As of today, New Zealand’s Covid 19 death toll still stands at 21. All of them were vulnerable older adults. More than half of them lived in aged care facilities.
During the early days of the Alert Level 4 nationwide lockdown, an essential worker broke her bubble by visiting her daughter and grandchildren who belonged to a separate bubble. She was asked to stand down for 14 days to self-isolate. She did. And came back to work 1 week before NZ moved down to Alert Level 3. Alert Level 3 allows New Zealanders to extend their bubble to one essential bubble only (e.g. a parent, a caregiver, a friend) who can be of help to look after a young child if a parent goes to work and other similar situations.
On 28 April, the weather was gorgeous. It was the first day of Alert Level 3 when nationwide restrictions were eased just by the skin of one’s teeth. Everyone was excited. Many were still very cautious. Although perhaps, this brought a feeling of deliverance to some from more than a month of confinement in their own homes. Ah, these days, these days!
That same essential worker, with all enthusiasm as the case may be, visited her daughter and grandkids again. That’s fine. However, tagging along with her a niece and a cousin who were also essential workers in a different workplace and who were a part of a different personal bubble, was not okay to highlight the obvious. They delightfully enjoyed that beautiful day in a beach. One might really be turned on to a feeling of ecstasy when at last, a bit of freedom can be reclaimed. The getaway were all over that person’s facebook. So, it would not be an effort at all to discover her little adventure.
Needless to say, most of her colleagues were disappointed, uncomfortable, and felt unsafe. They felt unsafe not only for themselves but also for the aged patients they are caring for and for the family they go home to. On the day she returned to work, a meeting was called, peacefully and rationally presided by the Facility Manager. She was given all the opportunity to explain her actions. She said, she missed her grandchildren. Yes, that was absolutely comprehensible. Her cousin and niece wanted to come along so she gladly took them with her. That was quite concerning. She should have known better. When asked further why she extended her bubble to two more different ones, she answered without hesitation “I have strong faith in God and Jesus’ blood will protect me. I am confident I will not get the virus”.
A decision was made. She was asked to stand down again for another 2 weeks, isolate within the Level 3 guidelines. She was made to understand how, for the second time, she breached Section 70 of the Health Act Order. Whether there is more form of reprimand, the other staff members did not know.
I am actually amazed at some people who hold strong faith to a higher power. It is obvious how it can be of an advantage especially in times of life’s crisis. It absolutely helps to get one through some difficulties. No question about that.
During this pandemic, we heard some people who quietly or bluntly or maybe impishly defy and are willing to defy orders for reason that a universal life force is stronger than Covid 19 or anyone for that matter, thus getting infected is the least of their concern – it is impossible to a certain extent. Has faith clog their minds from understanding that certain things must be done to keep everybody else from harm? I would not even delve into differentiating the logic of man and the logic of faith for we have our diversified perceptions and certainly, varied opinions about these. But for most of us, it is not hard to understand that rules must be adhered to especially during this critical time.
In that same workplace, although the other staff members quietly and politely listened to their colleague justified her action, they raised questions that any other common people would ask to get their concerns across. “What if you get infected and remain asymptomatic? What if you are unknowingly bringing the virus here and infect and cause the death of the most vulnerable? What about us? What about our family? Did we not all agree to follow the rules surrounding this threat?” These are questions which are both rational and fair.
South Korea started to battle Covid 19 in January. Despite its government discouraging mass gathering , Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of Tabernacle in Daegu continued to hold church services. One woman who was confirmed positive of coronavirus was believed to infect at least 37 people at her church. Majority of the country’s cases are linked to the said church. An evangelical pastor in the US, who flouted CDC warning of the danger of church gathering amidst the coronavirus rampage, died of infection in March. He claimed that ‘people are healed in his church.” Another US pastor from Virginia who criticized coronavirus hysteria in his facebook page and went to preach at Mardi Gras in Louisiana to “save people’s souls” also died of coronavirus. He never made it home. These church leaders could have infected others as well. That’s a big possibility.
While faith is good at what ails someone as this can fend off fear to try new things, to progress, to believe that better things do happen, to face people, to confront one’s own demons, etc. , it can be dangerous when it collides with foolishness. Sadly, there’s a fine line between faith and indiscretion. Regrettably, there are few faithful whose indoctrination bring to bear a misconstrued operation of faith over fear… or following human rules. This has already caused so much harm…deaths, during this pandemic.
I am sure that the faithful believe that they are accountable to God. And I am equally sure that they are taught to be also accountable to their fellowmen. So how would they answer their Creator when infections spread through and by them and cause harm to many others because they are willing to breach human laws? Because of their faith?