This is a post I prepared but didn't publish on January 23. I'm posting this unedited today for my own record.
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We've been hearing of a cluster in Motueka, about 20 minutes northwest of Nelson, in our Nelson-Marlborough-(Tasman) Region, for about a week, and today it transpired they have Omicron. They attended a wedding in Auckland of over 100 presumably vax-passed grownups and endangered kiddies. The whole country moves to Code Red at midnight tonight; red allows gatherings of 100 vax-passed grownups and endangered kiddies. Motueka being in the same health board district as we, it tells us even with the fancy new testing machine that our hospital got recently, it'll take about a week for anyone here to know we've got Omicron. That's kind of slow, even if Ben and I are the kind of people who really don't get out much.
Ben went back to work-work on January 11, which is when I stopped my Plague Diary. I don't know if I'm going to start another, but I'll sum up what's been happening in Aotearoa NZ or at our tiny part of it:
The government, the Health Ministry, and even the opposition, went on a relaxing holiday about the first week of December and didn't come back until this past Monday, Christ Hipkins making a couple of exceptions. Meaningful Omicron numbers stopped; only "nnn since Patient 1," or "nnn positive at the border; assume most/all are Omicron." Only virus peeps, public health peeps and modelers opined in the press. And a bit of public announcement to get ready for Omicron; prearrange transport/grocery/medical supply procurement; how to quarantine at home; be prepared but don't binge buy. It was a summer of kids running around with no adult supervision, with a big bad bully hiding but not hiding.
Booster shots became available to those over 18, (12-17 only gets two jabs if I'm not mistaken,) late last year. 5-11 year old became eligible on January 17. So the statistics lists only numbers and not %, but I read somewhere last week that 50% of those eligible have had boosters; I also read that in the first week 10% of 5-11 got the first jab. On the other hand, we are so good, Ben read 101% of Asians in New Zealand had two doses. Statistics, LOL. (If you were to take a serious approach, these could reflect visitors and those stuck here as opposed to the last census count, in which I was not counted because I was in Japan.)
The first government announcement took place last Thursday. I can't stand to listen to their voices, but from what I read: Northland, stuck at Red this whole time, would go to Orange on Friday. There will be no Omicron lockdown, but rules may be fine-tuned. About the same time, the Speaker of the House, a member of this government, not opposition, said to stock up and be ready; this was well-received by the opposition. Speaker Trevor Mallard has always been a bit of muckraker, but I agree, with this "live with" model, we're on our own. Soon after we finished cleaning the kitchen and vowing to reduce extras, we started stocking up some dry stuff again, not because Omicron was here as much as we realized we're not going to be told much, at least not timely.
In addition to/on top of the Traffic Light system, there will be 3 stages of Omicron rules. I haven't read up on them yet, but among other things it involves different length of isolation periods, and changes to definitions of words like "close contact". Not all points have been decided yet. Because why stick with the Level system when it worked OK.
Rapid Antigen/Lateral Flow is still not available for normal folks but is controlled by the government and distributed to businesses and pharmacies for specific purposes. Personally imported kits have been confiscated, because our government doesn't trust us to use it correctly, and doesn't want a bunch of false negative peeps running around. And our government has approved a single digit number of kits, a tiny fraction of what is available in Australia. And a Yale researcher says our government is trying to use them the wrong way around; with Omicron these kits work when the person has become symptomatic, while PCR is needed earlier on. The government is planning to use them the other way around.
We've also been trying to get used to the KN95 masks we got, oh, a week or two before the August lockdown. They stink, and it's summer, and we hate them, but... Just yesterday we were thinking of getting more, (than the 10 last time,) and the prices had already doubled.
We both got boosters last Tuesday, and I had a pretty bad day of vertigo on Friday, but it was gone came Saturday morning, as if I just it up to avoid going out in the garden. Good thing, also, we overdid on food shopping Tuesday night, we don't have to go for a few days, except we've not junk food.
I think I have to watch the announcement vid again in case there are changes to the rules. Jacinda went on about how things will change in three stages depending on the daily case numbers, because now it's all about case numbers and hospital loads, not prevention. Part of me has become so jaded I can't be bothered; every times she does the pretend-concerned voice, I want to a sharp at the telly, but I don't because I am bad at aiming. On the other hand, Ben and I are keen on not getting it and not spreading it to other humans in Nelson, so we pay attention to the latest, safest.
Credit where credit is due, though. Today's announcement was made before midday; August announcement was made at 4PM on a Tuesday and caused panic at supermarkets that evening, so before lunch time on Sunday was good. Also, Jacinda's wedding has been postponed, and her comment? "Such is life."