Lock Down: Day 4 – A photo essay with observations
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.
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;
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;
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.
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.
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.
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;
And, in Frank Speak;
Stay the F**K home!!
Wikipedia: The Survivors (1975)
NZ Herald: The life of Pie
Previous related blogposts
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