April 11: Day 17 of living in lock-down…
The good news: new cases of covid19 is down again, to 29. That’s another fall since yesterdays unexpected spike of 44.
The bad news: two more people have passed away from the virus. Both in older age group and both with underlying medical conditions.
The hopeful news: that if new cases continue to drop until we reach nil, we may have driven this virus to extinction (at least here in in Aotearoa) by the time lock-down is set to lift on 23 April. After that, until a vaccine is created or – more unlikely – covid19 is eliminated from the face of this planet, the entire country will be in semi-self-isolation. International travel will remain but a fond memory as few people will want to be put into a mandatory two week quarantine after arriving here. (And there will be bleatings galore from David Seymour, the tourism sector – or what’s left of it – and vote-chasing mischief-makers in the National Party and it’s fellow-travellers.)
Meanwhile, to counter the irresponsible shrill clamour from National, ACT, and the business lobby, to re-open commercial activities before the four weeks lock-down is completed – or even portions thereof – Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has urged the world not to act precipitously by abandoning restrictions;
″I know that some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions. WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone.
At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly.”
Do we listen to the science-based health professionals? Or vote-chasing politicians and profit-driven businesspeople? (That should not even be a question.)
This morning for me should have been one of my days-off weekend. But it was another work day as I filled in for a colleague whose “bubble” is simply too large and risky to allow him to interact with our clients. If covid19 got into our facility at least two, maybe three, people would not survive. And myself and five of my colleagues would be in self-isolation for two weeks. Six more pieces removed from the board, to use a chess analogy.
I’m not due to start till 3pm, so that gives me time to sort out a tap fitting/connector for my washing-machine. I realised later in the day yesterday that a visit to Mitre10 would be out of a question. They are restricted to tradespeople only (which I 100% endorse). So snap a few pics of the part I need; take measurements; look up the actual name, and then send through the info to Hutt Gas & Plumbing. I get a reply; they can provide the part on Tuesday. Sorted.
Next, at 11am I skype my partner. The internetty thingy is acting up and it takes several minutes to connect. Is this what the telephone service was like a century ago?
We finally connect and we soon chat away for the next hour. She’s been keeping stringently to her “bubble” and most of her day has been filled with an early morning walk around her immediate neighbourhood and working on her
remnant stand of native forest “garden”. Kaka’s, Tui, Pīwakawaka, and other birds love her area.
Later this evening she will make her once-a-week visit to her local supermarket.
We have just under two weeks to go before we can do something as simple as have dinner together or go to the movies.
In the early afternoon, I hit the road. It’s a bright, sunny, warm day with only a few clouds in the sky. The Park N Ride carpark is, again, empty. People are about, walking. With such minimal traffic it’s quiet and peaceful.
The white motorhome is unmoved. Even after lock-down is over, whether extended or not, my gaze will now automatically be looking for this large vehicle parked on a main thoroughfare connecting my suburb to SH2.
On the road, traffic is light all the way into Wellington. There are only a handful of cars sharing the road with me at any given moment. Vehicles noticed; 6 police cars; a skip-bin truck; a double-tandem “Pacific” branded fuel tanker; ambulance; a “Supreme” towing truck (the same clown who tailgated me yesterday, I wonder?); a “Linfox” truck-cab, minus it’s trailer; “Spotless Catering” ute; “EnviroWay” rubbish (or ecycling?) truck; a “Wellington Water” van”; several utility vehicles, company branded heading the opposite way; 2 “Countdown” food trucks; “Fish Factory” light truck, and a few others.
Traffic in Wellington was marginally busier than yesterday. The supermarkets will be open today, attracting people out of their homes. The weather was markedly cooler in town than the Hutt Valley; cloudier and chillier.
Outside Chaffers St New World supermarket, there was a long queue of people waiting to enter. Social distancing was well-practiced.
Both sandy beaches at Oriental Bay were deserted;
The Evans Bay Marina Carpark appeared to have the same number of camper vans as the last few days.
Between my home and Miramar, I had seen more police cars than any other given days since Lock-down.
At work, a colleague and I discussed the near non-existent pandemic protocols we had been operating under at the beginning of the Lock-down. Hardly surprising; 99% of the entire country (the entire world!) was unprepared. After cessation of the State of Emergency and lifting of lock-down, we considered that a full written de-brief would be essential so organisations like ours could put in place a ready-made plan for when (not if!) the next pandemic arose.
Management were woefully ill-prepared for the current emergency and the response – ad hoc as it appeared to be – was led by workers on the ground, at the coal-face. The moment Level 4 was implemented, our facility was sealed off to the public; non-permanent staff; and even management from our organisation. We had limited tools; a few boxes of latex gloves; some disinfectant; and three bottles of hand-sanitiser ‘squirrelled away’ in our Emergency Disaster Kit.
But what we did have plenty of were our wits; initiative; and commitment to get the job done. And all the while, carrying out all our normal duties as well as keeping our clients safe, calm, and reassured.
(Management caught up with us a week later.)
The lock-down of our facility is now the “new norm”. Our clients are used to it – perhaps even reassured that the stringent measures we’ve taken is for theirs (and ours) benefit.
That night, on my way home, traffic was again light. Playing a “game”, I counted the number of vehicles I sighted whilst driving from Miramar to the Terrace Tunnel: around 45. It was a Saturday night, around 8.15pm.
Before heading home, I made my weekly trip to the supermarket. Not that I needed much, this time. Goods purchased I arrived home. First thing; leave shoes outside. Then, getting through the door, after dropping the grocery bags; a full 20 second hand wash. Then empty all items onto kitchen bench. Packaged goods studiously wiped clean with disinfectant. Fresh produce, washed under running water; shake of water; rinse again. Then wipe entire bench with disinfectant. Cloth in soaking bucket.
Put the jug on for a cup of Chai Tea.
Welcome to the world of 2020AD.
Current covid19 cases: 1,312
Cases in ICU: 5 (1 critical)
Number of deaths: 4
Elemental: Hold the Line
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