Rona’s Back

The warnings came through when we were watching Netflix. Gripped by a dark police drama where the female lead rebounds between hero and protagonist, we both ignored the persistent pings on our phones. Until eventually we realised something was up.

Our Prime Minister was late to her press conference. She looked more exhausted this time than when she addressed the nation in grief over the Christchurch mosque attacks, or when she faced a photo-call of experienced press gallery journalists following the birth of her child. It didn’t take much reading of her body-language to guess that Covid was back.

I’ve reflected on how fortunate we’ve been to sit in our national bubble while the world is burning. How lucky we were to sit in a café atop a ski field with nothing more to worry about than queues for coffee. But I hope there’s not one moment of freedom that I took for granted. The ski holiday, the Guide Camp, knowing my daughters could sing with their school choir, and the chance to join hundreds of mourners to farewell a dear elderly friend whose wonderful life had come to an end this month.

We’re trying to remember what the levels mean. Could we eat takeaways in Level 3 and how far could we go in our pursuit of water activities and exercise? Turns out all of these things are still available to us in Level 3, unless of course we find out on Friday that this tricky virus has run amock down the length of the island.

There was mischief at the supermarkets on Tuesday night. Security guards were on duty at a Countdown after the announcement. The crowds thronged toward the door like students at a rock concert. There were queues outside ours at 7am. The signs limiting the quantities of flour, cleaning products and toilet paper have been returned. Why they don’t need to limit blocks of Whittakers, full fat crisps or fancy ice-cream in those expensive little tubs I’ll never know.

The subtle difference this time is the face masks. It’s not a very kiwi thing, this wearing of face masks. But there’s no reason why it shouldn’t become the way. Especially now that the science tells us they work. The lady at the hardware store had one resembling a WWI gas mask. She told me it was the most comfortable one available. We’ll be googling ways to make our own tonight. They’ll become another legacy of this crazy time.

There’s another case today. A high school over the road from our worst cluster last time. What is it about the virus and that suburb? Testing stations are popping up like mushrooms. They should recommend a good book or podcast for those sitting for hours in wait.

And I recommend that we all take a daily detox from the news.

The political journalists may be starved of fodder if we have a delayed election but they’re having a field day tracking news of the source of the virus. It’s a bit like a big scary scavenger hunt across the Auckland region. We’re looking down the crystal ball and waiting for Friday’s 1pm briefing. I’m noticing a heightened level of anxiety this time around but there’s a level of humour too. The clichés still apply. We still live in paradise. We’ve still got this.

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