Lockdown ennui is starting to set in and I thought about reading tea leaves to get a steer on what Cabinet might say tomorrow. Of course, I could just wait and find out when they say it. However, it is in the nature of human beings, and particularly this human being, to try and guess what will happen before it happens. Its not just being prepared, its like a betting game, seeing if you can pick how the die will fall.
Tea leaf reading, also known as tasseography, has followed the trade routes of tea and coffee. However, modern tea leaf reading gathered impetus when tea was introduced from China to Europe in the 17th century. Loose leaf tea was initially a product for the rich, but when it became more affordable to the masses, rituals developed around drinking tea, including reading the leaves. By the mid 1800s, the Romani people went door to door offering tea leaf reading services. In the USA, tea parlours started up in the 1800s, where women ate light snacks and read their tea leaves after drinking their tea. The reading process looks for symbols in the tea leaves left at the bottom of the cup, somewhat like looking for patterns of clouds in the sky.
If I am relying on tea leaves in my cup to make predictions, then I guess my prediction is that the future will be rather empty. I don’t like tea leaves in my tea and prefer a tea pot with a strainer. I wonder why strainers in pots is a relatively recent phenomenon – I developed a habit early in my tea drinking years of not drinking the last part of the cup because it would have leaves in it. Another way of looking at my particular cup of tea, as depicted above, is that the future has a rosy hue.
I am hopeful that the South Island’s near future has a rosy hue. My pick is that the South Island will get to go into Level 3 at midnight on Sunday, as long as Christchurch waste water testing doesn’t imply COVID infection beyond MIQ, and no other cases get thrown up in the South Island in the meantime. I am also wondering why they can’t give the three COVID cases who are in MIQ porta-potties, so they don’t contaminate the whole of the Christchurch water samples with COVID. I think the Christchurch waste water has, however, been pointed out with emphasis today, as a warning that we might not get to go to Level 3 – if there is any infection in the South Island we will be sticking at Level 4. That’s the sort of tea leaves out there for the reading at present, pre-announcements from the government softening us up for the formal announcement.
The South Island does feel like it is almost in the clear, though. The heat map of locations of close contacts of people with COVID-19 was worrisome. However, as the days go by we can feel safer. All the people on the heat map were contacts of COVID cases prior to travelling to their lockdown locations i.e. last Friday, 19th August, was the latest anyone in the South Island contacted someone with COVID from the original outbreak. Delta’s serial interval seems to be around 4 days; so already people have had 4 days to get symptoms and then 2 more days in which to get tested and get test results returned. That’s most likely why the government picked tomorrow for the next announcement outside of Auckland – it’s the point at which spread by the contacts who travelled should be apparent.
What will happen in the North Island outside of Auckland? That’s a trickier question; however, only Wellington seems to have issues and, even there, there have been no COVID cases out in the community for quite a number of days. One has to divine when COVID cases were in the community from looking at the Ministry of Health website or this nice map that has been developed by abley. The last time a COVID case was out in the community around Wellington was also 19th August, so Wellington is looking almost as good as the South Island. Maybe the government will draw a big border around Auckland and take the rest of the country to Level 3? Or maybe they will be more cautious in the North Island? I think my tea leaves have reached their limits and, from this point, will await tomorrow’s announcement.