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

U.K. rolls out 1st doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine | CBC News

May 18

Tuesday.

Five months and ten days after 90 year old Margaret Keenan got the first jab in the UK – my younger sister in London got vaccinated.

The good news didn’t stop there.

There was an opening and her husband walked up the road and got vaccinated as well.

WIth cases already occuring at their school again this was welcome news even if it would take time for the full protection offered by their Pfizer shot to take full effect.

The good news didn’t stop there, family over in Canada had also got vaccinated with Moderna.

News of people I cared about abroad getting vaccinated was a welcome relief and couldn’t have come soon enough.

In England another step was made in the lowering of restrictions.

Britons could now go abroad to Portugal and a few other limited countries.

Hospitality and tourism were back in business.

People walk at The Arcade shopping mall, amid the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Bedford town centre, Britain May 25, 2021. REUTERS/Paul Childs

Cinemas, restaurants, museusm and casinos as well as The London Eye were all open for business giving close to 1 million people a change to go back to work.

Theatre was back – The West End was open for the first time in 14 months.

Cases of the Indian variant in the country had double in the past 4 days reported Channel 9 News.

It was interesting to watch here in Australia. Britain had suffered more in case numbers and deaths than here in Australia and as a result had endured a more lengthy and stringent lockdown.

But international travel was still limited in Australia and while our theatres had opened up again without restrictions the number of cases were significantly less at the point those decisions were made then was the case currently in Great Britain.

It seemed and I would appreciate any commentary from my fellow British bloggers, that Britons had endured something and were enthuasiastic about their new freedom.

If there was a risk to enjoying it they felt they had endured enough to consider taking that risk. Maybe also an awareness that restictions could be lowered again.

Happy to hear your thoughts.

In the news was discussion about Queensland not having a mass vaccination hub with the Queensland Premier arguing the population was more decentralised. In the past 24 hours New South Wales and Victoria had each dispensed over 11,000 vaccine doses. Queensland and Western Australia had both been under three thousand each.

a man and a woman sitting at a table in front of a window: Chris Uhlmann sits down with Scott Morrison.

There was talk of a vaccine passport again, this time to allow more free travel between states during lockdowns for those who had been vaccinated.

All of those arrangements will have to be put in place,” said the Prime Minister acknowledging the power lay with the state governments.

[It’s them] who actually prevent Australians moving from one state to another consistent with their public health orders,” he said.

On international borders where the power lay with the Federal Government, the PM advised it would be a gradual process.

One step at a time and a risk that Australia can manage safely. It’s not closed one day, open the next. It will be tempered by the medical advice at every step,” Morrison said.

It’s not something that’s doable yet,” he added in regards to travellers quarantining at home after returning.

An 18 year old nursing student had been hospitalised with blood clots three weeks after receiving an AstraZeneca jab. It took five hospital visits to get properly diagnosed and it properly left her shaken.

Also in the news 47 year old Sydney father Govind Kant had passed away. A son who went back to his bury his mother in India, he was then unable to get a flight back before getting COVID. He recovered from the virus but his lungs were too damaged and he passed away. In the space of six weeks his family had lost a mother, a father and their brother.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 18, 2020

A truck driver who had tested positive to COVID-19  had made deliveries to twelve McDonalds while asymptomatic in Fawkner, Melbourne.

It was one year on since the Prime Minister Scott Morrison had won the election. In his first year as leader the devastating bushfires of the 19-20 Summer had occurred followed by COVID.

COVID-19 DIARY – HOW YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR MOST VULNERABLE

Gladys Berejiklian on Twitter: "What an amazing welcome from the staff at  the Endeavour Foundation warehouse in Seven Hills- the largest employer of  people with intellectual disability in Australia.… https://t.co/3oNHXjZtF9"

May 17

Monday.

I have talked previously about the fact that many people with disabilities were being left behind in the vaccine roll-out.

Now finally there was some media coverage thanks to one angry Mum named Margaret Ruff who had had enough.

Her son 45 year old Raymond who lives in a residential group home was still waiting for the jab.

This example struck close to home with regards to my older sister.

And now we had the stats.

Out of 26,000 people with disabilities living in care residences across Australia.

Only 999 had received a jab.

The country had moved to 2A of the vaccine rollout to get everybody over 50 vaccinated but at least 25,000 vulnerable people who fell under catergory 1A which started roll-out in February were still waiting for their jabs.

The disability royal commission heard from families today “Basically we’ve sort of been left on our own.

As at 15th of May, 2021 3,089,183 vaccine doses had been administered in the country wtih 32,386 in a the 24 hours leading up to that.

There were complications to be sure.

There had been 296,336 doses given to those in aged care and residentially disability facilities with 1,524 given in the past 24 hours

67,172 of those were doses administered had been in Queensland.

There were lots of things to complicate delivery of vaccines amongst those with disabilities and in aged care.

One was travel, you had to do and delivery at the residency and you weren’t going to do for one jab.

There was consent to be gained or established.

If they were underlying health conditions you had to get the go ahead from your Doctor or specialist which could take more time here.

You might need others on sight for those who would be anxious to get a needle without someone that put them at ease.

But allowing for all of that – it was absolutely piss poor what had occurred here.

We need to do better.

As Margaret Ruff put it, “It’s disgusting, it’s absolutely disgusting. How do you judge society, by the way they treat their ill and vulnerable.

With the India travel ban there had been renewed talk about how to improve our quarantine system in Australia.

In the news that week there was talk of using Bladin Point for overseas workers for Australian farms to be be quarantined. The facility currently did that for a U.S. Marine Rotational Force that trains in the Northern Territory during the dry season.

Thousands of US marines to touch down in Darwin before June 2021 - ABC News

“When those contracts finish then there is the opportunity to do further work there, particularly dealing with workforce requirements in the Territory,” he told reporters on Brisbane on Monday.

The Victorian government had also spent $15 million dollar to prepare for the construction of a 500 bed quarantine facility at Mickleham north of Melbourne. It would take $200 million to build but that was small change compared to the cost to the economy when a capital city or state goes into lockdown.

A proposal from Queensland to build at Wellcamp Airport in Toowoomba to quarantine 1,000 travellers and be manned from 300 staff was rejected.

Increase in infrastructure could be the boom Toowoomba needs

The idea that you can just put these out in the desert somewhere, and I know Toowoomba’s not in the desert but the point being (that) they need to be close to a major capital city airport. The planes aren’t going somewhere else, they’re coming into Brisbane, and that is a very long trek over to Toowoomba,” said the Prime Minister.

Victoria has put a very comprehensive proposal to us, something we can actually work with, and we are. If they [the Queensland government] were to do that, then they could expect the same sort of hearing that the Victorian government’s getting,” the PM explained.

Howard Springs is 25 kilometres from Darwin.

Mickleham is 40 kilometres from Melbourne.

Victoria's Mickleham quarantine hub proposal site a surprise to most

Wellcamp Airport is 160 kilometres from Brisbane.

I wondered what were the factors that went into these decisions.

Previously remote locations had been ruled out because of lack of access to major health care facilities.

On the other hand the push was to mitigate all the pressure on hotel quarantines in major capital cities.

Some outbreaks had occurred following leaks from hotel quarantine staff being out in the community unknowingly infecitous.

But other outbreaks had occured when returned travellers had spent time in quarantine, tested negative and subsequently gone out in the community and been infectious.

Yet again other outbreaks had occured from hospital staff becoming infected.

In terms of distance Ipswich was 40 kilometres from Brisbane but also been part of a greater Brisbane lockdowns this year.

A recent lockdown in South East Queensland had seen cases spread as far as Byron Bay 165 kilometrest to the south and Gladstone 515 kilometres to the north.

So distance couldnt’ be the only factor here, available facilities, support and necessary staff and travel all had to be weighed up.

Furthermore it appeared these facilities were to augment not replace hotel quarantine.

Researchers at Griffith University in Queensland were working on an anti-viral drug which would seek out and destroy COVID-19 cells in an infected person’s lungs while leaving other cells unharmed.

The hope was the drug could be on the market in two years.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 17, 2020

Some national parks in Queensland had re-opened. Karen and I headed out on a Sunday drive, going to the Natural Bridge in Springfield National Park near the border of New South Wales.

COVID-19 DIARY – REVIEW OF ‘PLUCKED’ AT ANYWHERE FESTIVAL AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

Weekend Notes 23

 

May 16

 

I got an e-mail a little while back inviting me to review a show at Anywhere Festival which was pretty exciting.

On Sunday night Karen and I left early from a family gathering and headed for Elements Collective a bar in the Valley.

I really enjoyed the themes and jokes of Plucked, the first show from new theatre company WhittleBerry.

The review ran in the Weekend Notes newsletter, racked up some views and the following weekend the show was sold out.

So a lot can be expected from WhittleBerry in the years to come and it was very exciting to see their firsrt show.

You can read my review here Plucked – Anywhere Festival – Brisbane (weekendnotes.com)

I really enjoyed going to the Anywhere Festival in 2021 and seeing a terrific show.

As Karen and I headed home, I once again realised how lucky i was to live in Australia while developments happened elsewhere.

Actress Lisa Hickey made her directorial debut here, I had previously seen her perform in The Curators productions of Uncle Vanya and Ibsen’s Ghosts, and as Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar mounted by heartBeast Theatre, writing reviews for Scenestr and Weekend Notes.

I really enjoyed going to the Anywhere Festival in 2021 and seeing a terrific show.

It had been a while since we had gone to see a show in the Valley. I once again realised how lucky i was to live in Australia while developments happened elsewhere.

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.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – REPATRIATION

Howard Springs quarantine capacity boosted | Katherine Times | Katherine, NT

 

May 14

 

The first repatriation flight for Australians from India since the short lived travel ban took off from New Delhi with only half of the 150 the passengers scheduled to be on board.

Forty-six people had COVID and twenty four were close contacts. 

Forty six having tested positive for the more contagious Indian variant and people close to them left behind for what would have been their deliverance.

While the government tried to fill the flight with more passengers, it struggled to do so because of the window for pre-flight testing restrictions.

People like Jitin Wig whose wife and toddler tested positive. 

“The whole medical system here is a shambles, so if it does get serious here for any of us, I’m not sure how I’d be able to get help. I’m not sure if I’d be able to get any medicines, I’m not sure if I’d be able to get any oxygen, or anything else they might need,” Wig said of the overworked Indian health care system they might need help from in the coming days.

I understand the government’s position, if people are testing positive, they don’t want to bring the infection over, I understand they are trying to protect the economy, the people. Even though I’m one of those people who didn’t get to go on a flight today, I would still agree that I somebody is testing positive, it is best – for the larger good, I would say – to not bring them over,”the father added.

He did want the government to help those left behind with medical support and consider taking particularly vulnerable people if they had COVID. 

Would you want to board an international flight with someone with COVID on board?

What was the likelihood somebody on that flight would ultimately test positive?

Could other arrangements be made to get those vulnerable people home than just putting them on a flight with others? 

Surely.

Sunny Joura interviewed on ABC News was due to travel on the same flight with his elderley mother but he tested positive. 

In a moment that would have been unsettling he did well to stay calm during an interview with ABC News. He had previously tested negative to fly back on the 28th of April when the ban was put in place. 

He did suggest that decision could now potentlally prove to have turned out to be a death sentence for him.

He also said that only five repatration flights had been sent over from June to December 2020 to India which had been a missed opportunity to get people home before this subsequent wave. Only 750 out of 10,000 Australians in the country had been able to get on repatriation flights during that six month period. He had been trying to get home for 11 months and had had two flights previously cancelled but this was the first time he had tested positve.

The goverment had tried to fill the suddenly spare seats but pre-flight testing didn’t give much of a window of time.

Prior to boarding people take a PCR test two days before the flight and then a rapid antigen test. Both have to return negative results.

 

 

QF112 arrived at the RAAF base in Darwin on Saturday morning. Picture Glenn Campbell

 

May 15

 

The next day Qantas Flight 112 touched down in RAAF Darwin with the passengers headed for quarantine in Howard Springs.

I’m sure they didn’t feel that whatever they had gone through was over but hopefully the worst of it was.

How many would test positive while in quarantine?

How many had left for India to care for a loved one or bury them?

How many counted themselves lucky just to be home?

I wonder.

For what its worth in this small corner of the internet.

Welcome home, it’s good to have you back and hope to have everyone home soon.

“We really need to ensure that we have a system in place to bring these people safely home so they can receive the medical care here in Australia that they require. If our system can’t handle easily 100 people coming back who are testing positive a week, if that if it can’t handle that, then we need to look seriously at our healthcare system,” Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott, from the Global Health Security Network, said.

 

 

May 16

 

On the 16th of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 161,854,452 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 675,747. 

There had been 3,367,187 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 12,305.

They're our family': Australia pledges 1m Covid-19 vaccine doses to Papua  New Guinea | Papua New Guinea | The Guardian

In Papua New Guinea there had been 13,928 confirmed cases. There had been 136 deaths.

There had been 504 new daily cases on May 11. Thirteen deaths would be reported on the 20th of May, the most in one day in the small nation. The spread of the virus was still going on in PNG.

As of the 13th of May there had been 11,537 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. 

In Australia there had been 29,967 confirmed cases with a daily increase of ten. There had been 910 deaths.

As of the 27th of April there had been 3,089,183 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

In Canada there had been 1,318,399 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,991. There had been 24,869 deaths with a daily increase 44.

As of the 20th of May there had been 20,124,578 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of Canada was 37.59 million people.

African nation worst hit by COVID-19 falling behind on vaccines | The Japan  Times

In South Africa there had been 1,611,143 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,750. There had been 55,183 deaths with a daily increase of 59. 

As of the 25th of May, 2021 there had been only 182,983! vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of South Africa was 58.56 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,447,984 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,156. There had been 127,675 deaths with a daily increase of seven.

Those daily numbers were similar to the early part of March 2020 when the first wave was building and late August before numbers continued to rise to devastating effect over winter. Not quite the lull of June and July 2020 but close.

As of the 24th of May there had been 60,965,594 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of Great Britain was 66.65 million people. Given they were now vaccinating people 38 years old and over there must be a few who had gotten second doses or even more?

World reacts to India's catastrophic COVID surge | Coronavirus pandemic  News | Al Jazeera

In India there had been 24,684,077 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 311,170. There had been 270,284 deaths with 4,077.

A record of new daily deaths had been set on the 12th of May with 4,205 deaths recorded that day.

As of the 24th of May there had been 200,494,991 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. 

In the United States of America there had been 32,574,504 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 40,431. In March, April, May and June 2020 the daily averages had never been that high. Many had been less than 20,000 back then. 

There had been 579,664 deaths with a daily increase of 680.

As of the 13th of May there had been 283,181,265 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of the U.S. was 328.2 million people.

 

-Lloyd Marken

 

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 14, 2020

A MacDonalds at Fawkner in Melbourne Victoria had 90 staff tested and isolated pending results after a break-out of eight COVID-19 cases from the fast food outlet including four staff members and four family members of a worker.

May 15, 2020

On the 15th of May the World Health Organisation reported 6,989 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 14. 98 Australians had died and there was no daily increase.

 

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

What is the Moderna COVID vaccine? Does it work, and is it safe?

May 13

Thursday Australia announced a deal to procure 25 million doses of the American Moderna vaccine with 10 million jabs hopefully by the end of year and then 25 million booster jabs next year to deal with variants.

As the federal govenrnemt looked to set-up production of MRNA vaccines in Australia Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement, “We look forward to continuing discussions with Australia about establishing potential local manufacturing opportunities.

Adelaide plant BioCina who had bought a plant in Adelaide off Pfizer threw its hat into the ring as being able to produce MRNA vaccines like Moderna at its facility within 12 months.

We can have the ability to manufacture a hundred, a hundred and fifty million doses that would serve the region rather than just Australia so there is an export oppourtunity as well,” BioCina Chief Executive Ian Wisenberg said.

This followed deals with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Novaxin and Moderna would still need to secure the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

If supplies from Pfizer were delayed maybe ones from Moderna, which had a cited efficacy rate of 94.1 per cent, might help with numbers..

We think there is no reason why you can’t mix and match vaccines. The trial data is not out yet. There’s some trials being done UK looking at AstraZeneca first done and Pfizer or Moderna second dose.” Department of Health Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said looking ahead to the future.

The Univesity of South Australia was also developing a vaccine in partnership with Biotech Company Semetis had also received three million dollars from the Australian government. It was possible still a year from getting to the market. 

In New South Wales 7,500 people got vaccinated in one day.

WIth 7 new cases of blood clots in Australia there were now 18 cases of blood clots from 1,800,000 vaccinations in Australia. That was 1 in a 100,000 chance of having it happening to you someone vaccinated. Remember 1 in 600 Americans had died from COVID last year.

An independent panel for the handling of the pandemic released its findings.
It didn’t get much news coverage despite holding many lessons for I learn from not just for future pandemics for the current ongoing one.

Some critical points were the sharing of information between nations, empowering the World Health Organisation and effectively in terms of the outbreak in the West a lack of action throughout the month of February, 2020.

ABC News reported some suggestions were a disease surveillance system that could publish information about developments in a country they were working in without the need to get permission to do so and rich countries doing more to vaccinate poorer nations.

Let’s hope some lessons are learned from the panel’s findings.

On the 12th of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation recorded in India there had been 4,205 deaths in one day.

A new record.

May 14

A new step in the vaccine roll-out a week on from the 2A cohort was due to start next Monday with 400,000 Pfizer doses to be dispensed to 14 different sites across Victoria for a small group of those under age 50.

You had to make a booking and priority would be given to critical and high risk workers, adults with underlying health conditions, disabiltiy and aged care carers and workers.

Uber Drivers and public transport workers could make a booking from May 24th the following Monday.

Victorian Acting Premier James Merlino advised the state was averaging 8,000 vaccinations a day. A testing clinic at the Melbourne Showgrounds would also open a mass vaccination hub on Monday as well.

I am very supportive of any measures to get as many people vaccinated as possible as quickly as possible. Winter is coming,” Shadow Health Minister Georgie Crozier said.

The bulk of contract tracing and COVID tests following in the wake of a man who had tested positive earlier in the week having travelled from Adelaide had returned negative results with no new daily community cases. The man had originally departed India on the 19th of April and travelled via the Maldives and Singapore.

Channel Nine News reported three hundred thousand vaccine doses had been given out so far in the state.

Army drafted in as 'mass' coronavirus testing is rolled out in Bolton | The  Bolton News

In Great Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the staged steps to lower restrictions could be disrupted by the Indian strain which was spreading through Great Britain.

In one week Public Health England reproted cases of the variant had tripled in the country with 1,255 in England, 35 in Scotland, 12 in Northern Ireland and eleven in Wales.

On May 14th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there were 2,656 new daily cases.

On Monday England was due to open up pubs and restaurants and six people from two households could gather at one of their places.

After that was the fourth and final step due June 21 where there will be no limits on social gatherings indoors or outdoors, no limits on weddings and nightclubs will re-open.

That seemed to still be on the cards but the PM warned, “I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move to step four in June.

But I urge everyone to exercise the greatest caution because the choices we each make in the coming days will have a material effect on the road ahead,” he added.

Having down throught the ages with one jab currently anyone over 38 could get vaccinated. Now there was a run on to cut the 12 week gap between the first and second jab to just eight weeks for those over 50 or with underlying health conditions.

Mr Johnson added that there was “no evidence to suggest that our vaccines will be less effective in protecting people against severe illness and hospitalisation”.

The UK’s Chief Medical Adviser Professor Chris Whitty warned that if the Indian variant was more transmissible the island nation would see a significant surge.

That’s a really critical question to which we do not yet have the answer. We expect over time this variant will overtake and come to dominate in the UK in the way that the Kent variant did,” he added.

Remember how the UK strain was up to 70 per cent than the orginal COVID that across the West, well the Indian strain could be 50 per cent more transmissible than the UK strain according to the Scientific Adivsory Gorup for Emergencies (Sage).

The British Army were deployed to the towns Blackburn and Bolton to help with handing out test kits.
Mobile testing units had been set up Bolton and opening hours and delivery of doses had been increased at that town’s vaccination centres.
A rapid response team of 100 nurses, public health advisers and environmental health officers had also been sent.
Opération gif 3 » GIF Images Download
In the United States of America the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eased indoor mask wearing guidance for vaccinated people allowing them to not wear masks in most indoor places.

The CDC guidelines showed quite clearly by vaccinating you were less at risk and could engage in more activities.

As vaccinations slowed down there was a push to encourage more of the populace to drive those vaccinated numbers just a little higher.

Governors were doing their part like in Ohio where vaccinated adults could go in the draw to win one million U.S. dollars. I’ll do it for free but God Bless America.

But New York Mayor Bill De Blasio was a man more after my own heart tucking into fast food that New Yorkers could get from Shake Shack if they got vaccinated. Free fries and a burger?! Hmmmmmm.

God Bless America!

And God bless Bill de Blasio, don’t listen to the haters Mr Mayor, you looked good tucking into that burger. I would’ve made a meal of it.

-Lloyd Marken

Bill De Blasio GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 13, 2020

The number of unemployed was cited as 10% or 1.4million Australians. This was the highest unemployment rate since the early 1990s recession in Australia and in which unemployment had risen at a far slower rate then during the pandemic.

May 14, 2020

A MacDonalds at Fawkner in Melbourne Victoria had 90 staff tested and isolated pending results after a break-out of eight COVID-19 cases from the fast food outlet including four staff members and four family members of a worker.

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

Coronavirus: Watch breathtaking India image on April 5 2020 at 9 pm  captured from Space

May 08

Saturday and I watched the ABC program Planet America which covered that vaccination numbers were going down in America where the most vaccines were available and a country that still had the highest recorded death toll from COVID.

The United States now set a target to have 70 per cent of the population aged 16 and over vaccinated by July 4th Independence Day. Currently about 56 per cent are at least partially vaccinated.

The state with the most fully vaccinated population was Maine with 41.5 per cent.

Texas was at 28 per cent and the state with the least was Alabama with 24.1 per cent.

The Food and Drugs Administration was looking to approve vaccinations for Americans 12 to 15 year olds starting next week.

The Brazil variant had now become the second most prevalent strain in the U.S.

America was also supporting the waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID vaccines.

May 09

In the United Kingdom I got a bit excited that over 40s in the UK were now getting the jab.
I hoped that meant it wouldn’t be much longer for my younger sister and her husband to get the vaccine.

On the 9th of May of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 157,375,575 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 814,195.

There had been 3,278,607 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 13,408.

The WHO reported as of the 20th of May, 1,448,242,899 vaccine doses had been administered worldwide. The population of the world was at least 7.674 billion people.

Coronavirus Can't Kill Me Now'; Africans Cheer Rollout of COVAX  Vaccinations | World News | US News

In Papua New Guinea there had been 12,226 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 140. Two days later there would be 504 new daily cases.

There had been 121 deaths. The next day there would be nine deaths reported. The outbreak continued in PNG.

The WHO reported as of 13th of May there had been 11,537 vaccine doses adminstered in the country. The population of Papua New Guinea was 8.776 million people.

In Australia there had been 29,906 confirmed cases with a daily increase of nine. There had been 910 deaths.

The WHO reported as of the 27th of April 3,089,183 vaccine doses had been administered in the country. The population of Australia 25.36 million people.

Canada: COVID at 'critical' levels, personal contact discouraged |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

In Canada there had been 1,273,169 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,849. There had been 24,529 deaths with a daily increase of 40.

The WHO reported as of the 13th of May there 17,563,063 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of Canada 37.59 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,433,094 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,047. There had been 127,603 deaths with a daily increase of five.

The WHO reported as of the 18th of May there had been 56,992,075 vaccine doses adminitered in the country. The population of Great Britain was 66.65 million people.

In Brazil there had been 15,082,449 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 78,886. There had been 419,144 deaths with a daily increase of 2,165.

The WHO reported as of the 13th of May there had been 50,011,889 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of Brazil was 211 million people.

Turn away if you do not want to be displayed by the plight of the Indian people and what they have endured.

Below is a photo of the bodies in the Ganges River.

Dozens of bodies wash up on the banks of the Ganges River - New York Daily  News

In India there had been 22,296,414 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 403,738. There had been 242,362 deaths with a daily increase of 4,092.

The day before had been the highest daily death count at 4,187.

The country would reach more than quarter of a million dead on the 12th of May with 254,197 deaths.

Only America and India had reached that milestone and the number of cases and deaths was believed to be much higher. 

The WHO reported as of the 17th of May there had been 185,766,518 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of India was 1.366 billion people.

In United States of America there had been 32,338,866 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,192. There had been 575,521 deaths with a daily increase of 790.

The WHO reported as of 13th of May there had been 264,357,485 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of the U.S. was 328.2 million people.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 08, 2020.

Fifty refrigerated trucks were parked in Sunset Park, Brooklyn spoke to the loss of life in New York City as funeral homes and moratories were overwhelmed.

Here in Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a 3 step program out of lockdown with state governments to choose their own timelines to follow.

COVID-19 DIARY – HEAVILY WEIGHTED DECISIONS – PART II

India's COVID-19 deaths will rise sharply till mid-May—US study | Inquirer  News

May 06

A Sydney man and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 having visited 14 suburbs over five days where he unknowingly had the virus.

In a twist there was no explanation for how we caught it.

Genomic testing linked him an American man who quarantined at the Park Royal in late April. So there was a missing link.

New restrictions were put in place on the eve of Mother’s Day to run three days until midnight Sunday night.

Mask were to be worn indoors and on public transport, there was no singing or dance indoors with the exception of weddings where 20 could get up and boogy. No more than 20 visitors were allowed in households and no more than two visitors to aged care facilities.

If this was WA or Queensland they would have shut down the whole city. They would have said stay at home, they would have said don’t go about your business. We’re saying the opposite,” jabbed Premier Gladys Berejiklian

Which was a bit funny because recently the Queensland Premier had chosen not to go into lockdown when a case had been out in the communtiy for several days. That decison ultimately meant that two Queenslanders with COVID had travelled to Byron Bay leading to the Bryon Bay Bluesfest having to be cancelled in Berejiklian’s home state.

Additionally there was the missing link element here, somebody was out in the community potentially with COVID with no idea that they had it, maybe even more.

Yet the New South Wale Premier was urging people to go out about their business.

It also did eventuate in a lockdown in south east Queensland so Berejiklian’s comments needed to taken as seriously as her thoughts had been prior to making them.

In Victoria state run vaccination centres were averaging 8,000 jabs a day since phase 2A started earlier in the week.

The New Zealand government paused travel from Sydney for two days.

Six thousand people from New South Wales had travelled to New Zealand over the last 6 days would be contacted.

Those who had been to Sydney hotspots travelling into Western Australia were ordered to self quarantine for 14 days and those entering Queensland had to go into hotel quarantine.

Canada also approved Pfizer for use on teenagers aged 12-16 following trials. There was still a long way to go in vaccinating the adult population though.

Nationwide the same day 14,568,067 doses had been dispensed and 1,173,962 people or 3.1 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated out of a national population of 37 and a half million.

In Queensland a man was in Intensive Care following blood clotting after getting the AstraZeneca vaccination. He was one of five cases of clotting across the country in the past ten days as the government moved to deliver 270,000 doses of the vaccine next week.

There had been eleven cases of blood clotting after 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca had been given in Australia including one dose to yours truly.

That is 11 / 1 400 000.

That is so far you had a 1 / 140 000 chance of getting a blood clot.

Out of those eleven cases though had been one fatality.

The threat of dying from COVID remained higher even in a country like Australia where case numbers and deaths had been so low.

Capacity at the Howard Springs facility was due to expand from 850 to 2,000 in preparation for repatriation flights from India as more aid from Australia landed in India.

An ABC News report said that these expansions would be complete by the end of the month, not May 15 but it did give the government time to have undertaken a lot of the work to expand capacity if repatriations did begin on May 15.

Two weeks is a long time in politics, Perth had been in lockdown at the end of April with talk about high numbers of COVID cases in hotel quarantine.

Back then the pressure was on for the Federal Government to act to protect the country from another outbreak in the community and certain sectors of the media were constantly bemoaning shutdowns as hurtful to the economy.

The plan to do something had been discussed at National Cabinet and signed off by health beaurecrats.

But now less than a week later and the focus was on the moral considerations of such an unprecedented decision and the government seemed anxious to peel back the law in another weeks’ time.

Phrasing it around lower number COVID cases in hotel quarantine and a shift to more repatriations through facilities like Howard Springs made sense.

Specialist staff at the Howard Springs facility wear heavy PPE gear.

It was understood the first repatriation flight from India would start as soon as the ban lifted May 15 with a flight that could bring home 200 passengers with priority given to 900 Australians stranded in the sub-continent that were classed as vulnerable.

It was expected that Howard Springs would be close to empty of travellers quarantining there at that point.

Anybody scheduled to board would have to return two negative results before stepping on the plane.

“This second wave is very bad, the logistics in India are very difficult, people are living in remote towns and villages and to get them safely to an airport is a very difficult undertaking. These are the real, practical consequences. There are thousands of people, many dying on the streets in India. So it’s going to be very complex,” Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

I imagine those Australians waiting to get on those flights were like, “Yeah no shit mate.”

There would only be one repatriation flight per week, previously to the travel ban there had been two a week from India.

But two weeeks was a long time for the virus to wreak havoc.

How many people would die waiting for a flight home in that time?

On May 6th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in India there had been 21,077,410 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 412,262.

A world record for daily new cases.

There had been 230,168 deaths with a daily increase of 3,980.

A new record of daily deaths in India too.

May 07

The next day the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the ban would end on May 15.

The original decision to put in place that biosecurity order until the 15th of May has proved very effective and it will run its full course until that time without any change,” Morrison said.

The challenge we have had with arrivals from India is the higher incidence of infections and the stress that was placing on the quarantine system,” he explained.

Australia's Scott Morrison stands by 'one country' remark on China and  Taiwan | The Japan Times

At one point the infection rate at Howard Springs was 15 per cent, much higher than the goal of two per cent causing concern for the quarantine system and potentially Darwin’s hospital system.

However now those numbers had halved and there was an expectation they could be close to zero by next weekend.

No decision had been made yet about commercial flights coming in from India.

Meanwhile the situation in India remained dire.

Positive test results for COVID were averaging about 20 per cent and plenty of people were not getting tested and dying from COVID.

The percentage fo the population that had been fully vaccinated was 2.2%.

More than 46,000 Red Cross staff and volunteers were helping in India.

In the capital city Kathmandu of neighbouring Nepal positve test results for COVID were up to 47 per cent. The country was in lockdown and its hospitals were stretched.

On May 7th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in India there had been 21,491,598 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 414,188.

The highest ever – 414,188.

The global total of new cases in the world that day was a little over double this with 853,895.

There had been 234,083 deaths with a daily increase of 3,915.

The next day would set a new record with 4,187 deaths. 

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 6, 2020

In Melbourne, there was an outbreak at the Cedar Meats abattoir leading to 62 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 DIARY – HEAVILY WEIGHED DECISIONS – PART I

May 03

Monday.

The vaccine rollout continued in Australia with vaccinations being opened up to the 2A Cohort. Anyone over 50 could now get the jab and the main jab available was the AstraZeneca one.

This had followed discussions at National Cabinet.

Politically it was commented that maybe with the vaccine rollout not going smoothly the Prime Minister had moved to more closely consult with state Premiers to achieve results and to also share any blame for failure to deliver.

Either way, with the decision to list Pfizer as the preferred jab for under 50s, the very rare examples of blood clotting being reported in media, and elements of the community that were fearful or against vaccinations – there was now a need to build momentum and confidence.

Sometimes I worry that people have become complacent over our good fortune here in Australia.

There are plenty of countries that avoided major outbreaks for some time before falling foul of the virus.

There was also talk about the need to open up borders and that would only be suitable once we got the majority of the population vaccinated.

So this was the next step and a step in the right direction.

Nearly 16 million doses would be part of 2A which was a cohort of six million Australians aged 50 to 69.

I knew that still not all of 1B had been completed which included people with disabilities and the staff at their centres.

Across the country people were lining up at vaccination hubs including people like the 53 year old recently re-elected Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan who rolled up his sleeve for the AstraZeneca jab.

In Melbourne there were waiting times for people who just rocked up on the day – some as long as two hours.

On Monday a new element to the India travel ban that had been announced on Saturday came into effect.

Any travellers who have been in India in the 14 days leading up to their date of arrival in Australia could face jail time of up to five years and a fine of up to $66,000.

The law appeared to be unprecedented and in some circles was labelled immoral and inhuman.

“It is incredibly disproportionate to the threat that is posed,” GP Dr Vyom Sharma told Weekend Breakfast.

Our families are quite literally dying in India overseas. Many people are trying to come back. We know that hundreds of people in this situation are classify as medically and financially vulnerable, to have absolutely no way of getting them out — this is abandonment,” he said.

A week previously the WA Premier Mark McGowan had said, “India is an epicentre of death and destruction as we speak.I don’t think there is any need to go to India, I don’t.

Epidemiologist Michael Toole, from the Burnet Institute cited a lack of confidence in hotel quarantine from the government.

By his count there had been 16 separate leaks from hotel quarantine in the past six months in five major capital cities.

We need to do that by ensuring that the ventilation in every hotel room is adequate and that staff wear the most appropriate protective equipment, including respiratory masks. That just hasn’t happened because we don’t have a national standard. Each state and territory is basically doing their own thing,” he cited as a possible solution.

As I said, we’ve seen in 16 times in the last 6 months. And if we don’t make any improvements, we can expect more than a dozen more breaches to occur in the section six months,” he told.

Hysterical and ruinous': Christmas Island furious over Australia's  coronavirus plans | Christmas Island | The Guardian

Opposition MP Jason Clare suggested Christmas Island as a solution as had been done a year earlier with people returning from China but notably that was previous to the Howard Springs facility being set up.

According to Education Minister Alan Tudge, the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory currently has an infection rate of 15 per cent, well above the goal of 2 per cent.

Fifty-seven per cent of the positive cases in quarantine had been arrivals from India. It was placing a very, very significant burden on health and medical services in states and territories,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dlsms4JhCCY

May 04

In the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday morning across Victoria’s 22 mass vaccination hubs there had been a record 6,923 doses administered.

As media spotlight ramped up on the travel ban, Prime Minister Scott Morrison when interviewed said, “I think it would be very remote circumstances that would see them imposed. I don’t want to see them necessarily imposed anywhere because I don’t want to see people breaching the rule. If everybody cooperates, then we can get things in a stronger position and that means we can start those repatriation flights again.

The Australian Medical Association had written a letter to the Prime Minister and Health Minister to remove the jail terms and fine amounts.

“To be clear, the AMA is supportive of the pause on flights so that our hotel quarantine system can be readied for the increased risk that we are clearly seeing now of Australians returning with the virus … from India,” AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“The government, in our view, should be doing everything in its power — chartering flights, using our Defence Force if necessary — to bring the most vulnerable of the Australians in India home. In the longer term there’s also the need to replace hotel quarantine with purpose-built facilities, and I’ve had a conversation with the Minister of Health expressing that view today, and the AMA will continue to fight for that.”

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 4, 2020

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Prep, Year 1, 11 and 12 would return to school next Monday May 11. For the other grades it was planned for them to remain remote learning with a return to classrooms May 25.

COVID-19 DIARY – I GOT VACCINATED WITH ASTRAZENECA

April 27

I caught up with my GP in regards to a recent endoscopy I had taken.

I mentioned I had tried to book a vaccine appointment online and had been unable to.

Weeks earlier she had advised I was under 1B cohort and would be getting the vaccine but the health advice had changed since then.

Pfizer was now the preferred vaccine for under 50s which she explained meant I could now wait for the Pfizer.

I told her I was not concerned about the risk from COVID to myself but I did believe we as a community needed to get as many people vaccinated as much as possible and that I was happy to play my part. i was prepared to get the AztraZeneca vacccine, my specialist had advised I could and the risk was extremely minimal.

There were things she needed to consider as my General Practioner but we were in agreement.

She identified a time to get the jab that Thursday morning, when I mentioned wanting to make a vaccine appointment I was told they were very booked up at the moment but I mentioned Thursday morning and sure enough there was a spare and I was booked in.

My GP has always taken good care of me.

April 29
Thursday was the day and I arrived for my 11:40 appointment.
I got taken into a room and debriefed and filled out a form. It was noted that I appeared younger than 50 (what a relief) but I my specialist and GP had given the go ahead.I went into another room, was sat down, took off my shirt and then I was jabbed in the shoulder.

I was then sat in another room for 15 minutes to see if I had any adverse reactions.

The vaccination was administered entirely by medical staff at my local medical centre.
Fifteen minutes later I was free to go and ushered out the door.
It ran like clockwork and was painless.
I got quite a bruise from my flu vaccination weeks earlier even though the needle had gone in particularly smoothly.
Not such a significant bruise with the vaccine jab, nor fatigue or muscle aches for me althought the next day working from home I had felt my hips and back hurting from sitting at my desk but that happened quite a bit.
I have been hanging on tenterhooks for others I know to get protection from COVID.
My sister in particular in the UK where there had been so many cases and deaths but also friends, family and fellow bloggers from around the world and here.
Getting one myself didn’t make me feel much different.
However I bellieve it is something we should all do as soon as we can, I believe it is part of much larger effort to make our way down the road to recovery.
I wanted Karen to get one too and it seemed likely she would be lucky to receive a vaccination by the end of the year. I was not happy about that.
Yet it still kind of blew my mind that less than 14 months after our lives radically changed in mid-March 2020 and here I was receiving a vaccination.
I was very lucky to live in Australia.
Was it possible my dose had been made in India. I don’t know probably not but it was one more reason to be grateful and to think of what I was going to do with my good fortune.
I understand some people are scared of getting vaccines. The only thing I would say is the statistics seem to suggest you have a one in million chance of dying from the blood clot.
But COVID will cause further outbreaks. Even the small ones expereinced recently in Australia probably carry a greater risk to you than taking the vaccine. Taking the vaccine isn’t just about yourself either, it’s about building a herd immunity that will hopefully bring this disease under control.
I know you’re scared but I know you can be brave too. So maybe talk to your doctor and see what they advise.

20210429_122430
                                Copyright Lloyd Marken.

May 02
On the 2nd of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 151,882,470 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 829,666.
There had been 3,188,172 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 13,229.
In Papua New Guinea there had been 11,262 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 56. There had been 115 deaths.
Two weeks later on the 13th of May, the WHO reported there had been 11,537 vaccine doses administered in the country. That was it. Less than the number of cases reported in the country.
Australia had previously announced a delivery of 8,000 doses in March to the country.
One hundred and thirty thousand vaccine doses had been announced to be delivered to PNG under the COVAX scheme in mid-April.
In Australia there had been 29,812 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 910 deaths.
In Malaysia there had been 411,594 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,881. There had been 1,521 deaths with a daily increase of 15.
In Canada there had been 1,219,425 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,342. There had been 24,219 deaths with a daily increae of 50.
In the United Kingdom there had been 4,418,534 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,907. There had been 127,524 deaths with a daily increase of seven. 
The numbers were now finally under the kind of figures that had been posted during the initial first wave in the UK. They weren’t as low as the daily averages from the previous summer but they were the lowest they had been since September.
In India there had been 19,557,457 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 392,488.
The highest number of daily new cases recorded in the country had been yesterday with 401,993 cases.
There had been 215,542 deaths with a daily increase of 3,689. A new record of daily new deaths in the country.
In the United States of America there had been 32,039,197 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 53,619. Still way too high. There had been 570,835 deaths with a daily increase of 810.
-Lloyd Marken
ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 2, 2020.

COVID-19 – WHEN ONE HURTS WE ALL HURT

India COVID cases above 24 million as mutant spreads across globe |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

April 28

As the situation deteroriated in India it consumed our news.

Seven days in a row of 300,000+ new cases every day.

The situation is critical right now. This pandemic is the worst we have ever seen until now and these two weeks are going to be a hell for us,” said Doctor Shaarang Sachdev, Head of Emergency at his Indian hospital.

You’ve all seen the images now.

It was estimated every four minutes in New Delhi a person died.

People racing family members in the back of cars to hospitals and temples and anywhere else where they heard help could be found but none could.

Where people had piled up on mattresses in hospital corridors now

Parks were being made as make shift crematoriums. Pyres burned on roadsides.

Mass funeral pyres reflect India's COVID crisis, D - GNN

People were dying from COVID long before they could get tested.

The scale of death and illness had overwhelmed the system.

Yet Indian health care workers fought on, they did what they could, they risked their own lives.

A black market had sprung up around oxygen tanks but it seemed there just wasn’t any.

How Kerala ramped up oxygen capacity and supply - India Today Insight News

I get around 50 calls every day, somebody asking for beds, somebody asking for cylinders, somebody asking for drugs. We don’t have anything available and patients are dying,” said one doctor.

It is funny what images get to you.

I took it in when the burning pyres were shown on a scale that was hard to see.

But the image that got to me was men simply laying bricks and building for more cremations.

In a split second my brain recognised the scale of death you’ve seen is nothing compared to what is to come.

Police went everywhere to deal with anger spilling out from a population feeling such anguish and fear.

India's COVID-19 Crisis: Images Reflect the Surge That's Being Felt Around  the World | Council on Foreign Relations

Perversely there were still religous ceremonies and festivals going ahead in river banks, in mass groupings and without social distancing or mask wearing.

The pandemic was raging.

RAGING.

It had raged in Wuhan, it had raged in New York, it had raged in India previously reaching nine million cases and it had raged in Brazil and was still raging.

But it almost felt like the scenes coming out of India…

If we had held out hope that 2021 would not be as bad as 2020 – as I had hoped – well that hope was almost irrelevant now.

India's COVID-19 crisis is a 'crime against humanity,' says prize-winning  author as nation sets new case record - MarketWatch

I do still want to see that the vaccine had changed the situation but seeing loss on such sale meant that whatever gains we came out of this year we had witnessed very clearly that the situation can become as tragic and heartbreaking as it has ever been.

On the 28th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in India there had been 17,997,267 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 360,960. There had been 201,187 deaths with a daily increase of 3,293 deaths.

In the face of such events it can be easy to lose heart. But helping in whatever way you can makes a diffrence. There were many organisations that could use support at this time.

One of them is Medicines Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

On April 28 their website adviseed they were “preparing to support two units within a ‘Jumbo’ hospital in Mumbai. The units will include two sets of tents with about 1,000 intensive care unit bed capacity in each. Five additional medical doctors and five nurses have been recruited to strengthen the response.

Inside Mumbai's jumbo covid facility - Built in a fortnight | The Economic  Times

MSF was also “providing prevention kits, counselling and phone follow-up to high-risk patients, including TB and diabetes patients and the elderly.

Since 2006 MSF have been treating patients in Mumbai for drug resistant tuberculosis and HIV.

They were also indentifying cases and referring patients to suitble hospitals and clinics.

Most of our 256 patients come from the informal settlements where, due to poor living conditions, the risk of disease is high,Dr Hemant Sharma, Project Coordinator of MSF’s COVID-19 response in Mumbai said.

Doctors Without Borders were also doing work in Papua New Guinea.

The situation in Papua New Guinea is an example of the global inequity of access to vaccines and other medical tools. When cases numbers began to soar, health workers here remained unvaccinated, while other countries are hoarding more vaccines than they need,” MSF Medical Manager Farah Hossain said.

MSF Focus on Papua New Guinea

In early April a MSF team supported the COVID_19 facility set up in Port Moresby by the National Capital District’s Provincial Health Authority with a capacity of 43 beds for very ill patients.

The team has trained local medical practitioners on emergency situations, the application of PPE, oxygen therapy and treatment of acute pneumonia.

They go wherever they’re needed and donations go to their underlying cause to allow them to response to any crisis where they’re needed not just where the world’s attention is currently focused on.

The following week we made a small donation.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ONE LOCKDOWN ENDS AND A NEW BAN BEGINS

Cyclist wearing mask rides near fence of lookout over looking Perth city skyline of tall buildings.

April 26

Monday.

Perth came out of its snap lockdown with no new community cases reported that day.

Mandatory mask wearing would remain until at least 1 minute past midnight on Saturday morning.

Retaurants, pubs and cafes could re-open but indoor gyms, nightclubs and casinos would remain shut.

“The short three-day lockdown has done the job it was designed to do. It was the circuit-breaker we needed to limit community spread. Western Australians have done their bit to keep our community safe,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

QANTAS plane on tarmac in Hobart.

April 27

On the larger scale the Australian government made a decision to stop all direct flights returning from India India due to the higher number of COVID cases from returned travellers in hotel quarantine in particular from India.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all indirect flights through other cities like Doha, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur had been paused by their respective governments.

Last week on the 22nd of April, National Cabinet had made the decision to reduce flights from India by 30 per cent. 

It followed a reduction in repatriations and travellers going through hotel quarantines due to increased case numbers in said quarantine.

The ban halted two passenger flights from India to Sydney, two repatriation flights from India to Darwin and eight further repatriation flights scheduled for the first two weeks of May.

Travel to India was also retricted to matters of national interest, under medical exemption and for COVID-19 purposes.

Specialist staff at the Howard Springs facility wear heavy PPE gear.

On the 24th of April the number of positive cases at the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory had reached 48.

“The Northern Territory only has a certain amount of ICU beds,” the Northern Territory Deputy Opposition Leader Gerard Maley had said.

As of that Saturday, a total of 6,668 people have arrived in Darwin on repatriation flights since October last year, of which 117 have tested positive to COVID-19.

The total number of positive coronavirus cases reported in the Territory is 160, with all cases relating to international or interstate travel.

The Prime Minister said the total number of weekly cases in hotel quarantine had risen from 90 to 143.

The pause would last until May 15.

It was reported 9,000 Australians in India wanted to return home with 650 of them categorised as vulnerable.

Australia says chance of jail remote for India travel ban offenders - Times  of India

We don’t think the answer is to just forsake those in India and just shut them off. I don’t see this as a problem we have to solve, I see this as a group of people we need to help. These are Australians and Australian residents who need our help, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

When flights resume, all passengers will be required to have both a negative COVID-19 PCR test result and a negative rapid antigen test result prior to departure.

The Australian government was also sending 500 ventilators, 1 million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields.

On the 27th of April, the World Health Organisation reported there had been 17,636,307 confirmed cases with a daily increae of 323,144. There had been 197,894 deaths with a daily increase of 2,771.

“I stress this is an initial package, there’ll be more to follow,” the Prime Minister advised about the aid being sent.

“This is the challenge of a pandemic, you don’t get the perfect of all situations,” the Prime Minister said.

The European Union decided to sue AstraZeneca for breach of contract after they failed to deliver 30,000,000 dozes of their COVID vaccine by the end of June. The pharmaceutical company was only going to be able to deliver a third of that amount.

The U.S. government planned to send 60 million doses of AstraZeneca overseas to where it is needed if the move gets approval from the Food and Drugs Administration.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE FALLEN

Bomana Cemetery - Anzac Portal

April 25

ANZAC Day in Australia in 2021.

Light Up the Dawn Services continued across the country repeating the new tradition established last year due to COVID lockdowns.

But public marches did return to most states even if with COVID restrictions.

I took no part in any of it but I did pause and think about the fallen.

On the 25th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 146,142,034 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 850,448.

There had been 3,094,238 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 13,282.

The largest single daily increase of new cases was on the 23rd of April, 2021 – 912,279.

The highest number of deaths recorded in one day remained 16,660 reported on the 28th of January.

I’m sure who died from COVID had been underreported. Through the sheer scale fo the loss it was impossible to know for sure they said.

In Australia there had been 29,658 with a daily increase of 19. There had been 910 deaths.

In New Zealand there had been 2,245 confirmed cases and 26 deaths.

In Papua New Guinea, home of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, there had been 10,670 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 68. There had been 102 deaths. The country remained in the grip of the pandemic spreading.

Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels - Wikipedia

In South Africa there had been 1,574,370 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,385. There had been 54,125 deaths with a daily increase of 59.

In Turkey there had been 4,591,416 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 40,596. There had been 38,011 deaths with a daily increase of 339.

Their highest number of new daily cases had just been a week earlier on the 17th of April with 63,082.

The highest number of daily deaths would be 394 recorded on May the 1st, 2021.

In Germany there had been 3,287,418 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18,773. There had been 81,564 with a daily increase of 120.

In Italy there had been 3,949,517 confimed cases with a daily increase of 13,814. There had been 119,021 deaths with a daily increase of 322.

In Japan there had been 562,141 confirmed cases with a daily increase 5,142. There had been 9,913 deaths with a daily increase of 59. There was growing surge of new cases in the country.

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

In South Korea there had been 118,887 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 644. There had been 1,813 deaths with a daily increase of one.

In Malaysia there had been 390,252 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,717. There had been a 1,426 deaths with a daily increase of eleven. There was a growing surge in Malaysia too.

In Indonesia there had been 1,636,792 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,544. There had been 44,500 deaths with a daily increase of 154.

In Vietnam there had been 2,833 confirmed cases with a daily increase of one. There had been 35 deaths.

In Zimbabwe there had been 38,064 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 1,556 deaths.

In Namibia there had been 47,671 with a daily increase of 288. There had been 624 deaths with a daily increase of two.

Cambodian Capital to End Blanket COVID Lockdown Despite Surge | World News  | US News

In Cambodia there had been 9,975 confimed cases with a daily increase of 616. There had been 74 deaths with a daily increase of three. The country had recently seen the pandemic take off there.

On May 4th, 2021 the country recorded its highest daily number of new cases with 938. The highest number of daily deaths was ten on the 24th of April, 2021. 

In Somalia there had been 13,459 confirmed cases and 689 deaths. No daily increases that day.

The highest number of new daily cases was 326 on March 30th, 2021. The highest number of daily deaths was 32 on April 15, 2021.

In Rwanda there had been 24,535 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 76. There had been 328 deaths.

In Timor-Leste there had been 1,808 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 151. There had been three deaths.

Like Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and others, COVID was starting to be reported more in the tiny young nation. Their population was 1.293 million people. By the 2nd of May, 2021 30,599 vaccine doses would have been distrubuted in the country.

On May 9th, 2021 would be the highest amount of new daily cases with 262. Three deaths on May 14th, 2021 would be the highest daily record in the country so far. 

Fighting COVID-19 in Solomon Islands – Save the Children Australia

In the Solomon Islands there had been 20 confirmed cases and zero deaths reported.

In Afghanistan there had been 58,843 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 113. There had been 2,582 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Iraq there had been 1,025,288 with a daily increase of 6,967. There had been 15,217 deaths with a daily increase of 43.

The highest number of new daily cases in the country was 8,696 three days earlier on the 22nd of April, 2021. A new wave of cases was cresting in the country.

In Canada there had been 1,164,581 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,747. There had been 23,883 deaths with a daily increase of 61.

The highest number of new daily cases was 10,275 fours day earlier on April 21, 2021.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,403,174 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,061. There had been 127,417 deaths with a daily increase of 32.

India COVID-19 deaths could touch 1 million by August: Lancet | India News  | Al Jazeera

In India there had been 16,960,172 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 349,691!

It was a new record for new daily cases but pretty much every day was a new heartbreaking record that left death and misery in it’s wake of a scale previously unseen.

There had been 192,311 deaths in the country with  a daily increase of 2,767.

In the United States of America there had been 31,693,289 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 61,884. There had been 566,184 deaths with a daily increase of 838. Still way too high.

Milestones in Space Photography -– National Geographic

All those lives lost in countries around the world.

Just like lives lost in a war.

We were a year into this war, the casaulties were mounting and yet here we were. Vaccines had been made. We opened up, we closed down, waves came and went. Life wasn’t the same and wasn’t going be for a while yet but it still went on.

At the end of it, maybe for a lot of people nothing will ever be the same. Some memories will haunt, some losses will be painfully felt for the rest of days to come.

But come they will.

If not for us then for those who come after us.

All we can do is our best and the rest will take care of itself.

Such was it for those we remember on ANZAC Day.

The Fallen.

The Remembered.

The Lost.

Lest We Forget.

-Lloyd Marken

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

Mass cremations begin as India's capital faces deluge of COVID-19 deaths |  Reuters

April 19

Monday.

At a National Cabinet meeting the and federal leaders agreed to opening up vaccinations to anyone over 50 in Australia.

Regardless of whether the older age groups had all been vaccinated.

The thinking was as more people got more vaccinated it might grow confidence for some to get vaccinated who were sitting on the fence.

Hence starting on 2A phase of those aged 50-69 before the rest of 1B had been completed.

There wasn’t a lot of coverage in the media at the moment but I can tell that not all those with disabilities or living in supported accomodation had received their vaccines yet.

We don’t want to see one vaccine that’s rolling off the line and going through the approval processes and the batch testing sitting in a fridge,” Morrison said.

Great…so how about getting it to those with disabilities?

The priority of the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy remains to vaccinate vulnerable populations under priority groups 1a and 1b,” the Prime Minister said.

The medical advice remains that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe and recommended for Australians over 50 years old and all states will continue to be prioritised AstraZeneca for Australians over 50 years old,” he added.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

“Scott Morrison promised aged care residents and disability facility residents, the most vulnerable members of our community, would be fully vaccinated by Easter, but still more than three-quarters of aged-care facilities have not had their residents fully vaccinated. This is simply not good enough; Australia needs to speed up this crucial vaccine rollout. I’d like to see a new plan with clear timelines and targets. The last one which had targets like 4 million Australians by end of March, the job done by October, is clearly in tatters, we need a new plan with revised timelines and targets,” said Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler before the meeting.

Six million Australians would come under the 2A phase.

The Department of Health reported on April 14th, 2.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been produced in country and 714,000 received from overseas.

Breakdowns of how many people have been given which vaccine are not provided by the government or health authorities.

The changes would be potentially approved at the next National Cabinet meeting scheduled to take place on Thursday but had agreed in-principle to the changes.

The Prime Minister said National Cabinet still planned for GPs to be the primary way of dispensing vaccines to the populace but state governments would look to assist with mass vaccination sites.

Mr Morrison said the Commonwealth will continue to finalise the vaccination of residential aged care facility (RACF) residents with Pfizer using an in-reach model.

Australia remained slow in getting its country vaccinated.

This had implications for opening borders back up going forward causing issues for trade and business but as the Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted, “The pandemic is raging. globally. It’s raging.

Also being discussed was mass vaccine centre hubs in particular to when Pfizer doses arrived later in the year for under 50s to get vaccinated with.

“There’s a lot of work to be done given that would be effectively, if we wished, a 12-week sprint. There’d need to be plenty of planning to achieve that,” said the Prime Minister.

There was also talk from the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt about looking to set up an MRNA capacity here in Australia but it could take up to a year.

Other countries, Germany for example, decided they wanted to manufacture their own mRNA vaccines in country, to be assured of supplies of these state of the art vaccines, and they built a factory in about six months. We’ve seen for months now, talk from the government and no action,” countered Butler.

India is running out of COVID-19 vaccines, as second wave accelerates

In India a surging new wave of cases and deaths continued in a country that was a major vaccine producer.

On April 19th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 15,061,919 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 273,810. There had been 178,769 deaths with a daily increase of 1,619.

They had reported a million new cases in less than a week.

New restrictions and curfews were being put in place but the the wave was rising.

Sixty per cent of all vaccines were produced in India and the country was home to the Serum Institute of India which was the world’s largest vaccine producer.

They were a major player in the global vaccine sharing initiative COVAX.

Covax vaccine-sharing scheme delivers first doses to Ghana - BBC News

But now India was in short supply of vaccines themselves.
While vaccines could only do so much now given the spread was happening it did raise questions about the competing priorities of India’s delivery of vaccines to the rest of the world and to its own people.
SII had also previously slowed down exports in January to prioritise the most vulnerable in India with vaccines. Those decisions did have impacts abroad particularly in Africa.
The world has never looked to produce vaccines on this scale in these timeframes.
The United States of America with the most number of reported cases and deaths in the world had placed a temporary ban on raw materials used for vaccine production. The European Union had also tightened restrictions around vaccine exports.
Stage-3 Trials Given A Miss: Congress Leaders On Covid Vaccine Approval
The two main vaccines in India were the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine also known as Covishield, and the Indian vaccine Covaxin made by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Their roll out began in earnest in January with health care workers and those highest at risk. They wanted to vaccinate 300 million people by August in a country of 1.4 billion people.
Covaxin had been rushed into service before third trial efficacy data had been released but initial vaccine hesitancy had been overcome.
Still only 14.3 million Indians had been fully vaccinated and now the pandemic was raging.
The capacity to have vaccinated the whole country in such a short time would not have been possible.
In Punjab last week there had been 450,000 doses of Covishield and 30,000 doses of Covaxin in a state of 27 million.
Covishield: A timeline of the Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum  Institute of India | Hindustan Times
Other states had to suspend their vaccinations including the COVID ravaged Maharashtra which had also administered more than 11.1 million doses more than any other state.
Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with state governors had praised the success of India’s vaccination efforts.
India had become the fastest nation to reach 100 million jabs in 85 days. America had taken 89 and China 102.
The Indian government moved to receive more vaccines the same week by fast tracking approval of vaccines already approved for use in other countries.

India delivers COVID jabs for 'world's biggest vaccination drive' |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

April 21

Wednesday and my Mum and Dad got their Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine.

This was a huge relief for me.

I am told that on the way to the centre they were a little nervous and decided to put on the radio for some music to distract themselves and a news bulletin about blood clotting came on and they promptly turned the radio off.

There were no side effects and they will get a second dose in three months time.

April 22

The Australian government announced a travel ban on all direct flights from India. That included Australians trying to return home.

312,731 new cases were reported in the country that day alone and there were now well over 2 million active cases in India at 2,291,428.

2,104 deaths had been recorded in a single day.

The death toll stood at 184,657.

One third of active cases in Australia have now orginated from returning flights from India.

The travel ban will started on April 27 and will last for two weeks until May 15 when a further decision will be made.

New South Wales was also going to have a major vaccination hub open by mid-May to delvier 30,000 doses a week.

April 23

Friday the week was coming to an end, a long weekend beckoned but perhaps appropriately on the eve of ANZAC Day the mood was sombre as Perth went into a three day lockdown, a boat with COVID cases docked in Australia and images out of India broke my heart. Just look at that masked woman at the end shaking as she cries.

Anzac driveway events set to stay: RSLWA | Liverpool City Champion |  Liverpool, NSW

A man in his 50s had flown into Melbourne on Wednesday and tested positive Friday morning. He had been in hotel quarantine for the required days then been out in the Perth Community for five days with a friend who had now tested positive.

Those 270 passengers on the flight into Melbourne would need to isolate for 14 days and were currently being contact by Victorian authorities.

Thirteen more people had tested positive in the Howard Springs quarantine facility in Darwin – all returned travellers from India in the past week. So they were deferring flights throughout May into June.

There were 18 more hotel quarantine cases in New South Wales, twelve of them returned travellers from India.

Channel Nine 9 News reported the Queensland Premier had written a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a two week freeze on any travel from India.

Sydney port workers await COVID-19 results after boarding ship with  positive crew members - ABC News

Thirteen out of fifteen Port Botany workers tested negative to COVID having boarded a tanker previously that had an outbreak of COVID on board.

The tanker Inge Kosan had travelled from Port Moresby and docked in Sydney on the 31st of March and then gone on to Vanuatu where it was detained with twelve cases on board and one death due to COVID.

But it was India that captured our attention. Well over a year into a virus that first impacted China in late 2019 had wrecked havoc but perhaps never on a scale like this.

It was heartbreaking.

Just when you think we might have seen the worst of this.

We were reminded the virus never sleeps.

It never rests.

We can’t afford too either.

-Lloyd Marken

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

Rare blood clots from AstraZeneca vaccine mostly affect younger people |  Financial Times

April 16

A New South Wales woman had died after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

There had been 79 clotting incidents following 20 million jabs of the vaccine in the UK.

Now there had been three in Australia.

As the federal government looked to ramp up their vaccine rollout the numbers were daunting.

Currently 100,000 Pfizer doses were arriving every week.

That needed to ramp up to 1,500,000 doses a week to meet to all 40 million doses arrive by year’s end. Close to 50 million doses would be needed to vaccinate the whole population.

THe 40 million Pfizer doses of course were only part of 170 million doses we had on order.

It was unlikely we would receive all doses by Christmas but the end goal had to be vaccinating people as quickly as possible. Novavax was still unapproved, delivery numbers of Pfizer was less than ideal and now the AstraZeneca was not the preferred choice for under 50s.

April 17

Forty eight year-old Genene Norris of the New South Wales Central Coast had passed away from blood clots having received the AstraZeneca vaccine. On saturday The Therapeutic Goods Administration advised her death was likely linked to the vaccine. She received her jab on the morning of the 8th of April hours before the government changed their policy. She did have underlying health conditions including diabetes.

Her family made a statement, “We cannot believe that this time last week she was with us and now she is gone.

There were three cases of rare blood clotting following over 900,000 vaccinations in Australia so far.

A woman from Western Australia and a man from Victoria, both in their 40s were now recovering.

We have seen some hesitancy … particularly in the state-run clinics,” the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said in regards to shaken confidence in getting the vaccine.

One of the crucial components about vaccine hesitancy, or the opposite vaccine certainty, is about understanding and knowing that if there is bad news, it’s told. That there is openness from people like myself,” he explained.

A recent Oxford University study had pointed out that getting COVID led to an even higher risk of getting blood clotting which Professor Kelly referred.

The vast majority of our citizens know the benefits of taking a vaccine, they also know the risks, as slight as it is. I turned 50 last year and got the jab and am very excited to get the second one. The vast majority of our citizens want a vaccine, want to get ahead of it,” advised New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oZyVY0gE1c&list=PLsBzd5S5fFgFdYL2NUa6np-BQIis6Z8cX&index=21

April 18

There had been 330,000 vaccinations carried out in Australia in the past seven days but anecdotally a Sydney GP told of a halving of his vaccination bookings.

We need those vaccinations to be in people’s arms not in the fridges so I appeal to everyone to come in and get vaccinated because this vaccine is a safe vaccine,” Dr Rifi said.

National Cabinet meetings were scheduled to go every two weeks to work through vaccination roll out issues.

On the 18th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 140,373,652 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 835,129.

We reached 3 million deaths worldwide from COVID the same day.

3,005,346 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 11,858.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 9,738 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 223. There had been 89 deaths with a daily increase of five.

April 15th had marked the highest number of new daily deaths in the country with eleven. 

In Australia there had been 29,505 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 21. There had been 910 deaths.

On the 29th of December the last COVID death in Australia had been reported. 

April 14th, 2021 marked the first new death from COVID in the country since then. 

In Canada there had been 1,106,062 confirmed cases 9,346. There had been 23,541 deaths with a daily increase of 41.

Cases were surging.

A record of new daily cases had been reached in the country on December 28, 2020 with 9,827 cases.

That record was broken on April 13th, 2021 with 9,936 new daily cases and it would be again on the 21st of April, 2021 with 10,275 new cases.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,385,942 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,206. There had been 127,260 deaths with a daily increase of 35.

In Brazil there had been 13,832,455 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 85,774. There had been 368,749 deaths with a daily increase of 3,305.

In India there had been 14,788,109 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 261,500. There had been 177,150 deaths with a daily increase of 1,501.

The next day there were 273,810 new daily confirmed cases.1,619 new reported daily deaths.

Every day was a grim new record.

A week later 349,691 new daily cases and 2,767 deaths. 

Every day in between a new record.

In the United States of America there had been 31,250,635 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 73,697. There had been 560858 deaths with a daily increase of 911.

ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 17, 2020

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 2,080,235 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 81,839.

139,507 people had died from COVID-19. The daily increase was 8,473.

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

April 10

Vaccinations were rolling out across regional communities in Queensland including up in the far north where we were bordered with Papua New Guinea.

April 11

Sunday.

On the 11th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 135,097,616 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 754692.

There had been 2,921,503 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 11,974.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 8,442 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 100. There had been 68 deaths.

In Australia there had been 29,396 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 1,045,278 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,255. Two days later the country would set a new record of daily new cases with 9,936. There had been 23,251 deaths with a daily increase of 40.

May 4, 2020 still remained the date where the highest number of deaths had been reported with 235.

During the second wave 210 deaths had been reported on January 9th, 2021. The highest number of daily deaths in that wave.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,368,049 with a daily increase of 845. There had been 127,080 with a daily increase of 40.

In India there had been 13,358,805 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 152,879. There had been 169,275 deaths with a daily increase of 839.

The highest number of new daily cases during the first wave in India had been 97,894 on the 17th of September, 2020. The numbers were well beyond that now.

That record got broken on the 5th of April, 2021 with 103,558 new daily cases.

April 7th a new record again with 115,736 new cases.

April 8th – 126,789.

April 9th – 131,968.

April 10th – 145,384.

And a new record again on the 11th of April with 152,879 with no end in sight.

In Brazil there had been 13,373,174 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 93,317. There had been 348,718 deaths with a daily increase of 3,693. The day had seen their highest recorded amount of daily deaths with 4,249.

Poop tests stop COVID-19 outbreak at University of Arizona | Science | AAAS

In the United States of America there had been 30,772,857 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 80,631. Way too high as it appeared America was rising slightly in daily average of new cases. There had been 555,712 deaths with a daily increase of 929.

April 13

A report on the Channel 10 program The Project covered that the Australian government was not intending to purchase the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as it was same type of vaccine as the AztraZeneca vaccine which we were manufacturing in Melbourne at CSL Limited.

We remained reliant on delivery of the PfizerBioNTech vaccine for the majority of those under 50s going forward and had used it for the bulk of our frontline workers in healthcare and hospitality already.

So why weren’t were we manufacturing Pfizer here?

Well that was because the PfizerBioNTech vaccine was an MRNA vaccine that we didn’t have the current capability to build.

However The Project report argued with proper funding we could have such a capacity maybe in 12 months.

A year seems a long time away and facility building always seem to suffer delays but such an investment could pay off down the line in the future.

Given what had transpired in the past year and the need to give ourselves more options in the fight to overcome COVID it seemed like a compelling idea worth a further look.

April 14

In the United States of America the government hit pause in the use of new Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“This announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan: Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 per cent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date,” Mr White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said.

As of April 12th there had been 6.8 million shots of the jab administered in the country.

Less than 5 per cent of all vaccinations in the country with Pfizer and Moderna accounting 180 million doses delivered.

Out of the 6.8million Johnson & Johnson shots there had been 6 cases of blood clots and so far no deaths.

The six cases involved all women aged 18 to 48 and symptoms occurred six to 13 days after they received their shot.

The Australian government had made a decision earlier in the week to not place orders for the vaccine. Having 170 million AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Novavax vials in the pipeline.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine: Here's what to know - ABC News

This is a really rare event, there have been six out of the 6.58 millions doses, this is less than one in a million, so this (pause) is out of an abundance of caution.,” advised Dr Fauci.

People are asking me if they should cancel their Johnson & Johnson vaccine appointments and I have told them not to but I know many will and this will stall progress in controlling the pandemic,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at St John Hopkins said.

Johnson & Johnson announced it would also delay its rollout of the vaccine in Europe.

The British/Swiss Oxford AstraZeneca, the American Johnson & Johnson, the Chinese CanSino Biological and the Russsian Sputnik V vaccine were all adenovirus vector vaccine. A “cold” virus that instructs our cells to produce a spike protein found on the surface of the virus.

When your body begins producing the harmless spike protein, your immune system reacts and learns how to fight the real thing.

The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines use mRNA technology. Those are harder to manufacture and have to be kept in freezing temperatures as opposed to simple refrigeration.

Twenty million of the Johnson & Johnson doses had been delivered to America, they had just started getting the first of what was planned to be 75 million doses by the end of June and 120 million by end of September.

Three hundred thousand vaccinations had been given in South Africa.

Four hundred million doses were scheduled to go to the Africa bloc.

Remember how I said this would be the vaccine given to the third world because it was a one shot jab that doesn’t require refrigeration?

GSK to manufacture 60 million doses of Novavax vaccine for the UK

As America hit pause on Johnson & Johnson and Australia demurred the vaccine, the spotlight turned to Novavax a little in my country.

With Pfizer as the preferred vaccine for under 50s, the bulk of which was scheduled to come in the final quarter of 2021 – Australia’s third vaccine became of greater importance.

Fifty one million doses to come sometime in mid-2021 but when could be anywhere from July to September now following supply shortages.

“When you start producing [vaccines] at a scale of millions and millions and millions, I mean, small scale is fine, but whenever manufacturing is required at that scale, there will always be a challenge. Whether that be the packaging or the supply chain.” QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute’s Professor Rajiv Khanna said.

The American produced Novavax worked in a similar way to the adenovirus vaccines but used the same spike protein as the virus.

The protein is then collected, concentrated, purified and mixed with other chemicals to make sure the body’s immune system mounts a strong response.

Trials in Great Britain with 15,000 people resulted in an efficacy rate of 89.3 per cent.
Pfizer had a efficacy rate of 95%, Moderna at 94.1%, the efficacy of AstraZeneca had a wider range of results from 62 to 90 per cent. A recent study published in The Lancet showed a twelve week wait between doses which was becoming the norm in places like the UK and Australia showed 82 per cent.
Trials in South Africa up against the South African variant had the rate go down to as low as 49.4 per cent.
While we weren’t taking up Johnson & Johnson for the moment and Novavax was our third and currently last option, the vaccine was likely to be approved for other countries (many invested in its development) before Australia.

Coronavirus: Qantas further cuts international flights, grounds eight A380s  – Business Traveller

April 15

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was working on a scheme people returning from trips overseas quarantining at home. If they had been vaccinated. This would be for initial essential overseas travel like business deals, medical procedures and family funerals.

Vaccinations had also taken a dip following the government’s announcement last Thursday night.

The Prime Minister also announced an intention to have the 16 million Australians under 50 receive their first and second Pfizer doses through October to December 2021 using mass vaccination sites but who would man them was raised in response.

That would require 230,000 vaccinations a day.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 11, 2020

The United States of America overtakes Italy as the country with the highest number of deaths due to COVID-19.

April 12, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is released from hospital having survived COVID-19 thanks to the dedicated NHS staff who saw him through intensive care.

April 13, 2020 

CBS Reporter Paula Reid took it to Ballbag in a press conference after he had consistently behaved in an appalling manner for several week offering no correct and consistent messaging and seemed more invested in belittling reporters rather than answering really simple questions. This time he couldn’t even manage that. 

April 15, 2020

Term 2 started for schools around Australia with most states opting for remote learning where students were not children of essential workers.

In Potters Field on Hart Island in the Bronx. They buried the dead.

COVID-19 DIARY – O CANADA

Sunrise on Western Canada

 

April 09

Where I live there isn’t much in the news about Canada. 

I have always taken care to keep track of their stats on the World Health Organisation dashboard because I know people over in Canada and I want to know what they’re facing. 

Canada had its share of woes but in comparison to the United Kingdom and the United States their numbers were not as bad. 

Now with the United States of America steaming ahead with vaccinations and the UK dispensing at a fast rate too the numbers were changing.

Canada april

If you look at the graph above taken from today May the 9th, 2021 Canada experienced a severe second wave over their most recent cold months. This is similar to most of the world following an initial wave in March/April 2020.

But unlike say the UK or the US, Canada has experienced what some other European countries have which is despite the introduction of the vaccine they have quickly gone into a third wave.

Spare a thought for some of the European countries which had no dip in February or March and whose death rates have also gone up.

With Canada while the case numbers have risen, so far the death rates have not followed suit at the same rate.

A Forbes article from April 9 discussed Canada’s infection rate. 

It noted during the first two waves of COVID in the country, Canada’s numbers were among the lowest in Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations and with a significantly lower infection rate than the U.S.

Now that was looking to change. The BBC reported Canada was averaging 180 cases per million.

The US was just ahead with 196 cases per million, down from 700 cases per million in January. 

The B117 UK Variant was the dominant strain in the country with 90 per cent of cases but the Brazilian P1 variants was also now in the community and rapidly spreading.

Whiting Event in Lake Ontario

In Ontairo where 14 million people lived, a four week lockdown had been imposed with non-essential retail and Toronto schools shut down.

The Vancouver Canucks hockey team had postponed games as 25 players and staff caught COVID.

The BBC reported the US had fully vaccinated 19.6% of its population, compared with 8.5% in the UK and 2% in Canada.

Having started vaccinations on December 14, Canada had orders with 7 different vaccine supplies totalling 400 million doses but it has very little production capacity itself. 

The only two approved vaccines for the country in February were Moderna and Pfizer with delays of delivery as production ramped up in Europe and countries despately needed the vaccine too.

At the point six million doses were expected to be delivered by the end of March.

Canada had signed a deal to locally produce Novavax and began construction of a factory in Montreal.  

COVID-19 response: Building the infrastructure

Regardless.

Canada had enacted a hotel quarantine scheme on the 22nd of February, 2021.

Travellers had to test negative within 72 hours of getting ready to fly to Canada. Then they quarantine in designated hotel for three nights until receiving the results of another test they took upon arrival in the country. If they tested positive they could quarantine for 14 days at home, if they tested negative they had to quarantine in a facility chosen by the government for 14 days. 

Similar though not as stringent as a scheme Australia put in place eleven months earlier in late March 2020!

Vaccines could be less effetive against the new strains taking off and also as shown in Brazil affect more young people leading the median age of hospitalisations becoming much younger. 

In the videos below you can watch interviews with Intensive Care Unit physician Dr Michael Warner discussing the situation with hospitalisations in Ontairo in March, 2021.

Provincial Governors in Canada issued lockdowns and restrictions in response to rising hospitalisations.

But the action taken by each province varied.

There was a curfew in Montreal and Laval and four areas of the Quebec province had seen lockdowns extended. 

Eastern Canada, Day and Night

Just that week a gym in Quebec City was the epicentre of a spread of  419 cases.

Comparatively the Maritime provinces followed a similar policy to New Zealand with quick and severe suppression strategies. They now had established a travel bubble amongst each other.

Vince Volpe set up a petition via Change.org to try and have education staff prioritsed as essential workers to get vaccinated sooner rather than later in Canada which I signed along with 76,837 others.

On April 30, 2021 there was an update on the petition.

A statement had been released by the Ontairo’s Minister of Education Stephen Lance that from the 3rd of May, all education workers in the province would be able to book a vaccine appointment.

Pandemic concerns: Teachers worried about their health, quality of  education – Chilliwack Progress

Mid may would atleast mean second doses could be administered before the new school year in September. Classes were happening right now followed a delayed spring break but at least getting all teachers vaccinated by a new school year would be something if it could happen. Not just teachers too but all school staff and early childhood care centres.

Mid-May is about the latest that it can possibly happen where we will still have vaccines for education workers, and have all of the second round of shots finished in time for the new school year, but that does nothing for this school year,” elementary school teacher Lyndsay Houghtling said during an interview with CTV’s Your Morning on the 7th of April. 

We have an entire spring break available to us where we could realistically have it all done and have all of our education workers vaccinated, including our educational assistants are seen by [child and youth workers], our custodial staff, our administrative staff,” Houghtling said.

We hoped the vaccines would see the end of the worst of the pandemic but it is not over yet.

Canada, the lack of dips in Europe, the situation in places like Papua New Guinea, Brazil and India are painful reminders of this.

Maybe there is hope to be found in the fact that Canada with rising case numbers and hospitalisations and low vaccine rates still has not seen a similar rise in deaths.

Either way Canada you are never far from my thoughts.

On the 9th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in Canada there had been 1,028,041 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,148. There had been 23,173 deaths with a daily increase of 32.

 

-Lloyd Marken

 

ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 09, 2020.

The WHO reported in Canada there were 18,433 cases with a daily increase of 1,384. There had been 401 Canadians die with a daily increase of 56.

 

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

Coronavirus Australia: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine change could harm  rollout

April 07

Wednesday.

My brother from another mother passed on some very good news.

His father, mother and brother had all recovered from COVID and were out of hospital.

It was quite a relief.

There were some pretty sad stories about the state of hospitals and the number of people getting sick in India and it was only going to get worse.

He told me a story of a wardsman who basically slept at the hospital, worked non-stop and applied IV tubes to patients since medical students were being pressed into service.

As so many sad stories were set to come out of India we had one of relief although anxiety still remained high.

In Australia 920,334 vaccines doses had been dispensed.

Still a fairly slow rate and in the news were the fact that private hospitals in Brisbane had still not been able to vaccinate their frontline staff. Including the Brisbane Private Hospital, St Andrews Memorial Hosptial and the Wesley Hospital. Hospitals I had been a pateint at over the years.

April 09

Thursday night and a radical blow was struck to Australia’s vaccine roll out.

The main element of the the country’s vaccine strategy had been 53 million AstraZeneca doses with over fifty million doses to be made right her in Australia at CSL limited.

Pfizer had been used and other vaccines were going to be secured but the Oxford-AstraZeneca was going to be our jab of choice.

That was until now.

The Australian government named Pfizer as the preferred vaccine for adults under 50.

The use of the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine in adults aged less than 50 years who have not already received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine,” the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said.

This is based both on the increased risk of complications from COVID-19 with increasing age, and thus increased benefit of the vaccination, and the potentially lower, but not zero risk, of this rare event with increasing age,” he said.

A Melbourne man had been hospitalised last week developing blood clots a fortnight after being vaccinated.

Authorities did advise it can still be used for those under 50 if “the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits“.

I personally had been waiting for the vaccine to be available at my local medical centre to receive a jab. Now I could not make a booking because I was under 50.

AstraZeneca delays filing for US approval for COVID vaccine | Business and  Economy News | Al Jazeera

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advised getting a rare blood clot after receiving the vaccine was somewhere between one in 166,000 and one in 250,000.

Out of those stats about a quarter would die.

So that was approximately a one in 800,000 chance of dying from taking the AstraZeneca jab.

According to UNSW haematology senior researcher Jose Perdomo, it appears “very likely” that the AstraZeneca vaccine triggers a unique immune reaction characterised by low platelet count and clotting.

This is similar to another relatively rare but serious clotting condition, caused by the use of [blood thinner medication] heparin. This type of immune reaction involves platelets and white blood cells, and that is the reason for the development of severe clotting. In both cases, clotting appears within two weeks of administration of the substances.” advised University of New South Wales haematology researcher Jose Perdomo.

The average Australia had a one in 1,000 chance of getting a blood clot from deep vein thrombosis and 6 per cent of those would die. That is a one in 17,000 chance of an Australian dying from DVT in a year.

“Everything we do in life – every medication we take, every vaccine we give – has a risk. It is a very safe vaccine but that doesn’t mean that occasionally some very rare side effects won’t occur, and that’s what we’re seeing. People just need to be aware that every day we balance risk versus benefit, usually without thinking about it,” said Professor Jonathan Carapetis, from the Telethon Kids Institute and Australian Association of Medical Research Institutes.

In Australia over 900 hundred had died from COVID. That alone was a one in 30,000 chance of dying from it in a country where the disease had been relatively so far kept in check.

If every Australian was vaccinated with AstraZeneca given the current statistics it could be estimated that something like 25 would tragically die. Far less than 900.

However I beleived the governments were far more prepared to have lose lives through lack of action rather than through direct action.

Who really wants to be the one who pulls the trigger on 25 lives?

No one.

But the cost of doing nothing could be end up being higher.

In America one in 600 people had died from COVID.

A cautious approach is recommended since specific risk factors are currently unknown,” Dr Perdomo advised.

I wondered if in a country that had suffered far more loss if the risk of these blood clots would lead to such decisions.

And it had.

How a British COVID-19 vaccine went from pole position to troubled start |  The Japan Times

In Great Britain where over 125,000 people had died from COVID and government had failed to enact restrictions as early as some other countries.

In the country partly responsible for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and having rolled out the drug to many millions already even there Great Britain was restricting use in people under the age of 30.

On April 7th the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that Pfizer or Moderna vaccine be offered to people under 30.

In the UK there had been 79 cases of blood clotting and 19 of the cases had proven fatal. Three of those were under 30. Eleven under 50.

They presented a risk/reward analysis based on a COVID-19 infection rate of 2 per 10,000 – roughly equivalent to the UK’s situation in March.

The UK government had come to this decision from a risk reward analysis based off the statistics from March when the risk of COVID was 2 per 10,000.

Analysis, prepared by Cambridge University based on this statistic argued that someone aged 20-29 was more likely to end up in intensive care from AstraZeneca than COVID.

That of course didn’t take into account the lowering of the median age of hospitalisations whwere the Brazilian stain was prevalent or that the March had not been the height of Britain’s most devastating COVID wave.

In fact other Cambridge researchers from the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication prepared models with higher infection rates that still showed the risk was higher of catching COVID than taking the vaccine.

Friday the UK government was still planning to have all of Briish adults vaccinated by the end of July.

For the family of 59 year old British man Neil Astles who had passed away from a blood clot within hours of receiving an AstaZeneca jab this was all too real and yet still his sister Dr Alison Astles urged people to get vaccinated. 

Covid: Canada authorises Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 - BBC  News

With a significant change to the number of Australians who would get the AstraZeneca jab an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer jab were secured by the Australian government.
That meant there would be 40 million doses of Pfizer delivered by December and 51 million doses of Novavax jab arriving from July onwards once it was approved and 25 million doses under the COVAX scheme.
That was something like 169 million vaccine doses for a country that had a population of 25 million.
There have only been one million Pfizer vaccines delivered to Australia so far.
There was no doubt that the roll out of the vaccine in Australia had suffered a significant setback. How this would play out remained to be seen.
One more thing Friday night it was reported that Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh had passed away. I know a lot of people will have opinions about the Royal Family. I did admire Prince Phillip for his service in World War II and for his sense of service to his wife and family. You can read into that what you will.
When your wife after a lifetime of marriage says you have been her strength and stay throughout all those years – you know you will have done something right.
Vale Sweet Prince.
-Lloyd Marken
ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 07, 2020 
April 09, 2020.

COVID-19 DIARY – EASTER 2021

April 02

Good Friday.

I was not sure how long it would take for me to get my tests. I had in the past gotten tested first thing in the morning and received a result twelve hours later late in the morning via text but testing numbers were much higher currently.

As it was, at 4:01pm I received a text from Queensland Health advising “Your test for COVID-19 from 02/04/2021 was NEGATIVE.”

I was never really expecting anything else but it was a relief of course.

To me you didn’t wear a mask to protect yourself – you wore it to protect others.

You didn’t get tested because you were paranoid of getting the virus but of passing it on to others.

You didn’t isolate out of fear for your safety but out of concern for the safety of others.

That is why I got tested and that is why I was not going to see anyone over the Easter weekend.

The negative result though did give Karen freedom to go out if she needed to as per health guidelines.

There were no new commmunity cases reported the morning of Good Friday.

April 04

Easter Sunday I was very fortunate, my parents drove over from the other side of town and delivered Karen and I hotboxes of the family Easter lunch. I expected it to be left outside our place but my Dad walked it to our door. We met both wearing masks and I took the box off him.

It was very kind and very delicious.

In the news there was talk of the new Brazilian strain which was taking off in places as far away as Canada.

The median age of patients The strain was up to 150 per cent more infectious than the original COVID as opposed to the U.K. strain was up to 70 per cent more infectious.

The P1 could be the variant that is the big troublemaker for the next surge,” U.S. Epidemilogist Eric Fiegl-Ding said.

The average age of people hospitalised in Brazil last year was 65 – now doctors estimates is now around 37.

Here was an earlier report from Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the 23rd of January.

April 06

Tuesday I worked from home, during the day I called the Prince Charles Hospital and was assured that the Fever Clinic would be open when I left after work that night.

So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived to this.

It was now just after 5pm as I scrambled for another nearby site after work to get tested. If the Prince Charles had correctly informed me that they would be closed then I would have made other arrangements.

I fortunately found a nearby Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology at my local medical centre that was closing at 6pm.

I arrived to a nearly closed centre just in time and the nurse kindly performed the test for me and someone else it appeared.

I received a slightly different text from SNP than the one Queensland Health sends.

At 2:37pm the next day advising ” RESULT: COVID-19 virus NOT DETECTED.”

In the news Tuesday night there was talk a new TransTasman Bubble that had long been touted by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Now it was happening.

I wondered given our recent snap lockdowns what the upside was for New Zealand and while it was not being discussed openly I had to imagine there had to be an economic factor here.

Either way this would be good news for many on both sides of the Tasman sea and one that caused anxiety for others but it was happening either way.

On the 6th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 131,531,981 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 453,834.

There had been 2,859,469 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 6,819.

In New Zealand there had been 2,168 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17. There had been 26 deaths.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 7,406 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 368. There had been 67 deaths with a daily increase of six.

In Australia there had been 29,357 confirmed cases with a daily increase of nine. There had been 909 deaths.

In Ireland there had been 238,466 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 318. There had been 4,718 deaths. Their recent surge over Christmas well over for now.

In Canada there had been 1,008,106 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,448. Just the day before the country had reached more than 1 million cases with 1,001,658. There had been 23,075 deaths with a daily increase of 25.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,356,334 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2237. There had been 126,862 deaths with a daily increase of 26.

In India there had been 12,686,049 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 96,982! There had been 165,547 with a daily increase of 446.

Brazil hits 82,000 Covid deaths in April, new monthly record

In Brazil there had been 12,984,956 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 31,359. There had been 331433 deaths with a daily increase of 1,240. As mentioned in a previous post, on March 27th the country had reported their highest number of new daily cases with 100,158. The country recorded its highest daily number of deaths on the 10th of April with 4,249.

In the United States of America  30,413,124 with a daily increase of 41,108. There had been 551,769 deaths with a daily increase of 378.

I was back at work, able to go back out in the community, having been able to get tested.

In a few weeks I would a meal with my family having missed them at Easter and even earlier catch up with friends.

Other people had a much worse Easter and no such lovely events in the weeks ahead. I am very lucky.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 02, 2020. 

Captain Brett Crozier relieved of his command of the COVID stricken U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt marched down the gangplank to the cheers of his 5,000 crew who knew he had put their lives first by urging an evacuation of the ship while it was docked in Guam. 

April 04, 2020.

A year earlier the World Health Organisation reported the number of cases in the world had crossed one million with 1,056,157 cases.

April 06, 2020.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

There were 743 active cases in Queensland recorded a year ago. There were now 70 active cases a year later to the day.

COVID-19 DIARY – EASTER IS GOOD TO GO IN QUEENSLAND BUT NOT FOR ME

20210401_171437
                             The entrance to the new COVID Fever Clinic. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

April 01

The first of April was the third day of a three day snap lockdown in the Greater Brisbane region.

It was Thursday and the next day was Good Friday.

The populace waited to have it confirmed that the lockdown would end today.

The number of venues listed from contract tracing had grown significantly.

There was an arguement to be made that had a lockdown be called in the wake of the first case with the PA doctor on the 12th of March that the Byron Bay Bluesfest would have been able to go ahead. That less cases would’ve ended out in the community and travelled as far as Gladstone and Toowoomba.

But case numbers were low as testing numbers had jumped, contract tracing had been ongoing during the lockdown, previous snap lockdowns had seen similar dispersal of the virus far and wide and but ultimately succeeded in their outcome of being a circuit breaker for the disease. There was some anxiety that the lockdown would not end today but if numbers were low this mornign precedent suggested it was likely the Premier would announce it would end.

As you would expect I was working from home.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Pallaszczuk announced in the morning that there were nine new cases in hotel quarantine and only one new case of community transmission and therefore the lockdown would end early at midday today.

I understand a lot of families in Greater Brisbane have made plans and the last thing we want to see are accidents on our roads at 5:00pm this afternoon and into the evening,” advised Premier Pallaszcuk.

Easter is good to go,” she said.

As before following the snap lockdown there would be a period of continued restrictions to remain in place until April 15 like mask wearing when indoors and unable to socially distant.

Cafes and restaurants could have patrons dine in but they had to be seated and there was no dancing to be had.

There was a person per 2 square metre rule for businesses and churches to adhere to.

Household gatherings were limited to 30 people.

There would be no visitors allowed at prisons, hospitals, aged care and disability services for the next two weeks.

We are not out of the woods yet. I’m asking Queenslanders, all Queenslanders, for the next two weeks if we all do the right thing, we can get through this together,” the Premier said.

Thirty four thousand, seven hundred and eleven tests had been carried out in the past 24 hours also giving confidence to authorities.

The amount of testing … has been astronomical,” Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said.

The two PA clusters now had a total of 20 cases linked to them including the new community case that morning who had been at the Byron Bay Hen’s party.

The Queensland Premier had requested an extension to the end of April in reducing the number of returned travellers returning through the state.

There were 82 active cases in hospital and 68 were returned travellers.

“That’s a real risk for us. I think we are the highest rate in the country at the moment with the most number of active cases in hospital,” said the Queensland Premier.

In Queensland there had been 1,386 cases of COVID, six deaths, 2,042714 tests conducted and currently 38 active cases.

As it got near to the end of my working day an e-mail was sent out at work.

Near where I work is the Toowong village shopping centre where I get my morning coffee from Stellarossa Toowong. Sometimes I pass through the newsagency on my way there.

Nextra in Toowong, Brisbane, QLD, Newsagents - TrueLocal

That newsagent had been listed on the Queensland Health website as a “casual contact” venue for Tuesday the 16th of March between 9:30 to 10am.

I backtracked through my notes.

Had I been working from home in the office on that day?

No I had been in the office.

I usually get a coffee around 9am to 10am.

There had been a meeting that morning.

Was it unlikely that I had been there before 10am.

Yes.

Was it unlikely that I had passed through the newsagency that day given I did not regularly do it on a daily basis.

Yes.

But was it possible….

Yes it was possible and therefore what I did next was a no brainer for me.

I finished work at 4:30pm and headed to the Prince Charles Hospital Fever Clinic to get tested having just read the e-mail maybe fifteen minutes prior to logging off.

Queensland Health broke venues from contract tracing into two types, one was close contacts and the second was casual contacts.

If you had been to a Close Contact site at the specified time then you needed to get tested immediately and quarantine until you get a negative result.

For those people even once you received a negative test you were to “complete the contact tracing self-assessment” and “stay quarantined even if you get a negative test until 14 days have passed since you were last there. It can take 14 days before you may show symptoms or test positive.”

There were over 1,700 people who would remain in quarantine as a result of this in Queensland over Easter.

For casual contacts.

“If you have been to any of the below locations at the relevant times you should:

Longtime readers will recall this is not the first time I sought out a COVID test or my first visit to the COVID-19 Fever Clinic at the Prince Charles Hospital.

On the 25th of February I was at The Prince Charles for something else and a nurse had been suspicous of the fact that we were wearing masks.

When I went and got tested for COVID for the first time on the 25th of May, 2020 I strolled throught the hospital to find myself out the back of an education centre.

We queued outside the building, there was a waiting room with chairs with masks to put on if you don’t already have one.

Then another room to go over paperwork.

Then another room to wait and then another room where the test was done.

I asked how deep the swab went and the nurse was very gentle. Perhaps coincidentally.

I returned twice to the place and followed a similar process in June 2020. That time one of the tests was distinctly uncomfortable.

On the 16th of December, 2020 with symptoms I returned to the Prince Charles Hospital to get tested and found the Fever Clinic had been moved. I had to walk through the Emergency Department to enter a long corridor where I found the clinic and got tested.

Now on the 1st of April I drove far from the main hospital to the other end of the campus grounds.

I saw a line of people on chairs in an undercover area outside a building. At the front of it I was checked in by a nurse, I was of course wearing a mask but was instructed to put on a surgical mask and wash my hands. The surgical mask had a blue plastic brim at the top of it where it would be positioned near the nose. It was as flimsy as masks you could buy in pharmacies.

I sat on a chair and waited for my test. I was told I would be called on my mobile. This practice I believe was in place to maybe allow waiting testees to leave and come back so as to keep numbers low at the site during peak testing. There were a few of us seated and waiting but perhaps not as many as there would be during the day or in particular in recent days.

I was there for close to ninety minutes.

A little over an hour before I got called and answered, a little later I was ushered in and got tested.

In December the nose swab was out but was told this time it was back. I felt they were thorugh but it was not painful. I wandered off into the night.

I was due to see my parents that Sunday for Easter and there was a good chance I would return a negative test by then and be free to attend to them.

But I though about my parents on a hospital bed, maybe a ventilator, fighting for their lives.

I had just seem them two weeks earlier.

There had been plenty of cases of people who became ill with COVID past the incubation period of 14 days while in isolation.

I was not prepared to take that risk.

I called them and advised I would not be seeing them and then I called work to arrange working from home.

I had a scheduled medical appointment the following Friday and people would be getting their flu shots at work on Thursday.

I rationalised a subsequent test the following tuesday and isolating before then would bring us up to three weeks since the possibility of having been to the newsagency on the 16th of March so that is what I would do.

Below was taken from the Queensland Health website from the 2nd of April just to give you an idea of how easily a potential spread can occur even if a place where there are so few initial cases out in the community.

-Lloyd Marken

CLOSE CONTACTS

Date Place Suburb Arrival time Departure time
Saturday 20 March Shinobi Ramen Noodle shop
Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre
Carindale 12pm 2.16pm
Saturday 20 March Black Hops Brewery East Brisbane 12pm 2pm
Sunday 21 March Mamma’s Italian Restaurant
69 Redcliffe Parade
Redcliffe 12.30pm 3.10pm
Saturday 20 March Green Beacon brewing Co. Teneriffe 2pm 3.12pm
Saturday 20 March Eatons Hill Hotel Eatons Hill 3.44pm 5.30pm
Monday 22 March PCYC Pine Rivers Bray Park 7.16am 8.10am
Monday 22 March KCF Training (gym) New Birtinya 9.15am 11.30am
Monday 22 March Plus Fitness New Minyama 2.30pm 3.30pm
Tuesday 23 March Plus Fitness New Minyama 7.30am 8.30am
Tuesday 23 March Hamilton Hotel Updated Hamilton 2.20pm 5.23pm
Wednesday 24 March Oliver’s Real food – Dine in Patrons New Maryborough West 11.50am 12.09pm
Friday 26 March FitStop Gym
6/338 Lytton Road
Morningside 6.50am 8am
Friday 26 March Spinnaker Park Café
222 Alf O’Rourke Drive
Callemondah 10.22am 11.23am
Friday 26 March Auckland House
60 Flinders Parade
Gladstone Central 7.23pm 9.30pm
Saturday 27 March Auckland House
60 Flinders Parade
Gladstone Central 7.33am 8.20am
Saturday 27 March Savour Café
Merthyr Village Shopping Centre
New Farm 10.30am 12.10pm
Monday 29 March Premium Pilates & Fitness Coorparoo 9.25am 10.30am

CLOSE CONTACTS INTERSTATE LOCATIONS TO BE REFERRED TO ON THE NSW HEALTH WEBSITE

  • Byron Bay – Friday 26 March to Sunday 28 March
  • Suffolk Park – Friday 26 March to Sunday 28 March
  • Ewingsdale – Sunday 28 March
  • Ballina – Sunday 28 March
  • East Ballina – Sunday 28 March
  • Lennox Head – Sunday 28 March

HISTORICAL CASUAL CONTACTS – OLDER THAN 14 DAYS 

Date Place Suburb Arrival time Departure time
Tuesday 9 – Tuesday 23 March Princess Alexandra Hospital
5D Outpatients Department (Sexual Health Clinic, Infectious Disease Clinic, Immunology A Clinic)New
Woolloongabba 8.00pm
Tuesday 9 March
11.59pm
Tuesday 23 March
Tuesday 9 – Tuesday 23 March Princess Alexandra Hospital Ward 5D New Woolloongabba 8.00pm
Tuesday 9 March
11.59pm
Tuesday 23 March
Wednesday 10 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 1.15pm 2.15pm
Wednesday 10 March Woolworths Everton Park 2.30pm 2.40pm
Thursday 11 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 3.30pm 5.00pm
Friday 12 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 3.30pm 5.00pm
Saturday 13 March Woolworths and Specsavers
Brookside Shopping Centre
Mitchelton 4.00pm 5.00pm
Sunday 14 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 8.30am 10.00am
Monday 15 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 9.00am 10.30am
Tuesday 16 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 4.30pm 5.30pm
Wednesday 17 March Woolworths Everton Park 2.30pm 3.00pm
Wednesday 17 March Studio Pilates Grange 4.30pm 5.15pm

CASUAL CONTACTS

Date Place Suburb Arrival time Departure time
Tuesday 16 March Body Plus Physio Caboolture 08.30am 08.50am
Tuesday 16 March Nextra Toowong Village Toowong 9:30am 10:00am
Tuesday 16 March Silky Oakes Strathpine 12pm 12.05pm
Tuesday 16 March Price Line Pharmacy Albany Creek 12.30pm 12.40pm
Tuesday 16 March Grill’d Eatons Hill 1pm 1.30pm
Tuesday 16 March Meat at Billy’s Ashgrove 2:30pm 2:45pm
Wednesday 17 March Tafe Southbank 8am 4.30pm
Wednesday 17 March Woolworths Everton Park Everton Park 1.39pm 2.13pm
Thursday 18 March Plus Fitness New Everton Park 8.00am 9.30am
Thursday 18 March Milton Fruit Bowl Milton 9:00am 9:20am
Thursday 18 March World Gym North Lakes 9.15am 9.45am
Thursday 18 March Basil and Vine Burpengary 10am 10.15am
Thursday 18 March Giant Chemist
Pacific Fair Shopping Centre New
Broadbeach 1.45pm 2pm
Thursday 18 March Electric Chair Barber Shop Everton Park 3.15pm 4.14pm
Thursday 18 March Studio Pilates New Grange 4.30pm 5.15pm
Friday 19 March Plus Fitness New Everton Park 7.30am 9am
Friday 19 March Lawnton Country Markets Bakery Lawnton 6.11am 6.26am
Friday 19 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 7.30am 9am
Friday 19 March Woolworths Paddington 10am 10:15am
Friday 19 March Bakers Delight Paddington 10:15am 10:30am
Friday 19 March Westfield North Lakes 11.20am 11.50am
Friday 19 March Little Red Dumpling Carseldine 12.10pm 1.16pm
Friday 19 March Studio Pilates New Grange 12.15pm 1pm
Friday 19 March Woolworths Carseldine 1.10pm 1.20pm
Friday 19 March Chemist Warehouse New Windsor 2pm 2.20pm
Friday 19 March TB’s Wine and Beer Rosalie 2:30pm 2:45pm
Friday 19 March Newstead Brewing Co. Newstead 3.54pm 5.29pm
Friday 19 March Aldi Bald Hills 5.10pm 5.18pm
Friday 19 March Super Cheap Auto Bald Hills 5.30pm 5.33pm
Friday 19 March Reef Seafood & Sushi Brisbane Newstead 5.37pm 6.35pm
Friday 19 March The Standard Market Company, Gasworks Plaza
76 Skyring Tce
Newstead 6.35pm 6.45pm
Friday 19 March Public Toilet, Gasworks Plaza
(located to the right of the escalator from the car park)
Newstead 6.46pm 6.47pm
Saturday 20 March Plus Fitness 24/7 Gym Everton Park Everton Park 7.40am 8.34am
Saturday 20 March Coles Everton Park
Everton Plaza Shopping Centre
Everton Park 8.39am 8.44am
Saturday 20 March Neighbourhood Market Co. Everton Park 8.45am 8.55am
Saturday 20 March Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre – any part of the shopping centre Carindale 12pm 2.16pm
Saturday 20 March Black Hops Brewery East Brisbane 2pm 3pm
Saturday 20 March The Bavarian Eagle Street Pier Brisbane City 2.15pm 4pm
Saturday 20 March Market Organics (store only)
190 Enoggera Road
Newmarket 2.45pm 3pm
Saturday 20 March Riverland Brisbane Brisbane City 4.10pm 6.32pm
Saturday 20 March Viscosity Fortitude Valley 6.42pm 7.31pm
Saturday 20 March XCargo Fortitude Valley 7.35pm 9.32pm
Saturday 20 March Baskins-Robbins
2/489 South Pine Road
Everton Park 9.20pm 9.25pm
Sunday 21 March The Standard Market Company, Gasworks Plaza
76 Skyring Tce
Newstead 9.50am 10.20am
Sunday 21 March Presents of Mind Paddington 10:15am 10:30am
Sunday 21 March Genki Mart
3/24 South Pine Road
Alderley 10.30am 10.46am
Sunday 21 March Subway
Strathpine Plaza Shopping Centre
Strathpine 12.50pm 1pm
Sunday 21 March Burrito Bar Everton Park Everton Park 3.24pm 3.33pm
Sunday 21 March Liquorland, Dolphins Central Shopping Centre
Ashmole Road and Klingner Road
Kippa-Ring 4 .40pm 4.50pm
Monday 22 March Bunnings Rothwell
Cnr Anzac Avenue and Bremner Road
Rothwell 7 .14am 7.27am
Monday 22 March Café L’avenue Carseldine 8.51am 8.58am
Monday 22 March Ashgrove Fresh Fruit Shop Ashgrove 9:20am 9:30am
Monday 22 March Zambrero Aspley 12.05pm 12.34pm
Monday 22 March Jacobs Bakery Aspley 12.40pm 12.48pm
Monday 22 March Bunnings Stafford
450 Stafford Road
Stafford 12.40pm 12.50pm
Monday 22 March Bunnings Lawnton 3.15pm 3.30pm
Monday 22 March Strathpine Plaza Shopping Centre Strathpine 3.43pm 3.49pm
Monday 22 March Woolworths Mountain Creek New Mountain Creek 4.15pm 4.40pm
Tuesday 23 March Redcliffe Train Line – Kippa-Ring to Lawnton Kippa Ring to Lawnton 7.00am 8.00am
Tuesday 23 March Café L’avenue Carseldine 8am 8.29am
Tuesday 23 March Woolworths Paddington 9:10am 9:25am
Tuesday 23 March Westfield
(Dymocks and Woolworths)
North Lakes 11am 12pm
Tuesday 23 March Nutrition Warehouse New Maroochydore 11.15am 11.30am
Tuesday 23 March Brightwater Medical Centre at
Brightwater Shopping Centre New
Mountain Creek 12pm 12.45pm
Tuesday 23 March Sushi Train Carseldine 12pm 12.45pm
Tuesday 23 March Zambrero Lawnton 12.51pm 12.55pm
Tuesday 23 March QML Pathology at
Brightwater Shopping Centre New
Mountain Creek 1pm 1.15pm
Tuesday 23 March Lawnton Fruit Market Lawnton 1.57pm 2.05pm
Tuesday 23 March Redcliffe Train Line – Lawnton to Kippa-Ring Lawnton to Kippa Ring 2.00pm 3.00pm
Tuesday 23 March Rosalie Gourmet Market Deli Rosalie 2:30pm 2:45pm
Tuesday 23 March Poolwerx Strathpine Strathpine 3.15pm 3.27pm
Tuesday 23 March Nellas Gourmet Tucker Lawnton 3.37pm 3.47pm
Tuesday 23 March Woolworths Strathpine 4pm 4.30pm
Tuesday 23 March Dan Murphy’s Strathpine 7.26pm 7.36pm
Wednesday 24 March Tafe Southbank 8am 4.30pm
Wednesday 24 March IGA Milton 9:05am 9:15am
Wednesday 24 March Milton Fruit Bowl Milton 9:20am 9:30am
Wednesday 24 March Redcliffe Train Line – Lawnton to Kippa-Ring Lawnton to Kippa Ring 2.30pm 3.30pm
Wednesday 24 March Lawnton Country Markets Lawnton 2.36pm 2.43pm
Wednesday 24 March Coles Everton Park
Everton Plaza Shopping Centre
Everton Park 3.24pm 3.33pm
Wednesday 24 March Uroko Sushi on Train Everton Park 7.19pm 7.33pm
Thursday 25 March Café L’avenue Carseldine 8am 8.29am
Thursday 25 March Aldi Stafford, Stafford City Shopping Centre
400 Stafford Road
Stafford 8.30am 8.45am
Thursday 25 March World Gym North Lakes 8.45am 9.45am
Thursday 25 March Meats at Billy’s Ashgrove 9:10am 9:20am
Thursday 25 March Officeworks Rothwell 12pm 12.30pm
Thursday 25 March Café L’avenue Carseldine 12.34pm 1.34pm
Thursday 25 March Gin Gin Public Toilet (male) opposite Gin Gin Bakery Gin Gin 1.25pm 1.26pm
Thursday 25 March Gin Gin Bakery
41 Mulgrave St
Gin Gin 1.26pm 1.33pm
Thursday 25 March Westfield North Lakes 2pm 3pm
Thursday 25 March Miriam Vale Road Star Roadhouse – male toilet Miriam Vale 2.35pm 2.45pm
Thursday 25 March Nundah Respiratory Clinic
1270 Sandgate Road
Nundah 11.15am 11.40am
Thursday 25 March Oliver’s Real Food – Take away patrons Updated Maryborough West 11.50am 12.09pm
Thursday 25 March Cold Rock Ice Creamery Raby Bay 3.50pm 4pm
Thursday 25 March Woolworths Cleveland Cleveland 4.00pm 4.40pm
Thursday 25 March Redcliffe Train Line – Lawnton to Kippa-Ring Lawnton to Kippa Ring 5.45pm 6.45pm
Thursday 25 March BWS – Lawnton Drive
820 Gympie Road
Lawnton 6.15pm 6.30pm
Thursday 25 March Hanwoori Korean BBQ Restaurant Brisbane City 6.30pm 7.30pm
Thursday 25 March Wintergarden carpark Brisbane City 6.19pm 7.50pm
Thursday 25 March Ceres Pizza Café Strathpine 7.00pm 7.58pm
Friday 26 March World Gym North Lakes 10am 10.30am
Friday 26 March Nurse Station café (Patrons) South Brisbane 10.15am 10.30am
Friday 26 March SPAR Carina Megafresh Carina 11.30am 11.45am
Friday 26 March Coles, Stockland Gladstone Gladstone Central 12.09pm 12.33pm
Friday 26 March Woolworths Coorparoo Coorparoo 12.55pm 1.30pm
Friday 26 March Niche & Co Café Tugun 1.40pm 1.55pm
Friday 26 March Chempro Chemist Tugun 1.55pm 2.10pm
Friday 26 March Redcliffe Train Line – Lawnton to Kippa-Ring Lawnton to Kippa Ring 2.30pm 3.30pm
Friday 26 March Woolworths Kippa-Ring
272 Anzac Avenue
Kippa-Ring 3pm 3.20pm
Friday 26 March Stockland Gladstone (including BWS) Gladstone 4.46pm 5.00pm
Saturday 27 March IGA Redcliffe Redcliffe 12.50pm 12.55pm
Saturday 27 March Sunlit Asian Supermarket
Westfield Garden City
Upper Mount Gravatt 2.30pm 2.45pm
Saturday 27 March Domino’s Pizza Greenslopes 3.30pm 3.40pm
Sunday 28 March 7-Eleven Mackenzie 1.30am 1.40am
Sunday 28 March 52 Espresso Nobby Beach 6.15am 6.45am
Sunday 28 March LeanChef Kitchn Surfers Paradise (Chevron Island) 10am 10.30am
Sunday 28 March Stable Coffee Kitchen Tugun 10.27am 10.48am
Sunday 28 March HOTA Markets Bundall 10.45am 11.30am
Sunday 28 March Surf Life Saving Competition Tugun Beach 12.30pm 2pm
Sunday 28 March Epic Escape Room Southport 1.45pm 5.20pm
Sunday 28 March Kirra Surf Shop
6/8 Creek Street
Coolangatta 2.35pm 3.05pm
Sunday 28 March Southport Park Shopping Centre Southport 3pm 4pm
Sunday 28 March Woolworths Southport Park 3.14pm 3.35pm
Sunday 28 March Tugun Supermarket Tugun 5.20pm 5.30pm
Monday 29 March Rafiki Café Mermaid Beach 6.45am 6.50am

LOW RISK CONTACTS

A low risk contact requires you to monitor for symptoms but not immediately quarantine or even get tested. If a symptom occurs then you get tested and ioslate at home until you receive a negative test.

Place Suburb Arrival time Departure time
Tuesday 23 March Outside Westpac –  Peninsula Fair Shopping Centre
272 Anzac Avenue
Kippa-Ring 3pm 3.30pm

COVID-19 DIARY – GAME OVER – END OF THE FOURTH QUARTER

Byron Bay Area - Accommodation, Maps, Attractions & Events

March 31

Wednesday and there was one new case in hotel quarantine in Queensland and only two new community cases and both were linked to recent cases.

The Blues Festival was cancelled in Bryon Bay for the second year running.

A PA nurse and her housemate but she never had contact to a returned traveller from India that she was linked to. This prompted further questions about how the disease might be spreading in the environment of the hospital.

The nurse had gone to hens party in Byron Bay over the weekend with ten people and an eleventh – a male entertainer. The entertainer and six of the ten guests had now tested positive.

The nurse had not worked directly with a returned traveller with COVID that her infection was linked to after genomic testing.

We just need to work out how she got it on that ward. There is most likely some environmental contamination or some aerosolisation of the virus when the person was admitted. So that’s why that ward has been closed. No-one is going in or out of that ward,” advised Dr Jeanette Young.

The nurse had been given the first dose of the vaccine on March 19.

The Health Minister Yvette D’Ath got a COVID testing following having a sore throat.

A 20 year old man tested positive in Byron Bay.

Music festival to go ahead in NSW town on alert for COVID-19 - NewsFinale

More than 33,000 people get tested including Health Minister Yvette D’Ath after having a sore throat.

The Premier indicated if the numbers were similar tomorrow there was a good chance the lockdown would end on Thursday evening.

The fact we do not have any unlinked community transmission in the south-east or in our state is absolutely encouraging. Fingers crossed all will be looking good for Easter. If we see very good testing rates across Queensland and we don’t see any unlinked community transmission, the signs for Easter are looking positive.,” the Premier said.

One hundred and fourteen residents and staff at TriCare Mermaid Beach aged care residency on the Gold Coast had been tested and all returned negative results advised federal health minister Greg Hunt. This was following news that a contractor had done work at the facility and later tested positive.

Cases as far travelled as Bryon Bay, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Gladstone. Two patients with COVID in the Gold Coast University Hospital, one in Toowoomba hospital and one in Bundaberg hospital.

Since the pandemic had started there had been 1,571 cases in Queensland, seven deaths and 2,485,240 tests had been carried out.

There were now 20 active cases in the state.

For the government the indications were if the numbers held the three day lockdown would be enough.

In January Prime Minister Scott Morrison had put forward the goal of having four million vaccinations carried out by the end of March.

On the eve of reaching that timeframe there was bound to be talk of the fact that the target had not been reached – not even close at 670,349 doses admnistered.

There were not even 4 million doses in the country yet which may be the crucial issue. There had been 3.8 million doses ordered to arrive during this timeframe and instead only 700,000 had. We were up to just under 50,000 doses a day.

It was looking highly unlikely an earlier stated goal of everyone receiving their first dose by the end of October would transpire.

Agricultural Minister David Littleproud put some of the problems at the state level when being interviewed on Channel 9 News.

We have made it very clear to them, have confidence in the supply chain — we have plenty coming through, you cannot leave them in the rack, you’ve got to put them in people’s arms,” he argued.

“They have done three-fifths of bugger all.”

ABC The Drum - @ABCthedrum Twitter Analytics - Trendsmap

This started a war of words between state and federal leaders of all political persuasions.

“Queensland is releasing its vaccine numbers every day. We do not see that from the federal government. If the states are releasing their figures every day I think it’s only fair, fair and reasonable, that the federal government releases their figures every day. We need to have guaranteed supply and we need to have guaranteed times of delivery,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Queensland had completed 89% of 1A vaccinations for frontline workers.

Pfizer vaccines were being used there which required a second dose to be given three weeks later.

We do have to make sure that if we give the first dose that we can give the second dose. Although the Commonwealth has done their best to try and assure us that we would get those second doses, at the same time we’re getting information that supply is not progressing as we had hoped,” advised Dr Young.

For a change New South Wales and Queensland Premier were of a similar opinion.

What is extremely unfair is that when we are given 24 or 48 hours notice about how many new doses we’re getting. As you can appreciate, disseminating that within 24 hours or 48 hours is a difficult task. I want to put the facts on the table because it’s so important for us to not only vaccinate as many people as soon as possible, but also to make the vaccine available through multiple channels,” said New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the report was misleading. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

There is no point in delivering something to us a day ago or two day ago and saying you haven’t rolled them out. I am as angry as I have ever been in this 15 months of war against this virus, said New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

“Let’s get this really, really clear: The NSW government was asked to roll out 300,000 vaccinations to the groups in 1A and 1B. Of that we have done 100,000,” he said.

“The Federal Government was asked and is responsible for 5.5 million people and they have rolled out 50,000. I think the figures speak for themselves.”

“It’s a big job, we’re all doing it, the states and territories are doing it for their frontline workers, we’re doing it through the GP rollout,” advised Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1z8BdDqsOM

A year on from when the pandemic started to sweep the west. Back then we put into actions and waited to see how the first quarter would play out with our health care systems, our supplies, our economies, our way of live and our loved ones.

There have now been four such quarters. A full game if you and game two in the series had kicked off.

Where will this all end and on many people’s mind is maybe how and when?

How many people will die, lose their jobs and businesses, lose their health and when will this threat be out of our lives completely or at least greatly diminished.

We got the vaccine, this year will reveal if that is a game changer and a temporary or ongoing one. They say doctors live in the future, maybe they know.

I know that I do not.

But I remain grateful for all the good fortune I have been a recipient of, I look to do what little I can to help the less fortunate and to take solace in friends, families, some moments of joy and the idea that deeds however small matter. That if we can help each other and think of each other we will have the means to get through this.

It is not over but the first match in the series is.

As we close it, here is a little update.

On the 31st of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported 127,905,155 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 526,819.

There had been 2,798,278 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,047.

Region March 2021

WHO Continents end of March

WHO Continents 2 end of March21

Australia end of march 2021.jpg

In Australia there had been 29,296 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 909 deaths.

China end of March21

In the People’s Republic of China where the virus had originated in Wuhan it was reported there had been 102,734 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 4,851 deaths.

Canada end of march 2021.jpg

In Canada there had been 971,715 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,311. There had been 22,900 deaths with a daily increase of 20. WIth over four million vaccinations Canada was starting to see an uptick in case numbers.

Iran end of March21

In Iran one of the first countries hit hard by the virus had suffered greatly in subsequent waves over the past year and another wave was coming. There had been 1,875,234 confirmed cases with a daily increase 10,250. There had been 62,569 deaths with a daily increase of 91.

6-12 end of march 2021.jpg

Poland end of March21

In Poland there had been 2,321,717 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 32,891. There had been 53,045 deaths with a daily increase of 653. The next day they reported 35,253 new cases, their highest recorded daily increase of cases. A week later on April 8 956 deaths were reported in one day, the highest daily record of new deaths due to the virus.

Colombia end of March 2021

In Colombia there had been 2,389,779 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,049. There had been 63,079 deaths with a daily increase of 124. The population of Colombia was 50 million.

Germany end of March 2021

In Germany there had been 2,808,873 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17,051. There had been 76,342 deaths with a daily increase of 249.

Spain end of March 2021

In Spain there had been 3,282,047 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,202. There had been 76,424 deaths with a daily increase of 76. Spain was one of only nine countries that had reported more than 3 million cases at this point.

Turkey end of March 2021

In Turkey there had been 3,277,880 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 37,303. There had been 31,385 deaths with a daily increase of 155. As you can see above, cases were dramatically on the rise in the country.

Italy end of March 2021

In Italy there had been 3,561,012 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,055. There had been 108,879 deaths with a daily increase of 529.

Top 6 end of march 2021.jpg

UK end of march 2021.jpg

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,338,385 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,995. Thre had been a dramatic fall in new daily cases but only in the context of the recent devastating wave. In March last year when the virus shook the world, Britain reported 4,262 new daily cases on the 1st of April, 2020 for example. There had been 126,670 deaths with a daily increase of 55. Great Britain was one of only six countries that had reported more than four million cases.

Russia end of March 2021

In Russia there had been 4,545,095 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,275. There had been no let up in the daily death rates in the the country. There had been 98,850 deaths with a daily increase of 408.

France end of March 2021

In France there had been 4,510,870 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 29,575. There had been 94,763. deaths with a daily increase of 361. On the 5th of April there would be 66,794 new daily cases. Only one day recorded a higher increase in daily cases in the country and that was 86,794 on the 8th of November 2020.

India end of march 2021.jpg

In India there had been 12,149,335 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 53,480. There had been 162,468 deaths with a daily increase of 354. I am writing this on the 7th of May and the dramatic rise of cases has played out in a tragic way. It had already started here. India, Brazil and the United States of America are the only three countries that have reported more than 10 million cases in the world.

Brazil end of March 2021

In Brazil there had been 12,573,615 with a daily increase of 38,927. There had been 313,866 deaths with a daily increase of 1,660. On March 27th the country had reported their highest number of new daily cases with 100,158. The country recorded its highest daily number of deaths on the 10th of April with 4,249.

US end of march 2021.jpg

In the United States of America they reached more than 30 million cases with 30,033,063 with a daily increase of 64,599. There had been 545,051 deaths with a daily increase of 621. No country had suffered more than America this past year and new that over 135 million vacccine doses had been dispensed was cause for celebration but the daily new case numbers there were still high.

We were about to find out what protection the vaccine would grant against new strains and a new subsequent wave when it came.

I hoped it would be promising news.

I hope the worst of this is behind us.

It would come to be that that was not the case for India and others.

But we play on.

It is all we can do.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 31, 2020

Globally we passed over 750,000 confirmed cases and reached 36,522 dead.

On a more heartening note Karen became the Teddy Bear Lady in our local neighbourhood.

COVID-19 DIARY – SEEING IT THROUGH

March 29

The lockdown on Monday Night threw a spanner in the works of my plan to reach 100 kilometres by walking on the treadmill at my gym.

So I asked Karen if she would walk with me around our local neighbourhood. I was concerned about recording the distance accurately and covering a lot of distance.

As we walked along I would decide we would go just one more street over, we won’t go here we change direction down there. We won’t stop here, we’ll go up to the petrol station.

I was concerned we were only covering five kilometres the first night but when I went back and went step by step on Google Maps we had covered much more. Karen of course already knew that.

Karen walked with me as I limped along over those two nights. I’m not sure I could have done it without her.

The first night we covered 7.6 kilometres walking for two hours and twenty minutes.

The first night we reached the end of the Kokoda Track.

March 30

Tuesday we did the first proper day of the second snap lockdown. I worked from home.

There were eight new locally acquired cases in Brisbane.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital it was announced would go into lockdown.

“In light of recent cases of COVID-19 that have been linked to the ward 5D at Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital, a decision has been made for PA hospital to go into lockdown today,” Queensland’s Metro South Hospital and Health Service confirmed in a statement.

“As a precautionary measure, we are continuing to test all staff that have worked in ward 5D at PA Hospital between midday Friday, March 19 and 4:00pm Sunday, March 28.”

Ward 5D is the PA Hospital’s infectious diseases ward. 

Two clusters of cases involved PA staff.

One linking back to the Doctor from the PA from March 12 that led to a landscaper testing positive on on March 25th and now a nurse who possibly got it from a returned traveller from India but had not had direct contact with the patient. The nurse from the PA and her sister had recently been in Bryon Bay for a Hen’s Party.

The Health Minister advised at the time of these cases not enough health workers had received their full vaccinations.

14,589 peole got tested.

For the first time masks were mandatory across the state.

Mater Mother’s hospital sent home staff, one of the new cases had been to the maternity ward recently.

With cases having travelled as far as Bryon Bay and Gladstone and with a few new daily cases it remained to be seen if the snap lockdown would end on Thursday night on the eve of the Easter weekend.

In Toowoomba one school had shut down since many of its teachers had recently been to Brisbane and were in lockdown. There was one case of COVID in Toowoomba hospital.

This virus has not gone away, it is circulating we know in the Brisbane area, at least, so people should be taking those precautions of the COVID-safe behaviours that we’ve been saying all along — keep your physical distance, remember your cough etiquette, wash your hands often, all of these things remain important,” said Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.

On Tuesday night Karen and I walked together again to complete my March On Campaign for the charity Soldier On which helps veterans.

I promised the walk would be shorter than the previous night but it was still 4.4 kilometres covered in 1 hour and twenty five minutes.

I got past my intended goal of 100 killometres with 103 kilometres covered during the month of March.

I would now rest up my hammy and wait for the gyms to re-open.

As we closed out the month, I absolutely couldn’t believe it but $270 had been raised by my donors which was very humbling and good news for our veterans who needed and deserved our help.

Defence Annual Report 2003-04 :: Chapter One :: Year in Review :: Operation  Anode :: Photograph 4

There were 6,268 participants in the March On campaign.

They raised $1,549,576 dollars for veterans and covered 483,060 kilometres.

Amongst them was Soldier On patron 102 year old World War II veteran Sgt Bert who walked 159 kilometres himself during the March On campaign.

Soldier On, was a not for profit charity founded in 2012 to support veterans by John Bale, Cavin Wilson and Danielle Clout. Bale had been close friends with Lieutenant Michael Fussell who was killed in Afghanistan. Three thousand veterans and their families are supported by the charity with a holistic approach to their physical and mental wounds with employment programs, health and wellbeing services, learning and participation activities.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 30, 2020

Jobkeeper is introduced in Australia and hospital ship UNSN Comfort enters New York City harbour. A field hospital is built in Central Park.

COVID-19 DIARY – SECOND SNAP LOCKDOWN IN BRISBANE

Greater Brisbane lockdown announced, masks mandatory across Queensland  after 10 new COVID-19 cases, four locally acquired - ABC News

March 29

When I arrived at work Monday morning there was a rumour going around a lockdown was about to be announced.

Sure enough that is exactly what happened, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the Greater Brisbane region (this included Ipswich, Logan, Redlands and Moreton Bay) would enter a three day lockdown starting from 5pm.

Masks were mandatory except in private residencies and vehicles.

You could only leave home for food, work, medical reasons or exercise.

Schools were closed again for children of essential workers.

Cafes and restaurants were shut but could provide take-away.

Two visitors could be allowed in a house.

I had been wondering what the trigger would be and it turned out it was very simple – numbers. Not big numbers but just enough to take action.

In January one new case out in the community had trigged the lockdown.

Now it was four following three previous ones. The PA Doctor from the 12th of March.

Not the landscaper from the 26th of March or his friend on the 27th.

But on the 29th there 10 new cases and four of them – count’em four not one! – were from community transmission.

Two were of an unknown origin and the other two were directly linked to the PA cluster including a brother of one of the earlier cases.

In her own words the Queensland Premier said, “Now what this says to us is the fact that there are now more community transmission and these people have been out and about in the community. And that is of now concern to Queensland Health and of course concern to me.

One of the cases was a man who had been in Gladstone from March 25 to March 27.

Auckland House - Gladstone Central QLD 4680, Australia

Two of the others was a nurse who worked at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and her sister. They had been in Byron Bay from March 26 to 28.

The Premier’s tone was softer in announcing this lockdown almost like she was trying to rally us for another go of it.

“I know this will mean some disruption to people’s lives but we’ve done this before and we’ve got through it over those three days in the past and if everyone does the right thing, I’m sure that we will be able to get through it again,” she said.

There seemed to be less panic buying but there was certainly evidence of it and plenty of things staples running dry on the shelves.

Eleven thousand, six hundred and twentry four tests had been carried out in the past 24 hours.

“I know in is a really big call, I know it is really tough,” said Premier Palaszczuk.

“We have Easter coming up, we have school holidays coming up but let’s do it now and let’s do it right, and let’s see if we can come through it at the other end.”

I didn’t sleep last night – so I think I am very worried,” the Premier candidly shared.

There were now 73 active cases in Queensland. 

When the first lockdown was announced on the 8th of January there had been 23 active cases in the state.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 29, 2020. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a late night briefing on a Sunday following a meeting of the National Cabinet. I remember being moved. He looked tired but resolute, numbers were climbing, in New York the amount of death was relentless. And I just thought we have something ahead of us, all of us and we have to do what we can.

COVID-19 DIARY – YOU BIG STUPID LUG

Brisbane, Australia, satellite image - Stock Image - E780/1259 - Science  Photo Library

March 27

I spent most of Saturday recovering from my torn hammy but it made me restless.

I watch some shows on Youtube that focus on pop culture. A lot of them covered Godzilla vs Kong which had just come out.

I also needed to get back out to the gym to complete my 100 kilometres for the March On campaign for Soldier On.

So I I left for a late night session by myself at Chermside cinemas.

I expected not many people to be there but much to my shock there were many people. Hardly near full capacity but easily over half. I limped along with my torn hammy and wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.

I sat there slowly bubbling with shame as the film continually failed to engage me.

What the fuck was I doing there? How could I be so stupid.

On some level I believed we should be in lockdown so I was directly contradicting myself and for no good reason. I was following the health guidelines but not my own reasoning.

I hadn’t thought this through. Still it was just one case for the moment.

Afterwards I went to the gym.

However after I got back home from the gym Karen informed me there was new scare.

One new case had been reported on Saturday following 6,881 tests on Friday.

A friend of the landscaper case from yesterday.

But while that person had been waiting to get test resutls and been told to isolate the man had held a party with 25 people in attendance – apparently!

And I had just gone to the movies with a bunch of people from the local area.

I highly doubted I was at risk but it just felt dumb to have gone. The movie had been far from worth it.

Other Australian states moved to protect themselve from Queensland’s concerns.

Travellers who left with one rules for entering WA landed five hours later to find they needed to go into self quarantine.

At a Australian Football League game the previous night in Geelong supporters of the Brisbane Lions who had travelled to Victoria for the game were told to leave the stadium immediately and get tested and sef isolate by signs around the grounds.

Victorian health alert over Brisbane coronavirus case sees Lions fans told  to leave AFL clash with Geelong - ABC News

This applied throughout Victoria to all Queenslanders who had been to contract listed sites on the prescribed dates. You only had to isolate until you returned a negative test.

In the Northern Territory it was a similar situation except you had 72 hours to get tested and isolate.

In South Australia anyone from the affected LGAs had to get tested and self isolate.

New South Wales and Tasmania prohibited Queenslanders who had been to the contract listed locations from entering unless they were essential travellers. If you were already in those states you had to get tested and self isolate until you received results. 

With 71 active cases in Queensland, it was reported that hospitalisations were as high as they had been at the peak of the pandemic last year. The Queensland government wanted hotel quarantine numbers to be halved in the state.

It is also interesting to watch unbroken press conferences with our leaders.

As other state governments ramped up precautions in light of the news coming out of Brisbane, Queesnland itself did not make any changes.

Why?

Interestingly enough Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called on the federal government to offer aid to north queensland tourism operators as Jobkeeper was coming to an end.

I wondered…

To most of us, it was obvious a lockdown would occur but what would be the trigger?

A new case out in the community for several days had previously done it but… not this time.

Now another new case with a party thrown into the mix and yet still a lockdown was not called.

March 28

On Sunday came news actually that the party well it turned out to just be four housemates. Not twenty five people. This was far from what might have been called in my day a hootenanny.

Questions were asked by journalists but nobody had any clear answers for them and nobody seemed to want to take responsibility except to say that was in the brief and a mistake must have been made.

The Premier, the Chief Health Officer or the Health Minister couldn’t help beyond that.

Mistakes happen I guess, in a way it was nice to see them not just throw some staffer or public servant under the bus but it made me sad to see yet again the narrative of news cycles quickly move on rather than just asking that questions be answered.

With over 11,000 new tests having been carried out the previous day there were three new cases in the state, two from hotel quarantine and one in the community. A brother of one of the new cases.

That night I went back to the gym and walked on the treadmill for the March On campaign for Soldier On. 

Some good news just quickly.

Without going into details, older parents of friends, family and work collegues and fellow bloggers of a certain age in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States of America had at this point been vaccinated.

Not my parents yet but nonetheless this was wonderful news.

Some of these people had underlying health conditions and it was such a relief to see that they had received vaccinations. It reminded us that maybe progress was getting made.

On the 28th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 126,404,770 confirmed cases gloabally with a daily increase of 594,210.

There had been 2,771,779 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 10,358.

In Australia there had been 29,252 confirmed cases with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 956,655 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,093. There had been 22,826 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

Today's coronavirus news: Growing list of Canadian politicians in hot water  over holiday travel; Death toll reaches 52 at Tendercare; U.S. hits 20  million mark in coronavirus cases | The Star

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,326,036 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,399. There had been 126,573 deaths with a daily increase of 58.

In India there had been 11,971,624 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 62,714. The next day India would reach 12 million cases with 12,039,644 and a daily increase of 68,020. There had been 161,552 deaths with a daily increase of 312.

In the United States of America there had been 29,859,706 with a daily increase of 71,187. There had been 543,003 deaths with a daily increase of 1,280.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 27,2020.

Having trialled one day working from home I would finish working in the office on Friday and head home not sure when I would return to the office. I would miss my colleagues.

That night hotel quarantine for Australians from overseas was announced.

The next day Karen worked bravely working a polling station during local council elections carried throughout our state.  

COVID-19 DIARY – PA LINK

Brisbane COVID-19 community transmission case puts city on alert after man  visits multiple public venues while infectious - ABC News

March 26

Friday.

One new case in the Brisbane community got us thinking around the office we might be in for another lockdown in the next few days.

A young landscaper, the man had developed symptoms on Monday and tested positive yesterday.

He had been out in the community for at least five days.

Based on precdent it was becoming highly likely a lockdown was imminent and the Chief Health Officer did not rule it out at the day’s press conference.

Restrictions already in place since last Friday to have no visitors at aged care and disability facilities, hospitals and prisons were due to continue until at least the following Monday.

We need to make sure we are socially distancing and where we can’t, to wear a mask. If you are in that vulnerable cohort, maybe stay at home for the next three days until we understand exactly what is happening here,” advised the Queensland Premier.

Queensland's latest COVID-19 case linked to Princess Alexandra Hospital  cluster

A list of contract tracing sites were also announced including those at the Carindale Shopping Centre on the southside of twon as well as a host of shops on the northside of town like Newmarket, Everton Park, Alderley, Stafford as far away as Redcliffe.

As what was becoming habit I texted people if I knew any of these places were areas they regularly or semi regularly attended.

Outdoors we know is really low risk, so let’s go out and really enjoy the outdoors this weekend,advised Dr Jeanette Young.

What the fuck?

“[But] most importantly of all, everyone, please stay home if you’re sick, as this gentleman did who’s tested positive. Come forward and get tested so we know what’s going on so we can contact trace,” she added.

We were up to 69 active cases in the state including six in hotel quarantine with three of them from Papua New Guinea.

7,584 tests had been carried out in the past twenty four hours.

Genomic testing later revealed that day that the landscaper’s case was linked to the Princess Alexander doctor’s case and of the B117 ‘UK’ strain.

Brisbane hospital locked down after doctor tests positive for COVID-19 -  ABC News

Anyone identified as a close contact will be contacted by the Public Health Unit and required to quarantine. The detail from the genomic testing is getting faster and better — we know that the gentleman who tested positive on late Thursday night was highly contagious. We therefore cannot afford to be complacent — if you have any COVID symptoms at all, please come forward and get tested,” requested Dr Jeanette Young.

Yet we didn’t go into lockdown.

I didn’t dwell on this though as my torn hammy quickly took up my thoughts.

Hamstring GIFs | Tenor

Can I just make some observations? People are not social distancing, Please, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Now is not the time to break our social distancing, our good hand hygiene and the handshakes,” advised Premier Palaszczuk.

In the larger context of what has transpired across the world this rings very true.

Case numbers didn’t dip in European countries earlier this year that hadn’t carried out lockdowns.

The UK that didn’t rush out of lockdown and has been more gradual and did.

In the States with a massive vaccine roll out case numbers have still been remarkably high with 50,000 new cases a day regularly.

Texas hits 1 million Covid-19 cases, the most in the nation

In India and Brazil no lockdown and look.

That does not provide all the answers and I don’t claim to be an expert. For example the Indian government moved quickly into a far ranging and significant lockdown when case numbers were still relatively low last year and still sufferred greatly with 10 million cases and thousands of deaths.

No wonder there was a relucatance on the part of some Indians to go into lockdown again.

However a lockdown could hardly supress spread in slums where one bathroom is shared by eighty people.

So no I don’t pretend to have answers but I always go back to the basics. It’s something we can do and if it has a chance of helping its better than looking for ways to not to do it.

Ignoring the risk doesn’t seem to have helped very often – in fact quite the opposite.

Papua New Guinea only has about 500 doctors for 9 million people. Now it's  dealing with a Covid outbreak - CNN

In Port Moresby, Papua New Guiea the capital’s hospitals was beyond capacity. Temporary field hospitals were being set up.

Australia and Papua New Guinea have a long history together. For most Australians the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels came to mind. Natives who acted as porter and guides for the Australians on the Kokoda track during World War II. Now could Australia be the angels who supported PNG in their time of crisis?

The Unnoticed Death of Our last Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel - Tasmanian Times

Australia sent 8,000 vaccines to Port Moresby along with medical equipment that included testing equipment but it was believed this would not be enough.

There were already many Australians there on the ground doing what they could alongside the local Papua New Guinea health care heroes.

The PNG government closed schools and restricted travel but housebound lockdowns were not possible in such a country for all.

I think it would be too ambitious to say we can stop this plague at this point in time. The tipping point was probably four weeks ago,” advised Matthew Cannon, CEO of St John Ambulance PNG.

As the spread throughout PNG continued, it prompted the Queensland government to fast track vaccinations through the Torres Strait.

Fear PNG spread may spawn new virus mutations

Dr Mangu Kendino, an Emergency Department doctor, advised 10 per cent of hospital staff had caught COVID and that was just in the past month.

We only have 450 maybe 500 doctors here in Papau New Guinea. That’s one doctor to 17,000 people, you compare that to New South Wales that has a similar population of eight million and that’s 24,500 doctors at least,” explained Matthew Cannon, CEO of St John Ambulance PNG.

Testing capacity was minimal and took up to ten days to get results – far too long.

These health care workers are now the frontline for COVID 2 and if they’re getting infected and passing it onto their families and other patients and if they get sick there is no one to replace them.” told Dr Alison Brown of Australian Doctors International.

Would it crash the health care system… I can’t say for certain. But has it stretched us thin – yes. And are we struggling? Yes,” said Dr Kendino.

On the 26th of March 2021, the World Health Organisation reported in Papua New Guinea there had been 4,965 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 305. There had been 39 deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 26, 2020.

In India Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country into a 21 day lockdown forcing everybody to isolate at home. The World Health Organisation reported in India there were 649 cases with a daily increase of 43. The number of dead in the country were 13 with a daily increase of three.

COVID-19 DIARY – MARCH ON

Meet Australia's own fund-raising legend walker - CONTACT magazine

March 01 – March 28

You may recall previously a post on the charity Soldier On and their patron 101 year old Sgt Bert Le-Merton who had raised $107,191 for the charity by walking 96kms around his local Sydney neighbourhood.

He reached that last September.

Last check he was at 419 kilometres. 

Founded in 2012, Soldier On supports 3,000 veterans and their families with a holistic approach to their physical and mental wounds with employment programs, health and wellbeing services, learning and participation activities.

In March they ran a campaign called March On, calling on people to cover 96kms throughout the month to raise funds for the charity.

Having recently dialled back my gym attendance I saw this as a good opportunity to get back in shape and raise funds for our veterans.

I knew I could probably cover about 3-4kms on a treadmill in half an hour. This meant I would have to regularly attend the gym to get to 96kms by the end of the month.

So on the first of March I went and got on the treadmill.

I played on repeat Bill Conti’s Going The Distance theme from the film Rocky. At different points in the music I would move from a walk to a jog to a faster job and back again and repeat for 30 minutes before cooling down for five minutes.

The treadmill told me I covered 4.04 kilometres that night and burned 255 calories in those first 35minutes.

Soldier On : Home

As you get older it becomes mandatory to stretch before you exercise and I made sure I stretched but being out of shape I found my body resistant.

I jogged on Monday the 1st, Wednesday the third and by Thursday my shoulder was in a lot of pain.

From jogging.

I rubbed deep heat throughout the day and pushed myself to go back that night on the fourth.

The whole 96 kilometres loomed over me, I couldn’t afford to miss too many days.

Friday the shoulder continued to bug me but it hurt less.

I went Friday night the fifth and Saturday and Sunday and Monday right through to Thursday.

An unbroken eight day stretch and the shoulder got better, I got fitter too.

I stopped listening to Going the Distance and just listened to regular podcasts from The Ringer while shifting speeds at different timed intervals.

The RAN in the Gulf - Two Years On | Royal Australian Navy

Day 10 I was on track with 33 kilometres done so I upped the distance to cover to 100 kilometres.

I never repeated that eight day stretch.

I missed the Thursday 11th of March as I was attending Triple X and needed to write my review after.

I jogged the 12th and 13th but not the 14th. No excuses.

I had a session on the 15th and got to 51kms right on schedule but did not jog the sixteenth.

From there I had a five day unbroken streak from the 17th to the 21st.

On the 18th of March I covered 4.51 kilometres in 36 minutes. Four kilmoetres in 31minutes before starting the cool down late. 299 calories burnt, an average pace of 7.5kms/per hour. The scales put me at 109.3kgs and a BMI of 33.7.

At this point I had been jogging consistently for three weeks.

On the 17th of March I finally got under 110 kgs on the scale for the first time in forever. I started wearing ties at work and swapped out my suspenders for a belt. It made me look like I had gained weight rather than lost it but I knew that belt couldnt’ have been worn comfortably earlier without the hard work so i enjoyed it.

Friday the 19th of March I got to my lowest weight during the month with 109.1kgs and BMI of 33.7.

I was starting to increase the speeds a little to burn a little fat, to cover a little bit more distance but not too much.

Why Do People Walk The Kokoda Trail | Adventure Excellence

Ninety six kilometres was chosen because it was the length of the Kokoda Track and as you went along in your goal different milestones told you how far you had travelled.

Menari 34.8kms. Templeton’s Crossing at 63kms. Eora Creek.72kms.

Templeton’s Crossing is named after Captain Sam Templeton Commander of B Company in the famed 39th Battalion. He was also affectionately known as Uncle Sam by some of the men.

Jack Wilkinson, a fellow soldier, noted the following in his diary in 1942:

“…Two long hills to climb.  Missed out on tea as I was with last of the troops.  Had a job to get some of them to make it..

‘Uncle Sam’ came back and helped me about half way up the last hill.  I was carrying four rifles and three packs and had doubts about making it myself. 

But ‘Uncle Sam’ insisted on carrying all my gear as well as that of others. “

Captain Templeton went Missing in Action during the Kokoda campaign. He never returned home. Another casaulty of war.

625 Australians died during the Kokoda Track campaign. The battle saved Australia from invasion.

Virtual War Memorial | Samuel Victor TEMPLETON

I reached Templeton’s Crossing on the 21st of March at the end of the five day streak. I was covering consistently 4.4 to 4.5 kilometres now in the same time frame where I had covered a little over 4 on the first night.

I had worked through the initial pain for getting back into exercise. I was now leaner, more fit and faster.

I had to complete seven sessions in the next ten days to reach my goal.

But on Monday the 22nd my left leg was bothering me with soreness. I decided to rest it.

Tuesday the 22nd I came back and did my best session but the left leg was still bothering me.

4.47 kilometres in 35 minutes to score an average pace of 7.7 kilometres per hour and burn 309 calories. I had jogged one minute longer by mistake on the 18th to reach 4.51kilometres.

I went and saw Two Man Tarantino on Wednesday the 24th and rested it again.

Thursday the 25th I raised in conversation with a colleague about maybe just walking the rest of the campaign but I had set myself a goal and really wanted to see it through.

Thursday I worked through the pain and jogged but made sure I didn’t push myself. I was back down to 4.32kms, 290 calories, 7.4kph but was grateful to see the scales tip at 109.3kgs having recently chowed down on the Brisbane Powerhouse Snackbar Menu Pizzas.

RAMSI chapter ends in Australia's Pacific story - Devpolicy Blog from the  Development Policy Centre

Friday morning I felt pretty good.

I was getting lunch at a burger joint when my legs got caught in between two chairs.

My body reflexively pulled up to get out of it and I felt my RIGHT leg explode and i let out a yelp.

I limped out with my lunch and back to work.

No matter how gently I walked, the back of my right leg will regularly send this tearing sensation to my brain and I would be unable to take another step for a brief second.

I was in pain.

Having never been an athlete i had no reference for what was happening.

This was more than a pulled muscle.

I struggled back to work but found only standing gave me releif. Sitting down the back of the leg became sore from the pressure and walking constantly agitated it.

I asked a very kind colleague to drive me back to my car and I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to drive it. I pushed the chair back a little which made the leg rest more horizontally than usual and that seemed to not agitate it.

I went to bed with some deep heat and tried to rest it up.

Pilots from 75 Squadron RAAF are welcomed back to Al Udeid airbase by Group  Captain William ... | Australian War Memorial

My dream of jogging the whole month was over.

I had 19 kilometres to go in five days and no way I would be able to jog in the next five days.

I was not even sure if I would be able to complete the 100 kilometres.

I was so disappointed.

Because during that month many kind donors some of which remained anonymous had given money for our veterans in the belief that I would reach my goal.

I went back to the gym on Saturday and walked on the treadmill for 50 minutes and covered 4.37kilometres. This would keep me on track to get to 100kms by the end of the month but it was going to be close.

The next night I went back and found the leg was doing okay so I stepped up the walking pace and covered 4.70kms.

As I walked those two nights my leg would seize up but I found I was able to keep going.

On the second night I did seize up at one point quite a bit and my right leg went down. Fortunately I grabbed the handles, shot my left leg to the side off the treadmill and was able to drag my right leg up and keep going.

I haven’t seen a physio but it appears that I tore my hammy.

Why was I doing this you may ask?

There were 6,268 participants in the March On campaign.

They raised $1,549,576 dollars for veterans and covered 483,060 kilometres.

Soldier On on Twitter: "August 15 1975, Sergeant Bert Le-Merton was in  Borneo receiving news that the war was over. 75 years later, he will  #MarchOn as he begins his 96km journey

One of them was 102 year old World War II veteran Sgt Bert who walked 159 kilometres in March.

“If I can do it, you can too… so get up off your saddle and March On with me to support our veterans.” said Sgt Bert.

Another was a young veteran named Holly who had been diagnosed with complex PTSD and received help from Soldier On.

“Soldier On provided a safe space for me during some of my darkest times. I am forever grateful for the support I received following my diagnosis of complex-PTSD. Without Soldier On, I’m not sure if I would be here today.” Holly said.

These were words that galvanised me through the month when I felt lazy or tired.

Maybe ego was involved, I was pushing myself and seeing results and admitting to injury would derail all of that. I like to think of myself of someone who rarely sets goals but often sees them through.

But mostly i just wanted to say I did it for all of the people who were supporting our veterans

And for the veterans themselves.

Two people I served with briefly in the Reserves both did March On. One of them had been in the Regs and gone to East TImor.

Two friends I had at school had served.

One was a signaller in the Army and served in the Solomon Islands.

Another went into the RAAF and did two tours of Iraq.

They seem fine but they know as I do that many of our veterans are not fine.

Since 1999: 46 AUST soldiers killed on active service. 239 returned  soldiers have taken their lives. - Michael Smith News

They’re comitting suicide at an alarming rate and Soldier On is helping them as are many of other worthy charities.

For Holly, for Sgt Bert, for Captain Sam Templeton, for all of our veterans I wanted to see this through.

-Lloyd Marken

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

Scenestr 6

March 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – REMEMBERING THE MANY AND THE FEW

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

March 22

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

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

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

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

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

March 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 24

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

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

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

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

How many of those deaths had they personally witnessed?

How many lives had they saved?

Had they seen any colleagues fall?

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

For us.

March 25

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 22, 2020. 

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

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

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

COVID-19 DIARY – UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

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

March 14

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

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

Although let’s unpack that a little.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 16

Speaking of second shots of Pfizer.

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

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

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

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

Good news given the PA case.

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

Tensions between state and federal government consultation were raised.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spain had suspended use for two weeks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 18

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

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

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

There were significant national politics at play here.

Britain had recently left the European Union.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 19

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

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

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

Poland had never stopped.

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

March 20

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

France was back in lockdown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 19, 2020.

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

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

Tasmania became the first Australian state to close its borders.

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

COVID-19 DIARY – A YEAR INTO IT

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

March 13

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

As we entered 2021 there were lots of anniversary milestones.

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

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

That whole week things had been brewing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whether it was fundraising for Meals on Wheels America,

The Salvation Army here in Australia,

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

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

or the Endeavour Foundation who help people with disabilities,

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

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

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

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

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

or The London Ambulance Service Charitable Fund

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then I went on my secondment and subsequently fell behind.

I’m still playing catch-up.

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

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

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

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

20200606_150919 Copyright Lloyd Marken.

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

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

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

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

20200703_094616

The Polish Place. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

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

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

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

20210214_191802

Copyright Lloyd Marken

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

Hopefully better off.

Hopefully there will be less diary entries.

Hopefully.

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

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

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

Then Christmas.

Then around New Years.

Then March again for the birthdays a year on.

That was nice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – CAREFUL ICARUS

Princess Alexandra Hospital | Our Digital Health Service

March 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In early December all the state borders were open.

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

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

Were we going to have Christmas like normal in Australia?

Sadly no.

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

Image result for sydney christmas covid 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re never out of this.

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

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

Until then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were 40 active cases in Queensland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe there were larger considerations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

Scenestr 5

March 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clearly the number of cases in hotel quarantine was increasing.

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

March 05

Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morally they were even more obligated.

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

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

Sweden's Pandemic Experiment | The New Yorker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 06

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

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

Mississipi soon followed suit.

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

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

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

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

March 07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 10

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

March 11

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ROLL OUT ROLL UP PART V

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

March 02

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P1 had arrived in the United Kingdom over the weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 03

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

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

February 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

To stop the virus from continuing to mutate.

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

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

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

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

India was about to expereince a crashing second wave.

Their vaccine roll out continued in earnest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

February 23

Tuesday.

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

Same old song.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Joe Biden remembered the fallen.

February 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

February 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

But now there was hope.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May be an image of 1 person and standing

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

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

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

An amazing day and an amazing person.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funerals could occur with 30 people and weddings with 15.

However there would be no visits between households in doors.

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

throwing papers up in the air gif | WiffleGif

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

Outdoors gathering could be as large as 30 people.

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

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

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

Throwing Papers In The Air GIFs | Tenor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

February 17

The vaccine rollout began in earnest in Australia.

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

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

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

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

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

February 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A group of people standing and sitting in a room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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)

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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.