COVID-19 DIARY – TWO MAN TARANTINO REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

Scenestr 6

March 24

While the British people solemly remembered all that they had lost I paradoxically on the other side of the world I found myself returning to the Brisbane Powerhouse for the first time since March 13, 2020 when I had attended the Brisbane Comedy Festival as the first restrictions were announced in Australia. No more than 500 people at a venue starting Monday the 16th of february.

Now here I was back on the 25th of March, 2021 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Interestingly enough I was there to review the show Two Man Tarantino for Scenestr magazine. I had previously reviewed the show back in 2018 for the Wonderland Festival so I was setting myself an interesting challenge.

The show seemed even better this time around to me and you can read my review here –Two Man Tarantino Review @ Brisbane Powerhouse (scenestr.com.au)

Again there was no mask wearing and the theatre was packed as per current health guidelines.

Karen and I also enjoyed our beloved Snack Bar Menu pizza after the show.

In such moments you can’t help but feel that something has been regained if only briefly after having been absent for so long.

But the virus never rests. It is always out there waiting to strike.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – REMEMBERING THE MANY AND THE FEW

COVID-19: Queen reflects on 'grief' of pandemic as country falls silent to  mark one year since lockdown | UK News | Sky News

March 22

I saw my GP on Monday the 22nd of March. As we discussing a few recent things to do with my health she mentioned my COVID vaccination.

I advised I was too young but she told me I would come under 1B for an underlying health condition. I asked if she was sure and she was.

I guess I had thought about it but often saw it as something to come down the line.

She told me to keep checking the website, no vaccines were availble at my medical centre yet but they would be soon as part of the 1B roll out.

UK lights up in remembrance of lives lost on anniversary of first lockdown  | Leigh Journal

March 23

I checked with my specialist who treated me for the underlying health condition which was well under control and he gave me the green light for to get the COVID vaccination.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the third wave currently going through Europe would come to the UK.

I’ve talked to our (European) friends repeatedly over the period – we’re all facing the same pandemic, we all have the same problems.” the Prime  Minister said.

If there is one thing that is worth stressing is that on the continent right now you can see sadly there is a third wave under way. People in this country should be under no illusions that previous experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, it washes up on our shores as well. I expect that we will feel those effects in due course.

That’s why we’re getting on with our vaccination programme as fast as we can but a vaccination campaign and developing vaccines, rolling them out – these are international projects and they require international co-operation.” said Johnson and I wholeheartedly agree.

Recently case numbers were on the rise and restrictions were coming into place across the continent. Recently several nations had suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Now the President of the European Commission had floated the idea of blocking drugs being exported to the UK which had vaccinated much more of their population.

Throughout most of 2020 the UK had been per capita one of the highest case number and deaths nationally across the globe.

I’m reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months that they don’t want to see blockades, I think that’s very important.” the UK Prime Minister advised.

London Ambulance Service joined a minute's silence to remember those who  lost their lives during the pandemic - Harrow Online

March 24

In Britain they paused on the anniversary of their first lockdown and remembered 126,000 of their fellow countrymen and women ahd had passed away in the past year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson who lesser measures at a slower pace than Australia and New Zealand and even many other European nations allowed, “There are probably many things that we wished that we’d known and probably many things that we’d done differently at the time.

Cautiously but irreversibly, step by step, jab by jab – this country is on the path to reclaiming our freedom,” said the Prime Minister.

Looking at the assembled nurses and ambos and doctors standing in reflection and remembrance of those who were lost.

How many of those deaths had they personally witnessed?

How many lives had they saved?

Had they seen any colleagues fall?

These were our heroes of a battle that still raged on and here they were still standing.

For us.

March 25

The first 800,000 of the locally made AstraZeneca jabs rolled out from CSL. The hope was to produce a million jabs and distribute them per week. This came in the wake of the short suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe having ended a week earlier.

It has to be said it was a great sight to see, the CSL plant was ready to run red hot in getting as many vaccines as possible produced and out in the community or wherever it was needed given a recent break out of cases in Papua New Guinea.

A lot of hard work had already been done to reach this point.

In India cases were on the rise and discovery of new mutant strains. There was a pause of Indian produced AstraZeneca vaccine which could cause problems of getting vaccines to Great Britain and Brazil and countries that would be served through the COVAX scheme.

India itself was looking to ramp up its vaccination scheme with people over 45 to get the jab next month.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 22, 2020. 

Following a National Cabinet meeting with state Premiers the Prime Minister announced all indoor entertainment, sporting and religious venues were to be shut from midday the next day. This included pubs, clubs and restaurants and cinemas.

With an expected rise in unemployment dole payments were going to be doubled.

The World Health Organisation reported on March 22 that Australia had 1,098 cases with a daily increase of 17. The death toll was seven.

COVID-19 DIARY – UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

Global Covid report: Belgium facing new lockdown as Germany takes in  patients | Belgium | The Guardian

March 14

In New South Wales a hotel quarantine worker at the Sofitel Hotel tested positive to COVID.

What was noteworthy about the case is the man had already been vaccinated.

Although let’s unpack that a little.

The security guard received his first Pfizer jab on the 2nd of March.

When he tested after most recent shifts March 5th and 6th going into the early hours of the 7th he tested negative after those shifts.

When he returned to work on the Saturday he tested positive.

That’s one jab of Pfizer less than a week earlier when he most likely became infected and the Pfizer jabs works on a basis of two jabs three weeks apart with full effectiveness reached a week after the second jab.

[This is] obviously good news, but you should be aware the antibody reaction required from vaccination doesn’t get confirmed or doesn’t achieve its maximum [until] some time after the first and second vaccination,” noted New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

Add to this is the simple fact that medicos are advising particularly with the new strains, vaccinations don’t stop you from getting COVID they stop you from hopefully coming down with a severe case with it.

As we have said all along, vaccination helps but it does not necessarily stop you getting the virus,” Hazzard said.

COVID NSW: No new cases linked to Sofitel Wentworth hotel quarantine |  Daily Telegraph

While we are still learning how the vaccines impacted transmission, what we would hope for … is if you are vaccinated, you probably don’t have such a high viral load, you are protected against severe illness. Your viral load may well be lower and, therefore, it will potentially stop you transmitting it to the same degree. But a lot of this work is still being looked at and the science is being worked through as we literally speak.,” advised New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant.

[The vaccine is] very effective, but not 100 per cent effective” against mild and moderate disease, but it was almost 100 per cent effective against severe disease, hospitalisation and death,” said Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.

It’s why the measures we have in place will have a part to play in our daily lives for many a while yet.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison receiving his second shot advised, “You should still try to observe the COVID-safe behaviours — I’m wearing a mask today.

One hundred and thirty hotel quarantine workers who worked the same shift with the guard on Friday March 12th going into Saturday morning were getting tested and isolating.

Contract tracing was underway for the locations the guard had hit in between his negative and postive test results.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported there had been 136,000 people go through the 14 day hotel quarantine since March 2020.

There had been 5,048 cases in New South Wales during the pandemic.

This case ended a 65 day streak of no new locally acquired cases.

Queensland COVID outbreak sparks health officials to change vaccination  policy | 7NEWS.com.au

March 16

Speaking of second shots of Pfizer.

Tuesday in Queensland nurse Zoe Park the first receipent of a Pfizer jab in Queensland received her second shot three weeks later along with several other health care workers.

Channel 9 News Australia reported 22,000 of 37,000 health care workers that came under the 1A grouping had received their first shot.

New South Wales had vaccinated 37,000 in the same time period.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath advised the state government was on track to complete 1A vaccinations in a fortnight.

Good news given the PA case.

Four hundred close contacts had been identified from that case and were getting tested. About 58% had come back negative.

Tensions between state and federal government consultation were raised.

Last week I was told these trays weren’t going to be delivered but it’s arrived in the last hour. So its changing daily,” D;Ath advised.

There were no answers yet on what caused the outbreak at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

To our north there was growing concern of rising COVID numbers in Papua New Guinea.

Five hundred recent tests in the country had returned 250 positive results. Of 36 active cases of COVID in Queensland – 18 could be linked back to Papua New Guinea.

The Australian government moved to provide support to their neighbour with $500 million dollars worth of foreign aid.

On the 16th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 2,351 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 82. There had been 26 deaths.

Having only days earlier seen the first AstraZeneca vaccinations take place in Australia, European nations were suspending the roll out of the vaccine.

Italy, Germany and France, Cyprus and Slovenia along suspended its use pending assessment from the European Medicines Agency which were meeting on Thursday.

Spain had suspended use for two weeks.

Earlier Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Austria, Latvia, Sweden, Romania and Bulgaria had stopped using it too.

The side effects cited included blood clots, there had been deaths following vaccinations.

The language of the national leaders struck a tone of precaution but indicated they expected the measure was temporary.

Hospitals in Paris were almost beyond capacity, Italy was in lockdown and there was already a supply issue of getting enough vaccines across Europe that suspending the use of AstraZeneca excaberated.

“As of today, there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said.

The European Medicines Agency reported as of March 10, 30 cases of blood clotting had been reported from 5 million Astra Zeneca vaccinations across 30 European countries.

Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon. More than 11 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca have now been administered across the UK, and the number of blood clots reported after having the vaccine is not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population.” said Dr Phil Bryan who was head of vaccine safety at the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

AstraZeneca itself reported out of 17 million vaccinations, 15 events of deep vein thrombosis and 22 evetns of pulomonary embolism.

Germany: Clashes erupt as parliament votes on COVID rules | Coronavirus  pandemic News | Al Jazeera

March 18

Professor Anthony Harnden who was deputy chair of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) had some strong words regarding the suspension of AstraZeneca.

You cannot stop and start vaccination programs without losing some public confidence,” he told the ABC.

There will be many, many people in Europe, [who] feel now that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is second best … which is patently untrue. I have no doubt that Europeans have died because of some of these decisions. They have large portions of their vulnerable elderly population unprotected because of an incorrect decision that they made about delaying the AstraZeneca dose in the elderly population. It’s going to affect us all, ultimately, if we have a huge amount of transmission and infection within Europe.,” he said.

There were significant national politics at play here.

Britain had recently left the European Union.

Case numbers were down in the UK while rising on the continent with the dominant strain now being… you guessed it – the UK strain.

Certain poorer European countries were going to need to use AstraZeneca while a country like Italy for example was mostly vaccinating with Pfizer.

Even so the vaccine rollout in Europe had been going slower than in the UK.

In Britain 39 out of every 100 people had been vaccinated compared to 11 out of every 100 in France, Germany and Italy.

For example Italy had been averaging 200,000 vaccinations per day before the suspension, it needed to double that to get to 80 per cent of its population vaccinated by September this year.

While Pfizer/BioNTech was a Belgium-American collaboration. The Oxford-AstraZeneca jab was a British-Swiss collaboration.

East Europe hit with new COVID-19 wave as Polish, Bulgarian leaders test  positive - Global Times

March 19

The European Medicines Agency report came out and its four main findings were the benefits of getting a vaccine far outweighed the risk of side effects, there is no associated increased risk between the jab and blood clots, no problem with batches or manufacturing but the vaccine may be associated with very rare cases of blood clots.

Following this out of the 13 countries that suspended the use of AstraZeneca, Italy, France and Germany advised they would resume its use.

Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands said they would start using it again next week.

Poland had never stopped.

The Oxford jab is safe and the Pfizer jab is safe. The thing that isn’t safe is catching COVID, which is why it’s so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes,” Great Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised in a press conference where he announced he would get vaccinated tomorrow at the very hospital where he had been treated for COVID-19.

March 20

France and the UK’s Prime Ministers and Slovenia’s President rolled up their sleeves for the AstraZeneca jab to help in restoring confidence in the vaccine following the suspension of its use in Europe.

France was back in lockdown.

Bulgaria had resumed AstraZeneca vaccination, out of a population of seven million only 355,000 of its people had been vaccinated – the lowest number in the European Union.

Places like Hungary and Bosnia were also going into lockdown as case numbers surged. The former had one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe.

On the 20th of March the World Health Organisation reported there had been 122,039,807 confirmed cases globally with a daily incrase of 552,244.

There had been 2,697,760 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 10,509.

In Iceland there had been 6,097 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 29 deaths.

In Australia there had been 29,183 with a daily increase of 17. There had been 909 deaths.

In Cyprus there had been 41,475 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 364. There had been 241 deaths.

In Ireland there had been 229,306 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 510. There had been 4,576 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Latvia there had been 96,524 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 622. There had been 1,811 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Denmark there had been 221,455 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 638. There had been 2,397 deaths.

In Slovenia there had been 204,534 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 941. There had been 4,276 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Norway there had been 84,553 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,034. There had been 648 deaths.

Bosnian returnees face delays, confusion over COVID-19 quarantine |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

In Bosnia and Herzegovina there had been 151,337 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,446. There had been 5,773 deaths with a dialy increase of 44.

In Austria there had been 504,693 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,306. There had been 8,795 deaths with a daily increase of 25.

In Canada there had been 922,848 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,609. There had been 22,590 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

In Bulgaria there had been 299,939 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,162. There had been 11,932 deaths with a daily increase of 115.

Coronavirus Manchester: How life will change under Tier 3 lockdown - Sound  Health and Lasting Wealth

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,284,547 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,458. THere had been 126,026 deaths with a daily increase of 100.

In Romania there had been 886,752 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,593. THere had been 22,020 deaths with a daily increase of 143.

In Sweden there had been 744,171 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,740. There had been 13,387 deaths with a daily increase of 18.

In the Netherlands there had been 1,186,425 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,355. There had been 16,238 deaths with a daily increase of 45.

In Hungary there had been 560,971 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,132. There had been 18,068 deaths with a daily increase of 227.

In Germany there had been 2,645,783 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,033. There had been 74,565 deaths with a daily increase of 207.

In Italy there had been 3,332,418 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 25,707. There had been 104,241 deaths with a daily increase of 386.

France Covid-19: Paris compulsory face-mask rule comes into force - BBC News

In France there had been 4,146,171 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 35,066. There had been 91,429 deaths with a daily increase of 267.

In India there had been 11,555,284 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 40,953. There had been 159,558 deaths with a daily increase of 188.

In the United States of America there had been 29,376,388 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 58,826. There had been 534,484 deaths with a daily increase of 1,513.

Most of Europe was not only experiencing surging case numbers but as bad as any their country had ever seen this past winter.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 19, 2020.

Italy overtook China with the most recorded deaths from COVID with 41,035 confirmed cases and a daily increase of 5,322. The death toll was 3,407 with a daily increase of 429.

In Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison annonced there all foreign travellers would be banned from entering the country.

Tasmania became the first Australian state to close its borders.

The Ruby Princess crusie ship disembarked 2,700 passengers in Sydney.

COVID-19 DIARY – A YEAR INTO IT

20200313_210011At the Brisbane Comedy Festival, March 13 2020. Copyright Lloyd Marken

March 13

For me it always come back to Friday the 13th of March.

As we entered 2021 there were lots of anniversary milestones.

The first reported case in America, in the UK, in Australia, when restrictions came into place for air travel.

Monday the 16th of March was actually when new restrictions came into place in Australia but it is Friday the 13th that holds the most significance for me when the restrictions were announced.

That whole week things had been brewing.

Schools shut down in France, only food stores and pharmacies were allowed to be open in Italy, the stockmarket crashed, government ministers across the world were testing positive for the virus and the World Health Organisation was declaring a global pandemic.

We knew we were building to something but Friday the ripchord was pulled.

The Formula 1 in Melbourne was cancelled, the Prime Minister announced there would be no mass gatherings of 500 people or more come Monday. How quaint that now seems.

Formula One's Australian Grand Prix cancelled amid coronavirus fears |  Formula One | The Guardian

I went to the Brisbane Comedy Festival that night and met up with some friends to review Dave Hughes doing his stand-up show for Scenestr magazine. There was a sense of one last hurrah before leaping into the unknown.

We didn’t know what was to come but we knew it was coming.

Nothing was going to be the same for a while. What would become the new normal? The sooner we found out the sooner the whole population could become comfortable with it.

There was an uncertainty in the air but also a resolve.

Now that things were happening we just knew we had to get on board with it and reassuringly most people’s thoughts turned to others and how to help them.

Whether it was fundraising for Meals on Wheels America,

The Salvation Army here in Australia,

charities that help Australian veterans like Mates4Mates, Soldier On with patron 101 year old Sgt Bert who is a genuine Rat of Tobruk, and veterans’ families Legacy,

or The International Association for Human Values as they provided food to daily wage earners who had lost their jobs in India,

or the Endeavour Foundation who help people with disabilities,

or Medecins Sans Frontieres as they provided medical aid across the world for COVID or disaster relief,

or the charity Headspace that provides mental health support for young people,

or the After School All Stars Program for school children in America that pivoted during COVID to provide food during lockdowns,

or the GoFundMe page BuyThemACoffee organised by Kaylie Smith who raised over $80,000 dollars to provide free coffees for nursing staff across the country,

or a little initiative in support of a small cafe in Toowong called StellaRossa that saw 200 coffee vouchers delivered to hospital staff at the nearby The Wesley Hospital,

or The London Ambulance Service Charitable Fund

– the legacy and example of Captain Tom Moore lived on in many acts far and wide.

Money isn’t everything either, whether it was a phone call, a skype, some flowers or a gift, or where possible a visit.

People looked out for each other and buoyed each other’s spirits.

I know I owe a great deal to many calls to my parents and to the humour and kindness of my dear friends and wife.

Recently a work colleague tracked down a Lego kit from the 1980s, created a package to house it with some kind words on it and handed it over to me.

I think it is one of the best gifts I have ever received.

I don’t like to think about what it might have cost him but the most important thing to me is the thought that went into it and the reason he gave it to me is truly humbling.

I posted my first post about COVID-19 back on the 22nd of April covering events starting the 3rd of March. I eventually caught up with current events and with each post scheduled two days apart I had a whole month of posts scheduled throughout July at the end of June.

Then I went on my secondment and subsequently fell behind.

I’m still playing catch-up.

This will be the 148th post in a row on this topic.

The COVID-19 Diary changed my blog, made it more personal which I need to be vigilant about not doing too much of.

I have written about other things but always in the context of this COVID year.

I probably imagined that I would write about it for at least a year or two but not necessarily at this length.

20200606_150919 Copyright Lloyd Marken.

During June in the wake of Black Lives Matters and receding COVID numbers I wondered what I would write about next.

I felt more removed from events happening around the world – rather than writing about what was happening to me I was merely curating news.

Then the outbreak from hotel quarantines happened in Victoria and it seems there has always been something ever since including lockdowns and scares in Brisbane.

Also I became aware of the need to write about nice things happening like my holidays, secondments and weddings.

20200703_094616

The Polish Place. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Subsequent waves were devastating countries like the U.S. and U.K. and Brazil and now places like India. Just as that first wave was in China all that time ago.

With fellow bloggers and family in those countries they have never been far from my mind as I wrote about the situation in Australia which by comparison made me feel very fortunate.

It seemed a tall order to have our scientists come up with a vaccine in twelve months back at the beginning but they did.

20210214_191802

Copyright Lloyd Marken

Being a year on makes you wonder where we will be a year from now.

Hopefully better off.

Hopefully there will be less diary entries.

Hopefully.

I do strongly suspect I will still be writing about COVID to some extent for some time to come.

Last year I saw my family in early March for birthday catch-ups.

I didn’t see my parents again in person for roughly three months. Then not again until November,

Then Christmas.

Then around New Years.

Then March again for the birthdays a year on.

That was nice.

Awesome Time Lapse Video Of Planet Earth Taken On The ...

On the 13th of March of 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 138,347 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 9,432.

There had been 5,087 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 362.

On the 13th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 118,774,981 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 482,705.

There had been 2,637,553 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,548.

We felt we had beaten it': New Zealand's race to eliminate the coronavirus  again

On the 13th of March, 2020 in New Zealand there had been 5 confirmed cases with a daily increase  The first case reported in the country had been on the 28th of February, 2020. The first recorded death would be on the 29th of March, 2020.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in New Zealand there had been 2,066 confirmed cases with a daily increase of five. There had been 26 deaths.

Ladakh to Kerala, vaccine rollout begins | India News,The Indian Express

On the 13th of March, 2020 in India there had been 78 confirmed cases with a daily increase of one. The first recorded cases were five on the 30th of January, 2020. The first death due to COVID-19 was recorded on the 13th of March, 2020.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in India there had been 11,333,728 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 24,882. There had been 158,446 deaths with a daily increase of 140.

Canada: military reveals “horrific” conditions in aged care homes ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 with a daily increase of 59 cases the total number in Canada jumped to 152. The first death recorded March 11, remained the only one in the country.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Canada there had been 899,757 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,018. There had been 22,371 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

A row of patient transport vans are parked outside the Epping Gardens aged care home.

On the 13th of March, 2020 there had been 189 cases of COVID-19 in Australia with 49 of those cases reported that day alone. There had been three deaths in my country at that point.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Australia there had been 29,102 confirmed cases with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 909 deaths.

What to know about social distancing strategies amid coronavirus ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 there were 802 cases in total reported in the United Kingdom. Over a quarter of those had just been reported that day – 208. There were two new deaths leading to a total of 10.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in the United Kingdom there had been 4,247,068 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,759. There had been 125,343 deaths with a daily increase of 175.

New York City Mass Graves On Island Are Increasing Because Of ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 in the United States of America there were 277 new cases with a total of 1,264 overall. There were 36 dead, 7 from that day alone.

In the United States of America there had been 29,000,561 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 60,312. There had been 527,068 deaths with a daily increase of 1,570.

Coronavirus digest: France reports over 50,000 cases in single day | News |  DW | 25.10.2020

In France on the 13th of March, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported an increase from 2,281 to 3,640 in the country. There was a daily increase of 31 dead in the country taking the total of 79.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in France there had been 3,946,733 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 25,120. There had been 89,632 deaths with a daily increase of 290.

Coronavirus: South Korea declares highest alert as infections surge - BBC  News

On the 13th of March, 2020 in South Korea there had been 7,979 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 110. There had been 67 deaths with a daily increase of one.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in South Korea there had been 95,169 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 490. There had been 1,667 deaths with a daily increase of five.

COVID-19 and the Iranian Shadows of War | Chatham House – International  Affairs Think Tank

On the 13th of March, 2020 in Iran there had been 11,368 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,289. There had been 514 deaths with a daily increase of 85.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Iran there had been 1,731,558 confirmed cases with a a daily increase of 8,088. There had been 61,069 deaths with a daily increase of 53.

Image: A man wearing a protective mask passes by the Colosseum in Rome on March 7, 2020 amid fear of Covid-19 epidemic.

In Italy the WHO reported a daily increase of 2,547 cases bringing the national total to 21,157. The death toll increased by 252 taking us to 1,268.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Italy there had been 3,175,807 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 26,790. There had been 101,564 deaths with a daily increase of 380.

Medics work in ICU of Huoshenshan Hospital- China.org.cn

On the 13th of March, 2020 in China there had been 80,991 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 3,181 deaths with a daily increase of eight.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in China there had been 102,276 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 73. There had been 4,849 deaths. That’s not fuckin true but anyway that is what was reported.

Photos: Sobering images show Brazil's mounting coronavirus death toll

I thank you for following me on this journey, for sharing it with me. It has meant a lot to me to continue writing and to have people who read and comment or offertheir own knowledge. As we continue I hope the journey gets easier and I hope you are there with me.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – CAREFUL ICARUS

Princess Alexandra Hospital | Our Digital Health Service

March 12

There tend to be moments during this pandemic when hope overtakes us.

Particularly here in Australia because case numbers have been very low.

There are these moments where the disease just does appear to be out there in the community.

At these moments governments make restrictions that seem to inspire a feeling of monumental change and hope.

In June 2020 case numbes were low as we came out of the first wave and restrictions were lowering across the board.

Sure on some level people know there have to be subsequent waves but when the threat is not present…

Calls to nominate departing CMO Brendan Murphy for Australian of ...

Then there was an outbreak in Victoria following a case coming out of hotel quarantine and the number of dead from aged care residents skyrocketed.

Almost 600 COVID-19 cases at Victoria aged care homes - HealthTimes

In early December all the state borders were open.

This had not happened in seven months and Christmas was days away and case numbers were low.

RACGP - Vaccine policy identifies priority groups – but order proves  'contentious'

Were we going to have Christmas like normal in Australia?

Sadly no.

The Avalon cluster took off in Sydney causing border restrictions to return in time for Christmas.

Image result for sydney christmas covid 19

With the vaccine rolling out in UK and US and others to come people looked to 2021 to be radically different from 2020.

Covid-19: First vaccine patient has her second jab - BBC News

But within the first week of the new year there was the attack on the U.S. Capitol, my home town went into lockdown and the death toll in the UK, US and places like Brazil and others was truly horrifying.

Viewpoint: What the Capitol riot means for US foreign policy - BBC News

Grim start to 2021 for Brazil with 200,000 Covid deaths

So standing in a full crowd without masks to go see Triple X as if everything was back to normal sent alarm bells ringing.

We’re never out of this.

Not until everybody has been vacinnated and then how are we are going to get booster jabs to the necessary people in time.

There are many challenges ahead of us but also hope to be taken from the possible – POSSIBLE! – slowing down of the virus’s evolution and what appears to be less hospitalisations and deaths than can be obtained from even our first batch vaccines against new strains even if if eradicating the disease remains a long shot.

Until then.

This thing comes in cycles and when people are ready to let their hair that kind of is when the cycle comes back around.

So it should come as no surprise that comes Friday the 12th of March this was a small scare to come out of the Princess Alexandra hospital.

A doctor working at the PA caught COVID wednesday and was out and about Thursday before testing positive Friday morning. 

This ended Queensland’s run of 59 days of no community transmission.

The PA went into a form of lockdown, only essential visitors were allowed, all staff, patients and those coming to the hospital must wear masks.

While the Emergency Department remained open, the public were encouraged to seek help elsewhere.

Non urgent outpatient booking and elective surgery was to be postponed.

I think this may serve as a timely reminder that the virus hasn’t gone away despite our excellent control in this state and this country, and that’s why we need to really get on with that vaccination program to further reduce the risks of events like this happening,” Director of Infectious Diseases at the Mater Hospital, Paul Griffin, said.

There were 40 active cases in Queensland.

Biden announces national vaccine finder website, May 1 eligibility for all  adults | Healthcare IT News

In the United States of America it was one year on from when the World Health Organisation announced a global pandemic, the NBA suspended its season and the US stockmarket plunged.

“We’ve lost family and friends, we’ve lost businesses and dreams. We’ve lost time.” President Joe Biden solemly noted.

All adult Americans would be elligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1 he promised.

The American President set a goal to have the country be in a different place by the 4th of July.

“Where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus,” he said.

I hope it comes to be so but the new variants will need to dealt with too.

Reassuringly here was a President who would not set dates for a re-opening with no scientific basis but would make goals based on real ground made.

March 13

It was reported that the PA doctor had seen two COVID patients on Wednesday with the UK strain of COVID.

That the doctor had not yet received a vaccine jab as part of the 1A rollout.

The doctor had limited interaction with the community on Thursday but five sites were named.

The Morning After Cafe at West End, Corporate Box gym at Greenslopes, Stones Corner Hotel at Stones Corner and the two low risk venues of McDonalds at Coorparoo and the after 7pm on the Thursay at the Corporate Box gym after the Doctor had left that site.

Throughout the Greater Brisbane area all aged care and disability homes and hospitals were closed to visitors

All inside those places had to wear masks – there was no mask mandate for the greater community.

In January one case of COVID-19 in the community had sparked a three day lockdown.

That case had been out in the community for more than one day and had caught public transport.

This was maybe why there was a different reaction for the moment from the state government.

Maybe there were larger considerations.

THe political capital that is expended from lockdowns, there were parts of the community that believe such actions are showboating and devastate small business. Since January, Jobkeeper was due to end March 28th and Jobseeker payments would be significantly reduced.

I do not know but as time wore on the PA case would remain relevant.

In the United States of America the COVID Relief Bill was signed into law and 100 million vaccine doses had been delivered after 52 days in office.

The Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci was interviewed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert who spoke of the increasing vaccine rollout and more collaboration between state governments and the federal one.

As Colbert noted there was a sense of hope in the air and Dr Anthony Fauci told him that hope was not misplaced – the main point was when.

Dr Fauci noted cases were plateuing in their decrease and he warned that the plateau was at too high a point. Public health measures he said were still required.

He also spoke about the likelihood of eradicating the virus but he hoped to strike a balance between controlling it and eliminating it.

It was an interesting interview to have with Dr Fauci a year on from the outbreak in the U.S.

He spoke of how the virus spreads in maybe half of cases from people asymptomatic or presyptomatic and that he wished had they known that a year earlier as they would have moved more agressively in shutting things down.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ‘TRIPLE X’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

Scenestr 5

March 11

I was fortunate enough to be on assignment with Scenestr once again on the Thursday the 11th of March.

Since the pandemic hit Brisbane I had been to three films and one stand-up show.

Now I was going to the theatre again to see Triple X, which had its season cut short a year ago due to COVID.

It was a privilege to be there to see the show’s return that had been promised by Queensland Theatre and delivered against some unprecedented odds.

At the end of the show the lead performer and writer Glace Chase appeared to be becoming emotional.

The show itself was wonderful, detailing a love story rife with laughs and pain and yearning.

What was interesting for me having not been to the theatre in a while was the measures.

We had to sign in on a Qld Government App at the venue. The menu was slightly altered to mostly packed foods and drinks.

And yet…

Looking out over the lobby before going into the show there was a sizeable crowd and nobody was wearing a mask because the current health advice was not to.

Then when we went into the venue it was a packed house with everybody seated together with no spare seats in between.

Again completely in keeping with the health advice but being aware of what was being experienced elsewhere in this world made our current circumstances seem a little surreal.

There were 41 active cases in Queensland on the 11th of March, 2021. 

Not many at all but substantially up from 11 at the beginning of the month and even from January where when had we gone into lockdown for three days.

The highest number of active cases then had been 30 on the 15th of January.

Clearly the number of cases in hotel quarantine was increasing.

Anyway the show was wonderful and you can read my review here Triple X Review @ Queensland Theare (scenestr.com.au)

I was fortunate to have interviewed the director Paige Rattray two years earlier in the lead up to the run Hedda directed by her too. 

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL OUT ROLL UP – PART VI

March 05

Friday.

In South Australia GP Caroline Phegan received the first AstraZeneca vaccine in the country. Having worked on the frontline of fighting COVID consulting in Emergency Departments and with autoimmune issues in her own health her vaccination went well and caused her a great deal of relief.

In the past 12 days, 3,000 South Australians had been vaccinated but the state government still was aiming for 12,000 in the first three weeks.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave a bizare update following a meeting of National Cabinet. He spoke for at least five minutes but there were few actual pieces of information in it. One was an expansion of the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory expanding from housing 850 to 2,000 returned travellers in quartine.

The European Union blocked a shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca vials originally destined to be exported to Australia. That certainly upset a few people over here but the Australian government downplayed it.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton reminded that we were weeks away from having over a million doses of AstraZeneca rolled out from local production here in Australia.

The decision made by the EU was originally put forwardd from Italy.

AstraZenca itself was making delivery of 40 million doses to the continent by the end of the month – half of what it had originally promised. That kind of shortfall was projected for the second quarter of the year.

In Itally 4.8 million Italians had been vaccinated out of a population of 60 million people.

Europe had just gone through the ringer the past twelve months, political leaders could ill afford to be seen to do nothing in the lead up to next winter where deaths had to be less than they were in just this one past.

Morally they were even more obligated.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 5th of March, 2021, out of a population of over five million people, in Norway there had been 72,923 confirmed cases and 632 deaths.

In Sweden with over 10 million people it was 680,071 confirmed cases and 13,113 deaths.

Sweden's Pandemic Experiment | The New Yorker

In Portugal with a population of 10 million people too had seen 806,916 confirmed cases and 16,458 deaths.

Greece with 10.7 million people 199,496 confirmed cases and 6,632 deaths.

In Belgium with 11 and half million people , there had been 784,682 confirmed cases and 21,453 deaths.

With just under a population of 47 million, Spain had seen 3,154,712 confirmed cases and 98,974 deaths.

Making headlines as the first European country with a serious outbreak last year Italy had sufferred 2,999,119 confirmed cases and 98,974 deaths.

In Australia with a population of 25 million people there had been 29,002 confirmed cases and 909 deaths.

Additionally some European countries had had some bad experiences with the Pfizer vaccine like Norway in January where 29 elderly receipents had experienced side effects and sadly 13 had died.

For the European Union this was a no brainer however concerning it might be for us in the southern hemisphere.

The larger concern was if national politics made us lose sight of the larger need to get the whole world vaccinated.

It was easy to hold up 250,000 vials from Australia who was going to produce the same drug enmasse.

But what about withholding orders from countries that were not in our position?

March 06

Planet America covered some of the latest developments in America. Case numbers and deaths were down as vaccinations occurred at a high rate.

That was good enough for Texas Governor Greg Abbott to announce that Texas was 100 per cent open for business and the mandated mask wearing was over.

Mississipi soon followed suit.

Abbott’s actions showed the state’s power over decisions that the Federal government count not affect in the normal scheme of things. All the more reason why it was essential that the President was consistent in his message and sought to bring uniformity to the actions of all governments. Something that had desperately been need last March.

THe last thing we need is neanderthal thinking,” said President Biden leading some to give full throated defense to Neanderthals. Who you know… are extinct.

Interestingly enough Governor Abbott had taken exectuive action back on October 8 when there was a seven day average of 3,894 new cases. Now there was 6,681.

Texas had given first jabs to only 13 per cent of the states’ population – that was 48th out of the 50 states.

March 07

On the eve of rolling out AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia through General Practioners

81,000 vaccinations had been reached in the past two weeks but as General Practioners across four and half thousand centres were called upon to start providing jabs in the past two weeks the hope was to reach half a million per week.

Some GPs were arguing though that not enough vials were being allocated to them to get all their patients vaccinated any time soon and would disrupt regular appointments and providing other medical services.

On the 7th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 116,197,902 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 442,880.

There had been 2,586,898 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 8,916.

In Australia there had been 29,030 cases with a daily increase of ten. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 881,761 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,370. There had been 22,192 deaths with a daily increase of 41.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,213,705 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,294. There had been 124,419 deaths with a daily increase of 158.

In India there had been 11,210,799 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18,711. There had been 157,756 deaths with a daily increase of 100.

In the United States of America there had been 28,602,211 with a daily increase of 67,213. There had been 519,075 deaths with a daily increase of 2,227.

March 10

On Wednesday New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian received the AstraZeneca vaccine along with health care workers and aged care residents across Sydney.

March 11

In the United States of America the vaccine roll-out continued.

President Joe Biden had declared on January 14th, 2021 he would deliver 100 million shots in his 100 days. A more than acheiveable goal given how the vaccine roll out was tracking at that time.

Fifty days into his Presidency 75 million doses had already been delivered.

Vaccines couldn’t come fast enough as spring breakers still planned to head to Florida and Disney World was opening up again even though the state was still averaging 5,000 cases a day at that time.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL OUT ROLL UP PART V

Utter disaster': Manaus fills mass graves as Covid-19 hits the Amazon |  Brazil | The Guardian

March 02

As the vaccine rolled out across America, the Director fo the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci advised the U.S. would not delay second doses of the vaccine like the UK had.

Accepting that there were risks on both sides of the arguement, Fauci advised leaving people with less protection could help encourage new variants to pop up.

He told of speaking with UK officials and that, “We both agreed that both of our approaches were quite reasonable.

He did cite another consideration was building confidence in the American people with regards to getting vaccinated and not changing policy too much to undermine that confidence.

It is worth noting that during the early days of the pandemic taking off in America, mask usage had been downplayed since there was a serious concern that supplies would run out for frontline workers.

At this point both regulators in the UK and the US had given the green light to use of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The U.S. had just approved the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The UK was also using the locally produced Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

Just this week Public Health England reported, “that a single shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines had been more than 80% effective at preventing hospitalization of people over age 80 roughly three to four weeks after one dose, though it’s unclear just how long that level of protection will last.

Covid in Scotland: Mass vaccination of health and care staff begins - BBC  News

In Great Britain, during an interview with BBC Radio 4, Oxford University Professor Andrew Pollard who was in charge of running trials of the university’s vaccines advised that booster jabs will take of noticeably new dangerous variants of COVID. He expected a necessary one would be ready from AstraZeneca by August.

These variants from Kent, Brazil, South Africa had been able to reinfect people that had had COVID.

Director of the variant tracking COG UK Institute, Professor Sharon Peacock, had also hopefully said the virus was showing signs of “convergent evolution.” Less mutations were developing and unconnected variants appeared the same.

A comforting thought but for now the Brazillian strain for example was getting a lot of attention. Conservative estimates suggested it was 50 per cent more transmissible and may reinfect anywhere from 25 to 61 pere cent who are already immune. A study today revealed the Brazilian variant discovered in the UK over the weekend is around 50 per cent more transmissible than the original version of the coronavirus.

A published study by the Imperial College London had researched the P1 variant in the Brazillian city of Manaus. Blood testing had suggested 67 per cent of the city’s population had had COVID by October 2020.

A subsequent wave hit the city hard in early 2021, the study found that the number of COVID cases in Manaus with the P1 variant grew from zero to 87 per cent in eight weeks.

A city in Brazil where covid-19 ran amok may be a 'sentinel' for the rest  of the world | MIT Technology Review

The report found that P! was anywhere between 1.4 to 2.2 times more transmissible and evaded 25 to 61 per cent immunity given from previous infection.

P1 had arrived in the United Kingdom over the weekend.

“If 100 people were infected in Manaus last year, somewhere between 25 and 61 of them are susceptible to reinfection with P1,” Dr Nuno Faria of the Imperial College London told.

The P1 variant has also caused more deaths in Manaus but this was not necessarily due to the severity of the illness but the rate of hospitalisations leading to a lack of supplies and care that could be adminsitered by a health care system that had reached breaking point.

The main mutations that had people’s attention was the N501Y, E484K and K417. The mutations are on the virus’s external spike protein which is used to latch onto the body allowing the virus to spread faster and leading to them becoming the dominant form of the disease. N501Y is found in the Kent strain known globally as the UK strain. E484K and K417 are found in the Brazil and South Africa strains. These latter two mutations make the virus less susceptible to immune cells making previous infections or vaccines less effective against them. However the expectation was the vaccines were likely to still prevent serious illness or death from these new strains.

Brazil Doesn't Seem to Have a Coronavirus Plan, and Results Are Grim

It is difficult because we’re very focused on what we’re seeing today and of course the nature of this virus is that it will continue to throw out new mutations in time. And so, to some extent, we’ve got to start moving away from an obsession with each variant as it appears [and] try to rely on the excellent sequencing that is being run nationally to pick up variants so that new designs of vaccines can be made as and when they are needed,” said Professor Pollard.

Certainly at the moment there are some similarities between the P.1 Brazil variant and the B.1351 South African variant. So the work at the moment is partly to understand whether a vaccine for one of them might actually protect against both. There’s a lot more that we don’t know yet about this, but all the developers are working on new vaccines to make sure we are ready if we need to be.

Professor Peacock was pretty confident that with the new P1 variant being found in Britain that the UK’s own horrible strain would remain the variant to combat with no disturbance to coming out of lockdown or the roll out of the vaccine.

The majority of disease in the UK is caused by the B117 [Kent] variant which we can vaccinate against using the vaccines that we have available to us at the moment. The numbers of cases [of P1] in the UK are very low at the moment and I don’t think there is any threat to our vaccination strategy or effectiveness,” said Professor Peacock.

More importantly AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna were all working on new jabs for variants.

It could be there’s a point at which the virus has optimal fitness in terms of transmission and immunity… what we don’t know is what happens after that. I don’t anticipate that things are going to get worse from this point. We seem to have reached a relative plateau in terms of what the virus is doing in terms of evolution. But we need to keep our eye on it. Unfortunately, I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t predict what’s going to happen next,” she said.

The Brazillian variant has been found in 15 countries that are not on the UK’s Red List of banned international travel.

Covid-19: First travellers arrive in UK for hotel quarantine stay - BBC News

The first arrival of UK residents that needed to quarantine in hotels for ten days after returning from 33 countries where variants of concern were currently had arrived on the 15th of February, 2021. That was  almost a year after a similar policy had been made by Australia on the 27th fo March, 2020 for all international travel from all countries.

Restricting international travel from red-listed countries may slow down the introduction of new variants from elsewhere, but eventually, such variants will likely spread to non-red-listed countries from red-listed countries – then to the UK from there – if different countries have different red lists,” Dr Julian Tang, a virologist from University of Leicester, said.

It was also reported by the BBC that capturing variants before the spread further through the community is a hope.

Professor Jeffrey Barrett, a researcher at the Sanger Institute and in charge of Britain’s Covid-19 genome sequencing programme told, “We’re still sequencing on the minority, maybe 20 per cent of the infections that happen.

“But when we do see examples of – in this case – P.1 that information can then be used to detect specific kinds of interventions such as the ones we’re seeing now to try to keep the onward transmissions as low as possible. The hope being that as the case numbers continue to go down and our capacity for sequencing continues to go up we can be capturing a larger and larger fraction of all of these infections,” he said.

Covid: New Oxford vaccine 'ready by the autumn' to tackle mutations - BBC  News

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and expert at the University of Bristol, said on BBC Breakfast today: ‘At the moment, the evidence we have suggests that certainly the South African variant, and potentially this Brazilian variant – which is somewhat similar – the vaccines that we have at the moment are less effective at reducing at least mild disease and possibly transmission. We’re optimistic that the vaccines will continue to prevent severe disease but the evidence for that is still fairly limited. But for the moment the vaccines that we’re using are very effective against the strains that are predominantly circulating in the UK and it’s important that people understand that that’s still the case because we do need people to get immunised as fast as possible to get things under control.” said Professor Adam Finn who was a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Imperial College London immunoligist Professor Danny Altmann told Times Radio, “When I look at the data on how well this variant gets neutralised, it’s not that all immunity is gone, it’s that the vaccines look so much less potent, so there’ll be more people who have low antibody responses where it can break through and get affected. It all comes back much harder.

Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium COVID Vaccine Super Site in 13 Photographs |

March 03

In America as the vaccine rollout continued there were troubling patterns emerging.

Take for example in Los Angeles where in Vernon one in 27 people had been vaccinated. Over the past year one in five residents had contracted COVID. Yet in Bel Air one in four had been vaccinated and one in 27 had contracted the virus in the past year. The income of Bel Air residents on average was five times the amount of money made by Verson residents.

Across LA County, we’re seeing that the vaccines are going to more affluent areas, and it is not necessarily those who are hit hardest by the pandemic,” nurse Anita Zamora, deputy director of community health service Venice Family Clinic, said.

The disparties reflected race and wealth in those areas but there were other factors at play.

Maybe it’s not a volume question as much as it is a value question to get to those communities,” Zamora said.

Homelessness can be a factor, the elderley or anyone needing a car to be driven to a mass vaccination site and people with limited internet access and time to book an appointment including shift workers at grocery stores.

Then there is also the factor of those hesitant in communities to get vaccinated. Some recent polls suggested a third of Americans intended to not get vaccinated.

For Nurse Zamora though the need was to get more vaccines. Her clinic get a couple of hundred Moderna vials each week but she believed a larger allocation to centres like the Venice Family Clinic which has deep connections to the local community would lead to more vaccinations.

More people dying and in a disproportionate way,” she said.

Just another hero trying to make a difference in the City of Angels.

-Lloyd Marken

A mobile clinic brings vaccine to Vernon workers - Los Angeles Times

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL ON ROLL UP – PART IV

Ladakh to Kerala, vaccine rollout begins | India News,The Indian Express

February 28

On Sunday 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Western Sydney from Europe.

CSL Limited was going to produce 50 million doses of the vaccine locally and starting from late March the hope was for them to produce 1 million doses a week.

The hope was to have the whole population vaccinated by October. Of course I am writing this from a later date that saw has seen a dramatic change to those projections but at the time there was great hope in these new arriving and administered vaccines.

On Sunday news came that the U.S. had approved the previously covered Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Vaccines were being dispersed throughout the world but the race was on.

Six billion people to be vaccinated or at least enough to reach herd immunity.

To stop the virus from continuing to mutate.

To stop one more person dying that could have been saved.

Logistically there was nothing like it. It was the greatest undertaking we had ever undertaken. Against the greatest crisis of our lifetimes.

The Indian government was racing to get an inital 300 million it most at risk vaccinated like police, defence, teachers, sanitation workers and health care staff. The next phase was to include people over 60 and those younger with underlying health care conditions. The vaccines being administered were AstraZeneca and the Indian produced Covaxin which had been rushed into service before trials were completed. The government aimed to reach a goal of 5 million jabs administered daily.

The Australian Broadcasting News reported on the recent uptick in cases in India following a lull. They cited a report that showed over half of New Delhi residents had developed COVID anti-bodies meaning so many people had caught COVID that the population was nearing achieiving herd immunity. To say nothing of the high amount of deaths. Worse yet that immunity would not protect against new variants in the community.

India was about to expereince a crashing second wave.

Their vaccine roll out continued in earnest.

On the 28th of February the World Health Organisation reported there had been 113,443,826 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 401,933.

There had been 2,525,729 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 8,582.

In Australia there had been 28,965 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 861,472 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,255. There had been 21,915 deaths with a daily increase of 50.

In the United Kindgom there had been 4,173,691 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,567. There had been 122,705 deaths with a daily increase of 290.

In India there had been 11,096,731 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,752. There had been 157,051 deaths with a daily increase of 113.

India had reached 11 million cases on the 22nd of February with 11,005,850.

Brazil had reached 10 million cases on the 20th of February with 10,030,626. Only three countries had reported 10 million or more cases. The South American nation had also reached 243,457 deaths the same day.

On the 28th of February in the United States of America there had been 28,174,978 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 72,812. There had been 506,760 deaths with a daily increase of 2,106.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL OUT ROLL UP – PART III

Timeline: How the US reached 500,000 COVID-19 deaths | Coronavirus pandemic  News | Al Jazeera

February 23

Tuesday.

Jobkeeper was set to end shortly and Jobseeker that had seen a double of payments for those on benefits at the beginning of the pandemic was going back to the original amount but would see an increase of $25 per week. Recipient obligations were due to increase too. The number of people getting support has decreased and this was seen as a way to hopefully manage this latest transition with minimal harm to the economy. Also with less people on the dole it would be easier to play hard ball with them now.

Same old song.

The increase came at a cost of $9billion dollars to the government. That gave someone on the dole $4 extra a day.

On the second day of the Pfizer vaccine roll-out in Australia with 1,200 jabs adminitered the hope was to have 30,000 completed by end of the week.

When interviewed on Channel 9 Australia, Infection Disease physician Professor Sanjaya Senanayake noted, ” The reality is if we want to get 75% of the population vaccinated by end of October we’ll need to do a lot more than that. Probably about a 150,000 people per day but I think it is very reasonable to start slowly and ramp up and iron out any wrinkles.

He also suspected around mid year the Novavax vaccine may become available too. The interview highlighted that the vaccine rollout was highly ambitious in comparison to what had been achieved so far overseas.

In the United States of America over half a million American lives had been lost to COVID.

The loss of life figure equivalent to the loss of life experienced during September 11, 2001 being repeated every day over a six month period.

The U.S. had reached more than 400,000 lives lost barely more than a month earlier.

President Joe Biden remembered the fallen.

February 24

In New South Wales there were further easing of restrictions including having 30 people on the dance floor come Friday rather than just the bridal party.

Fifrty visitors can vistir your home, larger numebrs in churches, cinemas and gyms.

Standing up and have a beer in the pub come March 17 too which was St Patrick’s Day.

More than 3,000 people had been vaccinated in the past 48 hours in the state.

Closer to home in the first week of administering vaccinations to the elderly two aged care residents in Carseldine, Brisbane recieved four times the prescribed dose by a doctor who had not yet completed his online COVID vaccination training.

The Doctor working for Healthcare Australia took too many doses out of the six dose Pfizer vial.

Fortunately the Healthcare Australia nurse working with him identified his mistake.

Despite this he administered a second dose before she raised the alarm again and this time he ceased.

The doctor was stood down by Healthcare Australia and referred to the industry regulator.

Those who received the dose were an 88 year old woman and a 94 year old woman who were rushed to hospital for close observation.

Such a bungle so early on in the vaccine roll out in the country was not the best for growing confidence in the general public to get vaccinated.

Media was already reporting that the vaccine was not being delivered to aged care homes as scheduled which already suggested targets would not be reached.

Having contracted the job out to Healthcare Australia and Aspen Medical the Federal Government was looking to structure their re-election campaign on successfully delivering the vaccine throughout the country but media attention was shifting to a horrifying alleged rape scandal in Parliament House and further allegations were to follow.

The future of the Morrison government rests of getting the vaccine rollout right,” said Channel 9 political editor Chris Uhlmann.

February 25

Jobkeeper was due to end, at the height of the pandemic it kept 3.6 million Australian employed now that number was down to 960,000.

As we neared the 12 month mark of COVID taking off in Australia the roll back of the increased JobSeeker payments (with a $4 a day increase from pre-Covid rates) and the cessation of Jobkeeper was to slow government spending and reflect ongoing economic activity.

There was no doubt anxiety being felt by those affected particarly businesses and employees that had been kept going by these initiatives.

There were different ideas being put forward for specialised industry support.

Following the bungle in Carseldine, the CEO Of Healthcare Australia stood down. Scheduled vaccinations across Sydney were cancelled. The aged care residents who received the overdose of the vaccine were continuing to cover in the Prince Charles Hospital. Thank goodness for the quick and brave actions of the Healthcare Australia nurse who stopped further overdoses being administered.

When interviewed, Prime Minister Scott Morrison offerred, “This is an enormous vaccination that we are doing across the country as we said. It is unprecedented in scale and scope and the people working on this are the best in the world.

In other news as Qantas looked to return to international travel in October they posted a 1.1 billion dollar loss in the first half of the current financial year.

In Ghana the first delivery of COVID vaccines from the UN backed COVAX initiative arrived in the African nation. 600,000 free doses of the AztraZeneca jab arrived free of charge for use.

On the 25th of February, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been in Ghana 81,245 confirmed cases. There had been 584 deaths reported in the West African nation of 30 million.

In the United States the Johnson and Johnson vaccine got closer to being approved for emergency use by the Food and Drugs Administration.

As a side note I was at the Prince Charles Hospital for a medical appointment. I had been to the hospital during COVID we went past a sign about signing in.

My wife started signing in like we often did when going to venues, she seemed faster. I wasn’t even sure if we were in the right building.

I came to a desk and was asked by a nurse if I had signed in and advised that my wife was doing it but I was told I had to do it.

In the confusion another nurse came by and started asking me questions.

I asked the first nurse if I could sign in and was told no so advised I would go back to the sign and use the app.

When I came back the second nurse was asking why Karen was wearing a mask. Because we were in a hospital we explained as a precaution for the safety of our health care workers.

The nurse explained it wasn’t a requirement of health guidelines at the moment as if it had raised her suspicions.

I explained we were just trying to be helpful. Later we walked past very elderly volunteers offering assistance in the hospital corridors.

The kind of people I was thinking about when I wore a mask when health guidelines said I did not have to.

In a few days no hospital staff would think twice of a visitor wearing a mask. Besides staff were wearing masks.

February 27

While the federal government had its setbacks with the aged care roll out of the vaccine, the New South Wales government planned to go bush starting March 15 with major hubs set up in Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Newcastle, Wagga Wagga and Woollongong to administer the vaccine across 99 satelittle sites to health and border workers before GPS would administer to the local populace.

The state government had administered 10,000 jabs during the week.

As New South Wales reached another milestone, having administered 5 million tests for COVID since the pandemic hit the state.

In the United States of America there was good news after a long deadly winter that had claimed too many lives while a President formented anarchy rather than spared one thought on how to save lives.

Having reached half a million deaths earlier in the week,  there was now hope to be found in lower case numbers, hospitalisations and daily deaths reported.

A third vaccine loomed on the horizon for use from Johnson and Johnson who promised they could deliver 17 million doses by the end of March and 100 million by the end of March.

The drug was one shot and did not require refrigeration and carried a 72% efficiacy rate.

Pfizer and Moderna between the two of them were promising 220 million doses by the end of March. Enough to have 110 million American vaccinated.

The two companies were also working on vaccines to prove effective against variants.

It was noted on Planet America that countries with 14% of the world’s population accounted for 53% of of orders from the Top 8 vaccines including all of Moderna’s production for 2021 and 96% of Pfizers.

Programs like COVAX and the advice of Boris Johnson at the G7 summit only rang more true in light of this.

We’re only going to get through this if we do it together.

Despite the lower efficiacy rate, the J&J vaccine also had milder side effects, is cheaper and has a billion dollar doses to come in 2021. Johnson and Johnson was shaping up to be the vaccine that would be delivered throught the third world.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL OUT ROLL UP – PART II

Timeline for Townsville's first COVID-19 vaccinations revealed | Townsville  Bulletin

February 22

The first Queenslander to receive a COVID vaccine in my home state was Gold Coast nurse Zoe Park. The nurse who worked in a COVID ward received a Pfizer jab on monday morning with an estimated 180 receipients following her the same day.

The nurse didn’t mince words about the impact of the disease or the relief the added safety of the vaccine could mean for frontline workers.

It’s a very serious thing – I’ve seen families being torn apart from it. It’s really, it’s really sad what it has done to the patients affected and their families,” Park said.

It’s really scary for healthcare workers to be going home and potentially exposing their family to that as well, so (the vaccine is) very exciting,” the nurse added.

It had been over one year since the 28th of January when the first case of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Queensland and the patient put into isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital. 

On the day of the first vaccine being administered in the state there had been 1,323 cases all up, 1,912,189 tests administered and six deaths.

But now there was hope.

It was amazing to think what a difference a year makes.

Dr Jeannette Young stands smiling as she walks through Gold Coast University Hospital.

I desperately, desperately hoped this would be where we’d be. I didn’t think we’d reach it, so today is just absolutely fantastic. Just over a year to be vaccinating the first person is … I’m lost for words and I’m not often lost for words — it is just brilliant, said Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young.

This is the answer: we have five million Queenslanders here and if we want to keep five million Queenslanders safe, we need you to get vaccinated,” Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

One down, five million minus one to go,” added Dr Young.

Wednesday would see vaccines dispersed in Brisbane and Friday the first ones in Cairns.

The aim was for 1,000 vaccinations to be administered this first week but more like 10,000 the following week which would also include vaccinations occuring at the Townsville University Hospital, the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and my old stomping ground the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

This was the start of the roll out of category 1A to cover 125,000 peopl  which included health care workers, border and hotel quarantine staff.

There were two new cases reported in Queensland bringing the total to 7 active cases in the state.

With a population of 25 million the majority of Australian were scheduled to receive the AztraZeneca vaccine which would be producted locally by CSL Ltd by the middle of March. It was expected 4 million Australian would be vaccinated by the end of March and all by the end of October.

May be an image of 1 person and standing

In Victoria 100 frontline health care workers were vaccinated at Monash Health, the site and staff who had treated Australia’s very first COVID-19 patient.

Nurse Manager Rachel Hogben was one of those vaccinated, the woman who had been tasked with leading the care of 35 COVID patients at the height of the second wave in Victoria.

We’re now on the offensive you know we’re no longer acting defensively against this. We’re actually on the offensive and it’s an amazing day,” Nurse Hogben said.

An amazing day and an amazing person.

I have been heartened by the sights of initial vaccinations and which have shown so many of the nurses and doctors who put it on the line for their communities now being offered the first real protection we could provide them. They deserve that but they also deserve our thanks. They deserve monuments and medals and tickertape parades but most of all they deserve whatever they need because they have given us everything they have.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 22nd of February, 2021 there had been 28,9626 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a roap map for coming out of lockdown.

It involved four steps spaced five weeks apart each, the intention was not go back on any of them but Boris allowed that they may to.

Step 1 which obviously caught my attention was on the 8th of March all schools will re-open with outdoor sports allowed. Two people could share a coffee, drink or picnic in a park too.

I obviously not happy about this, teachers I knew in England did not have a snow ball’s chance of receiving their first jab before May and the reactions by schools to COVID cases over the winter made me all too aware of the potential risk those that I cared about were facing.

The BBC reported pupils can access tests and be required to face coverings in classrooms and shared spaces like corridors.

Steam Community :: :: Say 'what' again. Say 'what' again, I dare you, I  double dare you motherf*cker, say what one more Goddamn time!

It was also scheduled for the 29th of March, 2021 and would allow outdoor gatherings of six people and between two households. Tennis and baseketball courts would also re-open.

Step 2 on the 12th of April, it was intended non-essential retail, shops, hairdressers, gyms, swimming pools, public libraries, caravan parks and camp sites and outdoor hospitality like zoos, beer gardens, theme parks and bottleos could re-open.

Funerals could occur with 30 people and weddings with 15.

However there would be no visits between households in doors.

The hospitality curfews woudl end and a revew of international travel restrictions would be announced.

throwing papers up in the air gif | WiffleGif

Step 3 on the 17th of May, two households could visit each other and gatherings of six friends in a pub could take place.

Outdoors gathering could be as large as 30 people.

Thirty was also the number allowed at weddings, funerals and wakes.

Cinemas, musuems, hotels, sporting and performance arts venues would re-open with social distance measures in place. Upt to 10,000 spectators could attend football stadiums.

As mentioned by Beetley Pete at the time there was talk of vaccine passports to help indoor venues to re-open safely. 

Throwing Papers In The Air GIFs | Tenor

Before Step 4 took place, scheduled for the 21st of June, there would be a review of long term measures like mask wearing and social distancing of one metre plus. Also to be looked at was the working from home guidelines, visitors for aged care residents, remaining restrictions for weddings and funerals and opening up of live music venues and nightclubs.

Rate of vaccinations, new cases and new variants would inform all decisions. 

Heartbreak Ridge Gif | Clint eastwood movies, Eastwood movies, Clint

Certainly not at the rate he was going. Despite this the lockdown had been in effect for qutie some time and had not seen an immediate rush out of it following lower numbers. Some coverage here in Australia showed people living in England fatigured by it and over it. I had been very grateful for it. I believe it had saved lives.

Professor Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College London publicly stated the roadmap struck the right balance but warned re-opening schools increased the risk of further cases.

UK Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the five week gap was important and that measures such face coverings, hand washing and self isolation may be needed during the following winter.

The BBC reported there had been over 17 million first jabs administered.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 22nd of February there had been in the UK 4,122,421 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,050. There had been 120,580 deaths with a daily increase of 215.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL OUT ROLL UP – PART I

Australia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout: International travel, vaccine  passports and who we trust to deliver the jab - ABC News

February 17

The vaccine rollout began in earnest in Australia.

Come next Monday the first Pfizer jabs in Queensland would hit 100 frontline healthcare worker arms.

The plan was to have all healthcare workers and all people over 70 over the next two months hitting up hospitals and aged health care workers.

The aim was to have people over 18 to have received a vaccine by the end of October.

There’s so much riding on this and whether it all goes to plan depends on Canberra delivering vaccines and enough of them on times,” said Channel 9 State Political Editor Lane Calcutt.

These words would only resonate more in the weeks to come.

February 19

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged at the online G7 Summit that the whole world must be vaccinated not just individual nations.

He pledged to donate the majority of the UK’s surplus vaccines to poorer nations.

WIth 400 million doses on order, the UK had enough to vaccinate its population three times.

While the vaccine roll out continued in Great Britain though he would not set a date for when the surplus vaccines would start be delivered elsewhere.

There is no point in us vaccinating our individual populations – we’ve got to make sure the whole world is vaccinated because this is a global pandemic and it’s no use one country being far ahead of another, we’ve got to move together,” Johnson said.

“So one of the things that I know that colleagues will be wanting to do is to ensure that we distribute vaccines at cost around the world – make sure everybody gets the vaccines that they need so that the whole world can come through this pandemic together.”

Great Britain’s leader also pushed for more funding of Covax, a multilateral vaccine supply scheme led by several international agencies including the World Health Organisation.  The world leaders issued a joint statement afterwards agreeing to “intensify co-operation.” This included more sharing of information about new variants, accelerating vaccine development and dispersal and 7.5 billion US dollars spent in aid fo Covax.

Why we need to share vaccine doses now and why COVAX is the right way to do  it - News | Wellcome

They committed to accelerating global vaccine development and deployment, including improving the sharing of information about the discovery of new variants, and cited 7.5 billion US dollars (£5.3 billion) of support coming from the G7 for the body behind Covax.

I had to say I couldn’t agree more, in the race to vaccinate more lives would be saved if we could clamp this thing down across the world to avoid new variants. Whether this would be possible logisitically was a big questions. And politically with cases numbers still very high in Europe, North America and South America. If these same nations were first in the queue for delively of vacinnes there was going to be huge politcal and even moral obligations to see that they do everything in the power to avoid a second winter next year proving as deadly as this current one had been.

Vaccine rollout finally gets underway | Western Advocate | Bathurst, NSW

February 21

Sunday and the first COVID vaccines were given in my country.

They included the Austalian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and Australia’s Chief Nurse but first up was 84 year old Jane Malysiak.

Born in Poland, as a child she had grown up in war torn Europe. She later immigrated to Australia and ran a corner shop in Sydney with her husband.

I didn’t expect such a lot of people, I just thought they’d do the jab and take two pictures. Aussie is my country now,” Malysiak said.

In true Australian fashion when it came time to pose for the camera, Malysiak proved a little unorthodox. The Prime Minister by her side asked for her to shoot a V for vacinne sigh with her hands echoing Churchill’s V for Victory gesture during the dark days of World War II. Which she did but with the back of her hand facing camera which is a gesture that can mean something else.

There is a little part of me that likes to think the elderley nurisng home resident knew exactly what she was doing when she made the gesture and wanted to see how people would react. Either way it proved delightful and memorable on her part.

Jane Malysiak has seen many historic days in Australia over the course of her more than 80 years of life. To have her here, and so many others have joined us — this is an historic day for Australia,” said the Prime Minister.

There were other nurisng home residents in the group to receive the first vaccines in Australia but also Corporal Boyd Chatillon, a team leader of Quarantine Compliance Monitoring program in Sydney hotels and Alysha Eyre and Jon Buttenshaw from Australia Border Force.

A group of people standing and sitting in a room

Starting Monday there would 16 vaccination hubs across Australia to dispense jabs to frontline health care workers, quarantine staff and border forces.

Three of those sixteen hubs would be in Queensland at the Cairns Hospital, Gold Coast University Hospital and the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

There would be 240 centres set up to deliver to aged care in Australia too.

Every day that goes past from here gets more normal,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

The plan was for the roll-out to increase as local production of Aztra-Zeneca ramped up in late March.

200 million doses had been dispensed around the world already. Now Australia would be dispensing the vaccine to its populace too.

On the 21st of February, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 110,758,037 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 378,953.

There had been 2,461,184 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,457.

In Australia there had been 28,920 confirmed cases with a daily increase of two. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 840,586 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,089. There had been 21,576 deaths with a daily increase of 78.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,114,371 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 10,376. There had been 120,365 deaths with a daily increase of 445.

In India there had been 10,991,651 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14,264. There had been 156,302 deaths with a daily increase of 90.

In the United States of America there had been 27,702,074 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 73,240. There had been 491,894 deaths with a daily increase of 2,543.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – REVIEW OF FIGHTER WORLD AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

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February 15

We awoke Monday morning, checked out of our hotel, drove out of the basement and made our way to Newcastle.

Long term readers will recall, Karen and I stayed near RAAF Williamtown three years ago on a trip to Newcastle but did not go to Fighter World which was literally down the road. I was hoping to make amends for that on this trip. Driving out of Sydney on a monday morning was interesting. It seemed like we were perpetually in a school zone of 40kms per hour for the whole city.

Eventually we got out on the open road and made it to our destination.

We fuelled up at the same servo we had years earlier near the airport.

Many years ago a friend of mine from high school served at RAAF Williamtown. He told me there was a great cafe at Fighter World and so that is where we were lucky enough to have breakfast and he was right – it was excellent! As we ate jets flew past low level outside.

Upon arriving at Fighter World we had noted huge crowds.

I wondered if it had something to do with the RAAF’s Centenary this year.

When we got to the front of the line we were handed a brochure and told to go in. I asked where we paid and the door greeter informed me that we had arrived on the annual open day. Admission was free.

Many years ago I went to the RAF Museum at Hendon in England which was just a smorgasboard of all kinds of aircraft types. There is nothing in Australia that can compare to Hendon but there is something a little special about taking in history that you feel belongs to you.

Like I said a friend of mine actually served in the RAAF, in my home city the F-111s flew overhead from nearby RAAF Amberley at Riverfire and did their famous Dump and Burn. Afterburners igniting jet fuel dumped to light up the night sky before the fireworks display. There was nothing like it in the world and here was the aircraft that did it – for me to see up close for the first time.

Early jet aircraft like the Meteors, Vampires, Sabres through to Mirage IIIs and then a bomber in the F-111 known affectionately as The Pig for its ability to fly low level.

For a while there we always seemed a little behind the curve, Meteors first flying in the closing days of World War II were sent to Korea by the RAAF and quickly found themselves outmatched by the cutting edge MiG-15 and switched to the ground attack role.

RAAF Sabres missed that war but served in the Malayan Emergency and were sent to Ubon, Thailand to fly air patrols during the Vietnam War at a time when the  F-4 Phantom was a generation ahead of that aircraft. We leased some Phantoms in the early 1970s but had procured instead the French made Mirage IIIs which proved versatile if not terribly sophisticated.

Working through the teething problems of acquiring the F-111 in the early 1970s and acquring the F/A-18 Hornet in the late 1980s changed everything.

The Aardvark was a medium range bomber and state of the art – there was nothing like it in the rest of South East Asia.

The Hornet would go on to fly Combat Air Patrols over Diego Garcia during the war in Afghanistan and drop bombs in anger in Iraq.

Though a little outdated during the peak of their service in the RAAF, these early jet aircraft were still game changers and beautiful planes to see up close that served our nation valiantly over the years.

The first aircraft to break the sound barrier in Australia was a Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation built  Avon Sabre A94-101 flown into a dive by RAAF test pilot Flight Lieutenant William Scott on the 21st of August, 1953 near Avalon Airfield, Geelong, Victoria.

Karen and I arrived on the look out deck of the museum just in time to see what appeared to be Hawk Jet Trainers fly past us low level. A real treat.

Fighter World was a real delight. We got glider planes for Karen’s nephews to play with and a whole raft of posters too that Karen picked up. On our way out an older couple had their posters fly loose across the driveway leading me and the husband to race off after them. They seemed in pretty good nick.

Not for the first time did I marvel at our RAAF personnel who served our nation. Plenty flew humanitiaran missions as well as in war time. Plenty lost their lives or had their health affected to keep those birds up in the air flying. There is a rich history preserved by the staff and volunteers at Fighter World that I was grateful to get to see.

Weekend Notes 22

You can read my review of FIghter World at Weekend Notes Fighter World – Newcastle (weekendnotes.com)

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

It was well past midday now so Karen and I started off again for Brisbane and home.

I didn’t want to stop at the same old places so on the way back I took a turn off the highway and ended up at a place called South Valla Beach. We parked and looked out over the ocean. A woman nearby in a car looked at me with distrust and befuddlement.

As if she was thinking, “What the hell are you doing here? Nobody comes around here to our place.”

Next we went to a cafe that was shut and parked around the back where there was a pharmacy.

I asked the pharmacist if we could please use his bathroom and he said yes. After we did they closed the shop.

Must have just got in.

As the drive carried on I got white line fever but Karen got thirsty. Husband and wives may know where this conversation led. There are a few twists and turns in such a conversation but in the end I parked outside a servo far off the highway as the sun was setting.

I did however get to see the beautiful area around the town of Grafton. It would be nice to go there sometime properly.

The sun set, we drove past big trucks, big trucks drove past us, the country roads got dark and high beam lights were turned on and off with traffic. I was reminded of my tense late night drive back to Newcastle from Sydney three years earlier, as we passed Byron Bay and headed for the border of New South Wales.

But the darkness didn’t last as long this time, the road didn’t curve and slant as dramatically as it did outside Sydney.

Familar landmarks that let you know you are close to home do make you rest easy for some reason. That’s how I felt as I crossed the border back into the state of Queensland.

My second holiday in twelve months came to a close with 213,556 kilometres on the odometer.

A new record 902 kilometres driven in one day.

That was a 1,785 kilometre trip all up, a jam packed weekend, a wonderful wedding with friends.

I feel very grateful and fortunate to have attended my friend’s wedding, to have enjoyed a night out in Sydney and a day at Fighter World.

Some have not been so lucky.

On the 15th of February the World Health Organisation reported there had been 108,610,574 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 343,411.

There had been 2,403,419 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 10,076.

In Australia there had been 28,898 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 823,353 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,047. There had been 21,228 deaths with a daily increase of 66.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,045,589 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,751. There had been 117,166 deaths with a daily increase of 258. February 12th Great Britain had reached more than 4 million cases with 4,011,961 reported.

In India there had been 10,916,589 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,649. There had been 155,732 deaths with a daily increase of 90.

In the United States of America there had been 27,309,503 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 87,896. There had been 480,464 deaths with a daily increase of 3,317.

The highest number of reported daily deaths occurred the day before on February 14th with 5,512 recorded. 5,182 had been the previous record set on the 6th of February.

This thing was not over but we had a really wonderful weekend.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE BOOK OF LOVE

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February 14

The wedding of my best friend to his bride was a wonderful affair.

I barely spoke to him on the day.

But I saw him smile. I saw people cry.

I met a lot of new people who lived and worked in Canberra and were in the life of the bride and groom in a way that I just am not.

They were amazing people to spend time with and get to know. I kind of fell in love with them and felt like I knew the bride and groom just a little better because of them. Just one more reflection of what I have always known that they are good people – the best people – my people.

The wedding took place at the Fucntion Centre at the Taronga Zoo, there were not many people there but quite a lot for COVID, we ate a high tea and the food was really nice. It was a lovely day and a lovely wedding following a lot of anxiety and holding their nerve to get to the day.

I can only imagine what it felt like to have the day occur after everything that preceded it.

On my wedding day a million years before COVID, I had unexpectedly shed a tear the second I went to sign the registry. I think somewhere deep inside I thought, “It’s done.” or maybe I was just so moved by Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone being played.

There are three of us in this Band of Brothers.

We went to Scouts together as kids.

In our twenties we spent often a late night out, not partying or in the clubs but in lounge rooms watching old movies or in video game cafes and cinemas. Unpacking the mysteries of the universe the way young people do.

It moved very slowly, very organically but we all ended up working jobs, getting married and one of us is now a father.

Would you believe me if I told you that they’re still my best friends even if I barely see them now.

One afternooon not so long ago we were driving somewhere and I told one of them, “I sure do like being your friend.”

He answered, “Me too.”

Nothing else needed to be said.

So all three of us were in Sydney on Valentines Day and one of us got married to the love of his life, the best person in the world for him and the other two were there to celebrate that.

I’m fond of the expression the ties that bind.

I am not in their lives the same way anymore but somewhere in those nights in our 20s we became bound together and I still feel and honour that link.

Whenever I have needed them, they were there and whenever I am needed I will be there.

They’re my friends.

The best.

And I feel very grateful and pleased that now all three of us have met and married our best friends.

Now we turn away from the wedding and people who shall retain their privacy.

Karen and I headed out into the night to get dinner in Sydney Harbour on Valentines Day without a booking.

Well we hadn’t been told what the plan was after the wedding.

Despite driving my car to Sydney I had no interest in driving around Sydney.

We caught a cab to Taronga Zoo and now we caught a cab to Circular Quay.

Unlike the cabbie earlier who couldn’t find the lobby of our hotel, this guy knew his stuff and made sure we saw the city right as we headed to our destination.

In 2008 I had stayed a week with the groom in Sydney not far from Circular Quay.

It was an amazing week and Sydney had been such an amazing place back then but Circular Quay was not quite how I remembered it.

We went and got our obilgatory shots outside the Sydney Opera House that was cordoned off with security guards.

I decided we would head to Darling Harbour even though that is where we ate three years earlier.

We still didn’t get to Star Casino this time either, my Dad took me there to have a great meal in 2003.

I headed back up to the jettys wondering what the hell I was going to do.

I saw people boarding a boat and trampled down the jetty and introduced myself to the Captain.

I told him I didn’t know how this worked but I was wondering how I could get to Darling Harbour.

He informed me that he was a privately chartered boat but pointed me to a sign and said I could use the number on it to order a water taxi.

I was about to thank him when a head popped out from behind him and asked where was I headed?

I told him Darling Harbour.

“That’s where we’re headed. Hop on!” he told me in what I think was a Lebanese accent.

I looked at Karen and we hopped on that boat.

The man didn’t want any money.

And that is how we came to sail out over Sydney Harbour at sunset for free.

In a handful of minutes we were in Darling Harbour, all our problems solved and a memory to last a lifetime thanks to the random generosity and kindness of a stranger.

Don’t give up on the human race just yet.

I say this as a proud Queenslander, you have to give it to them.

There is something special about Sydney Harbour.

When we arrived in Darling Harbour our fellow passengers jumped off and were gone. The guy who offerred us to hop on board said to this friends he’d already paid for the trip.

We thanked him but they were off.

Karen and I now had to figrue out where we were going to eat. I’m not going to lie, we went into a few places after checking out the menu only to find they were booked out.

Then we reached the Cyren who were churning through couples having dinners. They told us, if we were happy to wait, they would give us a table as soon as one was available. We weren’t the only ones and sure enough minutes later we were ordering a seafood basket and a Greek salad.

I had a dinner in Darling Harbour on Valentine Days with my wife.

Afterwards we caught a cab back to the hotel.

It had been a big day and the drive home awaited us tomorrow.

We did look out over that harbour again though.

We were here and it was so beautiful.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ROAD TRIP TO SYDNEY

February 13

On Saturday Karen and I set off to drive to Sydney to attend a wedding.

Longtime readers may recall my first real holiday in six years in 2017 was a long weekend drive to Newcastle and back.

We went to Fort Scratchley the only Australian military fort that ever fired its guns in anger.

We also ducked in to Sydney and ate at Darling Harbour.

The drive to Newcastle on Saturday and the drive back to Brisbane from Newcastle was the furtherest I had ever driven in a day.

Now I planned to drive further to Sydney in one day.

I had taken the Friday and Tuesday to give me a buffer of a day to prepare and recover in between the trip and being at work.

We didn’t get away early on Saturday morning but off we we went witht the odometer reading 211,771 kilometres.

I haven’t travelled very much but this would mark the third time I was driving down the east coast of New South Wales.

In 2012 I drove to Port Macquaire to meet coincidentally the bride newly dating the groom for this wedding. A lot of the highway was being worked on at the time and constantly the speed limit was set at 80kms per hour.

In 2017 it was a lot smoother going to Newcastle.

In 2021 there was no question where the first stop would be and sure enough we stopped at Ballina.

In 2017 we parked at the Bunnings car park and made our way across a road with no traffic lights and heavy traffic to grab something to eat from a bakery/cafe. This time we parked in their car park and didn’t have to cross the road.

It was a perfect beautiful temperate sunny day in the morning at Ballina.

We went into the Wicked Delights Bakery, I spotted a bread role and asked what was on it and they mentioned salami and some condiments. It was soooooooooooooo good. I think I had a jam and cream doughnut too or something.

After we had finished eating I waited a while the person there served someone else and told her this was the place to always stop going down the coast.

I had waited to be able to thank her.

Anybody who goes on road trips knows the joy of eating at such places and how their reputations tend to travel.

Last time in 2017, we stopped for KFC at Coffs Harbour but I didn’t want to hit all the same places again on our second trip.

Except for the Wicked Delights Bakery in Ballina!

We filled up for fuel in in Coffs.

Then ended up on some turn off road around Taree for a bathroom break.

I was keen to drive on and reach our destination as soon as possible. It was getting late.

The weather changed on us.

We drove through rain.

Sometimes cars passed us, sometimes I tore up the passing lane myself on those wet wet roads with the rain so thick that visibility was poor.

It was getting dark but still light as we drove along road cut into mountains around Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The indidcation we were about to reach Sydney.

Karen activated google maps as we entered Sydney traffic. One of the wipers had reached the end of its usefulness. It was the one on the driver side. It was still raining and visibility was now at an all time low as I made my way to the hotel but made it we did.

The odometer read 212,654 kilometres.

The most kilometres I had driven in a day – 883.

I had been sucked in by the photos on the website, I’d checked other things but I saw that window looking over Sydney Harbour, looked at the price, looked at the room and thought yeah that will do.

It turned out View Hotels – Harbourview was an interesting mix of the sublime and pecuilar.

The rooms were nice even though full length window in the bathroom that would facilitate some kinky acts if you didn’t pull down the draw sheet.

The carpark was underground and looked suitable for shooting a horror film.

On the other hand after we checked in, we went down to the restraurant in the lobby as we fast approached 9pm and were given a table last minute by the excellent staff. Our meals were delicious, I’m not a big pork belly guy but I loved the one I ate there.

I had checked in with the groom and a third great friend who were staying elsewhere in Sydney.

I looked out over the Harbour.

Tomorrow my friend would get married to the woman he loved and Karen and I would be there.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THAT RAGGED OLD FLAG

February 11

At the same time I counted down the days until my trip to Sydney to attend a friends wedding, the second impeachment trial of Ballbag got under way.

I don’t know what to tell you that hasn’t already been said.

Ballbag was unique to me in the way he would talk, the actions he would take, the incompetence and laziness he displayed. The hypocrisy. The arrogance. The complete disregard for human life.

As a swing vote who believes that we are all nuanced in our ideologies and no politician is worth are unquestionable loyalty. That consensus is how we build good works.

Ballbag infuriated me in a way that I cannot deny.

And yet his supporters keep the faith and despite his unprecedented shames he holds the base of the Republican party.

So its’ worth remembering some of the information that came to light in the impeachment about the attack on the Capitol.

How well organised the rioters were, how terrifying it must have been for the police and staffers that were there on the day.

Republicans too were literally were under siege that day, some of them feared for their life and days later they have said, “The country needs to move on.”

Well no one is moving on to a better place while shit like this is acceptable in America.

Fortunatley there are Republicans like Congressman Adam Kinzinger who stand in stark contrast to so many of their cowardly peers like Mitch McConnell or Ted Cruz.

On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation‘s show Planet America there was Trump’s former impeachment lawyer Alan Dershowitza made a compelling arguement legally for why the Impeachment should not succeed.

I will always feel that it shouldn’t have come to this.

That the Republican party should have demanded his resignation. That his Cabinet led by Vice President Mike Pence shoudl have forced it. That it wouldn’t have even required courage on their part because the American people would have demanded it from them.

As always I felt the great comedian Dave Chappelle had an uncanny knack for summing up the current situatuion.

In the wake of the Democrats winning the Senate with two election wins in Georgia state authorites changed the law.

On the 25th of March Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a restriction on voting rights.

There was a new ID requriement for those voting by mail mail and tighter deadlines for mail ballots. It restricted mail ballot drop boxes and allowed the sate to takeover over election administration from county election board if it deemed it necessary. The Presidential election showed certain pockets of a state will go one way over another and tip the balance. 

This followed the defunding of the postal service the previous year in the lead up to the election during a pandemic across the country and stock standard tactics like having less amount of voting centres in certain areas.

Stop the steal indeed.

Fifty five years after President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act the struggle continues.

I don’t pretend to have the answers but making it so that every American votes in every election might be a good place to start.

As for the impeachement, I didn’t hold my breath and when I heard the news I was sadly not surprised.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ON TENTERHOOKS

February 07

On Sunday the 7th of February, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 105,505,344 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 467,316.

Worldwide there had been 2,310,121 deaths with a daily increase of 12,416.

In Australia there had been 28,848 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 797,756 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,022. There had been 20,609 deaths with a daily increase of 96.

In the United Kingdom there had been 3,929,839 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18,262. There had been 112,092 deaths with a daily increase of 828.

In India there had been 10,826,363 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,059. There had been 154,996 deaths with a daily increase of 78.

In the United States of America there had been 26,547,977 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 129,961. There had been 455,735 deaths with a daily increase of 3,549.

Thai Households Struggle With Record Debt, COVID-19 Increases Burden |  Investing News | US News

February 08

I was back in the office the following week on tenderhooks beginning a weekly countdown.

My best friend, a Canberra resident, was getting married in Sydney on Sunday.

I had taken leave, reserved a hotel room with no cancellation fees, gotten a crack in my windscreen repaired and bought a wedding present.

Yet if the Queensland border shut with Sydney again I would not go. The 14 day quarantine required in a hotel at your own expense upon returning to the Sunshine state was something I would not do.

So after months of believing in a strong border posture by state governments I now was at the mercy of such decisions.

That was fair enough, I still believed what they were doing was right.

On Monday Queensland remained closed to certain areas of WA that had been invovled in the recent lockdown there.

For anyone who had been in New South Wales since the 2nd of February the Queensland Health advice was,

“If you have been in New South Wales since 2 February please check the list of venues attended by the latest case and follow the health advice.

If you have been in New South Wales since 2 February and are currently in Queensland please monitor your health, get tested if you have any symptoms then isolate until you receive a result.

There is no decision at this time to close the border. We are monitoring this situation closely and awaiting more information from New South Wales health authorities.

I had called the previous week to get a border pass and told that one was not necessary and to monitor the government website for updates.

In Wollongong a returned overseas traveller from South America tested positive for COVID leading to locals to get out and get tested.

The individual had completed 14 days in hotel quarantine. A week ago it was decided by NSW Health for people to test on Day 16 after they have left hotel quarantine.

In Melbourne, Victoria another hotel quarantine worker tested positive. This time the individual had tested negative following their last shfit on Thursday. They had returned to work on Sunday and tested postiive.

This followed another hotel quarantine worker having tested positive in Melbourne last week at the Grand Hyatt.

The Grand Hyatt was one of three hotels quarantining Australian Open players and staff. Five hundred people were classed as casual contacts, tested and told to isolate until returning a negative.

A hotel quarantine worker at the Grand Hyatt had finished his shift 29JAN2021, tested negative. Then later developed symptoms and tested positve while having been out in the community. The young man is also a volunteer firefighter with the CFA.

It prompted new restrictions from Premier Daniel Andrews on the 3rd of February including masks being mandatory again and private gatherings were limited to 15 people.

Following these latest cases, the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt was full of praise for the quick actions taken by the state governments.

The case in Woolongong gave me concern about the upcoming wedding in Sydney but we would just see how things transpired.

February 11

Thursday was the last day I was at work before getting ready for the trip. The border between Queensland and New South Wales remained open.

I was fairly confident that if there was no change by Friday that I would be going.

It seemed that even if there was a dramatic change or a new community transmission in New South Wales changes to the border was unlikely to take effect before I returned home on Monday.

There were now eleven cases linked to a Holiday Inn outbreak from hotel quarantine in Melbourne which would have no bearing on a possible trip to New South Wales but was of course of concern in the wider picture of people’s health and safety.

February 12

Following the recent outbreaks in Melbourne Premier Daniel Andrews announced a five day lockdown for Victoria.

His state had endured a 111 day lockdown last year, he didn’t want to risk that again.

There might be more cases than we know about — if we wait for that to be proven correct, it will be too late. Then we will face the prospect of being locked down until a vaccination is rolled out … to a very large number of Victorians, a significant percentage of the Victorian community. That’s months. That’s not days or weeks, that’s months,” Premier Andrews said.

With that the Premier put the state into Stage 4 lockdown. You could only leave your home for caregiving, essential work, shopping or medical reasons. You could exercise for two hours per day with another person from your household.

One hour at a time': Daniel Andrews tight-lipped on a lockdown extension in  Victoria

Victorians are well acquainted with this. We’ve done this before,” Mr Andrews said.

I am confident that this short, sharp circuit-breaker will be effective. We will be able to smother this,” he said.

Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton shared similar concerns about the UK variant of the virus.

It became the predominant strain in England, now the predominant strain in the UK, and [is] fast becoming the predominant strain across Europe and potentially globally. That’s because it is significantly more infectious than any other virus that we’ve seen previously. Nobody wants all the consequences of a circuit-breaker, but the alternative is potentially devastating. I do not want to be here either, come Wednesday, not having done this and talking about 10, 15, 20, 30 new cases a day, including mystery cases, or including cases that we can’t chase down,” Professor Sutton said.

The Victorian Premier advsied that the Australian Open tennis tournament was going ahead just not with crowds.

Victoria was heading for lockdown and quickly the Queensland Government advised people returning from Melbourne from 1am the next day would require to hotel quaraninte for 14 days.

I was heading for my first interstate trip in three years.

If it wasn’t my friend I wouldn’t have taken this trip but he’s that kind of friend.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – REVIEW OF QUEENSLAND MARITIME MUSEUM AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

Weekend Notes 21

February 06

Karen and I set out on a very warm summer’s Saturday to the Queensland Maritime Museum (QMM).

The QMM was set up in 1971 at an old dry dock.

I remember going to it around the time of Expo ’88 as a kid. The showpiece of the museum was an old anti-submarine warfare frigate named HMAS Diamantina. You can imagine how exciting it was for an eight year old to walk across the planks, the bottom of the dry dock metres below. Climb down step ladders and walk along railings in the guts of an actual naval warship.

HMAS Diamantina had not long been retired at that point having served decades before coming the martime musem in the early 1980s.

Years later as a young university student studying a journalist subject across the river at QUT I went across and looked for someone to interview.

I found a volunteer who had served in World War II with Z Special Force and had previously been a coal stoker on corvettes in the navy.

He had lied about his age to join, he had also been working in a munitions factory before his service.

He was in his early 80s then, having spent his life working many jobs and beating cancer, with the sprightly energy of a toddler he danced on his feet.

His life and stories were fascinating but he never talked about the combat he may have seen.

If I can find the old assignment I will post it here with his name. For now of him I took back in 2003.

QMM Volunteer

There was another R.A.N. veteran who volunteered at QMM at that time who had served in the Korean War. He told me of a stop over at Okinawa during their voyage north. He told me how the trees had still not grown to a proper height years after the battles on that island.

These were the kind of people who kept the Queensland Maritime Museum running and still do.

In 1974 Brisbane was flooded and so was the museum situated on the banks of our river.

In 2011 Brisbane was flooded again, volunteers came down and repositioned the ropes to ensure that is the water in the dry dock rose HMAS Diamantina was not damaged by crashing into its own dock.

Expo ’88 came and went replaced by Southbank. The city and the area changed but HMAS Diamantina and its museum remained.

After 16 year old Jessica Watson sailed around the globe, her 10 metre long ship became part of the collection at QMM.

Floods, recessions and the Global FInancial Crisis all came and went but when COVID hit all of sudden the huge workforce of volunteer of over 60s could not do their work and attendance was also affected.

The financial situation of the museum radically changed and quickly.

They closed their doors.

But they were not out for the count yet.

A petition was raised to secure the future of the museum which you can click on here and put your name to Petition · Secure the future of Queensland Maritime Museum · Change.org

You could also donate money to helping them keep open which I did and when they opened their doors in late January I went to buy tickets but they were sold out.

So um I bought them the following weekend and we went.

The museum was a little different then I remembered with some new interesting stuff and slightly younger volunteers. We could walk the deck but to COVID restrictions we could not go below decks on HMAS Diamantina. I also got to see Ella’s Pink Lady up close.

I wrote a review of it which you can read here at Weekend Notes Queensland Maritime Museum – Brisbane (weekendnotes.com)

I took a lot of photos and put a lot of thought of where they were placed in the narrative of the review. The review was featured on the Facebook site of the Queensland Maritime Museum.

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

I wish the Queensland Maritime Museum all the best, it is a wonderful Museum that should be ensured for generations to enjoy.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – WA HIT THE SACK CUT LOOSE AND YEAH THEY’RE BACK

Four Points by Sheraton Perth Parking | City of Perth Parking

February 05

When we came out of the three day lockdown in the wider Brisbane area on the 11th of January, 2021 it started a 10 day period of having to wear a mask until 1am Friday 22JAN2021. At work or outside where you couldn’t socially distance. In ride shares, public transport, shopping centres, churches, hospitals and cinemas. Basically if it was public and indoors you had to wear it.

On the 21st of January as I walked around Toowong Village, every proprietor and customer had a mask on.

The next day on the 22nd, I was still wearing a mask and I was not alone but plenty of people were not.

I still did though.

Over the next couple of weeks I worked from home and seldom went anywhere.

On Friday the 5th of February I wore my mask walking from my car to the office. Took it off at my desk. Put it back on as I left to get my morning coffee. When I got to Toowong village just two weeks after the mask mandate had ended and we had been told to keep one on our person at all times.

There was no one but me wearing a mask.

It is weird wearing a mask when no one else it.

Why should I care if others aren’t doing it?

But at some point throughout the day my mask went in my pocket and didn’t come back out again.

On the 5th of February there five known active cases in Queensland.

Mark McGowan talking during a media conference with a woman beside him performing sign language.

In Western Australia after reporting no new cases in the community that day, the lockdown in Perth, Peel and the South West region would end as scheduled at 6pm.

Travel in and out of Perth and Peel would remain restricted allowed for reasons such as work or compassionate grounds.

This and other restrictions would remain in place until Sunday February 14.

You could have a gathering of 20 people in your home, hospitality, retail, fitness venues and weddings were capped at 150 people.

A 20-person gathering limit will apply in homes, while hospitality, entertainment, retail and fitness venues and weddings will have their capacity capped at 150 people until February 14.

Nightclubs and casinos were still shut and bars only had seating service.

School would resume Monday.

Masks remained mandatory too

Confused about the face mask rules for Perth and Peel? This is what you  need to know - ABC News

Masks will remain mandatory, both indoors and outdoors and on public transport. However, you will no longer be required to wear a mask during vigorous outdoor exercise. I know it might be annoying, I’ve taken a while to get used to it myself but it’s an extra precaution that gives us the confidence to open back up,” the Premier said.

Health Minister Roger Cook had some advice about the way people interpreted the rules of mask wearing.

A round of golf is not rigorous exercise, but a run around the block is, riding your bike is vigorous, a stroll through the park is not. If you’re actively eating or drinking, it’s difficult to have your mask on for a period of time, just make an effort to continue to be cautious over the coming week,” Cook said

There elements of the community and the media cough Sky News dickheads cough who had been critical of the WA’s snap lockdown following one case of the UK strain in the community.

Was it an overreaction? I don’t think so because let’s imagine had we not done this and we had cases out there incubating in the community and people moving around and spreading it, and then next week we suddenly had a big eruptions of cases around Perth. Then everyone would rightfully be saying ‘why didn’t you take action earlier?‘” said McGowan.

There had been no new cases reported, 189 of the 191 close contacts of the guard had now tested negative. Two tests were pending.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook addresses media outside parliament.

McGowan’s Health Minister Roger Cook backed up his leader.

We think it was appropriate given that we were dealing with an individual who had been infectious in the community for a few days. We know from the contact tracing he’d had contact with a lot of people and had been to many venues and we knew he’d been infected with the UK strain of the disease. So we really thought that it was important that we move swiftly and decisively,” Cook said.

West Australians have what it takes to really respond in a way which crushes the virus, so we’ve asked the people of Western Australia to just persevere for another [eight] days. We know that it’s an inconvenience, but we think it’s an important precaution.

Similar to the Queenland lockdown earlier in January, Western Australia was following a similar model of a snap lockdown to lower potential in the community while contract tracing was carriod out.

Followed by some restrictions and mandatory mask wearing for the following fornight approximately which covered an incubation period.

There were plenty of examples thorughout the world that showed incubation could offer beyond the two weeks and that restrictions in place could not stop spread but from a numbers game the health authorities in these states had decided it was an effective way to manage the risk and the results had been good.

Nonetheless Cook did point out that risk was still there particularly during this fortnight and that the state remained in the danger zone.

Archer Danger Zone GIF | Gfycat

If any of the close contacts of case 903 become COVID positive, that wouldn’t be so much of a problem because they’re already isolating and we’re testing them vigorously over the course of this and next week. But if we saw a mystery case come out, someone that wasn’t captured under the contact tracing process, hadn’t been tested this week, well that would be cause for concern,” Mr Cook said.

Mr McGowan said 189 of the 191 close contacts of the security guard had now tested negative.

Test results for the other two are still pending.

Premier Mark McGowan seemed happy saying, “Our contact tracing system has worked effectively and our surge capacity in our testing has worked magnificently well.

Those wanting to travel out of and into those regions can only do so for essential reasons, such as work or on compassionate grounds, and they would have to wear a a mask and apply for a G2G pass.

McGowan was unapologetic about the the unpredictable nature of lockdowns saying, “We are dealing with these dangerous, virulent, strains of the virus that are mutating and seem to be highly transmissible.

However the government was offerring $500 offset to power bills to small businesses as part of $43 million dollar package.

“I understand many small businesses have been hit this week and this next week will still be difficult with our transitional restrictions,” Mr McGowan said.

The Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup thought $10,000 in support would be more appropriate.

“Western Australian small businesses deserve better than what this government has announced … a $500 credit simply doesn’t go far enough and doesn’t give the businesses here the support that they deserve,” Mr Kirkup said.

Australian Hotels Association (AHA) WA chief executive Bradley Woods estimated over $100 million in revenu has been lost due to the five day lockdown.

Western Australia Health Minister Roger Cook declared that hotel quarantine security guards would not be able to work other days while doing that role.

The plan to increase WA’s intake of returned overseas travellers would be delayed until the end of February.

Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson was full of praise for the community too.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting  Corporation)

We know it’s been very inconvenient for many people, but the way the community has responded has been magnificent and it has helped us to get on top of this latest COVID-19 problem. The fact that police have handed out more masks than infringements, I think, reflects the values of all Western Australians and their commitment to each other,” Commissioner Dawson said.

To my fellow Western Australians, I thank you. I also want to say that I regret and apologise for any distress, loss or inconvenience the events of this week has caused. I know it has been hard and I wish it didn’t happen,” Premier Gowan said.

“The sacrifices made this week, the commitment by everyone to do the right thing, has been incredible.”

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – GOD BLESS SIR TOM MOORE

A mural of Capt Sir Tom in Southport

February 02

Many years I was walking through the city on my way to work in the lead-up to ANZAC Day.

There was a gentleman big jowled sitting in a wheelchair selling badges.

On his cap was stitched 105 Field Battery.

I noted that 105 had been at the battle of Long Tan.

“Long Tan was the last action I was in,” he told me.

I thanked him, I asked him to pick a badge out for me. He chose a slouch hat with the feather that denoted the Australian Light Horse. Our calvary that charged at Beersheba in World War I and now rode armoured personal carriers.

I wondered if he had a relative that served in the Light Horse and that is why he chose it.

But I did not ask.

We said our farewells and walked on to work.

The gunners at Nui Dat rained down hell on the Vietnamese at Long Tan. Over three thousand rounds in three hours from their L5s. Without them the vastly outnumbered 6RAR soldiers would have been overrun.

At one point they were ordered by the Australian infantry to fire on their own positions, the situation so precarious.

Here was a man who had been there.

He had a story.

I wondered how many people passed him that day oblivious to this fact.

I wanted to hear his story.

We owe a lot to our vets but how often do we even recognise them?

Captain Tom recalls fighting on the front lines in Burma in WWII and  memories of VE Day | EXPRESS INFORMER

I imagine it was the same for Captain Tom Moore for many years.

A hero in our midst unheralded but loved and known and appreciated by those in his community.

That all changed last year.

A simple goal on his part to use his walker and do some laps of his garden to raise some money for other heroes galvanised a nation to action and lifted morale in the most of desperate of times.

It was never what he did that was the big deal – it was what he got us all to do through the simplicity of his actions and beliefs.

We were and are in trouble – so ask yourself what are you going to do about it? What can you do about it? Where is the help needed most?

Captain Tom Moore had an answer to all three of those questions and got to work.

Captain Tom Moore invited to ring Lord's bell and offer England team-talk |  England cricket team | The Guardian

The fact that a veteran of war raised funds for those on the frontlines of saving lives and risking their own in hospitals and health care centres across the country was wholly appropriate.

One old hero spurned to action yet again for our current health care heroes of today.

His old Regiment gave him a medal and an Honour Guard as he finished his final laps. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over his house for his birthday. The Queen knighted him.

But perhaps his greatest honour and at the heart of his legacy is 1.5million people donated to his NHS Fundraiser and over 39 million pounds went to our health care workers.

One and half million people did something inspired by him.

Countless more too indirectly, prompted to take action even if it was in support of another charity or through another mechanism other than fundraising.

Why the British hero Captain Tom Moore mattered - Chicago Tribune

You of course already know where this is going.

Captain Tom Moore was admitted to hospital on Sunday and passed away on the 2nd of February, 2021 from COVID.

He was 100 years old.

It had been less than a year since he completed the 100th lap of his 25metre garden on the 16th of April, 2020 way ahead of the deadline of his birthday on April 30th.

Medication that he took for pneumonia meant he could not be vaccinated. Somehow the fact that a hero of the COVID pandemic who could have passed from a whole range of natural causes at such an age was cut down by the virus quietly angers me.

But Captain Moore faced the foe we are all facing with dignity and grace and courage.

One last example of inspiration.

One more act of courage from a man who had lived his life well and a soldier who had never failed to answer the call to action and to do his duty.

Britain′s ′Captain Tom′ dies of coronavirus at age 100 | News | DW |  02.02.2021

The flag at 10 Downing Street flew at half mast, Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying, “Captain Sir Tom Moore was a hero in the truest sense of the word. In the dark days of the Second World War he fought for freedom and in the face of this country’s deepest post-war crisis he united us all, he cheered us all up, and he embodied the triumph of the human spirit.He became not just a national inspiration but a beacon of hope for the world. Our thoughts are with his daughter Hannah and all his family.

His daughters Hannah Ingram-Moore and Lucy Teixeirareleased a statement full of thanks to everyone but in particular our health heroes who they wrote, “unfalteringly professional, kind and compassionate and have given us many more years with him than we ever would have imagined.”

We are so grateful that we were with him during the last hours of his life; Hannah, Benjie and Georgia by his bedside and Lucy on FaceTime. We spent hours chatting to him, reminiscing about our childhood and our wonderful mother.

Who was Captain Tom's wife Pamela?

Dr Adam Briki on working for the NHS and the fundraising of his great  uncle, Captain Tom

Picture shows proud Captain Tom Moore with his daughter on her wedding day  - Mirror Online

Captain Sir Tom Moore: His Life In Pictures

Who is Captain Tom Moore's daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore?

Captain Sir Tom Moore: 'I always think of the beneficial things' | British  GQ

An Audience with Hannah Ingram-Moore, Captain Sir Tom Moore's daughter -  MKFM 106.3FM - Radio Made in Milton Keynes

We shared laughter and tears together. The last year of our father’s life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he’d only ever dreamed of. Whilst he’d been in so many hearts for just a short time, he was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever,” they wrote.

God bless Captain Tom Moore and thank you for your service.

Rest now old soldier.

Your duty is done.

We can’t all be heroes like Captain Tom Moore but we can all live a little bit more from his example.

-Lloyd Marken

Captain Sir Tom Moore's funeral to get flypast by WWII plane | World news |  The Guardian

COVID-19 DIARY – WAY OUT WEST ORDERED TO STAY IN

Western Australia waiting for more COVID-19 test results to determine end  of lockdown | 7NEWS.com.au

31 January 2021

The last day of January, 2021 marked one year since the discovery of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

In the year since, there had been 3,796,092 confirmed cases and 105,571 deaths.

In Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan announced a five day snap lockdown following a hotel quarantine security guard testing positive to COVID.

The lockdown followed a similar pattern to the three day lockdown in Brisbane earlier in the month following one case in light of the faster spreading UK variant.

The lockdown started from 6pm Sunday and was scheduled to end at 6pm Friday evening if all went well.

It applied to Perth, the Peel and South West region.

Western Australia COVID-19 lockdown | National Retail Association

You could leave home to shop for groceries or medical needs including compassionate requirements for vulnerable citizens.

You could exercise in your local area going for walks with one other person for one hour a day.

You could go to work where working from was not possible.

There was a run on at the shops like there had been earlier in the month in Brisbane despite the fact that as per the Brisbane lockdown grocery stores remained open and could be attended for resupply.

I’m not judging, I’d taken my precautions days earlier in Brisbane.

Covid: Australian city of Perth goes into snap lockdown after guard tests  positive - BBC News

As was to be expected with such a lockdown, pubs, clubs, playgrounds, gyms, sporting venues, cinemas, casinos, places of worship and libraries were all shut.

Restaurants and cafes could only do take away.

No visitors were allowed to visit the extremely vulnerable in hospitals and aged care.

Weddings were cancelled and funerals could only be attended by up to ten people.

Travel between regions was not allowed and the WA police moved to set up vehicle checkpoints.

The next day schools were due to re-open but instead they would remain closed for another week.

It is in effect an extension of the school holidays,” Premier McGowan said.

Outside of the lockdown areas school would resume as scheduled.

Tough break for the kids in those areas.

I know for many Western Australian, this is going to come as a shock. Western Australians have done so well for so long, but this week it is absolutely crucial that we stay home, maintain physical distancing and personal hygiene, and get tested if you have symptoms. This is a very serious situation, and each and every one of us has to do everything we personally can to stop the spread in the community,” the Premier said.

There was an impending state election in WA and McGowan had proven very popular for his handling of the COVID pandemic. This decision showed a Labor Premier yet again putting lives ahead of other concerns.

Queensland Health declared the locked down areas to hotspots and anybody travelling from them would need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Queensland.

Covid Vaccine: Israel's Entire Population May Receive the Shot by Spring -  Bloomberg

On the 31st of January the World Health Organisation reported there had been 102,259,861 confirmed cases worldwide with a daily increase 564,517.

More than 100 million cases had been reached on the 28th fo January, 2021 with 100,511,774.

There had been deaths globally with a daily increase of 2,218,894 with a daily increase of 13,912.

In Australia there had been 28,806 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 770,793 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,690. There had been 19,801 deaths with a daily increase of 137.

New variant may not have changed COVID-19 pandemic course in UK, says study

In the UK there ahd been 3,796,092 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 23,275. There had been 105,571 deaths with a daily increase 1,222.

In India there had been 10,746,183 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 13,052. There had been 154,274 deaths with a daily increase of 127.

In the United States of America there had been 25,676,612 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 164,415. There had been 433,173 deaths with a daily increase of 3,521. Twenty five million cases had been reached January 27 with 25,050,308.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XIV

Qld's harsh border policy – a conversation with Joe Branigan | Queensland  Economy Watch

 

January 28

 

On Thursday the World Health Organisation reported there had been more than 100 million confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 589,451 bringing the total to 100,511,774.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that come next monday, the first day of February that travellers from 35 LGAs from Greater Sydney could come to Queensland for the first time since the 21st of December, 2020.

There had been a hard border in place between Queensland and New South Wales from the 25th of March, 2020 to the 10th of July, 2020.

That hard border was put in place again from the 8th of August, 2020 until the 3rd of November, 2020. 

On that day while the hard border came down for the state, residents of the Greater Sydney area would be stopped at border checkpoints.

Just under a month later on the 1st of December, 2020 they were welcome too.

But with the Avalon and Berala clusters on the eve of Christmas residents of the 35 LGAs of Greater Sydney were shut out on the 21st of December. 

The hard border with all of New South Wales resumed the next day.

Now the border was going to be open to all, no border declaration passes because there were no hotspots in the country.

The 28 day rule of no community transmission in New South Wales which was a previous benchmark had not been met – it had only been 12 days.

No, we haven’t ignored the rules at all. [Queensland’s Chief Health Officer] Dr Young is very confident in her discussions with the Chief Health Officer of New South Wales and those cases can be related back to the original clusters, so she’s very confident the 28 days has been met,” advised Premier Palaszczuk. 

There was a hint of a sales pitch to proceedings.

 

Coronavirus border restrictions: Queensland reopens border to all of NSW  from February 1, premier confirms

 

I think you’ll see a lot more collective response from premiers and first ministers, to try and get this right. As we’ve seen, the hotspot program has been working quite well. Now is a great opportunity to start making [travel] plans, especially around the Easter holidays,” she said.

The Federal Jobkeeper program was due to end soon and the Far North had been sufferring without international tourists and disruptions to domestic travel compounded the issue. Jobkeeper it was said had been a lifeline and the Federal government held those pursestrings.

More on brand was the Premier’s declaration, “If there was an outbreak of that UK variant strain, I think we’d have to shut down immediately like we did in Brisbane, but fingers crossed that won’t happen.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told during a radio interview welcomed the news.

The important thing is that the right outcome is achieved. We haven’t had a hotspot in NSW for a while and even if we do, the whole state doesn’t need to suffer. I hope this brings a lot of joy and relief to people and that people are reunited. That’s my wish for them,” she said.

The bulk of national media is based out of Sydney and Melbourne and there had definitely been a slant from all media outlets to be critical of Queensland and Western Australia border closures. Not so much the Northern Territory. I guess the elites were upset they couldn’t travel to the Gold Coast or Cairns but were okay if they missed out of Darwin or Launceston. More their loss if you ask me.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian advised that maybe the Queensland Premier was a victim of her own policy. 

Palaszczuk batted away the remark with, “We’ll just let New South Wales be New South Wales.

If you’re a Queensland you’ll understand how that brought a smile to my face. 

It has been a really, really long haul, and it has been tough on everybody, but I’ve always maintained, I have to keep Queenslanders safe,” the Queensland Premier said.

Palaszczuk’s caution and 21 changes to border passage over the past year had paid dividends. 1,386 confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic began and only six unfortunate deaths.

 

State Disaster Coordinator Steve Gollschewski.

 

The change to the border would help redirect Queensland police manpower to other efforts.

At maximum commitment, we’re up to 1,300 police per roster and at the moment we’re under 800 and that’s at any given time,” Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.

In the past twelve months Queensland Police had dealt with 7 million border declaration passes, processed 700,000 people through airports and checked 1.28 million vehicles at border checkpoints. 

Only 2,670 infringment notices had been handed out and 238 court orders filed for serious offences. 

“Those statistics tell you that by and large, overwhelmingly the Queensland community has done the right thing,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

It had been one year since the first COVID case in Queensland was discovered and the next day would be one year since Queensland had declared a health emergency in response to the pandemic. 

We’re all starting to see a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel with the rollout of the vaccine imminent. I know there’s nowhere else I’d rather be on the globe at the moment — we’re going pretty well. No-one handed us the handbook on how to police pandemics back in January last year — because there isn’t one. We’ve had our eyes wide open and realised there is no playbook for this,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

South Australia was relaxing travel from New South Wales and there were hints Victoria would make a similar decision.

Western Australia had changed their restrictions a week earlier on the 22nd of January, allowing people from Queenland and New South Wales to enter WA if they quarantined for 14 days and had a COIVD test.

My best friend was getting married in Sydney, the change to the border restrictions meant I would be able to go but the wedding was more than two weeks away and a lot could happen in two weeks with COVID.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE LUCKY COUNTRY

Australia's CSIRO Releases 'Lunar Challenge' Space Exploration Roadmap -  SpaceWatch.Global

January 24

There was an interesting report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation which highlighted yet again a two speed economy in the country.

There had been a 1.9 billion dollar jump in savings from pre-COVID trends.

The richer you were the richer you were probably getting, the poorer you were the poorer you were probably getting. Car sales were up, house buying was up too and consumer spending was almost back to normal.

But!

Those on lower incomes jobs were more likely to have lost work or lost income.

There had even been job growth in high income work!

Generally speaking people who could afford a holiday, a night out, international travel – well they saved. And the people who drove their ubers, served them drinks, and cleaned their hotel rooms. Well they lost out.

The poorer got poorer and the richer saved money.

January 25

It was one year since the first Australian COVID-19 case was discovered in Australia.

One year on the World Health Organisation reported there had been 28,766 confirmed cases with a daily increase of five. There had been 909 Australians that had died from the disease.

On the same day the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in Australia although the AztraZeneca vaccine was going to be the main one used in Australia, the Pfizer one was the first to approve.

ABC analyst Casey Briggs did advise it would, “We’ll be waiting a little while longer before anyone actually gets a jab in this country.

These words ring even more true given how slowly the vaccination roll out has been.

Fifty to sixty countries had been involved in vaccinating with 64 million doses given out globally.

Israel was one of the most vaccinated countries in the world with 41.8 doses per 100 people which was very needed given they had recorded their highest daily increase of of new cases of 10,116 on the 20th of January, 2021. Five days later there 594,820 confirmed cases and 4,390 Israeli deaths.

The United Arab Emirates, Seychelles and Bahrain populations were also reaching some of the highest vaccination levels in the world.

By the way I love the way anchor Michael Rennie crosses to Casey Briggs. Often feels like some passive aggressive stuff there or maybe some sexual tension. Who knows on air chemistry is a hard thing to build.

January 27

John Hopkins university reported 100 million people globally had been infected by COVID and over two million deaths.

Another grim milestone.

And as ABC Analyst Casey Briggs pointed out, “When we hit these big numbers that it is worth remembering always that this is the the lower estimate. These are the ones that we’ve found, these are the ones that have tested positive.

There was an interesting conversation about the global COVID figures but no hard facts.

I held my breath last year to see how COVID would rip through the third world and places like Africa yet North America and Europe are still faring the worst in terms of numbers.

There were a variety of factors at play there, warmer climates could help although tell that to people living through the pandemic in South America.

Secondly reporting was not as vast, accurate or even ongoing in some countries.

Also some of these countries were ruled by dictators who could shut down the populace in a way other nations would not.

There was also the factor that some poorer nations had lived through several previous pandemics and had learnt some hard lessons.

Portugal it was reported now had the highest per capita rate in the world.

Portugal did not shut down over Christmas. Imagine if the UK had done the same?

There was good news for Sydneysiders too restrictions were due to ease on Friday.

Given I was potentially planning a trip to Sydney in the immediate future this was either good news or bad news. With the lower of restrictions it may encourage the Queensland government to change their border stance. Bad news in the sense that if it led to an outbreak the borders would stay up.

Five visitors in a home was increased to 30.

Fifty people could gather together outdoors.

Three hundred could attend a funeral or a wedding, although only a bridal party of twenty could dance.

No cap on hospitality venue numbers but a four square metre rule was in place. Hopes for a two square metres rule in two weeks it was reported could double numbers at venues.

People did not have to wear masks but were encouraged to where they could not effectively maintain social distancing.

The one year anniversary of COVID in Australia coincided with Australia day.

Australia is sometimes referred to as ‘the lucky country’. I certainly felt lucky to live in Australia this past year. Lucky that after many years of intermittent work I had a permanent job during a global crisis. I had enjoyed holidays, saved up money while others lost everything. I sought to help where I could but the suffering has been so vast. Our luck has been undeniable in the face of the plight of others.

A loss of 909 in comparison to 100,000 or 400,000 or two million is undeniable.

And it sticks to the forefront of your mind when the 100,000 is in a country where a family member lives.

So yes Australia has been the lucky country.

Not without its own failures, not without its own loss and not without its own need to remain vigilant as we hope the situation changes with the roll out of vaccines across the globe and its going to need be the globe and fast if we want this to have a chance of working.

But for now I had to count my blessings.

On the 27th of January the World Health Organisation reported there had been 99,921,895 globally with a daily increase of 487,000.

There had been 2,155,748 deaths globally with a daily increase of 13,447.

Two million deaths has been reached on the 16th of January with 2,007,200 souls lost.

The highest daily increase globally of new cases was 842,448 on the 20th of December, 2020 a little over a month earlier.

The highest number of daily deaths globally would be the next day with 16,716 reported on the 28th of January, 2021.

In Australia there were 28,780 confirmed cases with a daily increase of three. There were 909 deaths.

In Canada there were 753,011 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,628. There were 19,238 deaths with a daily increase of 144.

In the United Kingdom there were 3,689,750 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20,088. There had been 100,162 deaths with a daily increase 1,631.

The United Kingdom had officially reached more than 100,000 deaths.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he took full responsibility but I don’t know if that good enough given the precdent of decisions taken by other countries. I’m no expert but Johnson’s strategies were slow in comparison to othe countries and saying you took full responsibility is not the same as actually taking it.

The first time I watched widow Gordon Bonner being interviewed I cried. His wife died from COVID.

Her name was Muriel Whiteley before marrying Gordon at age 20 in 1957. They had been together all that time since.

There were many such widows in the UK, the U.S., Brazil, Russia, China, Kenya and Australia.

We’re all united in our grief, maybe we can all be united in efforts to fight this thing.

In India there had been 10,689,527 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,689. There had been 153,724 deaths with a daily increase of 137.

In the United States of America there had been 25,050,308 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 133,409. There had been 417,889 deaths with a daily increase of 1,885.

The lucky country indeed.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – CASES WILL VARIANT

U.K. Hospitals Brace for Covid-19 Pandemic's Worst Weeks - WSJ

January 22

I watched with interest what would happen in the UK. I did not hold out hope that the schools would remain closed until all teachers been vaccinated but how close the two timeframes might land I had some interest in.

I read an article from The Evening Standard that Boris Johnson was to hold a 5pm press conference.

Two million Britons had received vaccinations in the past week alone.

That was one jab – not both.

Also the highest daily death count of 1,820 had occurred.

As these events unfolded apparently there was pressure to end the lockdown.

In the same week of the highest daily death count.

The article referred to the fact that Professor Paul Elliott leading the React study at the Imperial College London had suggested that current restrictions may not be strict enough to see a drop in infections and the reproductive rate.

On Thursday Prime Minister Boris Johnson had said, “I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of the restrictions. We’re looking at that February 15 deadline, as you know, for the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advisory body) groups one to four – the elderly, the vulnerable groups that we want to vaccinate first, that 15 million people across the UK that we want to have been offered a vaccination slot by 15 February.

One U.K. trial is transforming COVID-19 treatment. Why haven't others  delivered more results? | Science | AAAS

I had no confidence that restrictions would stay as long or as severe as I saw necessary. Maybe it was just not possible to get to the UK to where Australia was now. If people catch and pass on COVID without becoming symptomantic then stopping the spread certainly presented many challenges.

If the most vulnerable people receive both jabs, if our health care workers could receive both jabs before re-opening then that undeniably would save lives but this was not was being discussed.

They were talking about one jab by the 15th of February, 2021.

Under consideration was a new plan to have everyone who tests positive for COVID given 500 pounds. The proposal would possibly cost 450 million pounds a week but encourage people to get tested and isolate. The payment would be made regardless of age, employment status or ability to work.

UK parliament approves month-long COVID-19 lockdown for England |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

23 January

The press conference came and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom advised, “In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant – the variant that was first identified in London and the south east – may be associated with a higher degree of mortality. It’s largely the impact of this new variant that means the NHS is under such intense pressure.” 

The UK R number was cited as between 0.8 to 1.

Academics and researchers advised that Johnson’s suggestion of an higher mortality rate may not be be certain. Which fitted with the language the Prime Minister had employed.

I want to stress that there’s a lot of uncertainty around these numbers and we need more work to get a precise handle on it, but it obviously is a concern that this has an increase in mortality as well as an increase in transmissibility,” he said.

It was reported that the UK variant spreads 30 to 70% faster and hints it could be 30 per deadlier.

An example cited where once 1,000 60 year olds infected with the old variant ten might be expected to die, now with the new variant is 13.

Another factor to consider is death rates in hospitals have per capita have gone down with improved treatment.

Call to protect hospital staff from coronavirus contamination | Society |  The Guardian

The UK variant had been first detected in Kent in September, it was now the most common form of the virus in the country and had spread to more than 50 other countries.

Sir Patrick believed the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines would work against the UK variant but was concerned about variants from Africa and South America.

They have certain features which means they might be less susceptible to vaccines. They are definitely of more concern than the one in the UK at the moment and we need to keep looking at it and studying this very carefully,” he said.

The previous week the UK government had extended a travel ban to South America, Portugal and many African countries. All international travellers now had to test negative too ahead of departure to the UK and go into quarantine on arrival. That was 10 day quarantine in a hotel with testing on day 2 and day 8 – test positive you have to quarantine longer.

While noting a downward trend with infections, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned the UK was in an “extremely precarious position.

A very small change and it could start taking off again from an extremely high base,” he said. “If that happened again, we would be in really, really deep trouble,” he said.

In Australia on the eve of  long weekend, traces of COVID were found in sewerage water in western Sydney.

“NSW Health urges everyone living or working in these suburbs to monitor for symptoms and get tested and isolate immediately if they appear,” health authorities said in a statement.

There had been six days of no new community transmissions reported in New South Wales.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – IT’S HARD TO REMEMBER

In tearful farewell address, Biden thanks Delaware, remembers late son

January 19

Tuesday it was announced that Defense Production Act would be utilised to increase the roll out of vaccinations. Mass vaccination centres were going to be set up including a massive workforce trained up to administer the vaccinations. The goal 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of the new administration.

“I gave you my word, we will manage the hell out of this operation,” said President-Elect Joe Biden.

January 20

On the 20th of January,2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 3,466,853 with a daily increase of 33,355. There had been 91,470 deaths with a daily increase of 1,610. The most deaths reported in one day in the island nation since the pandemic began.

The winter that came well over 6 months after the initial outbreak of COVID-19 across the world had proven far more deadly in Europe and the Americas then the initial outbreak.

Figures from March and April were now pygmies next to those of October through to January.

The vaccine had arrived but production and distribution was a massive logistical undertaking.

Cathedrals, GP centres and convention centres were all employed.

The UK Government had made the decision on the 30th of December to vaccinate all with the first jab and then proceed with the second jab 12 weeks later hoping to grant more protection across a larger part of the populace faster.

The following is from the British Medical Journal:

“On 30 December 2020, the UK announced a deviation from the recommended protocol for the Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine, prolonging the interval between doses from 3 to 12 weeks. Similar decisions were made for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, for which a longer gap between doses had been shown to improve efficacy in some age groups.

The stated intention was to maximise benefit with limited supplies and to minimise hospital admissions and deaths. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the decision to delay the second dose was based on extrapolations from phase III trial data showing an efficacy of 89% 15-21 days after the first dose. At the time, Pfizer did not support the decision, stating that high efficacy could not be guaranteed.

Efficacy in elderly people seems excellent after two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. A longer gap between doses may improve the long term immune response, as seen with AstraZeneca’s vaccine. However, as many people in priority subgroups have not yet received a second dose, any substantial waning of protection during the 12 week interval will create problems as the UK starts to reopen.”

The health care system even buoyed by volunteers was stretched to breaking point.

It was reported that in England on average a new COVID patient was admitted to hospital every 30 seconds.

Like veterans from a war, health care workers who lived through this time would never be the same.

What they went through would only really be understood by those who went through it too.

Some were not going to be able to continue in the profession.

Some had paid the ultimate price already.

The next day the World Health Organisation reported 38,905 new cases and 1,820 new deaths in the United Kindgom. A new record.

In the United States of America a piece of political theatre never the less touched me deeply inside.

During a tragedy the debate goes do you focus on what is being lost or do you try to inspire, to revel in a brighter future.

At Christmas time when researching about the history of Christmas trees I read that President Carter had only lit the top star of the National Christmas Tree in 1979 saying the rest of the lights would be turned on when the hostages in Iran had returned. The following year the tree was only lit for 417 seconds, one second for each day the hostages had been held in captivity.

The gesture was very much in keeping with Carter.

But the gesture did not bring the hostages back and in similar years of national pain the National Christmas Tree has not been used to reflect those times but more likely to be seen as constant regardless of the outside world.

It should be noted though that in 2001 the colour scheme was changed to red, white and blue and helping to light the National Christmas Tree were Leon Patterson, 5 and Faith Elseth, 6 who had been victims of the attacks on September 11, 2001.

In 2005 the tree was lit with the help of Jackie, Melissa and Jenna Kantor who started Project Backpack to help children displaced by Hurricane Katrina get new backpacks filled with books, toys and school supplies.

Yet the question remained for me, when and how should a symbolic gesture being made about COVID-19.

On the 20th of January, 2021 I got my answer.

After a year of “It will magically go away,” “We’re doing very well,” “Everything is COVID, COVID. After the election you’ll never heart about it again” suddenly on the eve of taking over leading the nation President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris went to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and remembered the dead.

More than 400,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 - The Boston Globe

All 400,000 of them.

405,399 American military personnel died in World War II. 297 deaths per day.

It was needed.

I know a lot of thought and crafted intent went into this moment utilising national iconography known around the world but ultimately the power of it came from the simple truth at the heart of it.

The Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, spoke at the event saying, “At this twilight hour, our beloved nation reverently pauses in supplication to remember and to pray for the many thousands of people who have died from the coronavirus during this past year.

We pray for those who have died and the families and loves ones that they left behind. And may it be a resounding gesture of gratitude for all those who have cared for the victims of this virus and their loved ones. Our sorrow unites us to one another, as a single people with compassionate hearts,” he said.

Not to wallow in remorse, not to incite anger and blame, just to allow a nation for a moment to acknowledge a great loss has been suffered. From it could grow a new resolve to strive to save lives and to be grateful for the lives already saved.

As President-Elect Biden said on the day, “To heal we must remember, and its hard sometimes to remember but that’s how we heal.

January 21

Marine One took off from the White House lawn and for the last time with Ballbag on board.

The helicopter circled the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. in farewell.

Within hours America had a new President who had taken sacred oath to faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States of America and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Referring back to President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclaimation, Biden set forth his own goals for a legacy.

With a deadly pandemic still raging across the country, a population deeply divided politically and with high unemployment President Joe Biden made a promise.

My whole soul is in it. Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this — bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.,” he said.

I noted to myself not long after, a simple acknowledgement that so many people had died and a commitment to do everything they could rather than downplay the threat was sadly refreshing. It’s not a high bar but an important one to clear.

January 21, 2021 the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration marked one year since the first reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States of America – five of them.

One year later the World Health Organisation reported there had been in the United States of America 24,037,236 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 152,937. There had been 398,435 deaths with a daily increase of 2,280.

-Lloyd Marken

Bells and candlelight honor 400,000 dead from COVID-19 | NewsNation Now

COVID-19 DIARY – REACHING CRITICAL MASK

20210116_175442
Karen and I masked up and ready to get some pizza! 16JAN2021. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

January 15

Friday I was at work in the office, wearing a mask and taking it off at my desk as I had been throughout the week. The lockdown had ended on Monday evening kicking off a ten day period of wearing masks amongst other restrictions.

The Public Health Directions from the Queensland Government were pretty clear.

A person must wear a face mask at all times when a person is outside of a principal place of residence in an impacted area.

Exemptions applied to infants and children 12 years and younger.

A person who is affected by a medical condition, mental health condition or disability that may be made worse by wearing a face mask, including problems with their breathing, a serious condition of the face, a disability or a mental health condition.

A person communicating with those who are deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

A person who has past experiences of trauma and are unable to wear a face mask due to psychological impacts.

A person for whom wearing a face mask would create a risk to that person’s health and safety related to their work, as determined through Occupational Health and Safety guidelines.

Also.

A person being married while in the process of being married.

During an emergency.

While not exemptions, masks could removed by a person when they were eating or drinking; engaging in work that requires clear enunciation or visibility of their mouth; or directed to remove the face mask to ascertain identity.

Once those circumstances were over you had to put the mask back on as soon as practical.

On my up to the Toowong village to get my morning coffee I passed a man chowing down on a burger. If you were eating you didn’t have to be wearing a mask. Was this guy munching on a burger while waddling down ramps to avoid wearing a mask? On my way back I got in the elevator alone, at the last minute a woman jumped in sans mask. I’m not one for confrontation but my icy silence must have caught her attention. She gave me a big friendly smile and offered, “For me to have a really nice day.”

Often my fellow bloggers abroad tell me from their perspective they feel Australia has done a great job. I do feel very fortunate about the decisions that were made by all levels of government, I do think luck and isolation played its part but also good decisions were made and relatively early.

But people are people, a three day lockdown is nothing and here we were with the cracks already showing in a 10 day mandate to wear masks. How much would we have failed if called upon to deal with what people overseas had? How much could we still fail if our luck didn’t hold?

January 17

Sunday there was a family get together with my in-laws.

I wore a mask although government restrictions did not mandate it for such household gatherings where up to 20 people could gather. Clearly it would have offered ultimately no protection if something there had been infected with the virus which of course was highly unlikely.

There were currently 26 active cases in Queensland.

Why did I wear the mask?

Because I wanted to.

If it had been up to me alone, I would not have been there. Despite the low risk I just wanted some time to pass since the lockdown.

But in life you find you have competing obligations.

I am obligated to do things for my fellow human beings.

For my work colleagues.

For my family which includes my in-laws.

But most of all the person I am most obligated to consider the needs, safety and feelings of is my wife.

I made my decision to go and I made my decision to wear my mask.

It was a lovely get together.

On the 17th of January the World Health Organisation reported there had been 93,676,141 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 486,056.

There had been 2,010,864 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,567.

The day before the death toll had reached more than 2 million people with 2,001,297.

In Australia there had been 28,689 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20. There had been 909 Australian deaths.

In Canada there had been 695,707 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,816. There had been 17,729 deaths with a daily increase of 191.

In the United Kingdom there had been 3,357,365 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 41,342. There had been 88,590 deaths with a daily increase of 1,295.

Coronavirus: India confirms six cases of new Covid variant - BBC News

In India there had been 10,557,985 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15,144. There had been 152,274 deaths with a daily increase of 181.

In the United States of America there had been 22,871,330 confirmed cases. There was no daily increase reported but the next day there was a daily increase of 473,093. This paled in comparison to the largest daily increase in confirmed cases of 667,188 on the 19th of December, 2020 also following a day of new reported cases.

There had been 381,522 deaths with no daily increase reported.

Here people talked fatalistically, spoke about a need to live. Caught up with others. Talked stats. Lamented economic consequences of state border closures. Interestingly not one of those fucking people were nurses and doctors. For lack of a better way to put it, these people were victims of our luck and success.

I hoped we would not squander it.

The vaccine was coming, now was not the time to lose our priorities.

We needed to see this through.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – FORGING OUR INNER STEEL

January 12

There were three new cases in Queensland, two in hotel quarantine and the third the previously reported partner of the hotel cleaner from the Grand Chancellor Hotel.

While the fallout from the attack on the U.S. Capitol continued in the news I won’t add a lot here. I was sad by what happened and sad that the villain I call Ballbag would not be impeached and so what else is there to say.

Do you really need me to rail against that snake Mitch McConnell as much as I railed against Ballbag?

Trump failed the American people and let more of them die than had in their bloodiest war of the 20th century.

I’m still angry about that.

On the 12th of January the World Health Organisation reported there had been in the United States of America there had been 22,009,275 confirmed cases with no daily increase reported. There had been 369,304 deaths with no daily increase reported.

But I wanted to post here the speech that was made by Arnold Schwarznegger in the wake of the attack. Schwarznegger is an old school Republican and paradoxically a progressive. A old white man and an immigrant. He is everything that represents the best of the American dream and the flaws and mistakes that we are all capable of as humans. Whatever you think of him, this speech should strike a nerve.

In the United Kingdom there were mass vaccinates sites opened at convention centres and sports stadiums, a makeshift makeshift morgues in Surrey as local hospitals went beyond capacity.

Despite the deadpan delivery in the clip below one older gentleman Ron Heath summed it up succinctly upon leaving with his first jab.

“You know you’re not going to die,” he said.

So far 2.3million Britons had been received their first jab.

Since Christmas day there had seen 13,000 new patients in hospital.

On the 12th of January the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there had been 3,118,522 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 46,169. There had been 81,960 deaths with a daily increase of 529.

In Ireland per capita deaths had skyrocketed following lowering of restrictions before Christmas. They had gone from an daily infection rate of 10 per 100,000 people to 132 per 100,000 people with the world’s worst infection rate!

On the 12th of January the World Health Organisation reported in the Republic of Ireland there had been 152,539 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,926. There had been 2,352 deaths with a daily increase of eight.

As of the 14th of March there have been 226,358 confirmed cases and 4,534 deaths. 

January 13

Wednesday and 120 people were moved the Hotel Grand Chancellor where so far six cases had been found. Four returned travellers quarantining there and the hotel cleaner and her partner.

Guests who were counting down the days were told they would now have to spend another 14 days in quarantine.

“There’s now a possibility that they became infected in the quarantine hotel,” she said.

It’s really, really unfortunate and I really feel for those travellers, because it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience, but this is really the safest thing to do,” University of Queensland virologist Dr Kirsty Short said.

One guest moved was Maria Bryne along with her partner and two small children – they had so far tested negative four times.

It’s brilliant that they’re containing the disease,” she said.

Two weeks you can cope, but an entire month in a hotel room for two small kids? That’s a big deal.

My daughter looks out the window and she sees a playground and says ‘can we go, Mummy?’ And it breaks my heart to tell her no. She keeps asking ‘can we go to Australia, Mummy?’ And I tell her we are in Australia and she says, ‘no Mummy, we’re in a hotel. She doesn’t understand, she’s only three, it’s just difficult,” she said.

Queensland authorities deny possible virus safety breach after reports  infected woman left hotel quarantine

Dr Short believed the transfer was to see if something about the set-up at the Grand Chancellor was causing the spread.

I think that the rationale behind this is the concern that there could be something to do with the ventilation in that hotel or something with the airflow that could be spreading infections from one room to another,” she said.

They didn’t want to risk any more travellers getting sick and that’s 100 per cent the right thing to do, moving them from the location. It’s a very new area and it’s really not clear. We don’t know enough about it to say if it’s going through air conditioning, bathrooms, or any other way, and they’re just erring on the side of caution, which is the right thing to do,” advised Dr Short.

The Labor party took shots at the government and proposed new laws set to cut penalty rates framing it around the pandemic.

Nurses, cleaners and the service industry like waiters were all set to lose money they said.

“This pay cut is Scott Morrison’s thanks to the people who got us through the pandemic – the frontline and essential workers who put themselves at risk by showing up to work and steering Australia through the crisis,” Industrial Relations spokesman Tony Burke said.

The flip side of course was that several small businesses were struggling to remain open during the pandemic and reduced wages could help with that too.

On the 13th of January the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 28,634 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20. There had been 909 deaths.

Le Royaume-Uni obligé de construire des morgues provisoires, les "pires  semaines" restent à venir [vidéo] - Charente Libre.fr

January 14

The Guardian reported more than 100,000 people had died from coronavirus in the United Kingdom.

100,000.

It wasn’t so long ago that I noted the loss 3,407 deaths in Italy. How that compared to 255 British servicemen lost in the Falklands War. 

How seeing a plaque in St Paul’s Cathedral of 255 names brought home that amount of loss as being far too much.

Now here we are at 100,000.

Public Health Professor Gabriel Scally from the University of Bristol said, “It is an astounding number of preventable deaths from one cause in one year, [an] absolutely astounding number. It’s a sign of a phenomenal failure of policy and practice in the face of this new and dangerous virus.

This was based on government figures that count fatalities within 28 days of a positive test.

Statistical agencies counted where COVID-19 was noted on the deceased’s death certificate.

The Guardian used both as a source to have arrived at their figure of 101,160.

Here’s some other stats.

Almost one in every 660 people in the United Kingdom have died from COVID or COVID related causes. One in six of all deaths.

Other hotspots like Mexico it was 108 per 100,000 people.

Spain it was 113 per 100,000.

The United States of America with Ballbag running the show it was 116 per 100,000.

But in Great Britain where my sister and her family lived, where Beetley Pete and his family lived. Where John Knifton and his family lived.

It was 151 per 100,000 people – one of the worst in the world.

In Australia where I lived it was 3.6 per 100,000.

New Zealand 0.5 per 100,000 and 0.03 per 100,000 in Taiwan.

We felt we had beaten it': New Zealand's race to eliminate the coronavirus  again

Not for the first time I kind of stand in awe of what others have gone through and can’t quite reconcile with how fortunate I have been.

The Director of the University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology Professor Andrew Hayward told the past week the UK had the second highest death rate in the world.

Our intensive care units, which have always had much lower capacity than many other European countries, are at breaking point. Our frontline NHS staff are exhausted and traumatised. Hospitalisations and deaths will continue to increase across the country for at least the next two or three weeks and possibly beyond,” he said.

New cases numbers were down with 47,525 reported the day before but hospitalisations were increasing at 35 per cent with 4,253 admitted in the past week.

608,000 people died in England and Wales in 2020. 

This was only behind 611,861 reported back in 1918 during the deadliest year of the Spanish flu.

It could add another 50,000 [deaths] before we are finished,” warned Professor Scally.

Cases are now in decline, however, with a further 47,525 positive cases across the UK reported on Wednesday. But the numbers of people in hospital have continued to increase, with 4,253 more people admitted, an increase of 35% over the last seven days.

“The figures are also in stark contrast to counties that have maintained low case and death rates, including Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia where death rates per 100,000 people stand at 0.03, 0.5 and 3.6.

On the 14th of January the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there had been 3,211,580 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 47,525.

There had been 84,767 deaths with a daily increase of 1,564.

On the 14th of January the World Health Organisation reported in New Zealand there had been 1,872 confirmed cases. There had been 25 New Zealand deaths. There were no daily increase in either figure that day reported.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – END OF BRISBANE LOCKDOWN

Brisbane lockdown to be lifted at 6:00pm but masks and some restrictions to  remain - ABC News

January 11

Monday and I worked from home. The lockdown was scheduled to end at 6pm that night but we would see how things panned out.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced at a press conference that the lockdown as scheduled would end at 6pm.

No new cases had been reported since the lockdown began on Friday.

“This is the best news we could have hoped for, absolutely the best news,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

There would be some ongoing restrictions and some amendments.

The big thing of note was that masks were going to be still be mandatory for the next ten days until 1am the following friday on the 22nd of January.

That was at shopping centres, public transport, gyms and workplaces where people could not keep socially distanced. Where I worked and am on the phone constantly, I kept my mask off at my desk and put it back if I stepped away from it even slightly. I was getting a good idea of what my breath smelled like.

This actually meant I got breaks between having to keep it on and I found it really not a hassle at all.

I didn’t make it to the gym at this time but I heard that the wording was you wore a mask unless you were strenously exercising. I guess this was to avoid people hyperventilating. But what it meant was people were being called on to do personal judgement and to show concern for others as well as themselves. I didn’t trust people to do the right thing for their fellow human beings but that was just me.

Restaurants could take dine-in customers but one person per 4 square metres.

Hospitals, aged care facilities, disability accommodation and correctional centres will remain closed to visitors until January 22.

You could have 20 people at your home, 100 attend a wedding or a funeral up from 10 and 20 respectively. Dancing was only allowed at weddings, not pubs.

Theatres and concert venues could be at 50 per cent capacity.

Test cricket was cancelled and tickets refunded.

Despite coming out of lockdown authorities urged caution.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the restrictions were necessary to ease Greater Brisbane out of the lockdown, and she warned Queenslanders not to become complacent.

COVID QLD: Brisbane lockdown begins as UK mutant virus on loose | The  Courier Mail

This decision was not made lightly. We know this new variant is much more contagious, which is why it is so important we continue to have some restrictions in place for a short period of time,” Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

The pandemic is still with us,” Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young told.

Globally… This virus is getting worse. For the third week in a row we have seen positive cases of four million new cases a week,” D’Ath said.

Thousands of tests had been carried out in the Greater Brisbane region during the lockdown including 18,000 in the past 24 hours.

Contract tracing had identified 370 contacts of the cleaner at the Hotel Grand Chancellor. One hundred and seventy two had been tested and come back negative.

“I don’t think that everyone has come forward yet,” Dr Young said of all the potential contacts.

“For the next 10 days while we see out the 14-day incubation period we still do have to be on heightened alert,” she added and I couldn’t agree more.

In fact I quite frankly did not know why we weren’t staying in lockdown for a little longer.

On the other hand some elements were questioning why such a measure had been taken over one case even if it was one of the more easily spread UK strain and even if that poor individual had been on public transport and major shopping centres for two days undiagnosed.

The Premier had an answer for them.

Brisbane lockdown to be lifted at 6:00pm but masks and some restrictions to  remain - ABC News

[It’s] definitely not an overreaction. It was absolutely supported by AHPPC [Australian Health Protection Principal Committee], it was supported by National Cabinet, and as you can see it was supported by people in the Greater Brisbane,” she said.

Dr Young backed her up.

The reason that I asked for that three days was for us to be able to immediately go and find as many of the contacts as we could and have them placed into quarantine, so that if they do become positive, they’ve spent the two days, which is the most infectious period, already in quarantine and not out and about in the community,” Dr Young said.

Which again by that reasoning I thought we shouldn’t come out of the lockdown, as Dr Young had said she was concerned not all contract tracing had been done, not all people had come forward.

The fact that a break-out that didn’t occur fuels calls that the steps taken by the government were unnecessary but I believe they should have taken more.

I believe luck was involved here and luck always runs out.

I believe the cost of doing these things never measures up to the risk of what happens if you don’t.

That’s me.

Others take a different view.

But in the end history has shown that we got through this. I am still grateful to live somewhere where government at least takes some action.

To that end it could be suggested that Queensland themselves for the most part did the right thing over this short period of time which would have contributed to the success of the lockdown.

We wore masks, we stayed home, we practiced social distancing.

You know for 72 hours.

Police commissioner Katarina Carroll says more charges to come after two  teens allegedly raped by group of men - ABC News

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll was certainly full of praise for the community.

“When 6:00pm on Friday came, everyone knew what they had to do, and I’ve got to say the compliance and cooperation was second to none,” Commissioner Carroll said.

Only twenty infringement notices had been handed out and 1,300 masks were given out by police rather than fines.

We decided rather than fining people we would hand out masks because it was something new for us in Brisbane and we really wanted to communicate with people and show a bit of compassion. It was an education piece, ‘this is what you should be doing and this is the reasons why, and we have a mask for you. There was just a few that wouldn’t take us up on our offer,” Commissioner Carroll explained.

After the announcement lockdown breaking news advised us of one community transmission. The partner of the hotel cleaner had been re-tested and came back positive. Contract tracing for him continued.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – A QUIET WEEKEND

20210116_175442

Karen and I masked up and ready to get some pizza! Copyright Lloyd Marken.

January 09

It had been ten months since serious restrictions had been placed in Brisbane in the early days of COVID expanding around the world.

Karen and I of course had a quiet weekend.

I got a text message with a longer list of locations on the southside that if you had been it you needed to get tested and self isolate. While the locations were from the area I lived in growing up I had not been to that in recent times. I did pass along to my parents who live on the southside of town but further afield and they advised they had not been there thankfully.

I did consider if I should go and get tested given that the government was keen to have many people get tested to get a better picture of how we were travelling but ultimately I decided against it.

We did go out and get take-away on Saturday night at our local pizza joint Marianas who were happy to see us as we happy to see them.

It was 6pm or so and more so than finding a park easy, more so than the traffic on the road, the thing that struck me was when we got home with the day ending everything was so quiet. No cars driving past, nobody even walking around for their local exercise. It recalled memories from the previous March. Its amazing how quickly you get used to things and how quickly you forget.

January 10

Sunday in the news was the small town of Maleny where Karen and I had shared a first holiday together.

Maleny is tucked away along with Montville, Landsborough, Mapleton and Flaxton in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland full of wineries, B&B getaways, hiking trails, markets and home craft stores.

Anybody who goes to such towns can’t help but be charmed by them and as mentioned on previous posts we have hold dear our particular pizzeria up there by the name of Capriccios.

Alas Capriccios was in the news and unfortunately not for their delicious pizzas or considerate staff.

A woman had been cleared to leave Melbourne having finished her hotel quarantine on the fifth of January.

She flew to Brisbane and travelled to Maleny where for two days she did simple day to day trips we all do. Over two days she only went to Purple Palate Cellars, the Woolworths and Capriccio’s Pizza which when you think about it is just good common sense but then Queensland Health were advised by Victoria she had retested positive.

This of course raises all kinds of questions which would prompt further restructure of the testing and repatriation process.

Dr Jeanette Young advised in a briefing that there was 14 day ‘quarantine’ for those who don’t have the virus. Once they do they had to be in ‘isolation’ for 10 days or 3 days where they no longer presented with symptoms. This had worked well in Australia prior to the UK strain and this woman coming to Maleny.

Now the 10 days in ‘isolation’ was going to be 14 days too.

For now what it meant was a person who thought she was okay now had found out she was sick, a business I have been a happy patron of for many years had to be shut down and a town of three and half thousand people was thrown into disarray.

Capriccio’s co-owner told ABC News Tamara Leacy that her and other staff were getting tested at the pop-up testing centre that had been set up.

We’re going to get tested ourselves so that we’ve got the all clear and we can move on from that. Just to put our own minds at ease,” she said

Business partner Dominic Venditti confirmed on Capriccio’s social media page that Capriccio’s was shut until Queensland Health gave them the all clear and urged customers to get tested.

A big thanks to everyone! We love our community let’s all do what we can to stay safe,” he wrote.

The monthly Montville Markets were cancelled with one of the organisers Deborah Davis saying, “Even though we’re not in the Greater Brisbane area, there are a number of high risks for us. We experience high visitor numbers and many of these visitors come from Brisbane.

Again history has proven me to be overtly cautious but knowing how closely connected the towns of Mapleton, Montville, Flaxton and Landsborough were at the time I was concerned that not enough people were coming out and getting tested and that the Sunshine Coast should be involved in the three day lockdown anyway and that the three day lockdown should be longer.

But we would see history prove that we did fine without taking the actions I thought were necessary.

There were no new cases in Brisbane on Sunday.

There were 20 active cases in Queensland, most of them were in hotel quarantine.

Police had minimal trouble too, 15 fines were handed out in the last 24 hours, 700 masks were handed out by police officers to those seen out in public without one. Only fined where they refused to comply. The go soft approach to get everybody in the right mindset which seemed to work well.

I myself was wearing a mask as soon as I left my front door but not while inside my car by myself There was talk over the weekend that I was in the wrong with that so I started to wear a mask inside my car too and that later got reframed.

The 8th of January, 2021 was the first time masks had been made compulsory in Brisbane but previous scares last winter and at the beginning of the pandemic meant that most people had them ready to go and were happy to comply.

As the Northern Beaches area of Sydney came out lockdown there were three new cases in Sydney related to both the Berala Cluster and the Avalon Cluster – the latter now reaching a total of 150 cases.

On the 10th of January, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 89,328,503 confirmed cases of COVID worldwide with a daily increase of 836,427.

The only larger daily increase of new cases has been on the 20th of December with 842,714.

Could we dare hope this would be the turning point, the worst day of new cases never to be repeated or taken over by a new horrid figure.

Can we hope?

There had been 1,923,799 deaths globally with a daily increase of 12,947.

In Australia there had been 28,582 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 909 deaths. The last death reported on the 29th of December.

In Canada there had been 644,348 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,214. There had been 16,707 deaths with a daily increase of 128.

The latest on COVID-19 developments in Canada on Jan. 6, 2021 | Kamloops  This Week

In the United Kingdom a country 66.65 million people they had reached over 3 million cases. There had been 3,017,413 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 59,937.

There had been 80,868 deaths with a daily increase of 1,035.

On the 13th of November the United Kingdom had reached a new record for new daily cases – 33,470.

The worst day in the day months of March and April had been 5,487 on the 24th of April.

On the 24th of September, 6,178 new daily cases had broken past that previous record.

The record continued to be broken but 22,961 on the 5th of October dwarfed all previous records. 

26,687 later that month on the twenty second beat that.

Then in the wake of Remembrance Day, 33,470 on the 13th of November.

With winter and new deadly strains the figures drastically changed, the risk ever greater in the country where I have loved ones.

As Christmas beckoned there were 35,383 new daily cases on the 15th of December.

The record was broken again on the 21st of December with 35,385 and again 23DEC2021 36,803 and again Christmas Eve 39,237.

On the 29th of December it was a new record of 41,385 new daily cases.

The 30th of December it was a new record of 53,135 new daily cases.

A new year and a new record with 55,892 new daily cases on the 1st of January, 2021.

London, England, lockdown

03JAN2021 – 57,724.

05JAN2021 – 58,784.

06JAN2021 – 60,916.

07JAN2021 – 62,322.

On the 9th of January, 2021 a new record of daily new cases in the United Kingdom was reached – 68,053. 

We can become numb to numbers but I can tell you with my sister half way around the world 68,053 new cases a day had our attention. We were worried.

In India there had been 10,450,284 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 36,867. There had been 150,999 deaths with a daily increase of 429.

In the United States of America there had been 21,761,186 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 313,516. There had been 365,886 deaths with a daily increase of 3,599.

On the 9th of January they had reported a daily increase in deaths of 4,176.

The only larger daily figures reported had been 5,000 deaths on the 3rd of May, 2020 and 6,409 deaths on the 17th of April.

Ballbag was impeached a second time.

My city was in lockdown but I felt very safe and lucky to live where I did.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BRISBANE GOES INTO THREE DAY LOCKDOWN

In pictures: Eerie pictures of Brisbane's empty streets | The Advertiser

January 8

Friday morning I drove into work.

It’s my first fix of news for the day often, sometimes my only until late in the evening.

There was mention of COVID of course but nothing related to my hometown.

I was interested in what was happening Sydney as a friend of mine was hoping to get married there on Valentines Day.

I parked my car, walked the twenty minutes or so up to our offices.

The whole way I walked without a mask.

No one wore masks in Queensland these days.

I walked through the door and plonked my bag on my desk and started work.

I overhead a conversation about a colleague leaving at 3:30pm maybe.

My supervisor came around and asked if I heard that?

It was 8:35am.

He told me we were going into lockdown at 6pm tonight. No one leaving their houses except for medical reasons essential work or food.

I told him there had been nothing on the radio.

I got on the internet, sure enough there was a post on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing the lockdown.

It was 23 minutes old.

The plan was to go ahead with the work day but if staff needed to plan around this development they could.

I called Karen to touch base about groceries. I couldn’t raise her.

I gave it a few minutes and went up to my supervisor and advised I’d like to use my lunch hour now to get some groceries sorted.

I wasn’t just thinking about the daily shop.

I was given permission, I took one of the masks my sister in law had made for me out of my bag and headed for Toowong village.

I texted Karen at 8:46am to call me.

I had no idea if she was out of the loop.

I went to the fruit shop. Already there were more people in the shop than usual. Not everybody knew. Somebody helpfully told a customer looking around perplexed that the lockdown had been announced and she thanked them.

I was not the only one wearing a mask, it seemed almost everyone had one, as if they had been waiting for the signal and now it had been sent.

I dashed over to the chemist and bought some medical masks thinking about people at work who may not have a mask with them and were catching public transport home. I needn’t have worried, it seemed much like myself, everybody had masks ready to put on.

I’d walked up in the early morning with no masks in sight and 30 minutes later stood in Coles surrounded by dozens of people wearing masks of one sort or another.

Many nearby residents stood in Coles having come to do their weekly shop surprised by the long lines and big crowds.

Despite this people seemed polite and helpful to each other, didn’t take too much of any one product and gave each other some space.

Why I was there?

I wanted to be prepared for worse case scenarios.

I wanted staples on hand if I had to isolate at home for several days.

I was planning for more than what had just been announced.

I got some tinned food, rice, soup, some fruit and not much else. I felt dialed down and calm, just thinking a little ahead and not being greedy or fearful.

Of course that may not be how other people see it and I can understand that too.

My actions were similar to many others across the city as supermarkets were swamped.

I admired the incredible effort of the supermarket staff as they managed this massive influx of people and the need to re-stock.

Didn’t they have people at home they were worried about?

Didn’t they need to buy after their shift was over?

Greater Brisbane enters three-day lockdown amid UK COVID-19 variant concern

It really was quite admirable.

Retail staff have really shouldered some huge burdens during this pandemic with little if any reward.

I had never been in a store so crowded even during Christmas when it is bedlam.

I followed a line that had started at the check-outs and was naturally snaking around in a circle out the front of the store before going down an aisle past the centre. It went all the way down that aisle not long after I joined it.

I was in that aisle for several minutes not knowing what awaited me when I got out of it. Then the line moved fast and split into two. Those going through the self check-outs and the rest of us going old school. I saw a line outside the store several metres long.

The store had reached capacity and was letting people in groups once enough had of us had left. If I had waited until lunch I may have been in such a line and while people weren’t hoarding it just seemed unlikely a lot would be left on the shelves of certain things people at such a time like milk or break or pasta or yes rice or toilet paper. Having never seen the store like this I took some pictures.

I was on my way back to work at 10am when I got in touch with Karen. She was locked out on our balcony with her phone running low. So I got leave to go drive home, open up the balcony door, and drive back to work.

I effectively started working at sometime after 11am but from then on I surprisingly had a productive day.

I was very grateful for the flexibility and support shown by leadership.

The lockdown was to last until 6pm Monday.

We would all be working from home on Monday but in my particular team we were set up do this. The volume of traffic may bring complications but we were prepared to work through the situation as best we could.

I wouldn’t say we were afraid of the potential break-out. We had been in lockdown before. We of course were worried about each other, and concerned with making arrangements but when the hammer falls you just tend to deal with things as they come and hope for the best.

So what prompted this lockdown?

Well on Thursday while the news was dominated by the attacks on the Capitol we were informed that Queensland’s 113 day streak of no new community transmissions was over. A hotel cleaner at the Grand Chancellor hotel where repatriated Australians were staying in hotel quarantine had contracted COVID.

Of particular concern was that she had been on public transport from the city to Altandi and probably come into contact with a number of people while unknowingly contagious.

So the next morning the Queensland Premier had decided to “Go hard and go early,”

The Greater Brisbane region of Brisbane, Logan Ipswich, Moreton Bay Region and Redlands Bay were part of the lockdown. The neighbouring Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast were not part of the lockdown prompting some Brisbane residents to head there before the 6pm lockdown came into place. I probably would have put them in lockdown given the distances involved and that many people commute from those areas into Brisbane.

“Think of it as a long weekend at home,” advised Premier Palaszczuk.

Funerals were limited to 20 people and weddings to ten.

Given the incubation period of two weeks for COVID, a three day lockdown seemed quite short.

The reasoning was it gave enough time for effective contract tracing to occur much like the reasoning behind the six day lockdown in South Australia back in November.

I felt without any expert knowledge that three days was too short.

“We need to act really fast, we need to find every single case now. Until we have found all those people, we can’t relax. We have to bring this in fast rather than be able to wait and see what the extent of the spread is. Because once its spread it will be too late to act,” advised Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young given that the cleaner had caught the UK strain which was 70 per cent more contagious.

It’ll be too late if on Monday I stand up here in front of you and say we’ve had 10 cases and they’ve been out infectious in the community infecting people,” she said.

Later that night in the wake of people hitting the shops the Premier was on the news advising people that people could still have take-away and that people could shop and that the shops would not run out.

Certain shelves were bare by Friday night but would get restocked quickly enough.

The situation prompted larger conversations about moving hotel quarantine out of major metropolitan cities which must have just delighted regional areas.

There were changes afoot with repatriation of Australians, they would cut returning numbers by 50% and increase testing requirements.

“All of the things we’ve done in the past, all of the controls we’ve talked about in terms of test, trace, isolate — all of those personal measures and even some other measures we have had to do in certain times will become less effective if this virus was to be established,” Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said.

This virus continues to write its own rules and that means that we must continue to be adaptable in how we continue to fight it,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told us.

Meanwhile in the United States of America in the wake of the attacks on the Capitol there was a lot of talk about what to do with the outgoing President. There is not a lot I will add here except to say that pretty everything I feared that would come to pass – did. This was the noise that followed in the wake of a significant and upsetting event. But noise that ultimately revealed just how little was going to change.

For months I had been watching what was happening in other countries and even in other states and feeling very fortunate. I felt even perversely guilty because we had not suffered like other parts of the world. We were not suffering  like that yet but we were now facing an increased risk, being called upon to live with restrictions and to act with some caution.

I hoped we would do the right thing.

For those overseas who had suffered so much it must have seen almost comical.

“I heard you’re in lockdown. What happened?”

“A hotel quarantine cleaner got it.”

But authorities were racing to stop something much larger happening. The cleaner from the 2nd of January until she had symptoms and got tested immediately had been in close contact with 70 other people.

Even more troubling was the fact that she had the UK strain.

Epidemiologist and University of Queensland Associate Professor Linda Selvey told the ABC, “If it wasn’t this new variant, there wouldn’t be this kind of response. There is quite a lot at stake and the idea is to stamp this out pretty quickly.

The concern is that there may well be a whole lot of cases. This lockdown provides some breathing space and an opportunity to learn whether there are other cases and what’s actually going on,” Selvey added.

If you did nothing, obviously it expands much more rapidly but it also means that if it got out, that the restrictions that you would need to put in place to get the R under one to control it would actually have to be more severe. It won’t necessarily be longer, but we may need harder restrictions, coming down faster for a wider area in order to get it under control,” explained Bond University Professor Paul Gasziou.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW

Viewpoint: What the Capitol riot means for US foreign policy - BBC News

January 7

On Thursday I was at work in Australia, I went home and watched nothing but news. What can I tell you that hasn’t already been said?

In the moment a few things came to my mind.

If you allow a leader to question the legitimacy of an election and the legitimacy of a government and its institutions then none of those things will be respected and they will be freely attacked.

When you have a President that holds nothing sacred then nothing will be.

I can’t pretend I knew this would happen. I watched experts ponder what would come of the instability that Ballbag was formenting. I said to a work colleague at the time of the election that secret service agents for both President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris and Ballbag’s had a tough few months ahead of them.

But I didn’t see this coming….

And yet in the moment it happened I thought sadly…I believe…-“Well of course this is what happened.”

How the Attack on the Capitol Happened, From Planning to Siege to Arrests |  GQ

I’ve thought about it in the days since.

There was anger and dismay but almost immediately news from the usual players told us Antifa was there, this was a small part of the crowd that marched on Washington, they brought the Confederate flag into the Rotunda and yet some helpful people wanted us to these weren’t even White Supremacists which to be fair that flag is not always carried by only white supremacists but you get the point.

Speaking of flags, the rioters took down the American flag and replaced it Trump/Pence flags.

They yelled we’re American but is that really what a true American does?

In the wake of January 6, we were also told that Ballbag was no longer a threat, that the numbers wouldn’t get up for an impeachment and that now was the time for the country to heal.

I’ve often wondered about 74 million Americans who voted for a man I hate so much.

I just can’t believe they’re all ignorant or full of hate.

Maybe I’m ignorant.

You could imagine some of the people there on the day feeling empowered. They were the people and maybe in their eyes they had come and fought for democracy.

The people who took back the people’s house.

The disenfranchised coming to the elites inner sanctuary and issuing a warning.

US: Impeachment Not Enough | Human Rights Watch

A woman who served in Afghanistan was killed on January 6.

She was one of the rioters.

I think anybody who reads this blog knows of my respect for those who have served. I know that not all those who served are good people worthy of our respect and love. But many are. You could certainly make the argument that this veteran who was killed assaulting her nations capital was a patriot at some point in her life. 

If not all of it.

So I think its worth remembering a couple of things.

There was an election.

Ballbag lost it.

The votes weren’t there for him. The kind of rigged result he espouses by all accounts has received no evidence and would be so large that it would be highly unlikely nothing turned up from it.

I’ve worked in elections, through his actions, supporters showed up in states protesting to continue the count and in others to stop the count based on trends. That is clearly them pushing an agenda. It created security concerns and stress for non-partisan vote counters just doing their jobs.

Next time he talks about stealing an election. Remember it was him calling state officials to “find” the votes needed and pressuring them to overturn results.

I could go on but you know what happened.

On January 6, he stood in front of a crowd and talked about Vice President Mike Pence needing to defy the constitution and overturn the election results of over 150 million Americans because of his own wishes and encouraged a mob to march on the capital and not let them steal the election.

Of course Ballbag was never going to march with them and of course he didn’t.

But the damage was done.

After weeks of refusing a peaceful transition, of insisting he won, of saying the election was stolen and they would fight on.

Trump’s mob let loose.

You ever been intimidated at work, had somebody step into your space and endanger you and people you care about.

Imagine for a second you huddled under those desks or chairs.

The following timings are referrenced from the excellent video from The Washington Post.

At 2:12pm the rioters entered the Capital building.

Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman all by himself faces off against a group of rioters. He runs up two flights of stairs, is positioned outside the entrance to where Mike Pence’s office is and where the Vice President is inside with his family.

The police officer shoves a rioter to make himself a target and calmly moves away up the hall leading the mob away from the sheltering family and towards more police.

His quick thinking and actions avert what would surely have been a disaster.

Police Officer Eugene Goodman is an American hero.

Meet Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, captured in viral video facing  down mob - The Washington Post

2:15pm the Senate Chamber is locked.

Senator Tina Smith from Minnesota in the moment recalled her husband advising her to be careful the day before. He was worried. She assurred him the Capitol building has to be one of the safest places in the country.

But like the purpose of a terrorist attack the events of the day would undermine such notions for the future.

At 2:16pm the House of Representatives is still working but over the police radios it is announced, “The Capitol Has Been Breached.”

THE CAPITOL HAS BEEN BREACHED.

House Majority Leader is evacuated, the house goes into recess, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already been evacuated.

At 2:25pm the Crypt and the main entrance of the Rotunda are overtaken by rioters against hopelesssly outnumber police.

Inexplicably session has resumed at 2:26 in the house as Congressman inside can hear the rioters.

In Nancy Pelosi’s office, her staff hide under a conference table as rioters take over.

At 2:30 the Senate is evacuated, Senators pass within feet of the rioters protected by a few police, a few of them carrying the election results.

That’s how close it was!

Twenty-two minutes after rioters have entered the call out for reinforcements is made.

Please be advised all the U.S. Capitol. All sworn and military officers to come due to a breach of the Capitol.

Will Jawando on Twitter: "I get more emotional as today's violence sets in.  Growing up as a staffer on #CapitolHill, we were taught to revere the House  & Senate floor. When we

The House Chamber is barricaded and plain clothes police officers draw their firearms. Congressmen and women inside can hear the rioters banging on the doors as their evacuation begins at 2:41pm.

Representative Daniel Kildee from Michigan calls his wife while still in the House Chamber.

“As soon as I hear her voice, I realise oh man you know am I having that call? When the plane’s going down or the building’s on fire, is this that call?” he ponders.

At 2:44pm rioters have entered the Senate chamber.

Over near the House Gallery, rioter Ashli Babbitt is shot climbing throwing a smashed window in a door.

The war veteran later dies of her wounds.

At 2:49pm the House Gallery is evacuated, representatives walk past insurrectionists lying on the floor surrounded by police.

Think these people were for the most part well behaved revolutionaries?

Put their feet up on desk, the common man in a seat of power.

That’s all!

No that’s not all!

They charged down police they outnumbered, smashed windows and furniture, smeared shit on the wall and called out threatening catcalls to individuals they targeted their hate towards.

They weren’t revolutionaries, they were thugs.

They left peacefully?

No they left with everyone from the houses evacuated knowing reinforcements were coming and swiping stuff on their way out.

President-elect Joe Biden went on national television at 4:06pm calling out the rioters and calling on Ballbag to act.

Let me be very clear – the scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America, do not represent who we are. What we are seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It’s disorder, it’s chaos. It borders on sedition and it must end now. I call on this mob to pull back and to allow the work of democracy to move forward.” President-Elect Joe Biden said.

At their best the words of a President can inspire. At their worst they can incite. Therefore I call on President Trump to go on national television now. To fulfill his oath and to defend the constitution and to demand an end to this siege.

More than two hours after rioters attacked the Capitol, Ballbag posted a video to call on the rioters to go home. Channel Nine in Australia reported Vice President Mike Pence ordered the clearing of the nation’s capital by police that night.

No one who disagrees will be convinced by my post but consider this, the disgraced Nixon resigned, LBJ wouldn’t even run after the Tet Offensive.

Trump though…

Nixon was a great a foreign policy President and Vice President. A Quaker he may very well have had a come to Jesus moment when his corruption was laid bare.

Maybe he just was savvy enough to begin a long rehabilitation campaign there and then for his legacy as his political career ended.

Maybe he was a very bad man through and through.

The thing is, the country had caught him lying and they would not let him get away with it.

Nixon's resignation, 40 years later

The Republican party would not let him get away with it.

How far we have fallen.

That we could not even find common ground here, that Republicans have simply given their party over to Trump.

This is not a problem only faced in America.

Here in Australia the Senate has become more and more full of minority fringe dwellers who reflect troubling beliefs in pockets of the populace.

But it was in America on January 6 that flames were lit up around the seat of power in the country by nothing more than thugs.

The sooner the majority of Americans can agree on that, the sooner better days ahead will come for us all

The momentary anger at Ballbag in this moment made me angry, the symbolism of the attack on the Capitol was horrible as were the four deaths.

But four deaths pale in comparison to 400,000 dead and I will always hold Ballbag accountable for those deaths.

Not for COVID-19, not for the inevitable deaths that would follow but his failure of leadership in combating the pandemic, in trying to communicate effectively with people, putting in place restrictions and closures, measures that proved successful in other countries that he failed to even try to implement.

Strong leader my arse!

I won’t pretend to know American constitutional law.

But this happened because Trump incited it.

Impeachment?

Should never have even been on the table.

Trump should have been taken out of the equation long before that.

On the 6th of January, the World Health Organisation reported in the United States of America there had been 20,643,544 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 173,375. There had been American 350,753 deaths with a daily increase of 1,791.

At 8:06pm the same day the Senate confirmed Joe Biden as the President-Elect.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE FOURTH QUARTER: NEW YEAR – SAME PANDEMIC

Image result for broken hill

January 1

Well we all know the story now. Everybody posted on social media that 2020 could go to hell and that 2021 couldn’t happen soon enough.

That somehow dates on a calendar would change everything like magic.

I’ll admit, I thought what a bunch of idiots but honestly who could not begrudge people this hope.

It is human nature to take stock of passing time and to look to the future with hopefulness but I found it annoying because life gets better by making individual efforts to make it better.

In Australia we really did seem like the lucky country. Sure the Avalon cluster had spoiled some of our Christmas fun but looking abroad made us recognise how much we had to be grateful for. My sister was in the UK where there were daily increase of cases that were the sum total of all recorded Australian cases.

People were suffering worldwide and I’d sat in a hotel lobby on New Years Eve and had cocktails and seen friends.

After years of being on contracts, I had a job as many people’s financial situation fell out from underneath them, after years of watching others go overseas I finally took a holiday locally and drove out to nearby country towns.

I felt uneasy…when was the other shoe going to drop?

Having experienced hardship in my own past and been saved by others,  I now looked for ways to help not just worry.

But its true that I mostly felt grateful for what I was lucky enough to have in my life, my work, my friends and family and time to be with them.

I think most people felt a sense of hopefulness in the New Year. By the end of the first week we would have painful reminders that a lot can happen in a day dramatically.

January 04

Last year around about the time COVID-19 took off across the world there was a resurgence of interest in Steven Soderberg’s 2011 film Contagion. I even had friends talk about it and I watched an excellent video from the Youtube group The Take.

But alas in our age of disparate audience groups, I have Stan and Netflix but neither had Contagion so that was that. In the new year of 2021 with a year of the pandemic having played out in real life Contagion hit even harder.

In March 2020, the opening of the 2011 film spoke to the fear and anxiety as the virus hit the West and quickly spread. Watching people touch surfaces and their fellow human beings while sick and not knowing gets the blood pumping now like a horror film.

Watching it in January 2021 it hits even harder.

If you have not seen it, then I suggest you do but I would not judge you if watching it is just too hard at this time.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

In 2011 I suspect if I had seen the film, I would have thought it was pretty solid and low key. That is Soderberg for you. I recently started watching Logan Lucky and just never went back to it. But I am a fan of Traffic and Erin Brockovich. The guy runs the gamut.

He pulled together an all star cast, Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Jennifer Ehle and Elliot Gould.

Matt Damon in particular shows a knack for playing an everyman in stark contrast to the capable Jason Bourne he made famous or the wise cracking Will from his break-out film Good Will Hunting. Kate Winslet plays the heroic capable figure we need in such a story but even that gets subverted.

Commentary around the film picks up on two running themes in the film, yes there is the pandemic of the virus but also a parrallel pandemic of misinformation. Government of the most part is capable and partisan but there are local figures early on that question if it is a just scare that will pass like SARS, the backlash from the public if they’re seen to overreact and budgetary haggling.

In our own world the misinformation from Fox News from March that this kills just as many as the flu, the anti-vaxxers, the protesters, the riots, the anti-malarial drug that Trump championed, all have eerie parrallels.

The virus in the film spreads faster and kills more than COVID-19. Martial law is declared at one point and there is a run on in food and isolated towns rife with looting. Garbage remains uncollected on the streets.

I guess we can be grateful COVID-19 was not as deadly as what is depicted here.

But panic buying in the shops, border closures and one shot that took my breath away of mass graves are all here.

Coronavirus makes 'Contagion' movie hot rental on Amazon Prime, iTunes

An image from the film Contagion used to show COVID-19 victims |  Fact-checked | COVID-19 Facts

The virus itself starts in Hong Kong with a bat.

A vaccinne takes a year and a while to roll out to everyone, creating anxiety. The film does not show a concern to get everybody vaccinated before too many mutant strains make it no longer effective. Maybe we’ll be that lucky too.

How did in 2011 did they release a film that got this all so eerily right?

Well for starters this had already happened with SARS and MERS and secondly the filmmakers went to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation and asked them what is likely to happen.

What I observed in the early days of COVID-19 is how we all react differently in telling ways.

There are those of us who watched the news religiously, those who did not, those of us who took our kids out of school, those of who still went into work when we believed we should be in lockdown.

Those of who looked to our institutions for leadership, those of us who questioned every decision and every piece of information that was parceled out.

Those of us who grew fatalistic and decided we had to live our lives, those of us who constantly thought of our health care workers and elderly, those of us who lamented our freedoms, those of us who wondered how we could benefit from the stocks changing and those of us who looked for ways to donate more to charities and get involved in volunteer work.

Contagion may not go into such specifics but constantly throughout there is a theme of people making moral choices with good or selfish intentions and good or bad results that come from that. The film I believe is simply observing the human factor of why people make the decisions they make. With no

judgement just the randomness of that and how small decisions can have major consequences.

I believe ultimately the film is optimistic about the human race.

I like to think I am too.

Cars line up at a COVID-19 testing clinic

January 05

An 18 year old Sydneysider had contracted COVID from the Berala cluster and then travelled through regional New South Wales while infectious. This prompted contract tracing to occur in Orange (250kms away from Sydney), Nyngan (550kms away from Sydney) and Broken Hill (1,140kms away from Sydney) with people who had been in certain locations at certain times to get tested and self isolate for 14 days even if their result comes back negative.

[He] woke up, had a little bit of a runny nose just yesterday. And went out and got a test and did the right thing. Can I thank this individual,” New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant praised the 18 year old for getting tested with the mildest of symptoms.

Good stuff!

On the fifth of January, World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 28,504 confirmed cases of COVID with a daily increase of 21. There had been 909 deaths.

Image result for uk school shut down covid

In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland schools were being shut down…thank fuck!

I understand this was not great news for many families, that it would present a range of challenges for educators and their students, but if it saved one life I was all for it and there was no doubt in my mind that it would save thousands.

Following a return to school on the 4th of January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new lockdown shutting down schools from Tuesday the 5th of January until at least the February half-term.

Similar to moves to remote learning here in Australia, schools remained open to take students of key workers and vulnerable youths.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were already ahead of BJ with those countries have been doing remote learning for students already and extending them in light of the predicament they found themselves in.

On the 5th of January, the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there had been 2,713,567 confirmed cases of COVID with a daily increase of 58,784. There had been 75,431 deaths with a daily increase of 407.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – AULD LANG SYNE

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                                                                  Copyright Lloyd Marken.

December 31

In the days after Christmas I returned to work in what was a very busy period.

I did see my friend from Sydney though who felt odd being in Brisbane where no one wore masks and were closely packed in restaurants. Afterward dinner we hung out at the Hilton Hotel lobby where we discovered cocktails called…i can’t remember what they were called but they were creamy with ginger and delicious.

I went to see Wonder Woman 1984 in Gold Class on the 29th of December after work. It was the fourth time I had gone to a cinema since March, 2020 and the first time I was paying for a ticket rather than doing it as part of my work as a freelance writer.

On New Year’s Eve we were back at the Hilton Hotel lobby enjoying a catch-up with a few friends.

We enjoyed the creamy ginger cocktails again and some Bryon Bay Pizza company pizzas. Some of us had the Hawaiian with ham and………….pineapples! Hahaha.

I decided rather than have a Scotch on the rocks I would like to have a Scotch based cocktail but being a sweet tooth raised concerns about what be a good fit. I googled the popular ones and talked it over with the bartender who suggested Blood and Sand and it was a bloody triumph.

Topic turned to a hopefulness for 2021 but I was afraid that the virus does not take note of calendars.

I did hope 2021 would see less death from COVID-19, that more people would have jobs, that the vaccine would bring real change and make a difference.

We all hoped.

2020 had been a rough year for many, I prayed 2021 would be less eventful.

Certainly the first week of 2021 had its own ideas.

Global end of year

On the 31st of December the World Health Organisation reported there had been 82,401,956 cases around the world with a daily increase of 716,411.

There had been 1,801,312 deaths globally with a daily increase of 14,230.

In New Zealand there had been 1,806 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 25 New Zealand deaths.

Australia end of year

In Australia there had been 28,381 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 31. There had been 909 deaths with the last daily increase two days earlier of one.

In the Republic of Ireland there had been 90,157 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,718. The had been 2,226 deaths with a daily increase of 13.

Canada end of year

In Canada there had been 565,506 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,442. There had been 15,378 deaths with a daily increase of 156.

On the 4th of May Canada has seen its largest daily increase of cases ever with 3,793. 

A new record for new daily cases was set on the 15th of October, 2020 with 4,042.

Two weeks later 28OCT2020 a new record with 4,109 new daily cases.

The 5th of November a record of daily cases with 4,672.

Nine days later 14NOV2020 a new record again at 5,516.

18NOV2020 four days later, 6,115 makes a new record.

A week later on the 25th November an even higher number with 7,052 new daily cases.

On the 2nd of December, 7,861 new cases and a new record.

A week later on the 9th of December, 7,872 new daily cases.

That record is broken 16DEC2020 with 8,119 new cases that day.

On the 28th of December the highest number of new daily cases reported so far in Canada is made – 9,827.

Top 6 end of year

6-12 end of year

In Mexico there had been 1,401,529 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,099. There had been 123,845 with a daily increase of 990.

In Argentina there had been 1,602,163 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,650. There had been 43,018 deaths with a daily increase of 150.

In Colombia there had been 1,614,822 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,015. There had been 42,620 deaths with a daily increase of 246.

Image result for colombia covid

In Germany there had been 1,719,737 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 32,552. There had been 33,071 deaths with a daily increase of 964.

In Spain there had been 1,995,444 with a daily increase of 19,560. There had been 51,804 deaths with a daily increase of 127.

The next day Spain would cross two million cases with a total of 2,016,292. 

In Italy there had been 2,083,689 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,202. There had been 73,604 deaths with a daily increase of 575.

UK end of year

In the United Kingdom there had been 2,432,892 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 50,023. There had been 72,548 deaths with a daily increase of 981.

In France there had been 2,556,708 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 26,308. There had been 64,004 deaths with a daily increase of 303.

In Russia there had been 3,159,297 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 27,747. There had been 57,019 deaths with a daily increase of 593.

In Brazil there had been 7,563,551 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 58,718. There had been 192,681 deaths with a daily increase of 1,111.

India end of year

In India there had been 10,266,674 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 21,822. There had been 148,738 with a daily increase of 299.

US end of year

In the United States of America there had been 19,346,790 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 199,163. There had been 335,789 deaths with a daily increase of 3,366.

We were now entering the fourth quarter of this thing. Annual anniversaries would start being noted.

-Lloyd Marken

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

Chorus:

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

COVID-19 DIARY – THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

December 25

So I had a very nice Christmas.

Not everybody did.

A lot of people spent Christmas with a loved one missing for the first time.

Some couldn’t see the people they care about. Some had to skype, some people don’t have skype.

They don’t have a lot of things and its hard to see if are things are going to get better if you can’t find work, can’t do work and your health is failing.

That was Christmas in 2020 for a lot of people and, not that it’s worth anything but, I couldn’t write anything further until I acknowledged that.

Because I did have a nice Christmas.

Yes I was worried about family in the UK and yes I am still worried. We did skype them.

But I did see the rest of my immediate family, I did see my in-laws, we did have a nice time, with pleasant conversation, good food and presents were exchanged.

It was a great Christmas but something struck me even here in Australia where we have proven to be the ‘lucky country’.

It seemed when discussing Christmas Day there was not much talk about going away, big plans, massive catering, it seemed that everybody was focused on just getting the people they loved in the house as best they could even if it had to be by digital means.

They just wanted to be with each other.