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

20210215_115202

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

20210214_191802

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

20201231_173000
                                                                  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.

At work I was involved in trying to spread Christmas cheer, and it grew from there. Secret Santa gifts put a smile on people’s faces, photos of Christmas trees with treasured decorations and cherubs putting them up were shared, there were winners of silly sock-off competitions and money was raised for various charities.

Paper Christmas hats were made and face masks decorated to wear at team meetings that sported new versions of traditional carols and T’Was The Night Before Christmas and raised spirits.

And God bless her! One member of the IT staff became the GOAT at doing Christmas when she won the first round of the silly sock-off, retired from the sport with an on point resignation press release, had one of the best Christmas trees, sported some reindeer antlers and I kid you not arranged a Frosty snowman hunt in the office.

If you found a photo of a Frosty snowman you got to exchange it for the most exquisite treat.

It seemed the importance of spreading some cheer and supporting others was alive and well this most recent Christmas and I just hope we take something from that.

I belatedly wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – AV-A-LON-ELY CHRISTMAS – PART II

Image result for sydney christmas covid 19 December 22 While state border closures affected many Christmas plans, the majority of the Northern Beaches and Greater Sydney were more interested on what their fates would be in their own home town. Given the case numbers I would have probably gone with a wider lockdown. Look in the video below at the two minute mark where they note where all the venues contract tracing had covered. Testing was through the roof. 44,000 Sydneysiders got tested in 24 hours alone. Well done Sydney! Image result for sydney christmas covid 19

As I’ve said previously, we’ll be looking to make a decision tomorrow based on what we know and understand during the day,” confirmed Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

We’d consider mental health issues, we need to consider what people are going through as part of that decision as well as what it means for 8 million citizens across the state. If it wasn’t this time of the year, the decision would be much easier,” she said.

The UK strain was certainly making the news here and I worried about family and friends in Great Britain. They were facing a very different Christmas and given the rising numbers you couldn’t help but worry. You just couldn’t. Contract tracing revealed confirmed cases had travelled as far as 250 kilometres away in the town of Orange which could see the spread of cases further across the state.
December 23 Wednesday. With eight new confirmed cases in the region and now 97 linked to Avalon cluster. The day had come when Sydney learned how it would spend Christmas. For the 250,000 residents of the northern beaches who had been in lockdown since Saturday they were advised restrictions were going to be split into the north and south of the region itself. For those north of the Narrabeen Bridge you were still in lockdown. Image result for sydney christmas covid 19

You can’t accept anybody [from] outside your community and I apologise for that but we have to maintain a lockdown in that area — with one exception. On the 24th, 25th and 26th, you’re allowed to have five people into your home, but they must be people from within that region. If, you know, you have a neighbour and all their relatives live outside that area, please consider being a good neighbour and perhaps spending that time with them,” advised Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Those in the southern area of the northern beaches would be able to have over 10 people but could not leave the area either.

We don’t want people from the [southern part of the] northern beaches mingling in other parts of Sydney at this stage, but you can welcome people in,” Berejiklian explained.

Everything would be looked at again on the 27th of December, the day after Boxing Day. Residents of Greater Sydney could have 10 adults and an unlimited amount of children over Christmas. On December 24th, Christmas Eve, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 78,442,765 confirmed cases of COVID with a daily increase of 674,228 across the world. There had been 1,727,847 deaths globally with a daily increase of 13,310. In Australia there had been 28,238 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 908 deaths. In Canada there had been 521,509 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,195. The second largest country in the world had reached over half a million confirmed cases just three days earlier with 501,594 on the 21st of December. On December 24th there had been 14,425 Canadian deaths with a daily increase of 93. In the United Kingdom there had been 2,149,555 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 39,237. There had been 69,051 deaths with a daily increase of 744. In India there had been 10,123,778 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 24,712. There had been 146,756 deaths with a daily increase of 312. In the United States of America there had been 18,090,260 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 195,151. There had been 320,180 with a daily increase of 3,148. -Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XIII

Image result for qld nsw hard border closure 21dec2020

December 21

On 25MAR2020 Queensland had closed its borders.

On 10JUL2020 borders had opened with New South Wales.

08AUG2020 following a break-out the borders In were closed again.

03NOV2020 the border between QLD and NSW opened with the exception of the greater Sydney area.

01DEC2020 they were welcome too.

Now 21DEC2020 thirty-five New South Wales Local Government Areas centred around Sydney but going as far as Katoomba and Woollongong were on the list. If you came to Queensland through or from those 35 LGAs then you had quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at your own expense.

The next morning on the 22nd of December at 6am, the hard border went back up between New South Wales and Queensland.

Police checking a line of cars

That morning Assistant Police Commissioner Shane Chelepy told ABC Radio Brisbane, “We’ve had to turn around 115 cars yesterday and at the airports in the last 24 hours, we’ve denied another 38 people we’ve had to turn away on alternate flights. There are a number of people travelling through we still need to turn around.

With over 70 points of entry along the border with 17 alone on the Gold Coast there were timely reminders why such measures were put in place.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski advised that officers conduction random check on Monday the 21st had turned around 81 travellers trying to cross over in breach of the rules.

I have no doubt that a number of those people were deliberately trying to get into the state — they did not have passes … or they had the incorrect pass. We’ve tried to do a system where it relies on the integrity and honesty of the community coming in, and some people are not doing the right thing. We can’t give the community confidence that we are picking everyone up as they come across the border, hence the need to move to a hard-border closure,” Gollschewski said.

On Monday 658 vehicles came through Goondiwindi with 40 people sent to home quarantine.

Speaking of home quarantine, four people had been caught breaching the rules of that and been placed in government hotel facilities and fined $1,330 each. Home quarantine was for people who had visited a hotspot recently but had returned home to Queensland before the new restrictions.

Other states had already closed.

Western Australia from midnight Saturday night 19DEC2020 had closed its hard border with all of New South Wales.

I know these changes are going to be hard to take for many people. I know it will throw Christmas and reunion plans into disarray if it hasn’t already. These are now extraordinary circumstances. I wish I didn’t have to be making this announcement but as Premier I have a responsibility for every Western Australian and I need to do what is right to keep our state safe and strong,” the WA Premier Mark McGown had said.

We hope it’s only for a short period and we can reassess our border controls when the health advice says it’s ok to do so.

Image result for albury wondonga border december 2020

Victoria had already closed to Sydney and the Central Coast on Sunday announcing any Victorians returning from Sydney could self isolate for 14 days but from midnight from Monday night people had to go into hotel quarantine. Everybody else coming from Sydney had to go into hotel quarantine from Sunday.

Everybody coming into Victoria from New South Wales had to go into quarantine.

On Sunday Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton had advised, “These are proportionate measures, because what we see today in Sydney is not what the situation will be like a week from now. We do have to hang onto this precious COVID-free situation in Victoria. And even though we haven’t got community transmission, we have flagged now, Victoria really is or should be on high alert.

Thirteen vehicle checkpoints were put in place on the New South Wales and Victoria border. Albury/Wodonga residents were likely in for a fun time again.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had been clear too that the measures made in Victoria regarding the Sydney cluster would not be reviewed at the same time that New South Wales Premier would consider changing the restrictions in her capital city on Wednesday.

“These arrangements will not be lifted on midnight Wednesday night. They will apply for as long as they need to,” he said.

Image result for south australia nsw covid border

South Australia had also set up border checkpoints from Sunday and anybody coming from Greater Sydney they could not enter the state. Those who had come back since December 10 had to self quarantine.

There’s always a risk when you have this nasty virus in your state, but I truly believe that we have gone above and beyond to make this as safe as possible for South Australia because I can tell you, I personally do not want to go through another Parafield cluster,” South Australia Chief Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said.

South Australia moved to a hard border closure with New South Wales from New Years Day.

The Australian Capital Territory had also made a decision on Sunday.

Anybody travelling to Canberra from one of the affected areas will have to fill out a form declaring they are entering the ACT.

They will then be required to privately quarantine, not leaving their home for any reason for 14 days.

In Sydney itself New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard was not happy. You could use QR codes at venues to register your details and attendance on your mobile phone. But there were also old fashioned clipboards and sheets to sign in on. But a change was in the wind and in a few days I would find myself having to master using my phone to log in using QR codes up in Brisbane.

Why?

What we are finding is that some of the visitors to various venues still think that it is funny to be caught putting in there that you’re Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse or a false phone number. That must stop. This is a worldwide COVID pandemic and thinking it’s smart to call yourself Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse is about as stupid as it gets. So that must cease,” I wholeheartedly agree but had to admit that when dear Mr Hazzard said so in the news it did make me snigger.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – LAST CHRISTMAS THE UK GAVE ITS HEART

Christmas lockdown: What can the UK learn from China? - CGTN

 

December 21

In the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson put London and the south-east of England into Tier-4 lockdown. The new UK strain of COVID was skyrocketing case numbers had forced his hand. For some it was too little, too late. For others it was a maddening last minute cancellation of Christmas. I think where my stance was.

Tier 4 was stay at home except for work or education.

You could meet up with one friend in public unless you live with them. 

If you were outside a Tier 4 area the advice was don’t travel to one.

This caused a mad rush at the train station to leave London before the restrictions came into place.

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty speaking at Downing Street advised that yes the mutation made the virus a lot more contagious but in terms of symptoms and treatment the preliminary findings were promising including whether it was resistant to the vaccine. 

I think this is a situation which is going to make things a lot worse, but there are some really optimistic things if you look once we get the vaccine out, assuming the vaccine works against this, which at the moment is the working assumption,” he said.

Terrific.

 
UK Coronavirus LIVE: Crisis Cobra talks as fears over Covid variant closes  borders, causes travel chaos and risks food shortages - News Press Live
 

Many countries banned UK residents from travelling to them, such as Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland and Italy.

France did so too setting it for 48 hours causing lorries loaded with freight to be backed up in the port of Dover.

 

 
From Boxing Day Scotland was headed for Tier 4 restrictions too.
 
No going to another household. Six adults and children under 12 from two households could meet in public. Providing care was an exception. Singles from a household of their own could be considered part of another household. The government didn’t want people lonely at Christmas.
 
Restaurants, cafes, and pubs were closed. Take-away venues needed to operate with face coverings and social distancing. Accommodation venues were only for essential workers. Room service in hotels was allowed. 
 
Supermarkets were open, non essential retail was not. That included hairdressers, barbers, massage therapists, tattoo and piercing places and indoor photography.

Cinemas and gyms were closed but outdoor non-contact sports were permitted. 

 

 

Churches a maximum of 20 people, weddings the same but no reception. Funerals 20 guests too. 

Schools, universities and childcare were still open.

Public libraries were not but you could order and collect books.

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/entertainment/janey-godleys-latest-nicola-sturgeon-23202150

The day before the island nation had breached two million COVID cases with 2,004,223. 

On the 21st of December the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there had been 2,040,151 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 35,928. 

There had been 67,401 deaths with a daily increase of 326.

From my limited Australian perspective lockdowns are a tool and one that has not been brought to bear soon enough in the UK.

I hoped the hardship for the the British people during this Christmas period would save lives.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – AV-A-LON-ELY CHRISTMAS – PART I

Covid restrictions tightened across Sydney as northern beaches cluster  grows to 68 | Coronavirus | The Guardian

December 20

New South Premier Gladys Berejiklian put in place restrictions for the Greater Sydney area in the wake of locking down the Northern Beaches where there were now 68 cases linked to that cluster with 30 new inflections overnight.

The new restrictions for Sydney, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains were to start at midnight and run until midnight Wednesday.

They included only having 10 visitors around to your place.

The Premier advised this was, “a precaution, because we know that indoor settings and small areas are actually exacerbating the spread.

Hospitality venues and churches could not have more than 300 people and dancing was out.

Although a bridal part as large as 20 people could dance at weddings.

People in the larger area were urged to stay home as much as possible and to also not to visit aged care facilities unless needed.

The Blue Mountains, NSW – Find Accommodation, Restaurants & Walks

Residents of the Northern Beaches were already living under stricter restrictions since 5pm Saturday due to run until midnight Wednesday.

You could only leave your home there for essential shopping, exercise, medical needs, providing care, getting to childcare or compassionate reasons.

People could only enter the Northern Beaches for the same reasons.

Public gatherings of more than two people were out unless it was say for work or with your own family.

Breaking the rules could see you face up to a maximum penalty of $11,000 and police could issue on spot fines of $1,000.

With the exception of takeaway, hospitality, gyms and take-aways were shut down.

Anybody who had left the area before the 10th of December still needed to comply with same restrictions where they currently were.

Sydney Northern Beaches lockdown: the four reasons residents will be  allowed to leave home

While masks were not mandatory the government advised people to wear them in public indoor spaces like shops and at work and on public transport.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard advised, “It may well be wise to wear those masks going through Christmas, New Year in the Greater Sydney area.

It appeared Premier Berejiklian was hedging her bets, giving herself until the last minute to completely cancel Christmas or to grant a reprieve if the numbers didn’t rise.

She ran the risk of snookering herself though, if the numbers present and the medical advice is to retain or increase restrictions it would be a tough sell. If the measures were effective but there was a stalemate she was leaving it until the last minute to give the bad news. For some pundits her compromised approach probably meant she’d made the right call, for others it might she’d failed to commit.

Time would tell.

In full candour I looked at all the listed places where contract tracing was occurring and just thought it’s out there, they need to lock it down.

But it wasn’t my Christmas being ruined was it.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant warned, “If we end up seeing greater seeding events outside the Northern Beaches, that would be of concern. If we see an increase in unlinked cases and, particularly, a spread outside the Northern Beaches, that is of concern to me.

On the 20th of December the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 28,128 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 34.

There had been 908 deaths.

P.S. I wrote up a draft of this post but the whole thing got lost so I had to do another draft.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XII

A pop-up testing clinic in Avalon on Sydney's northern beaches.

December 18

Friday.

There was the growing Avalon Cluster in Sydney’s Northern Beaches which now stood at 28 confirmed cases.

One close contact was self isolating at home as far away as the Central Coast awaiting test results.

I stress to everybody in and around Avalon and the Northern Beaches that for the next three days you shouldn’t leave your home unless absolutely necessary,” New South Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

If we get on top of this in the next two or three days, all of us will be able to have a better Christmas. If we don’t get on top of it, it could mean further restrictions down the track.

Nobody should be getting on public transport without wearing a mask, nobody in Greater Sydney should be going to a supermarket or a place of worship without wearing a mask. It would just be crazy.” she also advised.

 

Sydney COVID northern beaches cluster grows by 15 all linked to Avalon

 

Premier Berejiklian also announced there would be new rules for international airline crew from next tuesday. Instead of self-isolating at home they would not stay in two police operated hotels. Lack of compliance had led to the change, at least one airline worker had gone out breaching quarantine.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said 2,000 to 3,000 airline crew arrived in the state alone each week.

In Queensland there were only eleven active cases in the state as 3,274 tests were carried out in a 24 hour period.

With Sydney’s Northern Beaches declared a COVID-19 hotspot, anyone who had entered Queensland since the 11th of December must get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.

That was the idea anyway.

 

 

It seemed a lot of people were changing plans to get into the state before 1am on Saturday and I don’t think it was to self-isolate.

I guess this raises all kinds of questions about the effectiveness and the side effects of such actions particularly at Christmas time when so many families were attempting to reunite.

I guess my default is always to play it safe, I had a friend coming up from Sydney who was not from the northern beaches but none the less changed her flights and came up a little earlier as she saw what was developing on the news that week.

And I caught up with her over the Christmas period.

 

WA border with NSW to remain open for now after Sydney coronavirus  outbreak, Premier says - ABC News

 

Western Austalia had just opened back up to the rest of the country.

Premier Mark McGowan warned, “This may well mean that the hard border with New South Wales needs to return in the near future. I will not hesitate to do that, if that is what the health advice recommends. Can I ask all West Australians to avoid travelling to New South Wales. If you can avoid travelling, please do.

New rules had been implemented Thursday.

Anybody who had arrived between 11DEC2020 and 17DEC2020 were told to get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate until they get a negative result. Like I had earlier in the week in Queensland. They would not be required to self for 14 days it was decided for the time being.

The Western Australian President of the Australian Medical Association Andrew Miller backed the government’s play.

It is appropriate to respond rapidly and restrict travel. It will be very difficult for some people and our hearts go out to them … but if they manage to spare Australia from lockdowns and disease, they will be the true heroes,” Mr Miller said.

Since the 11th of December over 5,000 people had arrived from New South Wales. On Thursday, 2,000 of them rocked up to get tested at the COVID Fever Clinics forming long queues. Some didn’t get tested before closing time.

 

Long queues form outside WA COVID-19 clinics for virus testing | The West  Australian

 

Perth business owner Scott O’Keeffe who went to get tested told ABC News, “[There were] hundreds of people that were here yesterday. We all did immediately what we were told to do, but then the Government wasn’t prepared because they couldn’t test all the people that were here. You’d think they’d get extra staff in and say, ‘We’re sending out these emergency texts to all of these people to come for testing, maybe we better prepare’. You can’t tell people to come here and they can’t get tested and you send them away. I understand what [we’ve] got to do and it’s important, but they’ve dropped the ball on this one. There was nobody informing anyone [in the queue] … they just let everyone wait. No communication, just bad organisation.

Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup didn’t miss the opportunity to comment.

We now know Western Australia clearly is not prepared to deal with a surge in testing that is required when there is a possible outbreak,” Mr Kirkup said.

The government allocated extra resources to the testing effort.

 

Perth Airport to remain open to support freight | Infrastructure Magazine

 

It was reported 87 of the 5,000 travellers were from the Northern Beaches and in contact with contract tracers.

I understand this is a difficult period for many and I understand this must be very upsetting for families looking to reunite and spend Christmas together. But our best defence to keep COVID-19 out of our community is border controls. We didn’t create this situation, but I think we are well prepared for it,” the Premier said.

We will test furiously to get to the bottom of it, but of course we are worried. I can’t know what the testing will show,” he added.

McGowan’s hope was that the government and people of New South Wales could learn from the outbreaks in Victoria and South Australia and get on top of things early.

It is debilitating for the country and debilitating for everyone else. So the sooner New South Wales crushes it, the sooner they kill it, the better it is for everyone,” he said.

 

I love this man | Tom Cruise | Know Your Meme

 

December 19

Earlier in the week a leaked tape came to light of superstar Tom Cruise cracking the shits with some crew members on the set of Mission Impossible VII for not following COIVD protocols.

I’ve been a gopher on a film set and had some people act like some absolute pigs talking trash to me and others beneath them when they weren’t even that high up the totem pole. I heard many more horror stories and far worse.

Nobody likes being yelled at and it represents nothing but a loss of control and a lack of professionalism.

On the other hand, when people are working under pressure and others repeatedly don’t follow instructions and flout rules expect certain workplaces to have consequences.

We are the gold standard. They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. Because they believe in us and what we’re doing. I’m on the phone with every f—ing studio at night, insurance companies, producers and they’re looking at us and using us to make their movies. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherf—ers. I don’t ever want to see it again. Ever!” the superstar and producter said.

Sometimes you get told when you’re doing the wrong thing in the strongest terms.

 

Inside Tom Cruise's On-Set Outburst: 'He's a Perfectionist,' Says Source |  PEOPLE.com

 

Cruise swore a little and outright threatened people with being fired.

You can tell it to the people who are losing their f—ing homes because our industry is shut down. It’s not going to put food on their table or pay for their college education. That’s what I sleep with every night – the future of this f—ing industry! So I’m sorry, I am beyond your apologies. I have told you, and now I want it, and if you don’t do it, you’re out. We are not shutting this f—ing movie down! Is it understood? If I see it again, you’re f—ing gone,” Cruise said.

Am I clear? Do you understand what I want? Do you understand the responsibility that I have? Because I will deal with your reason, and if you can’t be reasonable and I can’t deal with your logic, you’re fired. That’s it. That is it. I trust you guys to be here.

But the moment felt oddly cathartic for many who had lost their jobs and would be more than happy to follow the rules on the film set and even more so for people who lost a lot more because people had been flouting COVID rules.

That’s certainly how it rang for me but I also think about the human factor. The capacity to make mistakes and how a leader losing their temper rarely is the best way to handle it. Then also I sometimes think it gets to the point where it is the only way to handle it?

Who knows where this was.

I wondered how many times these peoples hadn’t followed the rules.

 

Entertainment: Tom Cruise and Hayley Atwell are handcuffed for Mission  Impossible 7 - PressFrom - Australia

 

There was a great piece over at The Atlantic about it by Shirley Li which you can read if you like.

Five crew members quit the set following the leak.

The production had been one of the most major Hollywood productions to shut down during the first COVID wave in Italy.

Following resumption in Italy, 12 people got COVID in October causing further delays. Production got back on track and moved to the UK.

 

How NSW's COVID-19 cluster on Sydney's northern beaches and border closures  could change your holiday plans - ABC News

 

Back in Australia, testing in New South Wales had brought 23 new cases overnight bringing the Northern Beaches cluster total to 50 down south.

The Northern Beaches were going into lockdown from 5pm until midnight on Wednesday. Residents could only leave for work, exercise, shopping or compassionate reasons.

When Qld’s Education Minister Grace Grace when asked, advised “All of that will be done with the health minister, the Premier and [Chief Health Officer] Dr Young will be in consultation with the chief health officer in NSW, we’ll have a look at those cases, analyse what it means and we’ll announce those as soon as we possibly can. I know that Sydney is very concerned and anxious about it, that makes Queensland concerned and anxious. We need to be vigilant, we need to make sure that we follow the health instructions – social distancing, proper hygiene and those kinds of things.

Sydney’s northern beaches will lock down from 5pm on Saturday until midnight on Wednesday – people can’t leave their houses except for work, exercise, shopping or compassionate reasons.

From 1am Saturday morning, anybody entering Queensland from Queensland’s northern suburbs had to go into 14 day quarantine.
 
The hope that Australia would be open and free to celebrate Christmas together was quickly fading. The virus didn’t care what day it was on the calendar.
 
On the 19th of December the World Health Organisation reported there had been 75,170,679 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 712,982.
 
There had been 1,671,995 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 13,586.
 
In Australia there had been 28,094 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 22. There had been 908 deaths.
 
In Canada there had been 488,638 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,008. There had been 13,916 deaths with a daily increase of 117.
 
 
London streets packed as Christmas shoppers spark Covid fears
 
 
In the United Kingdom there had been 1,977,171 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 28,507. There had been 66,541 deaths with a daily increase of 489.
The next day with 27,052 new daily cases the small island nation would breach 2 million confirmed cases with 2,004,223.
 
On the 19th of December, India reached more than 10 million cases.
 
There had been 10,004,599 confirmed cases with a daily increase 25,152. There had been 145,136 deaths with a daily increase of 347.
 
In the United States of America there had been 16,912,564 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 229,915. There had been 308,403 deaths with a daily increase of 3,443.
 
06APR2020 America has a record daily increase of 33,510.
 
President Donald Trump Tweetstorm – The Sunday Edition – Deadline
 
11APR2020 – New record – 35,386.
 
26APR2020 – New Record – 38,509
 
27JUN2020 – New Record – 40,526
 
3 Reasons the Protests Probably Won't Help Trump Get Re-elected | GQ
 
28JUN2020 – New Record – 44,458
 
29JUN2020 – New Record – 44,580
 
Biden Leads Trump by 8 Points, a 2020 High, as Floyd Protests Continue -  Morning Consult
 
03JUL2020 – New Record – 54,271
 
06JUL2020 – New Record – 57,186
 
Trump Uses Mount Rushmore Speech to Deliver Divisive Culture War Message -  The New York Times
 
10JUL2020 – New Record – 64,630
 
12JUL2020 – New Record – 66,281
 
17JUL2020 – New Record – 67,165
 
Why the Donald Trump-West Point ramp story actually matters - CNNPolitics
 
18JUL2020 – New Record – 71,484.
 
19JUL2020 – New Record – 74,354
 
Trump takes stock after rally embarrassment
 
25OCT2020 – New Record – 82,630
 
31OCT2020 – New Record – 89,048.
 
Trump Risked Lives Because He Was Bored!
 
01NOV2020 – New Record – 99,356.
 
06NOV2020 – New Record – 106,050.
 
07NOV2020 – New Record – 116,780.
 
Republicans back Trump challenge to Biden election victory | Donald Trump |  The Guardian
 
08NOV2020 – New Record – 131,821.
 
12NOV2020 – New Record – 133,935
 
13NOV2020 – New Record – 142,076.
 
Trump′s coronavirus treatment was based on fetal tissue research |  Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW |  09.10.2020
 
14NOV2020 – New Record – 193,734
 
04DEC2020 – New Record – 195,769.
 
Donald Trump releases video statement repeating baseless vote fraud claims  | Donald Trump | The Guardian
 
05DEC2020- New Record – 218,671.
 
11DEC2020 – New Record – 230,852.
 
President Donald Trump Turns to Raw Power to Upend Election | Time
 
13DEC2020 – New Record – 243,209.
 
On the 20th of December there was a new record of daily new confirmed cases in the United States of America.
 
402,270.
 
At Least 8 Test Positive for COVID-19 After SCOTUS Ceremony | PEOPLE.com
 
A daily increase of 172,355 from the previous day’s count.
 
Bringing the total number of confirmed cases the United States of America had seen to 17,314,834.
 
Let’s hope this is a record left intact.
-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – FOURTH TIMES A CHARM

December 16

Tuesday night I finished work, went home, had dinner and started to feel a little sore in my throat.

I didn’t think I had it.

But I thought about other people who had displayed gone to work and how unlikely it was at the time they found out they were positive.

Where I work we had been keeping to only 50% staff working in the office but we were going into a busy period with my team in particular.

If one of us got COVID, contaminated the rest that would severely impact our ability to carry out work having to quarantine for 14 days. 

But far more importantly than that.

It would mean people I work with had been put at risk, their loved ones had been put at risk.

I had the capability and the support to get tested and to not have my income affected in any way.

It was a simple decision.

So on Wednesday morning I called my supervisor who agreed it was better to be safe than sorry. I would work from home and I would go and get tested. 

Since Karen has to isolate at home with me too until we got the results I decided I would get tested early in the day in the hope the results would get back sooner. Last time they had come back early the next morning which was very fast.

I packed a bag with all my work stuff to take to the office and back every day. I had done these for several weeks every day. But on Tuesday I was tired and the bag was heavy and I just decided I would leave it there, after all I’d be back in the next day. 

It had the masks my sister in law had made for me.

So instead I took the one she had made for Karen. Karen’s mask had received some modifications from her – there was a pipe cleaner in one side instead of elastic string.

The COVID-19 Fever Clinic at the Prince Charles was open from 9am.

I drove over and went to the buildings where the Fever Clinic had previously been but clearly things were now different. 

I asked a staff member who advised me it was now in the Emergency Department. 

So I as a potential COVID carrier walked and the entered the Emergency Department of the hospital.

I followed the signs and went down a long corridor away from the ward. 

Finally In entered the new clinic, there was a Christmas tree on the desk. A series of row of chairs off to the side and I sat down on one. 

I was alone. No one was there. 

The test no longer involved a nasal swab. Just my mouth.

It was painless.

By the time I left two people had entered and were seated or at the front desk.

I left the ward. 

I was in and out of the ward between 0943Hrs and 0957Hrs.

I went home. 

At 10:00pm I received a text message advising my test result was negative.

For the rest of the week I worked from home.

It was Karen who told me that someone had tested positive at the same clinic that week.

A woman travelling from Sydney on a Virgin flight attended The Glen Hotel near where I grew up on the southside of Brisbane. She had a rental car and drove up to the Sunshine Coast. On Thursday December 17 after a friend told her about the growing cluster in Sydney she got tested at the Prince Charles Hospital COVID-19 Fever Clinic at 1019Hrs – 1026Hrs. She was already back in New South Wales when her test came back positive.

The call went out for people to get tested and quarantine for 14 days if they had been “Passengers from rows 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11 on Virgin flight VA925 on Wednesday, December 16 and Close contacts from the restaurant at the Glen Hotel – 24 Gaskell Street, Eight Mile Plains – on December 16.

On Friday Dr Young said of the Sydney woman in her 50s, “The individual did go to that restaurant after 11.30am and at that stage she didn’t realise she was potentially at risk. There is a risk there at the Glen Hotel – it’s small, but we just want to make sure we’re contact-tracing every single person who possibly could have been exposed to the virus.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BACK IN THE GAME – PART II

Coronavirus live updates: US marks deadliest day since pandemic began - ABC  News

December 10

Dr Anthony Fauci was quoted saying in the lead up to Christmas, “For the first time in more than 30 years, I’m not spending the Christmas holidays with my daughters.”

The 79 year-old Director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would most likely talk to them via Zoom along with his wife of 35 years.

The advice he had for his fellow Americans was to do the same.

Ten people inside during the holidays he felt was likely too many and a surge in numbers from Thanksgiving gatherings would only start to reach their heights as we entered the longer holiday period of Christmas and New Years.

Speaking to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo he advised, “We could start to see things start to get really bad in the middle of January, not only for New York state but for any state or city. [That] could be a really dark time for us.

Hospital admissions had soared over 70 per cent in the previous two weeks with ICU availability at less than ten per cent in the state. In Southern California it was 4.2%.

In areas where ICU wards were at less than 15% California Governor Gavin Newsom had issued stay at home orders.

America had set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalisations in December with more than 109,000 patients with 21,200 of them in Intensive Care.

The New York Times calculated that hospitals that serve more than 100 million Americans were at 15 per cent ICU capacity – no more.

On the 10th of December, the World Health Organisation reported in the United States of American there had been 14,972,356 with a daily increase of 216,360. There had been 283,994 deaths with a daily increase of 2,552.

December 11

Close to three million kits of the Pfizer vaccine were getting ready to roll out of the Pfizer vaccine.

The CDC Director Robert Redfield advised on the same day that daily deaths in America in the coming weeks were set to exceed total fatalities from the attack on Pearl Harbour or September 11, 2001.

December 12

The American Food and Drug Administration gave approval for the Pfizer vaccine to be used in the United States late Friday there.

California Governor Gavin Newsom advised more than 300,000 doses were coming to his state.

Experts warned the vaccine would not affect the rising American death toll from COVID-19 for the next couple of months at least.

US Launches Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution, First Inoculations Possibly  Monday | Voice of America - English

December 13

Sunday.

More than 184,000 vials left a Pfizer manufacturing facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan on trucks bound for air freight across the country. United Parcel Service and FedEx planes would take off from Lansing and Grand Rapids to hubs in Louisville and Memphis from where the vaccines were loaded onto planes and trucks to go to the first 145 of 636 vaccine staging areas across America.

Planes, trucks and ultracold boxes: Pfizer preps massive COVID-19 vaccine  distribution effort | FiercePharma

It was hoped 2.9 million doses would be given by the end of the year with health care workers and the elderley the first in line to receive a jab.

Stephen Hahn, the Commissioner of the F.D.A. said it was possible 20 million Americans could receive both jabs by the end of the month.

Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser to the government’s vaccine development, told “Fox News Sunday” that 100 million Americans might be vaccinated by the end of March. 

Slaoui advised that the U.S. needed to acquire herd immunity from the virus to halt transmission and that would mean 75-80% of the population had to be immunised. Some polling showed only half of Americans were keen to get the vaccine, others put the number at a quarter. Let’s hope the latter were more accurate.

It was hoped three quarters of the country would have been vaccinated by the May or June.

United States Pfizer vaccine shipments begin after emergency authorisation  - ABC News

Even as relief was in sight, the reality of the situation was still pronounced as numbers skyrockteted.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy whose state had suffered so much in March and April advised, “The next six to eight weeks are going to be hell.

Shipments were being dispersed to 145 distribution sites on Monday, 425 on Tuesday and the remaining 66 on Wednesday. Each state is receiving an amount of doses based on their adult population.

The vaccine is transported using containers with dry ice and GPS sensors to ensure shipment stays 94 degrees below zero.

Meet Sandra Lindsay, the first US person to get COVID-19 vaccine - Business  Insider

December 15

Twenty seven year old Intensive Care nurse Sarah Lindsay became the first American to receive a COVID-19 Pfizer BioNTech jab.

She received it at the Long Island Jewish Medical Centre in Queens, New York City.

Part of the Northwell Health System which has treated 100,000 COVID patients since the pandemic began.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo watched via live stream and told the veteran nurse after, “Sandra, you didn’t even flinch.”

It didn’t feel any different than taking any other vaccine,” she replied.

I feel hopeful today, relieved. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instil public confidence that the vaccine is safe,” she said.

On the reluctance of some to get vaccinated Governor Cuomo said, “We just have to do it. The vaccine doesn’t work if it’s in the vial.

Lindsay is a nurse. An intensive care nurse. She’s a New York ICU nurse.

She has been a hero for a long time.

Now she’s a symbol.

COVID-19 Memory Project- Sandra Lindsay Interview - YouTube

A symbol of hope, a symbol of the nurses who have borne the brunt of this terrible disease and risked everything, not just their lives but the lives of their loved ones who battling this disease.

They’ve seen death on a scale most war veterans have not.

They’ve gotten sick.

Some have died.

Some are fighting right now to be paid out after their health has deteriorated and they can no longer work.

Minorities per capita have gotten the brunt of this disease and it is minorities who per capita not without reason are wary of government administered vaccines.

Nurse Sandra Lindsay represents that too.

She also represents the best of us.

Thank you Nurse Lindsay and God bless.

Meet Sandra Lindsay, the first US person to get COVID-19 vaccine - Business  Insider

There were other stories across the country as reported by The Washington Post.

I just lost my 27th patient today,” said Louisville physician Valerie Briones-Pryor. “So the vaccine I took today was for her family and for the other 26 I lost.”

African American emergency medicine physician Sylvia Owusu-Ansah in Pittsburgh took her jab.

“There is a skepticism there that is not unwarranted,” she said, referencing the seed of distrust among Black Americans about experimental medicine — planted with the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, in which Black men in the study were left untreated. “Basically, if I can do it, they can do it.”

African American nurse, who works in a COVID ward, Mia Yepez got her jab in Jefferson saying, “We want to be able to stop the many admissions.

The Chief Medical Officer Robert Hart at her place of work, Ochsner Medical Center, described Yepez as, “She is in the middle of it day in and day out.

President Walter M. Kimbrough of Dillard University and President C. Reynold Verret of Xavier University, both historically black colleges of the state, both said publically they were happy to get vaccinated.

Hope': Burned out health workers buoyed by vaccine

Anesthesiologist Raymond Pla was the only black staff member of the George Washington University Hospital to be vaccinated Monday.

His message, “If you want the funerals from the covid-19 infection to slow down and stop, you got to get the vaccine.

Deni Kamper on Twitter: "The @UPS truck carrying the COVID-19 vaccine  arrived at UofL Hospital. @WLKY… "

UPS driver Byron Bishop pulled his truck up to the University of Louisville Hospital greeted by applause and an elbow bump from the Governor of the state Andy Beshear.

It’s humbling being a part of this vaccine process, because it’s going to save a lot of lives,” said the driver.

Referring back to the date that Kentucky recorded their first COVID-19 cases, the Governor told this was the best, “The best I’ve felt since March 6. Today is the day we start winning the war against covid.”

He told a story about a close friend who had lost his mother to the virus and had to quarantine for two weeks unable to grieve with the rest of his family. Just one more devastating story from the pandemic.

The vaccine will liberate our workforce, the people who are really working, taking care of patients, from worrying about whether they face a death sentence from accidentally getting infected,” said David Lubarsky, chief executive of the University of California at Davis health system.

The United States of America would breach 300,000 dead on the 17th of December reporting 301,536 deaths with a daily increase of 2,942.

Days before the U.S. reached 300,000 dead Dr Fauci had said, “The numbers are staggering — the most impactful respiratory pandemic that we have experienced in over 102 years, since the iconic 1918 Spanish flu.

It took four months for America to reach 100,000 dead and it was now believed a further 100,000 could die in the following six weeks.

Leon Kelly, the coroner of El Paso County in Colorado and the Deputy Medical Director of its health department had seen a lot of death in the past few months.

It can certainly feel like you’re standing on the beach and sandbagging a tsunami,” said Kelly.

To me it represents an extraordinary failure in our response. To think, now we can just absorb in our country 3,000 deaths a day as though it were just business as usual. It just represents a moral failing,said John Hopkins health researcher Jennifer Nuzzo.

Multimedia: The State of Biopreparedness: Lessons for Leaders, Proposals  for Progress

Jennifer Nuzzo was not wrong, none of this was good enough or justified. President Trump has blood on his hands and always will. That in my opinion is and always will remain his biggest crime. That and any of his allies, enablers and supporters.

On the 15th of December the World Health Organisation reported there had been 72,467,704 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 507,504.

There had been 1,620,942 deaths globally with a daily increase of 8,797.

In Australia there had been 28,039 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. There had been 908 deaths.

In Canada there had been 460,743 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,891. There had been 13,431 deaths with a daily increase of 81.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,869,670 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20,263. There had been 64,402 deaths with a daily increase of 232.

In India there had been 9,906,165 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 22,065. There had been 143,709 deaths with a daily increase of 354.

In the United States of America there had been 16,041,095 with a daily increase of 180,420. There had been 296,840 deaths with a daily increase of 1,434.

But this was not just a day of doom and gloom. All the days of December showed death. Showed heartbreaking loss.

December 15 was a day of hope too. A vaccine being distributed against in just nine short months after COVID-19 rapidly spread across the world and changed our lives forever.

A miracle performed by scientists.

Delivered to our greatest heroes and our most vulnerable.

First doctor in US receives coronavirus vaccine: 'I went in today feeling  very hopeful' | Coronavirus | The Guardian

Back in Queens at the Long Island Jewish Medical Centre, the second person to receive a shot was Yves Duroseau, the emergency medicine chair at Manhattan’s Lennox Hill Hospital.

Like nurse Lindsay before him, he got the needle from Michelle Chester, the Director of Employee Health Services for Northwell Health.

“Ready?” Chester asked him.

“Please,” he replied.

“Let’s do this.” she said.

Duroseau had lost an uncle to COVID and had another family member in hospital fighting the disease.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BACK IN THE GAME – PART I

UK woman Margaret Keenan the first person to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine  | The West Australian

 

December 07

Monday and a new week and while I was off sick Monday and Tuesday hotel quarantine started up again in Melbourne, Victoria.

For the first time since late June international flights with returning Australians were landing to complete 14 days of hotel quarantine in Melbourne.

The Australian city that had experienced the most loss of life and the longest lockdown period and government imposed restrictions following an outbreak when security protocols failed at a hotel quarantine site.

In the new hotel quarantine system 300 police officers will be deployed to do the work every day. One hundred and seventy-two Australian Defence Force Personnel are deploying to do front desk tasks and no private security guards will be involved. 

ADF officers lined up on arriving in Melbourne wearing blue surgical masks.

The use of private security companies had been a fixture of the COVID-19 Hotel inquiry. 

From the ABC News website.

Former Family Court judge Jennifer Coate, the inquiry’s chair, said in her interim report that it was mostly private security personnel working in hotel quarantine who had “seeded” the major community outbreaks in Victoria’s second wave.

Lawyers for the inquiry have said the failure of the program was responsible for more than 760 deaths, and more than 18,000 infections.

The inquiry heard in August that 90 per cent of the state’s active cases at that time could be traced back to a family of four who stayed at Melbourne’s Rydges on Swanston hotel.

Concerns were raised about guards and other staff members working across multiple locations, as well as the level of training they were given in infection control.

There were a range of rules for those quarantining to follow.

Three police officers talk on a Melbourne street.

They couldn’t leave their rooms for fresh air or exercise unless there are relevant reasons. They won’t be able to receive care packages from their families.

Everyone working in the quarantine hotels, with the exception of the cleaning staff, will be employed or directly contracted by the newly established Covid Quaratine Victoria.

Cleaners will be employed through fixed term contacts to avoid the need to work across different locations as casuals.

They will be tested for COVID-19 every day, while the members of their households will also be tested on a regular basis.

They will work together on the same rosters with colleagues to limit the spread if one of them becomes sick. 

Hotel quarantine will cost the returnee $3,000 dollars, $1,000 per additional adult and $500 per child over three years of age.

On the 7th of December, the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 27,965 confirmed cases with a daily increase of nine. There had been 908 deaths.

 

 

December 08


In the United States of America, Ballbag continued to try and steal the election whilst proclaiming it stolen.

It’s funny to say this but no matter the lack of legal grounds, what the pundits said, Ballbag just created anxiety with his actions.

Here was an elected official undermining an election result.

For his followers this was real, although you can’t protest a count in one state and insist it go ahead in another because its going your way.

That clearly shows its not about the principal of the matter.

US election sees protesters confront vote-counting centres in Phoenix and  Detroit, 50 arrested in New York - ABC News

Having worked in an election warehouse counting votes albeit in a different country with different systems it seemed crazy to me how you could pull off such a miscarriage of the count.

I guess nothing is impossible but its not like every election official is affiliated one way or the other. The fact that security was needed at such sites is shocking to me having it never be a concern here in Australia. 

Right now, democracy is fragile in America in a way I never thought I would see in my lifetime.

You would hope when a bunch of people die and the President talks about using bleach in the human body, yells at reporters for asking simple questions, leaves states to bid for medical supplies and hands out pens to health officials rather than hear their cries for help that Americans would strap on the biggest boot they could find and send it right on up his wide load tennis shorts size ass! 

US happiness hits lowest point in 50 years: New poll finds just 14% of  Americans are 'very happy' | Daily Mail Online

The fact that they did that and then the only work he did for the next two months was bleat about it and then go off and play golf rather than deal with the real crisis in America which were COVID cases and deaths skyrocketing is just really sad.

How did it get to this and why is any of this tribally political? Regardless of age, political disposition, race, colour, or creed why would anyone not think this President has been horrible in dealing with COVID-19?

On the 8th of December the World Health Organisation reported in the United States of America there had been 14,570,523 confirmed COVID cases with a daily increase of 173,388. There had been 279,913 deaths with a daily increase of 1,107.

 

UK woman Margaret Keenan the first person to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine  | The West Australian

In the United Kingdom a young lady named Maggie originally from Enniskillen in Fermanagh made history. 

Ninety-year old Margaret Keenan become the first person to receive the COViD-19 Pfizer BioNTech vaccinne following trials and approvals.

Attending University Hospital in Coventry to get her jab from Matron May Parsons, Ms Keenan said, “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year.

We couldn’t hug her but we could clap, and everybody did so in the room,” Professor Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England, said.

COVID-19: British woman first to receive vaccine - Vatican News

She was one of thousands getting the first of two scheduled jabs across the UK. The hope was to have 4 million Britons vaccinated by the end of 2020 primarily health care workers and people over 80 years of age.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits Western General Hospital amid the spread of the coronavirus disease

Today we should all allow ourselves a smile – but we must not drop our guard,” said Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Sturgeon did say watching the video of Maggie getting her first dose put a lump in her throat.
 

Sister Joanna Sloan

Sister Joan Sloan who will head up the vaccine rollout in Belfast was the first to get the jab in Northern Ireland at Royal Victoria hospital.

When asked what her thoughts were as she received the jab, Sister Sloan replied, “At last. At last we have got to this point. We have worked hard to get here so it felt great.” 

Palmerston care home

Palmerston, a purpose built Dementia care home in East Belfast had twenty residents vaccinated the same day with thirty five staff to follow.

There had been 55,795 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland and 1,073 deaths.

In the Republic of Ireland there had been 74,682 cases and 2,097 deaths.

The latter had more than three times the population of the former.

The first person in Wales was 48 year old home care worker Craig Atkins.

The BBC weren’t specific about who was the first person in Scotland but consultant anaesthetist Dr Katie Stewart at NHS Borders and senior charge nurse Andrew Mencnarowski who will vaccinate colleagues at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital were among the first.

It’s a huge step forward in the battle against the Covid virus. I feel very proud and excited to be part of it all,” said the Scottish nurse.

Dr Katie Stewart

After a very long hard year looking after patients with Covid and staying apart to protect each other, we finally have something to celebrate. The new vaccination has been tested on over 43,000 people around the world so I am truly delighted to be one of the first people in the Scottish Borders to receive one,” Dr Stewart said.

Visiting London’s Guy’s Hospital Prime Minister Boris Johnson listened to 81 year old Lyn Wheeler who was the first to get vaccinated there. 

Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine which is less than enough for a third of the population to get vaccinated. There are reports to achieve herd immunity 70 per cent take up a national population is required.  

NHS Doctor Veer Gupta summed it up nicely to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “We have a vaccine for a disease that was never before seen on Earth, and within one year now we have something that can actually prevent it from spreading.

Vaccine

After receiving the first jab, 21 days later a second jab is administered with full immunity believed to take effect at the 28 day mark from the first jab.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock advised it would take several weeks for just health care workers and people over 80 to get vaccinated. The need for it to be kept in ultra-cold storage rather than just refrigerated like the vaccine developed by the Oxford University was going to create challenges for distribution. 

But we had a vaccine. 

We had a vaccine.

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

Prime Minister Boris Johnson believed it was a turning point in the country’s fortunes against the virus but one step in a battle that was far from over.

Today marks a huge step forward in the UK’s fight against coronavirus. As the program ramps up in the weeks and months ahead, it is as important as ever to keep to the COVID winter plan: Follow the rules in your area and remember the basics of hands, face and space,” he said.

On the 8th of December, the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland there had been 1,737,964 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14,718. There had been 61,434 deaths with a daily increase of 189.

Victoria had recovered enough to ramp up hotel quarantine again, most state borders were open as Western Australian opened up to the rest of the country, Ballbag was getting shown the door whether he liked it or not and against all odds and thanks to so many unsung scientists and health care workers vaccines were rolling out across the world.

Gee….

Anybody would have thought it was Christmas after all!

But the virus of course didn’t care what the calendar said.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – ‘HOTMESS’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

December 06

I was very fortunate to be back on assignment for Scenestr magazine, this time my first live event since COVID shut down the Brisbane Comedy Festival in March.

It was at The Sideshow in Brisbane’s West End. West End has its own character and history as a southside boy from the suburbs I am fairly ignorant of.

It’s down from the city’s South Bank precinct which I am more familiar with which is a giant cultural and restaurant hub with museums, art gallery and markets.

West End is the cheaper hippier end of this.

I remember going to see show with David Hasselholf years ago and seeing young people eating on a window sill out of saucepans in an apartment above a set of shops and just being delighted by it.

Places like West End are in danger of losing such culture with increased urban development but it was alive and well on sunday night December 6.

Scenestr4

We entered what looked like a regular cafe, went up some stairs, got served at some makeshift bar and sat on pretty simple chairs. Nobody was wearing masks, we just didn’t do that in Queensland.

There were 13 active cases in the state.

The venue had the setting of being in someone’s large living room for a get together on a sunday arvo for a few laughs.

It was good to have a laugh.

The comedians were diverse in their styles and backgrounds and led by MC Steph Tisdell who got the crowd supporting them fully and open to the experimentation of the event.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/comedy/hot-mess-comedy-brisbane-review-the-sideshow-20201208

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.

With some delight we saw some Christmas decorations and entered a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant we had seen packed only two hours later completely empty.
As someone who has always enjoyed quiet places Karen and I settled in for some fried rice.
There was a garden inside with a pond and we had the whole place to ourselves as West End started to quiet down for the night.

The West End Garden Restaurant staff were so good to us, the food was fantastic and the whole place was just wonderful. Karen and I really enjoyed our night out.

Numbers were climbing around the word, I was worried about people who lived there. It was almost surreal what was happening in Australia. It felt like we being kept out of some sick game although I’m sure Victorians would agree they had had their fill.

On the 6th of December the World Health Organisation reported there had been 66,184,789 cases globally with a daily increase of 652,608.

1 million 5 hundred 2 twenty 6 six thousand and 6 hundred and 6 sixty 2 two deaths.

1,526,662 deaths globally from COVID.

With a daily increase of 10,767.

In Australia there had been 27,956 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 908 deaths.

In Canada there had been 402,569 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,299. There had been 12,496 deaths with a daily increase of 89.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,705,975 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15,539. There had been 61,014 deaths with a daily increase of 397.

In India there had been 9,644,222 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 36,011. There had been 140,182 deaths with a daily increase of 482.

In the United States of America the day before, the 5th of December had been a day of big numbers. A new record for daily increase in confirmed cases – 218,671. The highest number of daily recorded deaths since March and April – 2,844.

On the 6th of December there had been 14,191,298 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 213,127. There had been 276,503 deaths with a daily increase of 2,426.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – FACES OF A PANDEMIC

Doctor seen comforting distraught elderly coronavirus patient in viral  photo speaks out

 

December 01

 

It popped up on social media and went viral.

Just a simple photo.

Just a simple tale.

One of far too many but for perhaps just a moment we stopped and spare for what was hidden from view far too often or that we had just turned our eyes away from.

The photo is of Doctor Joseph Varon holding an elderly man crying. 

The man is COVID-19 patient in the ICU unit of the United Memorial Medical Centre in Houston, Texas where Dr Varon works. 

The photo was taken by Getty Images Photographer Go Nakamura.

On the day the photo was taken, Dr Varon was working his 252nd consecutive day in a row.

It was Thanksgiving.

I’ll let Dr Varon speak for himself as per this excellent article by SBS News in Australia.

 Dr Varon saw the man, “Out of his bed and trying to get out of the room. And he’s crying. So I get close to him and I (ask) him, ‘Why are you crying?” recalled the Doctor.

“And the man says, ‘I want to be with my wife.‘ So I just grab him and I hold him,” Dr Varon said. “I was feeling very sorry for him. I was feeling very sad, just like him.

Dr Varon told CNN, “Eventually he felt better and he stopped crying.

I don’t know why I haven’t broken down,” the doctor said. “My nurses cry in the middle of the day,” he said.

The good Doctor told of how difficult isolation in a COVID ward can be for many patients in particular the elderly. Anybody who has worked in nursing home or hospital ward could attest to that. 

You can imagine. You are inside a room where people are coming in spacesuits. When you are an elderly individual, it’s more difficult because you are alone,” he said.

“Some of them cry. Some of them try to escape,” he said. “We actually had somebody who tried to escape through a window the other day.”

Days on from when the picture had been taken, Dr Varon advised the man was, “Doing much better. We are hoping that before the end of the week he’ll be able to get out of the hospital.

Sadly that is not always the outcome from the treatment of patients within the Dr Varon’s intensive care ward.

Below is a picture of a patient who had passed away also taken in the same ward by the Getty photographer with Dr Varon second from the left supervising.

Dr Joseph Varon (2nd L) supervises the handling of a patient after death in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center on in Houston

The doctor had some simple advice for all of us.

People are out there in bars, restaurants, malls. It is crazy. People don’t listen and then they end up in my ICU.

What people need to know is I don’t want to have to be hugging them.

They need to do the basic things – keep your social distance, wear your masks, wash their hands, and avoid going to places where there are a lot of people. If people would do that, healthcare workers like me could hopefully rest.

On the 1st of December, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported in America there had been 13,234,551 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 151,674. 

There had been 264,808 deaths with a daily increase of 862.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XI – BORDER PEACE IN OUR TIME

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

December 01

On the 4th of September, 2020 the National Cabinet had met and agreed to move towards their borders being open for Christmas with Western Australia a hold out.

On the 13th of November, 2020 following another National Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had advised of a plan to have public health measures to ensure once states open they don’t close down again. An ideal that seemed ludricrous given the immediate benefits closing borders had given to protecting against the spread of the virus.

The task is to reopen safely and then to stay safely open. By staying safely open you’re giving confidence to businesses, to people in jobs, to people who are making decisions about their future and what they’re going to do. Stop-start, stop-start, does not provide that,” he had said.

That same National Cabinet Meeting on the 13th of November had also highlighted that more than 400,000 Australians had returned home from overseas but there were still 30,000 seeking to return home.

On the 13th of November the possibility of most state borders being open in Christmas seemed unlikely.

It had seemed but a pipe dream on the 4th of September.

Yet on the 1st of December, following Queensland opening its borders the previous week, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced he would re-open WA to Victoria and New South Wales the following Tuesday on the 8th if there were no new cases.

Travel from South Australia to Western Australia was still severely restricted with very strict exemptions. But that was in place until only December 11. All the borders could be open after that.

Premier McGowan was very happy Victoria had reached 28 days without community transmission and he expected New South Wales would reach the same milestone on Friday the 11th of December.

Western Australia had gone 233 days without community transmission.

“I just warn people that if there’s an outbreak, we’ll put a hard border up again. Western Australia does remain susceptible to an outbreak given nearly all physical distancing and gathering restrictions have been removed,” warned the Premier.

This did give hope for families that had not seen their loved ones for months that now they would and just in time for Christmas.

I know the border arrangements have put pressure on families and have at times been hard to comprehend. I have sympathy for those who’ve been impacted. My parents live in New South Wales, so personally for me it’s a relief knowing they’re now safer at their home and hopefully I might be able to see them some time in the future,” Mr McGowan said.

Relief as WA reopens to NSW, Victoria | The Young Witness | Young, NSW

I had seen my parents twice in six months and lived in a state where restrictions had been fairly relaxed because the danger had not been so great.

Others had endured a lot more.

Others had lived a handful of kilometres from the Queensland border and been unable to see their grandchildren for the first year of their lives or close to it.

There have been a lot of stories like that.

About loved ones unseen at cancer wards or funerals or weddings.

But there have also been stories like Newmarch.

Stories about nurses who got COVID-19 after weeks of fighting to save lives in COVID wards who’s health has been compromised.

I’ve always believed border closures are part of an arsenal of measures that should be brought to bear if it minimises spread and save lives.

Wodonga Mayor calls for NSW-VIC border to reopen as COVID-19 restrictions  are tightened in Victoria - ABC News

But as the risk receded in a matter of days and the country opened up there was a hopefulness in the air.

It seemed this was happening and as I worked out in my gym on the 1st of December I wondered if this was a good thing. Given the number of cases I guess I leaned towards yeah it was a good thing.

But if it didn’t seem possible two weeks ago that only showed that the situation can, as had been proven again and again throughout the pandemic, two weeks could see the situation change radically again.

On the 1st of December the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 27,904 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of eleven.

There had been 908 deaths with a daily increase of one.

The first Australian deaths due to COVID-19 reported since two on the 29th of October.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ‘THE BEE GEES: HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART?’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

Scenestr3

 

November 29

 

On Sunday the 29th of November, 2020 I was lucky enough to attend a preview screening of the HBO documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? at New Farm cinemas and I got to take Karen with me.

Just another milestone that things were pretty in our neck of the woods while case numbers continued to rise astronomically abroad. 

I enjoyed the documentary, it rang very poignant for me given Barry Gibb’s advancing years. I can tell you there were quite a few people of Barry’s and my parent’s age in the audience. I even floated the idea of taking my Mum but she had to decline. Maybe in the audience there were people who had known the Bee Gees from their days in Redcliffe. They certainly laughed and nodded at points like they were flicking through the pages of a photo album. Your culture remains your’s for life – it takes hold you of for life.

I grew up in a household of The Beatles and The Bee Gees. I heard The Rolling Stones and David Bowie but they weren’t in the house. I’m prety sure at one point there was a copy of every Bee Gees album on at least LP, tape or CD.

I enjoyed the documentary of which you can read the review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/the-bee-gees-how-can-you-mend-a-broken-heart-film-review-20201201

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.

It sent me down a bit of rabbit-hole of Youtube clips.

I would urge you to listen to a live acoustic performance they did of one of their lesser singles Blue Island from one of their strongest later albums from the early 1990s. The thing is, it’s not a bad song but something magical happens when the harmonies those brothers had together sing it. It is something special.

There is an interview Maurice Gibb had in the wake of doing rehab for alcoholism, (I thought he got clean well before Andy Gibb’s death not after) and Barry Gibb talking about his brothers, his wife – his family to Piers Morgan.

I would urge you to listen to a live acoustic performance they did of one of their lesser singles Blue Island from one of their strongest later albums from the early 1990s. The thing is, it’s not a bad song but something magical happens when the harmonies those brothers had together sing it. It is something special.

There are personal favourites here like The Nights on Broadway (I had no idea they were that broke when they recorded that album), and younger hits like You Win Again which is soooo 80s, their last hit single This Is Where I Came In which I will defend to the death is proof they were still crushing it in 2001, their first big hit as they left Australia in the 60s – Spicks and Specks which is a personal favourite and maybe lesser known to Americans and even Brits I think.

Songs like Alone and Immortality from 1997 which resonates even more now. Absent are the disco hits which I loved as a kid but have listened to a lot more than these gems and I suspect you have too.

Anyway enjoy. 

 

On the 29th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 61,990,265 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 604,549.

There had been 1,451,964 deaths globally with a daily increase of 9,520.

In Australia there had been 27,885 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 907 deaths. 

In Canada there had been 359,064 confirmed cases with daily increase of 5,967. There had been 11,895 with a daily increase of 95.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,605,176 confirmed cases with a daily increase 15,871. There had been 58,030 deaths with a daily increase of 479.

In India there had been 9,392,919 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 41,810. There had been 136,696 Indian deaths with a daily increase of 496.

In the United States of America there had been 12,939,666 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 175,669. There had been 262,736 deaths with a daily increase of 1,276. 

-Lloyd Marken