Battery Service”; van marked “ABS”; truck, “Bidfood”; truck, “Jets”; double tandem truck, “Mainfreight”; truck laden with orange roadcones, marked “Hirepool”; van, “Postehaste”; van bearing “Streets” ice cream advertising; an ambulance; flat-deck truck marked “AA Vehicle Recovery”; tanker truck, “Northfuels”; et al.

As mentioned previously, there were many other commercial vehicles whose markings could not be easily determined. The list above is indicative only.

Commercial and residential traffic this late-morning was decidedly heavier than at any time since lockdown began. Without knowing that Delta was currently present in Aotearoa New Zealand, the level of commercial traffic on the roads certainly did not reflect our current emergency.

This blogger counted at least a dozen vehicles visible in the vicinity of SH58 interchange.

Riverbed work on the Hutt River was continuing unabated;

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Stopped at Melling red traffic lights, there were four vehicle in front and adjacent to me: all commercial.

Work had ceased at the automated BP service station south of Petone; all vehicles and workers had gone.

Two businesses appeared to be open to the public and trading:

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After some navigating around government ministeries and a phone call to a very helpful (and delightful!) operator, I was directed to the appropriate covid19 website to lodge a query/compliance compaint to investigate these two businesses.

It’s not a lockdown if people and businesses aren’t complying. Delta covid appreciates helpful people who take the piss.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 210

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the seventh and eighth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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Meanwhile, in an unfortunate juxtaposition of names, the singer vs the virus…

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References

RNZ: Live – Covid-19 updates on day 6 of lockdown

Newshub: New South Wales records staggering 478 local COVID-19 cases, eight deaths

RNZ: Covid-19 in NSW – State records 830 new cases

Newshub: COVID-19 – New South Wales records 818 new local community cases, three deaths

9News: NSW records 753 cases

9News: NSW records 919 new COVID-19 cases as state awaits incentives reveal

RNZ: Michael Barnett criticises essential business criteria

Stuff media: How New Zealand’s level 4 compares to NSW’s ‘strict’ Covid-19 lockdown

RNZ: Retail Meat NZ fears some butchers won’t survive extended lockdown

Stuff media: Covid-19 – QR code scanning too difficult for businesses to enforce if mandated – EMA

RNZ: South Island businesses want clarity over lockdown duration

Newsroom: The complexities of a ‘mask mandate’

RNZ:  As it happened – Covid-19 updates on day 7 of lockdown – everything you need to know

Newshub: Coronavirus – Judith Collins won’t say how many COVID-19 deaths would be ‘acceptable’ number to live with

TVNZ: Extended lockdown hurting struggling events industry

Twitter: Neale Jones – state of New Zealand’s media – 25/8/21

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

TVNZ: Covid community cases reach 210, most in Auckland

Additional

TVNZ: New Covid modelling reveals grim prospects if vaccination rate is not 90%

TVNZ: Michael Baker – Covid elimination strategy allows NZ to ‘choose our future’

Other Blogs

Pundit: The Lucky Lockdown? Is This The Kick In The Butt NZ Needs?

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

 

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Acknowledgement: Peter Bromhead

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

24 August 2021 10 comments

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22 August: Day 5 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 51

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Another day spent at home.

Morning; breakfast of low-sugar muesli and watch the eternally-young, but deceptively-capable Jack Tame on Q+A. First interviews Chris Hipkins who makes comments almost suggesting we will have to “live with covid19” at some time. The comments set of a flurry of media and social media speculation.

Jack Tame suggests we might’ve offered a “premium” to pharmaceutical companies to acquire their vaccines. Chris Hipkins replies that government has never offered a premium to jump the queue.

Rightly so. The suggestion is repellent. I would want no part of it.

And on a practical level, we’d be outbid every time by countries wealthier than us. In a “rule of the jungle”, Aotearoa New Zealand would lose every time.

Tampa survivor  and refugee from Afghanistan, Abbas Nazari, is interviewed. Mr Nazari is incredibly personable and articulate. There is something incredibly compelling about his insights. I can’t help but wonder if, in an Alternative Universe, he might’ve been a natural leader in his country of birth.

He is Afghanistan’s deepest loss and Aotearoa’s gain.

After Q+A I don’t go out. No groceries are needed (I don’t do the toilet paper hoarding thing) and there’s plenty to do around the house.

Listening to RNZ as I catch up on things I’ve been planning to do; assemble shelving for memorabilia displays; repairing items in my “breakages box” that I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while; strip bed; laundry; give cat cuddles; vacuum; change kitty-litter; dusting… the day fills with tasks I’ve no excuses to not do.

In the early evening; dinner; phone my work colleagues regarding rostered shifts and maintaining work ‘bubbles’. My throat has developed a minor soreness that becomes more noticeable as I’m chatting with my colleague. The soreness subsides later that night. Troubling…

I watch “One Land Bridge“, noting the weirdness that is so redolent of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks“.

I chat with my partner on the phone and we share our weekend experiences. We have separate ‘bubbles’ because of my community work and extended ‘bubble’ that goes with it.

I’m feeling unusually tired and go to bed after chatting with my partner. Work tomorrow and I start early for a long day.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 72

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

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23 August: Day 6 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 72

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

I wake up feeling like crap. Fuzzy headed and lethargic. I have breakfast, shower, and prepare for work. I wait for the unwellness to subside.

Driving down along SH2, known informally as the “River Road”, I park my car by the roadside. Nearby, there are workers on two massive diggers with flashing yellow “alert” lights in the middle of the river and pushed-up mounds of rock.

I still don’t feel better. I phone the covid line (0800 358 5453). It’s not much help, I can’t get through. I phone the Healthline (0800 611 116) and I’m answered promptly. I relate my symptoms to the person on the line; she takes down my details; advises me a nurse will get back to me shortly. I thank her.

I hang up. My attention is drawn back to the men on the diggers. Should they be operating during a Level 4 lockdown? How is river works essential?

The number of commercial vehicles on the River Road is noticeable. If Delta spreads, businesses that continue to operate may likely be spreaders of this virus. Their occupants appear to travel widely throughout the Wellington region.

I take several photos with my smartphone.

First, an all-but-deserted SH2 River Road. There are no more than half a dozen vehicle on the road at any one time:

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The two diggers, atop mounds of re-arranged river rock:

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Do I carry on to work? Should I even be on the road?

I start my car and head south along SH2. The SH58 interchange comes into view and I make an immediate decision; head up the interchange on-ramp; veer right around the the roundabout and head back north. I’m going home. I shouldn’t’ve left my house in the first place; my thinking is that fuzzy.

Back home I phone and advise my manager.

The nurse phones me back later. She ‘interrogates’ my symptoms. I ask if I need covid testing. She replies; not at this stage, but if my condition worsens I’m to get down to a testing station. She advises rest, plenty of fluids, and paracetamol if I have it. I thank her for her help.

I take the paracetamol tablets, noting I need to buy more. Sleep.

A little later, waking, my head is clearer than before. Still a bit fuzzy, but not as bad as before. I phone Greater Wellington Regional Council, intrigued at the riverwork I’ve been witnessing on Friday and today. The receptionist take my details, and promises someone will call me back.

True to their work, “M.B.” phones me back from GWRC.

M.B. advises that the river work has been designated as “essential” and that it is permitted activity. He says the shifting of rock is necessary to “defend” river banks that’ve been scoured out by torrential flow after recent heavy rains. Riverbank walkways are threatened with collapse if left un-remediated.

M.B. explains the work was stalled last week because of more heavy rain – hence why work men were not on scene until last Friday.

M.B. reassures me that the workers are in their own “work bubble” and not interacting with the public.  Similar work is also being carried out further south at Pōmare, where river bank scouring has exposed (or threatening to expose) gas pipes. (Question: who builds gas pipes so close to a river?!) “Essential work” is also planned for Moonshine Park, along the river bank. Another riverbank walkway is also threatened.

I thank M.B. for returning my call and offering answers to my questions.

I’m still a bit fuzzy-headed and don’t question M.B. any further.

However, if river works are “essential work”, other businesses may reasonably question why they are missing out and not deemed “essential” as well.

Let’s hope M.B. is reflecting an accurate picture and the workers are keeping to a strict work bubble. A collapsed walkway can be repaired. Lives damaged by Delta Covid, not so easily.

Later in the night, I’m feeling better. If this was nothing more than a head cold, it was the first one since August last year.

But not surprising. The flutracker website has reported a recent upsurge in flulike symptoms:

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A reminder that covid19 isn’t the only virus floating around, waiting to ‘hitch a ride’ in our warm breeding grounds that we call our bodies.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 107

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the fifth and sixth days of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 21 new community cases in New Zealand today

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown day 5 – How it unfolded

TVNZ: Q+A – Aucklanders told to prepare for more time in lockdown

TVNZ: Q+A – Tampa survivor on why New Zealand must again open doors to Afghanistan refugees

Flutracker: Weekly Interim Report New Zealand

RNZ: Live – Covid-19 updates on day 6 of lockdown

Twitter: Richard Hills – Ardern won’t regret helping save thousands of lives

Recommended Reading

The Guardian: The Covid crisis suits rightwing media personalities as they monetise fear

Additional

Wikipedia: COVID-19 pandemic death rates by country

Other blogs

The Standard: Matt King caught blowing anti vaccination dog whistle

Previous related blogposts    

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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Liked what you read? Feel free to share.

Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

21 August 2021 13 comments

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21 August: Day 4 of living in lock-down…

No report from this blogger of what has been happening around the Wellington region. Being a day off, I am staying at home. Plenty of housework and reading to catch up on.

Meanwhile…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 31

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Today’s Eyebrow-Raiser.

Caretaker Leader Judith Collins on pointless sniping from the sidelines

“I think we’re very wise to sit back and wait a little while before we go charging into full Opposition mode.

I think one of the problems we have is if people see us as constantly sniping away from the sidelines and not putting up very good policies… then we’ll go the way of traditional Opposition which is further down, and that’s not something we want to do.”

Also Caretaker Leader Judith Collins, on the sidelines

“We are in lockdown because the government did not act with urgency to protect New Zealanders. Their complacency and inability to ensure supply and delivery of the vaccine roll-out has left New Zealanders as sitting ducks; completely vulnerable to the Delta variant when it inevitably got into the community.

It is not enough for the prime minister to lock us in our homes and speak from the podium once a day. New Zealanders don’t need sermons, we need vaccines in arms right now.”

She just can’t help herself.

At a time when we are facing an even worse crisis with a vastly more transmissable mutation of covid – the Delta Strain – the nation needs calm leadership. Sniping from the sidelines is a distraction already-stressed New Zealanders will not welcome, nor thank.

Let’s not forget that the Delta Strain came from Sydney.

Let’s not forget who put pressure on the government to open a Trans Tasman “bubble” with a petition.

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Let’s not forget who seems to have conveniently forgotten that petition.

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She got what she wanted. The consequences were inevitable. Now she’s sniping from the sidelines the government isn’t cleaning up the mess she – in part – is responsible for.

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#CaretakerLeaderCollins

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 51

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the fourth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 11 new cases in the community, including three in Wellington

Newshub: Judith Collins wants National to avoid ‘constantly sniping away from the sidelines’ as it rebuilds

RNZ: Covid-19 – National criticises government’s handling of latest outbreak

Newsroom: Sydney returnee likely source of Covid outbreak

National Party: Sign the Trans Tasman bubble petition

Twitter: Judith Collins – Trans Tasman Bubble Petition

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 21 new community cases in New Zealand today

Previous related blogposts

National: Demand the Debate. Also National: No, not like that!

Judith Collins and National: It’s a trust thing

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cartoon judith collins

Acknowledgment: Sharon Murdoch

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

21 August 2021 13 comments

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20 August: Day 3 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 22

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

The day began sunny and near-cloudless sky. It was warming up. Not good, I thought with dread: fine days bring out the people for casual strolls on the beachfront; joggers; bike riders, dog walkers; et al. Most without face-masks, judging by yesterday’s observations on Oriental and Evans Bays.

By late morning, the sky filled with gray clouds; the temperature plummeted; and it began spitting with rain.

Perversely, my spirit lifted. People were less inclined to wander out and about in bad weather and – hopefully – would instead remain home.

The drive into Wellington to begin my work-day confirmed that the weather was worsening; the gentle ‘spit’ became a light drizzle.

There were fewer cars parked at the local railway station park-n-ride – only five today. In my immediate urban area there were even fewer cars on the road than yesterday. It was resembling last year’s lockdown.

On the highway I observed trucks marked PBT, “Lowcost Bins”; van marked “The Drain Doctor”; an “Armourguard” van; “Waste Management” jumbo-bin truck (unladen); “Postehaste” courier van; white van marked “Precision”; a light-truck carrying gas cylinders; a van marked “HydrauLink”; van marked “Initial”; a “Moore Wilsons” truck; another “Waste Management” truck; a ute marked “Groundforce”; a “Hirepool” truck, with driver and passenger, parked up at Belmont, carrying a portacom toilet; a “L.G. Anderson” marked truck; a yellow soft-sided truck (“Pak n Save”?)’; an unladen flat deck truck with a hi-ab; a soft-side truck marked “Countdown”;  a “Mitre 10 – Crofton Downs” truck carrying building materials; another “L.G. Anderson” flat-deck truck carrying a container; an ambulance; “Hirepool” truck; glaziers van; a “Traffic Management” truck; “Envirowaste” truck; “Waste Management” truck; “Provida Refrigerated Logistics” truck; “Kiwi Express” courier van; “L.G. Andrerson” flat deck truck, empty; “Dixon Dunlop” gravel truck, apparently empty; a police ute just north of Wellington; a “Toll” marked truck; “Dawson’s Waste” Pumping truck; two utes marked “Vertex”, carrying scaffold gear; a “Linfox” tanker;  “Onestop Plumbing & Gas” van (parked up); another police car in Miramar;  and many more which this blogger could not determine their company markings.

There was rock-dredging taking place in the Hutt River adjacent to SH2 “River Road” by two heavy digging-machines. Operations to rearrange the river-bed seemed to have returned to “normal” during an abnormal period. Has the Wellington Regional Council sanctioned this work?

By Melling, traffic was still light; lighter than the last few days.

At the automated BP Service station, on SH2 north of Ngauranga, there were workmen present again with several heavy vehicles.  Whatever work they were engaged in seemed unaffected by the nationwide lockdown order.

Out in the harbour, the freighter from yesterday was still anchored out in the choppy waters:

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One couldn’t but feel sympathy for the hapless crew aboard the ship:

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In Wellington City, few pedestrians wore face masks. But positively, there were even fewer people wandering along Oriental Bay Parade.

Update on the Marquee this blogger witnessed being erected/dismantled outside Te Papa Museum, in Cable Street yesterday:

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The Marquee had been put up. And it’s use was obvious:

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Unlike some of the commercial-construction activity this blogger was witnessing, this work was very much essential. A new covid-testing station in the city.  Just in time, for the terrible news that was just starting to break:

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Meanwhile, in the nearby Te Papa carpark,  three campervans were parked up. It remains to be seen if they will be present on Monday morning:

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At the Evans Bay Marina Campervan park, vehicles were still apparently coming and going, despite the lockdown.

At the eastern end:

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Compared to yesterday (right) with today (left):

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At the southern end:

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Compared to yesterday (right) with today (left):

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At the northern end:

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Compared to yesterday (right) with today (left):

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Parked up roadside:

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There was no change above from the image taken yesterday.

The reason this matters is not a campervan version of “trainspotting”. If these vehicles are are no longer parked-up, but are mobile, then they potentially become super-spreaders.

As the Wellingtonian who returned by car to Wellington, driving from Auckland:

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One campervan laden with occupants could easily spread the virus throughout the north island.

On 21 August, this blogger reported one of several vehicles on the motorway:

“South of Ngauranga, a white campervan was heading north. Another person taking the opportunity to treat lockdown as a personal opportunity for impromptu holiday-time?”

Where were they heading?

They are a potential, dangerous vector for spread no one has considered.

Tonight, a campervan owner at the Marina told this blogger that the Wellington City Council had lifted the 4-day maximum parking limit for vehicles during the covid emergency. There is therefore no valid justification for campervan owners to be moving around and flouting the lockdown.

Police have been notified.

Throughout the day, this blogger had occasion to visit two ‘Pak n Save’ supermarkets; one work-related on behalf of a client; the other personal. Neither were pleasant experiences.

Though supermarket staff did their best to limit numbers entering the store, the two-metre distancing rule is impossible to practice. The aisles are simply not wide enough and customers often pass each other well within a metre.

However, mask wearing was near universal. Only three customers were spotted; one with his mask slipped down; another without a mask, and wearing only a scarf which had slipped down around his neck; and a woman who responded that she “had an exemption“.

Did she also have an exemption from the Delta Covid? She didn’t say.

But they were only three of several hundred this blogger witnessed.

People entering the stores were assiduously scanning QR codes.

Dodging the Bullet – a personal note

The Ministry of Health released a list of locations of interest where covid-infected Wellingtonians, returning from Auckland, had been in the last few days.

The locations included places in suburbs around Wellington:

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As this blogger read through the list, my heart sank. Two places on Wednesday 18 August, in Johnsonville, were on a day I visit a client. The times coincided when I accompany them through Johnsonville.

Could it be that we had crossed paths with this infected  person? I could have passed him on the footpath and breathed in as he exhaled. Delta Covid is that infectious.

I felt sick in my gut.

I quickly grabbed my work diary. Checking the appointments, I found my client’s entry.

It had been crossed off.

I had been reassigned to Miramar clients instead. This was dodging the bullet on a personal level.  By reassigning me, my Manager may have inadvertently saved me and my client from becoming two more statistics.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 31

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the third day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: North Shore Hospital patient tests positive for Covid-19, emergency department closes

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak – Everything we know so far about Wellington cases

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak – Two cities, one cluster; North Island cases grow

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak – Locations of interest pass 190 – yet more expected

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 11 new cases in the community, including three in Wellington

Additional

Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MoBIE): Workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels – Guidance for businesses at Alert Levels 2, 3 and 4

RNZ: Daily cheer – Social media content from lockdown day 3

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

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Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2 – REVISED

20 August 2021 14 comments

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19 August: Day 2 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 10

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Traffic today seemed marginally lighter than yesterday, with not as many obvious “tradies” on the road. The nearby railway station park-n-ride had the same number of cars as yesterday (around half a dozen).

It was a much brighter, sunnier day than yesterday and people were out and about in my suburb walking with family and dogs. Mask-wearing was not much evident.

On SH2 “River Road”, traffic was lighter than yesterday, about 6 or 8 cars visible at any time. Unlike yesterday most of the vehicles were domestic rather than commercial.

Commercial vehicles sighted; two “Traffic Management” light-arrow trucks, complete with dozens of orange cones; a “Crest Clean” van; “Silbury Roofing” ute; “First Security” hatchback; “Waste Management” truck; “Apparel Line NZ Ltd”; ute marked “Hunt”; a ute towing a bobcat; “Posthaste” courier van; a police car; “NZ Post” courier; van marked “Flooring Design”; van marked “Wellington Waterways”; container truck; a ute marked “Site Care”; a flat-deck truck carrying an over-size tractor; van marked “Chorus”; a drain-cleaning light truck; SUV marked “Collective First National” real estate; a gravel bearing truck marked “Horokiwi”; a tow-wagon carrying a ute; vabn marked “Marshall Batteries”; “HydroTech” truck; “Envirowaste” truck; another “Waste management” truck; another “Envirowaste” truck; “Allied Petroleum” double-tandem tanker-truck; “Monk Appliances” black van; ambulance past Aotea Quay; a black van marked “Plumb 2 Please”; another ambulance heading north through the Terrace Tunnel

At Petone, track building operations had ceased. Heavy construction vehicles were abandoned with no crew about.

At the automated BP Service station on SH2 there were workmen and heavy-work vehicles continuing their construction/maintenance project from yesterday.

At the Ngauranga interchange there were about ten to twelve vehicles visible in either direction. It was definitely busier than last years lockdown.

Out in the harbour, two freighters were anchored on the open water. (Later, that night, only one remained on open water.)

South of Ngauranga, a white campervan was heading north. Another person taking the opportunity to treat lockdown as a personal opportunity for impromptu holiday-time?

In Wellington, the streets were more deserted than yesterday and in the commercial/shopping precincts, most wwere wearing face-masks.

Taranaki Street, looking north:

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Taranaki Street, looking south:

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In Dixon Street, four commercial/service vehicles marked “Vital” were carrying out work:

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One of the vehicles was a ‘cherry picker’. Were they doing work on the power or phone lines? Was it essential – “vital” – work?

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More workmen.

This time outside Te Papa Museum, in Cable Street. Around five men were busily erecting/dis-assembling the white marquee pictured below.

Only half appeared to be wearing face-masks. How is erecting/disassembling a marquee “essential” work?

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A Fulton Hogan truck and ute towing a portacabin, that appeared connected to work being carried out on the marquee:

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Ute towing portacabin:

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Around the bays; Oriental Bay and then Evans Bay; there were considerable numbers of people walking in the sun; families; and plenty of joggers. Not many were masked-up. Two mask wearers wore them inappropriately; one under the nose; the under his chin. (His chin was safe from Delta Covid, no doubt.)

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At the Evans Bay Marina campervan facility, things had changed.

Western end of the carpark:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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Southern side of the carpark:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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Northern side of carpark:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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Out on the street:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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From my observations, people were making the most of the fine day to either walk about; go jogging; carry out commercial – and possibly non-essential – work; or take campervans out for a tour.

You wouldn’t think there’s a pandemic and we’re currently facing dire consequences from the highly transmissable and deadly Delta variant.

Traffic later in the night was practically non-existent, with no vehicles near the airport or Cobham Drive when this blogger drove through just after 8pm.

The night-time drive home though wasn’t much better, with road works on SH2 opposite the Melling Railway station. The vehicles appeared to have “Fulton Hogan” brandings. How “essential” are roadworks during a pandemic lockdown?

When – not if – Delta Covid arrives in Wellington, it has to be hoped that Wellingtonians lift their game. If current behaviour persists, the virus will rip through this city.

Meanwhile, on a Black Humour Note.

By the way, is anyone still interested in signing this petition?

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Asking for a virus, keen to know.

But for the most supreme irony of the year, take a closer look. Look at the heading “National launches trans-Tasman bubble petition“.

Then look at the red-bannered message above:

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A rather unfortunate juxtaposition?

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 21

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the second day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: NZ in day two of lockdown as case numbers rise

RNZ: Covid-19 update -11 new community cases and 8 in managed isolation

National Party: National launches trans-Tasman bubble petition

Twitter: @BMHayward – Sth Island lockdown – Sydney – 6.03PM Aug 18 2021

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

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Acknowledgement: Bill Bramhall (USA)

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

18 August 2021 16 comments

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18 August: Day 1 of living in lock-down…

 

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 5

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

After a night of torrential rain bursts and thunderous blasts of lightning, I wake up to Round Two of life under lockdown. The weather is overcast outside; the roads wet from last nights downpour. This is a good sign; people may be less inclined to sneak of down to the beach or summer baches for a long weekend.

Sorting through my revised roster of reassigned clients. Thankfully most are staunch and understand the severity of the crisis.

Listening to the radio, vox populi interviews of Kiwis in various centres, I am struck at the stiff-upper-lip response from people. The lock-down is considered necessary; people point to the cluster-f**k that is Sydney; “we can do this, we’ve done it before”. I am reminded of WW2 stories of British people during the blitz; calm resignation and determination to see it through.

Only one jarring, dissenting voice from the South Island who whines like a six year old that only the North Island should’ve been locked down because the outbreak was a North Island thing:

But Matt Radcliffe said the South Island should not have been forced to lock down for a case in the North Island.

“We’re like sheep aren’t we. Yeah, I think it is over the top. You know, one case, if it is one case in the North Island… Australians can lock down a state, why can’t New Zealand lock down an island, if it’s in the north, shut down the North Island.”

Australians can lock down a state” has to be the most moronic statement since David Seymour prattled on about plastic bags. Obviously Mr Radcliffe is living in blissful ignorance at how Delta has slipped through one state after another because NSW did not opt for a full lockdown.

Contrast with this person, who really was the adult in the room:

In central Dunedin, Carolyne Smith said anything less than level four would have risked a New South Wales-type scenario.

“I mean if we go for sharp and hopefully short, we’ll knock it on the head, but I think if Jacinda and Ashley had gone for say level three or anything like that, they would have been just wide open to letting it go.”

The drive into Wellington took me along my usual route; down SH2 to the motorway; through the Terrace Tunnel; down Ghuznee Street, toward the Basin Reserve and then the Eastern Suburbs.

Traffic along the way. Definitely busier than the last L4 lockdown last year. Whilst hard to put a firm number, counting at any moment indicated twice the level of traffic than last year.

And there seemed to be more tradies on the motorway and city streets with their vans, utes, flat decks, et al. Plus a coca cola delivery truck – because carbonated soft drinks, as we all know, are critical to our wellbeing.

Near deserted suburban park-and-ride carparks. Normally filled to overflowing onto adjacent streets, only half a dozen cars  sat under a gloomy, chilly gray sky…

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The drive into town (and on the way home later that night) was marked by the presence of police vehicle. One sighted on SH2; another in Victoria Street, south of the Terrace Tunnel; and one parked up on the grassy central berm in Cobham Drive, connecting the city to the airport. This was in marked contrast to last year, when police were curiously absent from streets and motorway.

As mentioned above, traffic on the motorway was noticeably heavier than last year’s lockdown. More trucks; vans, utes – both marked and unmarked.

The number of vans and utes with electricians and plumbers markings indicated that either these people were still on the job, or perhaps were nipping down to their local super market for milk, bread, and nappies.

Last year I listed the markings on commercial vehicles. But I also missed many more travelling in the opposite direction. I may or may not continue the practice…

But certainly will observe and diary events, incidences, and people being people as I witness them.

Meanwhile, as I entered the deserted streets of Wellington…

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Looking north along Cuba Street, toward Cuba Mall…

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Coca cola-branded delivery truck. Both delivery persons wore masks. One over his face (good). The other under his chin (not so terribly good)…

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At Evans Bay marina, where campervans were permitted by Council by-laws to park-up. It remains to be seen if these vehicles stay put for the next few days…

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As I left my last client and headed to my car, I stood in a Miramar street not far from the Weta Workshops.  Unlike last year, the high-pitched sound of a turbo-prop aircraft accelerating to take-off still filled the dark night. A marked difference from the dead still silence from April 2020.

Tonight I headed home. Wednesdays was usually spent with my partner; dinner; something interesting to watch on TV or Youtube (Chris Hedges and Seth Myers are strong favourites). But tonight was to be spent home, alone. We have separate “bubbles” with mine being far more extended than hers because of my community work.

At least my cat would be happy to see me.

By Day’s End.

As trhe day came to a close, our covid toll had doubled…

Current covid19 cases: 10

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the first day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: South Island settles in for level 4: ‘That’s the sacrifice we’ve got to make’

RNZ: Microbiologist slams ‘irresponsible’ plastic ban claims cited by Seymour

Other Blogs

The Standard: The importance of political leadership in dealing with Covid

The Standard: Here again, but Delta gives less latitude. So give less latitude.

Previous related blogposts

Life in Lock Down: Day 33 & 34

Life in Lock Down: Day 2 of Level 3

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – Labour’s kryptonite

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Acknowledgement: Slane

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