Aucklanders should be excused some grumbling going into a fourth week of level 4 lockdown. It cannot be easy watching the rest of the country moving to the relative liberty of level 2.
For now, New Zealand's largest city has parted ways with the rest of the country and must live a different, more heavily restricted existence. During New Zealand's longest previous lockdown - the 33 days from March to April last year - New Zealand was in level 4 together; the team of five million.
When the country was plunged into this most recent alert level 4 at midnight on August 17, the outlook was bleak. A case of Covid-19 had been detected in the community in Auckland. "Case A," was a 58-year-old Devonport man who was tested on August 16 but thought to have been infectious since August 12. He had visited Coromandel from August 13-15.
With Coromandel rallying to test and prevent transmissions, the Delta trail there went cold. Cases that escaped to Wellington were caught and isolated. Warkworth continued to be a concern for some time more after a rest home staff member tested positive. But soon, a social cluster in Birkdale spread and another bloomed from a church service in Mangere.
By yesterday, the Northland concerns had been allayed and Auckland was riven apart to work on stamping the cases out.
The City of Sails has long, often quite rightly, been derided by the rest of Aotearoa. Although not alone in infrastructure problems, Auckland suffers them on a lumbering scale - traffic, water provisions, port operations, electricity supply, even organising a negotiable footpath on the main street.
Yet Auckland punches above its weight. With 33.4 per cent of the population, it contributes 37.9 per cent to the national GDP. Pre-Covid, the Auckland region was projected to account for about half of New Zealand's population growth between 2018 and 2048, with an increase of 648,000. The city recently shrugged off a water shortage
and is more resilient than often given credit for.
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Much has been said already about the wisdom, or lack of, in having so many of the MIQ operations smack in the centre of this oversized town. It is making even less sense as time goes on.
After early suggestions Auckland might be prioritised for vaccinations, that discussion appears to have dried up. It shouldn't. Auckland is the vulnerable wall that shelters the remainder of the country.
Yesterday, the 15 new Auckland community cases continued a heartening trend after plateauing in the low 20s for several days. However, 25 cases remained unlinked and five of the 20 cases on Tuesday had been infectious in the community.
There are long days and nights to follow in the Auckland August cluster as it drags through the second week of September, but the rest of the country should be assured, Auckland will give New Zealand a great shot at eliminating Covid again.