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Life in Lock Down: Day 4

30 March 2020 26 comments

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Lock Down: Day 4 – A photo essay with observations

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March 29: Usual wake up routine as RNZ snaps on my radio-clock. Jim Mora’s voice slowly enters my conciousness; there’s talk of a second wave of covid19 taking hold in South Korea; the week in Parliament – not that there’s been much activity in the Debating Chamber; the plight of New Zealanders stuck in Peru and having to pay extortionate prices for return air flights (even if air flights *ARE* available)…

It is raining heavily outside. My back yard will be a swamp fit for pukekos. I am relieved; this will keep people inside.

Lurch out of bed… jug on… feed companion animal (double check to make sure I give her cat food and not my coffee)… prepare for Q+A  on TVNZ. Breakfast is figs and peanut butter on rye toast again (which I love)… Coffee ready… note pad… tablet…

Jack Tame’s eternally youthful visage appears on screen. He tells the nation there were eightythree new cases yesterday, taking the numbers up to 451. He wonders if this is going to be the “new normal”…

He presents his guests for the day… his first guest, Minister of Health David Clark.

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Though nothing really new  through the interview, Minister Clark did drive home the most basic point;

“Ultimately it’s in our hands… I’ve heard reports of people playing touch rugby or going into business that are non-essential. That cannot continue. We have zero tolerance for that kind of thing going on. If people do those kinds of things we will need to stay in lockdown longer because that behaviour affects all of us. So we’re asking every New Zealander to play their part.

… It’s about staying home, staying safe, and ultimately that will save lives.”

The problem of community workers without protective gear was raised. These are essential support professionals who are often faced with numbers of clients – without any protection at all.

Jack’s next guest, Professor Shaun Hendy, an expert in modelling pandemic spread;

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Jack opened describing a “morbid alternative. Researchers researchers at Auckland University say that without intervention or preventative measures as many as eighty thousand New Zealanders could have died from Covid19”.

Professor Hendy expressed concern at potential growth of community transfers: locals inadvertently transferring the virus as they continued to ignore strict rules for personal “bubbles. He warned;

“It could get very bad… the 80,000 figure that was the kind of the worst case scenario that we were looking at; we’re not facing that now we’re taking these steps. But we still have to be… still a possibility that we could have tens of thousands of deaths.

But, given the steps the government is taking, given the lockdown they’re taking, that’s reducing the possibility of that happening all the time.

By going into lockdown, us keeping to our bubbles, we’re protecing ourselves, by not having contact with other people who might be infected. But also if we do get infected then we’re reducing the number of people we might go on to infect.

And that number… we want that number to get below ‘1’. So on average, right, every person is infecting less than one other person, and if we get that, then what we will see, we’ll actually contain and be able to eliminate the disease in New Zealand and that’s the number we’re looking for.”

He said that the number of possible deaths in New Zealand was “still up in the air”. It depended on how New Zealanders observed the lock down.

Professor Hendy warned “If not, these lock down measures would have to go on longer, and we still facing a scenario where we might have thousands of deaths.”

He also predicted restrictions to international travel until an effective vaccine had been developed. Otherwise the country could be re-infected.

The next segment had reporter Whena Owen in various Wairarapa towns talking to people from rural and small town New Zealand. Some interesting insights.  Eyebrows and alarms must have been raised when one gentleman – supposedly self-isolating in a campervan in one spot for the next three and a half weeks – was gone when Ms Owen returned the following day to speak to him;

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Ms Owen’s report was followed by a crackly Skype interview with National Party Leader, Simon Bridges, now heading the Epidemic Response Committee.

The interview went fairly well and Mr Bridges gave a fair response to Jack Tame’s questioning of his disastrous speech in Parliament on 18 March. But the Opposition Leader couldn’t help himself and took another swipe at the Coalition government’s increase to welfare payments. Which is ironic when considering how many of Mr Bridges’ voting base may well up up as WINZ “clients”.

Following on was an interview with Grant Webster, CEO of Tourism Holdings Ltd. While confirming the massive damage wrought to tourism, Mr Webster suggested that post-lockdown, New Zealand might reinvent itself as a “high end” destination with “lower end” tourism “falling away”.

If true, it could prove a significant boon to our natural environment that has been severely impacted by large numbers of tourists. DoC could finally spend it’s budget on its core purpose: conservation, rather than building carparks and toilets.

Mr Webster predicted that 2020 and next next would both be “tough”. He expressed the view that what would happen next would be “covid19 related”.

Perhaps the last interview was saved because of it’s chilling aspects. Guardian US weekend editor, Martin Pengelly, gave a run-down of the covid19 crisis and chaos in the United States.

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He described the situation as;

“It’s very bad. It’s very very bad indeed.

Hospital system over-whelmed, or soon be over-whelmed. US Navy medical ships, one’s in Los Angeles, one’s setting off for New York now. Deadlock between state governments and Federal governments about resources, about ventilators, about the whole response.

… It got to this stage because of a number of factors, including the macro-factor of the US having no public health system. There is access to public health, but no working system.

… New York, where I am, is [an] alarming hot-spot [and] the worst is coming.”

He called it a very confusing and bleak situation.

As the United States stands on the precipice of catastrophe, Trump is stroking his own ego, denying assistance to states that are governed by Democrat leaders; Biden is struggling to remain relevant; and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is being whispered about as the secret candidate to stand against the incumbent President.

On Youtube, The Young Turks ran a piece showing how Biden is not coping with what little media media attention he has been getting. Again, mention is made of Governor Cuomo.

My txt-msg sent to Q+A was read out at the conclusion of the programme;

“Shaun Hendy’spoint is simple: ongoing transmission depends on us. Not govt. Not foreigners. Not even the virus. It’s US.Thesooner people get their heads around this, the better outcome we have.” – @fmacskasy – 9:22 AM · Mar 29, 2020

Writing and formatting this blogpost took up most of my late morning, early afternoon. Managed to stop for a bit of late lunch at 2PM; melted cheesy on rye bread with chopped onion, paprika, and basil. And coffee. Fed cat again. (Cat got water, not coffee.)

By mid-afternoon, the weather has cleared up. The sun is out. This is not good.

This afternoon, I discovered that things have taken a turn-for-the-worst. As I replied to a poster on The Daily Blog;

“As at 1pm today the first person in Aotearoa New Zealand has died from covid19. The numbers of infections has risen to 514.

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I don’t mind confessing that it is a frightening prospect to go to work tomorrow. But I’m one of the “lucky bastards” who works in an essential service. Lucky me.

If I catch the virus, my diabetes and age group (to put it delicately I’m no longer in my 20s…) will be two strikes against me. I think the medical term is “I’m f****d”.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(PS: In the event of my demise my Will is in my Filing Cabinet; someone feed my cat; and please clear my Browser History. )

Anyways, I think this explains my low tolerance threshold for those individuals who think this is a holiday and life is normal.

We lost “normal” last week.”

On a more mundane note, I had a txt-msg chat with a mate; the 78th World Science Fiction Convention – aka CoNZealand – scheduled to take place 29 July to 2 August this year in Wellington has been effectively cancelled. The irony should not escape us; one of the most well-used plot-devices in science fiction literature and film (remember the old 1970s television series, “The Survivors“?) – has blown a global annual sf fan gathering out of the water with a viral version of a  photon torpedo.

5.45PM: Dinner is two egg sandwiches on rye. Not much of an appetite, might try to eat something later. Cat is happy though.

Watched TV1 news at 6PM, carrying the story of Aotearoa’s first covid19 fatality. Will this drive home to New Zealanders just how f*****g serious this is?! Short  answer? Probably not.

I’m familiar with the New Zealand psyche of hyper-individualism; giving the two-fingered salute to Authority; accompanied by a toxic bloated sense of entitlement which so many people seem afflicted with. We’ve devoted an entire pop-culture to anti-establishment sentiments, with Goodbye Pork Pie probably our best effort. For a small minority, requiring people to stay home is a challenge to do the polar opposite.

It will take more people to die before it slowly dawns on that tiny minority that, yes, This Is A Thing.

Might watch some Seth Meyers or Star Trek Continues later on Youtube. (The actor who portrays Capt James Kirk bears a striking resemblance to William Shatner The Younger.) Looking forward to relaxing and laughing to some of Seth Meyers’ ascerbic satire and some nostalgia sf…

9.30PM: Hot mug of sugar free drinking chocolate and my cat on my lap, settled in to watch Miriama Kamo present her ‘Sunday’ programme. The backgrounder on where viruses like H1N1, SARS, and now covid19 spring from is a testament to humanity’s abuse of our surrounding natural environment.

It may be  anthropomorphising it, but it certainly feels as if Nature is mightily pissed of at us and is giving the human race a swift kick up the pants.

Afterward, I sat back down at the computer to refresh my memory how long ago Aotearoa New Zealand experienced its first covid19 case.

It was 28 February.

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Only a month and one day later, our country has 514 (known) cases.

I’m no mathematician – anything past the multiplication table escapes me – but even I recognise the steep rising curve in numbers. At that rate, had our PM not made perhaps the boldest call since we joined Great Britain in declaring war on Nazi Germany, the numbers would be in the tens of thousands by the end of the year. The experts at Auckland University, as covered this morning in Q+A, knew pretty much what they were talking about.

It is half past ten at night as I put the finishing touches to todays entry to Life in Lockdown.

Work tomorrow. I have latex gloves in my satchel – and nothing else. A full hazmat suit would be nice. Is there a choice in colours? Perhaps something ‘Star Trekky’? (But not in red. Trek fans know what I’m talking about.)

I should be so lucky.

And finally, let’s remember to all do our bit. It’s not quantum mechanics, people.

You have a better chance at survival if you follow the protocols;

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And, in Frank Speak;

Stay the F**K home!!

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References

TVNZ Q+A: Minister of Health says there is enough protective equipment for health workers

TVNZ Q+A: People should prepare themselves for the possibility of a longer lockdown – Scientist

TVNZ: Q+A looks at how one small town coped with shutting down life as we know it

RNZ: Coronavirus – Simon Bridges criticised for ‘politics-as-usual’ pot shots amid covid-19 crisis

TVNZ Q+A: The shutdown could provide a reset for the tourism industry – Tourism Holdings CEO

TVNZ: Q+A:  Very confused, very bleak – New York journalist on the COVID-19 crisis in America

Youtube: The Young Turks – Joe Biden GIVES UP Mid Interview

NewstalkZB:  ‘A very sad day’ – NZ has its first coronavirus death

CoNZealand

Wikipedia: The Survivors (1975)

NZ Herald: The life of Pie

RNZ: New Zealand confirms case of Covid-19 coronavirus

Previous related blogposts

The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus

Life in Lock Down: Day 1

Life in Lock Down: Day 2

Life in Lock Down: Day 3

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This blogpost was also published on The Daily Blog on 30 March 2020.

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Life in Lock Down: Day 3

29 March 2020 27 comments

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Lock Down: Day 3 – A photo essay with observations

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March 28: First day of the first weekend in Lock Down. It feels like it’s been weeks since only Level 3 was declared last Tuesday, only four days ago.

Woke up this morning to RNZ; coffee; toast, pat and fed my companion animal. Finished off Day 2 blogpost in time to watch Newshub Nation. Listened to Dr Sandhya Ramanathan describe the extraordinary lengths to carefully decontaminate before and after leaving her hospital,  followed by further decon-protocols at her home.

It made the precautions we are taking for our clients seem so utterly amateurish. But considering my employers (a nationwide NGO) have no Pandemic Policy in place that I’m aware off, we’ve used our initiative and common sense.

Political commentators Neale Jones and Matthew Hooton were both singing from the same “song sheet”. There’s nothing quite like an amoral, apolitical, non-sentient deadly virus to focus the mind.

As I begin this blogpost, it was raining  heavily. Normally not a weather situation I’d be happy with, but today and for the next three weeks, it is a blessing from Nature. It may help keep people off the streets, parks, beaches, etc, and (except for short walks in their immediate area) stay at home;

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I won’t be driving around today to observe what others are doing. Which restricts my reporting, but if I’m to follow my own demands of others – I stay home. Aside from short walks along my own road, observing strict two metre rule, staying home means staying home.

Which made some of the emails/txts read out by Kim Hill all that much difficult to stomach. Idiots were justifying why the rules did not apply to them and why, as surfers and mountain bikers, they were more expert at judging risk than all the medical professions in the world.

As at today, the number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand has jumped by eightythree cases and now stands at 451.

But these thrill seeking morons on surf boards and mountain bikes seem to think they are bullet proof? Or virus proof?

I can only surmise these surfers and bikers have had a few to many knocks to their soft skulls.

Spent the day…

Breakfast (coffee, toast with tomato and toast with fresh, ripe fig).

 

Shower. Coffee.

 

Watched “Newshub Nation“. Sent “tweet” to “Nation” producers; “Anyone else thanking the gods that production of masks is a local NZ industry and not “exported” to overseas manufacturers… like China?

Twitter

 

Brunch. Coffee.

 

Twitter

 

Finish Day 2 of “Living under the Lock Down“.

 

Twitter.

 

Elevenses

 

Watched Seth Myers on Youtube calling out Trump for his lack of action on the virus epidemic hitting the US. Evidently, Trump’s approval ratings now stands at 49 to 60%, of  Americans saying he’s doing a “good job“. Wait till the body count starts to mount up, and footage of body bags fills the evening television news. Footage like that killed public support for American involvement in the Vietnam War.

 

Lunch

 

Twitter

 

Listened to Ministry of Health press conference. Covid19 cases now up to 451. Two are in ICU. John Ombler, the All of Government Controller, was blunt when he called out spectacularly moronic behaviour from some people;

“I have heard today that some people were playing touch rugby and frisbee in parks, that’s just stupid. People need to stop doing that sort of thing. COVID can transfer on a frisbee from one person to another. With touch rugby, it is quite obvious. Please, don’t do it. Don’t be stupid.”

Twitter

 

Email to my organisation regarding possible ‘re-jigging’ of our rosters and number of clients we attend to. (The fewer clients, the smaller our ‘bubble’.)

 

Twitter

 

Afternoon tea

 

Twitter. A bit of laundry washing.

 

4.30PM: Did I just see what I think I saw out my window? Guy drives up in white canopied hilux ute. Ute has a company logo on the side relating to an early childhood company;

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Guy goes inside a house, by himself. Comes out about ten minutes later with two children (around 8 to 10 years old?). Woman comes with them. Was she providing a child care service? Were they a separated couple? Whichever the case, it appears that two children are moving between two adults, as well as both having adult-to-adult contact.

I sincerely hope they constitute one “bubble”. What is the likelihood?

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Twitter

 

Late afternoon tea

 

Watched 6PM TV1 News. Shouted myself to a bowl of (sugar free) chocolate ice cream.

 

7PM: Went for walk around my block. Weather was autumnal, overcast, chilly, but had stopped raining. Must have seen five other human beings in my walk. One followed the two metre distance perfectly, giving me a wide circle; gave him a wave, cheery smile, and a big “Thank You!”

I usually pick up plastic detritus along the way; bottles, tops, coffee cup lids, straws, lollypop sticks, etc. Tonight I touched nothing. Not worth the risk.

The Kiwirail Park’n’Ride carpark was utterly empty. Not even one vehicle;

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Came home, put on Julee Cruise CD for some soft-but-dark background music. When the world feels like it’s falling apart (due in no short part to the human tendency for self-destructive dumbness), you want an appropriate soundtrack. Either Ms Cruise or Smashing Pumpkins’ “The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning“.

9PM(ish): Phoned my partner. We don’t live together and because I work in the community, with a larger-than-desirable-“bubble”, we have decided to isolate from each other. She has her “bubble”, I have mine. If I catch covid19 – which is more likely than her getting it – I won’t be able to infect her. So for one month, we chat over the phone but nothing more.

I work in the community and am at higher risk than most others. We are foregoing contact to mitigate risk to her.  All these things, we do because it is necessary.

So people will excuse me and understand why when I see others casually disregarding keeping to a “bubble”; not observing the two-metre protocol;  enjoying themselves with frisbees, surfing, boating, and other thoughtless behaviour… I am more than a wee bit miffed. Their’s is the sharp end of self-entitlement.

Watched some America news channel news clips on You Tube. The slow disintergration of the United States is like a driving past a vast car pile-up on the motor-way; grimly fascinating. You don’t want to watch the carnage… but you can’t help yourself, wondering what is next.

With my companion cat on my lap, time for a brief check on Twitter. Received lovely compliment re Day 2 of my Lock Down diary. Sent back reply.

And then… This;

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Simon Bridges just can’t f*****g help himself, can he?!?

I responded;

Come on,Mr Bridges,really?!There are umpteen sources of news. Closing nonessential ones -even if distasteful- may save lives If you have concerns,do what adults do: talk to each other. Its what youre paid to do Ive stopped using the nationalnotfittogovern. You stop politicking

Time for bed.  Maybe read another chapter of SS-GB, an alternative Earth history novel by Len Deighton. Then lights out and see what tomorrow brings. TVNZ’s Q+A is on at 9AM, then…?

Meanwhile…

For those people who do not understand the manner in which contagion spreads, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, microbiologist sums it up in simple terms;

“Because people can spread the virus for a few days before they have any symptoms, each person who contracts the virus can unwittingly pass it on to several of their whānau, friends and colleagues. Then each one of them can unwittingly pass it on to several of their whānau, friends and colleagues. This means that if, left unchecked, the number of cases grows exponentially. This is what we are seeing in so many countries overseas. Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris’s illustration of that concept has circled the globe in recent days.” – Siouxsie Wiles, 26 March 2020

And for those simple souls who still don’t get it, illustrator Toby Morris has drawn a pretty picture with crayons;

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References

Newshub Nation:  I don’t want to be a hero, I want to live

Twitter: JackyNinjaKitty – “Stay at Home” – 28 March 2020

RNZ: Coronavirus – 83 new cases in New Zealand, two patients in intensive care

NPR:  Trump’s Approval Hits New High, But A Rally-Around-The-Flag Effect Is Small

US History:  The Vietnam War

Mediaworks/Newshub:  Coronavirus – Infected being abused online, Kiwis ignoring rules by playing sport

Twitter: Simon Bridges – closure community papers – 28 March 2020

The Spinoff:  Siouxsie Wiles & Toby Morris – You’re waking up in lockdown New Zealand. Here’s how it works

Previous related blogposts

The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus

Life in Lock Down: Day 1

Life in Lock Down: Day 2

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Acknowledgement: Slane

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This blogpost was published on The Daily Blog on 29 March 2020.

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Life in Lock Down: Day 2

28 March 2020 28 comments

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Lock Down: Day 2 – A photo essay with observations

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March 27 – Day 2 of our Strange New World. The Park and Ride near my suburb, usually filled with hundreds of vehicles, had just… four;

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Another drive into Wellington City on a highway nearly deserted. I tried to estimate if vehicular traffic had lessened; increased, or was roughly the same. It was hard to tell, so I’m guessing it was possibly the same. (NZTA road sensors would probably reveal traffic flow stats?)

The ride through the Terrace Tunnel was notable in  one way: mine was the only vehicle! It felt as if the NZTA had built this billion dollar infrastructure solely for my own personal benefit. If so, thank you very much, NZTA. I owe you guys a beer (when/if the bars ever re-open).

The latest James Bond movie’s title seemed like a dire warning to all of us;

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Photoshopping my little bit into the bottom of the image  (“Keep 2 metres apart!”)  gave it even more relevance.

Once again, near-deserted streets through Wellington. Once again, a few individuals out strolling, jogging, biking… After all, it’s not like humanity itself is under threat from an unseen menace that could be anywhere at any time.

And once again, throughout my entire journey from the Hutt Valley to Miramar – not one police car was spotted. Not until about 11.20AM – nearly two and a half hours since walking out my front door – did I witness a police car stop on Park Road in Miramar and a policeman exited to talk with two pedestrians.

On Kent Terrace, two young women jogging side-by-side passed within elbow-touching distance of a hapless pedestrian struggling with two heavy bags of groceries. No effort was made to implement a two metre space with the grocery-lugging pedestrian.

People who are still oblivious to the need for safe social spacing and to keep to our own “bubble“, are both ignorant and selfish to a degree that is hard to fathom.

Contrast with the orderly queue to gain entry to Miramar New World. Nearly everybody seemed to conscientiously observe the two metre rule;

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At  11.45AM another (or the same?) police car drove past the New World outlet;

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More near-deserted streets in Kilbirnie. Two young people rollar-skated past Colonel Sander’s visage staring down from the artery-hardening business he had founded. For four weeks, all New Zealanders will be free of the “joys” of cholesterol-laden, fat-dripping, highly processed bits of fowl that KFC peddled to the masses;

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Apart from the three supermarkets in Kilbirnie, plus a Dairy or two, the only other food vendor open was this outfit;

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Despite the sign –

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– I wondered if they had permission to be open. A “spice emporium” does not strike one as being an “essential service”. (And I say that as a committed, adoring fan of Indian cuisine…)

A police car driving past at 12.10PM seemed unconcerned or did not notice the retailer’s open doors. (There was no signage on the retailer’s second door, around the corner, notifying the public of their “one in, one out” policy.)

And again, in Hataitai, people were out, strolling or riding, enjoying the sunny day. Two joggers ran past; two bike riders, followed by another jogger sprinting closely by a mum and her two young children. The jogger was well within the two metre social distancing.

Question: what is it with joggers and their apparent disregard to others on footpaths?

Next question: would those same joggers tolerate similar careless behaviour from motorists as they cross a road and evade drivers who are oblivious to their presence? I’d like to put it to the test.  Purely for academic research purposes, of course. No malice involved, of course.

Meanwhile, this young lad took social distancing to the Nth Degree, walking up the middle of Waitoa Road;

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Throughout the day, as I drove from one client to another, people continued being out and about in the sun. Sometimes observing social distancing, other times not. Watching how close some passed to others made my teeth clench.

Until 2.30PM, when the heavens opened up with a sudden downpour. The heavy rain persisted for a solid half hour. It forced the few people of the streets and a little while later, driving through the eastern suburbs, I noted about 17  people (including one wind-blown biker) along a five kilometre stretch, braving the wintry blast.

It occurred to me that the only force that will get people of the streets is not the cold, hard facts from our medical professionals and scientists; nor our much-lauded Prime Minister who, more and more, is faced with being the “mother” of a million recalcitrant ‘children’ – but the weather. Take away the sun; replace with gale-force winds and horizontal rain and – voila! – people stay indoors.

Thor has indeed heard our implorings…

Four weeks of bad weather and the covid-19 virus might finally be defeated. Nature vs Nature – with mere humans standing impotently on the sidelines. Yes indeedy, the gods have indeed given us mortals a much-needed swift kick up our pants for our hubris.

Later that evening, a crisis. Only two days into Lock Down and it appears I might be “out of the game”…

One of my clients began exhibiting symptoms. Fever, heavy perspiration, a  slight cough… Checked the covid19 website. Symptoms are… fever, a cough. Place calls. Alert colleagues. Keep others well away. As if time is being dilated by a nearby Black Hole, the minutes stretch out and seem to last hours…

We take his temperature… 36.7. Take it again; 37.0. Normal. Yet he is perspiring profusely and his forehead is hot… Temperature taken again; 36.7.

We don’t get it.

He’s also not coughing consistently and says his throat is not sore or dry (a prime symptom of Covid19).

Until one of my colleagues notices where he’s been sitting. Under the heat pump.

The temperature has been set at 25 degrees, which is mild and doesn’t seem too hot. But he’s been sitting under it all evening. We dial it back to 21 degrees and wait.

Sure enough, his forehead is now much cooler to the touch and is no longer perspiring.

For a scary hour it seemed that all out precautions  have  been for nothing. The entire premises is under total lockdown. No or comes or goes except for rostered staff. Even managers are banned. Anything purchased from outside (groceries, supplies, etc), are wiped down with disinfectant-laden cloths. All staff are in their strict bubbles – I won’t be seeing my partner for The Duration.

We take this shit seriously.

The “bubble” ain’t perfect and is probably larger than I’d be comfortable with, but it’s what we have. The premises are lovingly referred to as “Stalag 13” – though there are no tunnels leading out under the locked gates. And no cuddly, lovable nazi called Sgt Schultz.

It was a scare and I drove home that night wondering how many more false alarms there might be. No wonder pedestrians and joggers who ignore the two metre rule really annoy the bejeezus out of me.

It was 8pm by the time I was on the road home. The motorway leading out of Wellington  was even more deserted than this morning. At some points along SH2 I was the only car on the road. (Cue opening scene to the 1960s paranoia-sf series, The Invaders.)

Again, not one police car or constable was sighted anywhere along my 40km drive home.

This weekend, except for brief walks along my street (observing a strict 2 metre distance protocol), I will be staying home. No going out. No recreational activities. No pretending that this global pandemic doesn’t affect me because [insert daft reason here].

I just wish others were following the rules.

As wits superior to mine have pointed out;

“Our grandparents faced World War 2, rationing, shortages, and their loved ones going of to war and die.

Our job is to stay home and watch TV.

Let’s not fuck it up.”

Lives depend on it.

Meanwhile, one Twitter-user made this witty observation about the unending, gormless, repetitive questions from those who, as another user described as, “people looking for a rule or for a loophole”;

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References

The Spinoff:  Siouxsie Wiles & Toby Morris – You’re waking up in lockdown New Zealand. Here’s how it works

Twitter: Bex – 27.3.20

Twitter: Dr Bex – 27.3.20

Additional

Mediaworks/Newshub: Former Prime Minister Sir John Key praises Jacinda Ardern’s ‘faultless’ COVID-19 communication

Previous related blogposts

The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus

Life in Lock Down: Day 1

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Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch

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Life in Lock Down: Day 1

27 March 2020 33 comments

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Lock Down: Day 1 – A photo essay with observations

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Day one of the Level 4 nationwide lock-down (or, DefCon 4 as I sometimes cheekily call it) started at 11.59PM on 25 March. For a moment, most of the nation held it’s collective breath. In that brief moment, as the countdown moved to one minute to midnight, everything changed.

Those of us not doing a graveyard shift went to bed knowing that tomorrow morning we would be waking up into a changed world.

We were not to be disappointed.

Just after 9AM, I left the house. Carrying my packed lunch; my work satchel containing – amongst other things – a letter from my employer identifying my role in the health sector; and most important, my third coffee for the day. Jump into the car and crawl out of the driveway. Driving past the normally packed Park & Ride carpark, there is only one car sitting alone in a large barren expanse of bitumen.

On the motorway, the traffic was almost non-existent. At any moment there were no more than three or four cars travelling either in my direction or on-coming.

Most jarring was the neanderthal moron who – on a near-deserted highway – decided to tailgate me for several kilometres. Note to the driver of silver Toyota Van ELJ368, the cloth/paper facemask you wore whilst driving a few metres behind me at 100ks won’t help you much if I suddenly have to brake. Dick.

Despite the supposed order to stay at home, two bicycle riders along SH2 and a lone middle aged male walking along the harbour-side of the motorway, obviously decided that the global emergency did not apply to them. It was an indication of things to come, unfortunately.

The entire trip took half the time it normally did. The Terrace Tunnel was empty bar a couple of on-coming vehicles.

And then, Wellington City. Unnervingly near empty streets. I was thankful for the few cars and pedestrians who were present. Total emptiness would have been too much and I would lost it.

Victoria Street, looking north;

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Looking south,

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Cuba Street, looking north,

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Vivian Street, looking back towards the Terrace Tunnel,

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Taranaki Street, looking north,

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Looking south,

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New World in Miramar – embarrassingly plentiful carparking,

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Even more deserted at Kilbirnie Pak N Save – and nary a toilet paper hoarder in sight,

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Likewise Countdown in Kilbirnie. Singing, “Where have all the shoppers gone, long since bought up large…”

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Who’s feeling silly now, I wonder?

Onepu Road, looking south,

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Looking north, toward Wellington CBD,

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Newtown, Constable Street, looking east toward the airport,

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Adelaide Road, looking north toward Wellington CBD,

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Looking south, toward the Zoo,

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These guys got the memo on social distancing,

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Another jogger who thought lock-down obviously translated to “time-for-a-run-because-this-shit-don’t-apply-to-me”,

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Adelaide Road toward the Basin Reserve,

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Kent and Cambridge Terraces, looking north,

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At around 10.30AM it suddenly dawned on me…

I had seen joggers, bicyclists, a couple of skateboarders and random individuals and couples out and about. There were a few cars, vans, and even a couple of camper vans (who were on the move to carry on their holidays? More on that shortly.)

But no police.

Not a single police constable or vehicle until the first policecar was seen turning a corner into Cambridge Terrace.

Courtney Place, looking east,

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And west,

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Despite the above two images showing an apparently deserted street, there were people strolling along. “Stay at home”? Not likely.  And for the most part, when passing each other, the two metre distancing rule was not followed.

Lambton Quay, looking south. The “Golden Mile” is normally jam-packed with traffic, buses, office workers, and consumer-citizens on their holy mission to Shop. Today, it was a scene from ‘The Quiet Earth‘ with only Bruno Lawrence in his white negligee missing-in-action,

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Looking north, a lone bus was on a forlorn search for passengers,

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As I took the above image, there was something else I began to notice. Parked on either side of the road; cars.

And in the side streets from Lambton Quay,

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Why so many cars?

I hoped that they were from inner city apartment dwellers – and not office workers sneakily coming in to work, ignoring the lock down. If people are sneak-working, their unmitigated selfishness is endangering the entire country, economy, and other workers’ jobs.

And then there were these two muppets in their campervans. All campers/travellers have been ordered to stay put. But obviously the entire country can go get f****d, because by Thor these self-entitled morons were determined not to let a global pandemic and the deaths of thousands of people interfere with their jolly nice time in Aotearoa.

If either one of these camper vans contained a person with covid19, they will be spreading the disease along their travels. Every place they stop, they could potentially spread infection,

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Or maybe they have immunity to covid19? I want me some of that!

Just before mid-day, I park up on another near-deserted street in Johnsonville. Lunch is pre-made; left-over cold pork slices on Roggenbrot Rye, with picked figs from my tree. No coffee… I stare at my empty coffee cup longingly. I think Churchillian thoughts of self-sacrifice…

I stay in my car; a cocoon of steel and glass, (hopefully) impenetrable to the virus. Unless the virus has mutated to penetrate through glass and metal, I’m safe. I listen to RNZ; a story of a widow who will be spared the ugly spectacle of the trial of the Christchurch terrorist (whose name shall not be mentioned). Grim… and still hard to comprehend that one demented individual could destroy so many lives.

And still no cops to be seen.

Until – Johnsonville. I see a police vehicle slowly crawl into the Mall carpark and park. Three constables alight and disappear into a nearby store,

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They enter a shop that was open to the public. Snatches of conversation indicate they were questioning the store owner. The store owner could be heard explaining that MPI had given them permission to open,

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The store is a ‘specialist’ retailer stocking imported grocery items (store name deleted to deter possible harassment). It does have a considerable range of goods (far wider than The Warehouse, for sure!) and probably constitutes a ‘superette’ not dissimilar to a ‘Four Square‘. The sign at the entry stipulates one customer to enter at any given time,

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Tough call. The police seem satisfied and leave. Some cynics may question if police have “nothing better to do than harass law-abiding shop-keepers”.

Screw that.

We are living in perilous times and if we don’t all act in unison, then we – as a thinking, rational (*cough*) species – will be defeated by a microsopic mindless organism that isn’t even aware of itself or us. The more some people “piss” around, the longer this goes on.

After the shenanigans from The Warehouse, and other businesses “trying it on”, the role of the Police will be vital to prevent the lock-down turning into a massive, leaking sieve. Otherwise, this;

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Few people I saw out and about could have reasonable excuses. Certainly not grocery shopping. (The lack of groceries; grocery bags, or a near-by supermarket kinda gave it away.)

Those who were out jogging, biking, strolling casually through the streets of Wellington were indulging their whims at the expense of others. The longer some people treat this lock-down as a holiday for recreational activities, the longer the virus circulates through the country and the longer the state of emergency will last.

What do we need to drive this home? Dead bodies? No problem; the virus will eventually oblige us.

And throughout all this, police presence was minimal. During my drive from the Hutt Valley to a client in Miramar and then to Johnsonville, I spotted one police vehicle turning into Kent Terrace; one Police “paddy-wagon” turning from Harris Street in to Jervois Quay at about 11AM; a parked (empty) police car near the Police National HQ, and finally the police action in Johnsonville.

If this lock down is not to collapse into a dangerous farce, with foolish people treating it like an impromptu holiday, the Police need to “up their game”. Their presence must be felt if they are serious in deterring flouters of the lock-down. Jobs, our economy, and lives are riding on this.

The public are the ones meant to be on “lock-down”, not the New Zealand Police.

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“You can go for a walk or a bike ride around your neighbourhood to get some exercise. You can go out to get essentials like food. But stay away from other people. No stopping to chat – even if you are two metres away from each other. Just give a wave and keep moving. Because the virus can live on surfaces for up to three days, don’t take your kids to the playground. Stay at home.” –  Siouxsie Wiles, 26 March 2020

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Note: The author works in the wider Health sector and is part of an essential service; with specific clients to attend to. During the weekend, the author will be on lock down at home.

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References

Democracy Now: Madrid’s Ice Rink Turned to Morgue as Spain Exceeds China in Coronavirus Deaths

RNZ: Widow -“I am relieved we won’t have to sit through a trial”

The Spinoff:  Siouxsie Wiles & Toby Morris – You’re waking up in lockdown New Zealand. Here’s how it works

Previous related blogposts

The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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This blogpost was also published on The Daily Blog on 28 March 2020.

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Another National Disgrace!

12 April 2012 1 comment

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Q: National intends to spend $900 million on one of the above. Can you guess which one? (Answer at the bottom of page.)

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National’s arrogance in the last month has stunned most of the country. Aside for some diehard, right wing, National/ACT groupies – many people who voted National last November must  be seriously questioning their decision.

In an all-out effort to alienate the public and paint themselves as arrogant autocrats, National has, or is currently involved in;

  • Secret negotiations with Sky City to  amend current legislation and allow the casino 500 extra pokie machines in return for a $350 million convention centre. Neither John Key nor any other Minister will disclose what these secret negotiations entail, citing “commercial sensitivity”.  Which is kinda strange as there are no other casino operators in Auckland to be sensitive about. What is certain is that more pokies = more problem gamblers.
  • Secret negotiations with a private secondary school in Whanganui, to facilitate integration with the State schooling system. What on Earth could be so sensitive as to keep details secret – how many pieces of chalk can they possibly  use?!
  • National’s intention to prevent further public scrutiny of SOEs once they are part-privatised. This will treat part-privatised SOEs as full private companies rather than  semi-public enterprises.
  • National is keeping secret contract details of first to part-private, part State-owned schools (Public Private Partnership)
  • Proceeding with massively unpopular State Asset part-privatisation despite over-whelming opposition from the public.
  • Mining on the  conservation estate (never a popular move).
  • And now a threat by National Minister, Bill English, to use the government veto on all private members’ Bill, irrespective of  any Parliamentary  mandate.

It is this increasingly public display of arrogance from National that is now colouring their style of government.  They are no longer even bothering to hide their disdain for the democratic process;  transparent government; or public opinion.

Associate Education Minister, Craig Foss was particularly arrogant in his attitude to answering questions on Whanganui Collegiate’s secret integration into the State school system, when he was interviewed on Radio NZ’s “Morning Report” on 11 April,

Listen to more from Craig Foss on Morning Report

Bill English is on record as stating categorically that even if Parliament votes to put the Bill to a Select Committee, that National will veto it (at the third reading).  In effect, regardless of a majority in Parliament voting to consider the Bill – the minority National Party  will ‘kill’ it. A minority dictating to the majority?

We know what that’s called, don’t we?

In fact, we haven’t had this kind of authoritarian rule since this chap ran practically everything,

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Sir Robert Muldoon, Prime Minister of New Zealand, 1975 to 1984

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English has complained that our economy cannot cope with an estimated extra $150 million on extending paid parental leave from 14 weeks to six months. He claims,

We have maintained paid parental leave and we currently spend about $150 million [a year] on it.

But we are still two or three years from getting out of the woods on the deficit so we think it is a bit soon to be trying to expand entitlements when our big challenge has been to maintain them as they are.

That’s just misleading the public. The fact is doubling it will cost another $150 million a year. You’d have to borrow half a billion over the next three or four years. We’re simply not willing to do that.

Expanding entitlements at this stage would be ”getting a bit ahead of ourselves when we are still $10 billion away from clearing our overdraft.

“We’ve got to get on with that and be fair to everybody in achieving surplus and people can have those choices once we get there.” – Source

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If our $10 billion overdraft was such a major sticking point, it obviously did not stop National from “investing” $220 million into a rugby tournament,

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Full Story

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Or State Owned Enterprises lavishing $54 million in staff bonuses,

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Full Story

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Or any of the following government expenditure for “must haves” such as,

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Full Story

PSA National Secretary, Richard Wagstaff, is certainly correct when he states that recorded crimes rates are dropping and the  projected prison muster for 2016 has been calculated to drop from  11,561  to about 8200.

Which makes one wonder why National is about to squander nearly a billion dollars on another prison we may not need, and is likely to end up being moth-balled. (National has a tradition of indulging in ‘Think Big’ projects – only to have them closed down later.)

One billion dollars… twice the amount we could be spending on paid parental leave, according to Bill English,

“You’d have to borrow half a billion over the next three or four years.”

A new prison is a “must have”.

But according to National’s Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson,  extending paid parental leave was “simply unaffordable“.

Every parent in New Zealand should be thoroughly dismayed at National’s priorities. Throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at rugby games and prisons seems to make National positively delirious with joy – but investing in the future of our children is “simply unaffordable“?!

Nothing describes the warped nature of National’s priorities worse than this.

Parents take note:  National will not invest in your children.

Not until they grow older;  go off the rails;  and end up in prison.

Then, National will positively lavish your child with cash.  For a prison  cell.

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Related Blogpost

Priorities?

Media reports

Nats under pressure over parental leave

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Answer to above question (as if you didn’t already know):  $900 million will be spend on a new prison at Wiri, in Sth Auckland.

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