Peter Symes: A letter from New Zealand |

Peter Symes: A letter from New Zealand

I just received a letter from a friend in New Zealand that I thought would interest readers of The Union. New Zealand, of course, has been very successful in battling COVID-19; the country has had a total of 1,802 reported cases, or about 37 cases per 100,000 population (compare USA and California, each about 2,000 cases per 100,000 population).

My friend describes life for her family at this time, and some of the precautionary measures that support New Zealand’s efforts. She says (names redacted):

“Our ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 has so far only affected Auckland. There is one contained cluster which started in a cold storage warehouse and all cases are either epidemiologically linked or have the same genomic sequencing but the index case remains unknown. A second smaller group has occurred in an Evangelical church, which held an illegal meeting at the beginning of the second lockdown and can be linked back to the main cluster. Four schools each reported a confirmed case of COVID-19 amongst their pupils, all linked to the church but because of the Level 3 lockdown the students were not considered infectious when last at school so hopefully this means we have dodged a bullet yet again. We are seeing only a few cases each day but it’s expected that this time the virus will have a “long tail.” Schools went back last week under strict restrictions but many are reporting only 60 to 70% attendance. There are only three people in hospital but two are in ICU.

Both xxx and xxxx have been slightly unwell in the last week. At xxxx [company] all staff have temperature tests and questionnaires to fill in before they are allowed to enter work premises and xxxx school very promptly ‘returned’ xxxx when they realised he was not 100% so the two went down to our GP to get a COVID-19 test and I am pleased to report that both had negative results. xxxx has been working mainly from home since March only going into work for essential meetings because both he and xxxx are considered vulnerable due to their asthma and allergies.

It has become harder to remember what life was like pre COVID-19 since the second lockdown. We are now always on alert: everywhere we go we give everyone a 1 or 2 metre wide berth, we wear masks, we use our tracer apps and we speak to people through perspex booths!”

Peter Symes lives in Nevada City.

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