As my hometown enters its 19th week of lockdown with no end in sight, it’s easy to feel a bit hard done by. But every pandemic has its silver lining. And in Covid’s case, I’ve gained knowledge and insights I never knew I needed.
I can pronounce and spell nasopharyngeal. Hell, I can even use it in a sentence.
I’ve learned that the University of Otago breeds epidemiologists. I even know their names. And the colour of Michael Baker’s favourite shirt.
On the day the Prime Minister permitted me to have a BBQ with my son, I realised I felt grateful to her. (Stockholm syndrome, anyone?)
I’m now well versed in Alert Levels. First, there were Levels 1 to 4. Then Level 2.5. And just this week, I’ve learned that Alert Level 3 comes with infinite variations.
I’ve discovered that Immigration NZ doesn’t use computers. (Should that have been a surprise?)
And while I previously thought The Coromandel was only two hours from Auckland, I now understand it’s at least three months away. Conversely, I’ve discovered that Auckland’s road transport network was designed for traffic volumes at Alert Level 3.
I’ve learned that some people love dobbing in their neighbours (you know who you are), how much I hate wearing a suit, and how many different ways there are to walk through Cornwall Park.
I’ve discovered that New Zealand is now only a year behind the rest of the world. When I was growing up, it was lagging by two decades.
Last week I found out that gang members attending funerals are essential workers. (Who knew?) And this week I discovered that a public petition could break the hypnotic spell Brian Tamaki had cast over the police.
From strangely robotic Covid.govt.nz TV ads, I’ve learned that vaccination is “one of the best ways to protect yourself from Covid-19”. I had thought vaccination was the only way. Silly me.
I’ve discovered that the Ministry of Health thinks “as soon as possible” means “sometime in the next 12 months” – and that we’re lucky the Ministry is not in charge of the pharmaceutical industry. Vaccinations would still be decades away.
While we’re on the Ministry of Health, I’ve worked out that the Director General speaking a few words of Te Reo each day is no substitute for developing a strategy to help Māori get vaccinated.
Finally, I’ve learned that winning the battle against Covid requires a good sense of direction. And that a roadmap without exit signs or travelling times is almost no use at all.