My dad is a healthcare worker. A GP in South Auckland to be exact.
It is not technically the Covid-19 "frontline", but close enough for me.
When he mentioned patients' concerns about possible virus infections in late February, I started to worry. By then, reports from overseas offered a grim outlook on the potency of Covid-19 outbreaks.
What would it mean for him? What about Mum? And what about everyone he works with and their families? Healthcare among their patient base, predominantly Pasifika from low-income families, is already strained at the best of times. A virus which targets the respiratory system in those who develop serious symptoms does not sound good - for patients and the responsible workforce.
What would level 2, then 3, then 4 mean for them? All ongoing questions which continue to produce an array of answers.
Perhaps my most irrational moment of the past month was the reaction to the lockdown announcement. I immediately wondered whether Mum should join my bubble. Just in case, I thought. Dad is still seeing people and might get sick.
It is a scenario which has run through my head more times than I would like to admit. When I asked Dad, he offered a response that appeared to address the concern while simultaneously extricating himself from the conversation. "Yeah, you should probably just speak to your mum about that."
The comment did not do much to allay fears. Often, I find his lack of detectable panic around discussions on the situation frustrating. When virus headlines hit New Zealand, I repeatedly questioned whether his work was taking appropriate safety precautions. After pestering a few too many times, he followed a call with an email containing a link to the Ministry of Health Covid-19 site. The message read: "We take our lead from these guys."
Fair play. I suppose a bit of comic relief does not go amiss in these strange times.
Admittedly, it has been hard to wait out the lockdown without thinking about the potential risks of my dad's work. While he may not be in hospital wards dedicated to Covid-19 patients, every day is a reminder that he - along with thousands of other essential service workers - are navigating a different type of lockdown. The constant messages around staying home and not popping one's bubble have only added to that.
Of course, heartening stories of volunteers and workers across all essential industries have offered hope. There have also been reports illustrating shortfalls in the response which send me in the other direction. Then there are the individuals who have made news because they spit on people during a pandemic.
Reactions to last week's announcement that schools would begin teaching in-person at level 3 was another reminder of the challenges we are all navigating. Teachers raised concerns about the risk of returning to classrooms, while others criticised them for not wanting to play their part.
It is a tough spot to be in, one which will inevitably force more families to think about how safe and practical their bubbles are. For many educators, it also means assessing where their wellbeing ranks in the team effort.
Throughout it all, I worry about my dad. I check the daily numbers and wonder what it means for him and others in similar situations. Supermarket workers, care workers, police officers and the list goes on. I wonder how their loved ones and families are coping, and what the next few years will look like. I worry about my mum and reassure myself that both my parents are healthy should anything happen.
Interestingly, I have found one of the best antidotes to be a few comments from the individual at the centre of everything. When we last spoke, it was at the end of a morning of telephone appointments. We talked about the weather and I asked how things were going. Concerns were not around Covid-19, but rather gaps it had opened up.
"People aren't really coming in, which means we're probably missing a lot of stuff," my dad said.
Like many other health and social services, discussions had turned to the myriad problems that would likely present once restrictions were eased. That would be next, after the Covid-19 hump. He then signed off with a reminder to get my flu shot.
Oddly, the quick exchange provided a welcome bit of relief for this perennial Covid-19 worrier. It seems, even in pandemic-mode, it is reassuring to know that some pieces of parental advice never go away.