COVID-19 DIARY – AROUND THE GROUNDS – PART II

Coronavirus: South Africa Covid-19 deaths 'to soar' in coming months - BBC  News

 

August 2

Mexico overtook the UK as the country with the third highest death toll behind Brazil and the U.S.  That was 46,668 Mexican deaths to 46,119 British deaths in a country that had twice the population of Great Britain. In Mexico there were over 424,000 cases reported.

There was a record new number of daily global cases with 292,527 confirmed. 

Deaths have been averaging 5,200 a day in July, up from an average of 4,600 a day in June.

Nearly 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the past week, around double the number that did so the previous week.

In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson retracted on lifting restrictions for casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks. They were due to re-open on Saturday and he took them off the table for another two weeks.

Personally I think the U.K. has been fairly extraordinary with the measures they have put in place with other countries go harder and earlier with lower numbers.

Case in point a grave new second wave in South Korea is how they defined 17 new daily cases. In Great Britain getting down a 1,000 a day was enough to make plans to re-open pubs, hairdressers, and cinemas. As well as holidaying around the country and looking at creating travel bubbles to Spain and Italy!

As much as I go on about Ballbag and what has tragically occurred in America the fact is per capita, Great Britain has suffered a far greater loss of life. 

There were stricter lockdowns being applied in the north of England too.

“We’re now seeing a warning light on the dashboard. Our assessment is that we should now squeeze the brake pedal in order to keep the virus under control,” Johnson told the public. 

Better late than never. 

On a hot summer day though, the public decided laying out on a beach with thousands of others was the call of the day just like similar Australian dickheads have done here on numerous beaches.

A pebble beach in south England is adorned with sunbathers and umbrellas.

In India there 55,079 cases reported in in one day, the country had had over 1,6 million cases.

779 deaths took the national total to 35,747.

This was on the eve of a night curfew in place since March being lifted.  Yoga institutes and gyms were scheduled to open on the 5th of August. 

Interstate restrictions were also gone and New Delhi hotels that had served as quarantine facilities could now re-open.

Subways, cinemas, swimming pools, parks, bars, theatres were set to remain closed for the moment until the end of the month.

All these restrictions eased as the country recorded its largest surge in cases. 

It was accepted too that the numbers were probably far higher but due to limited testing the larger picture would never be known for certain. 

India had been through hell, was a respite on the horizon?

God I hoped so.

In Florida there was a fourth straight day of record new deaths.

One person died from COVID-19 in the United States every minute.

COVID-19 continues resurgence across US through July as mask mandates begin  in hardest-hit states - ABC News

In South Africa the number of confirmed cases reached 482,169 and the number of deaths 7,812.

It was over half the numbers across the African continent and the fifth highest national total in the world.

As richer nations bought up ventilators and PPE, South Africa had started manufacturing ventilators of their own with an aim to produce 20,000. 

In Spain there 1,229 new daily cases, the highest since restrictions were eased on the 21st of June. It was the third day in a row of 1,000+ new daily cases. A second wave had come to Spain. 

There had 282,641 COVID-19 cases in Spain and 28,441 Spaniards had died.

On the 2nd of August the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 17,678,033 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 268,879. 

There had been 675,845 deaths with a daily increase of 6,103.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – NIGHT FALLS AND CURFEWS ENSUE

Australia imposes curfew in 2nd-biggest metropolis

July 31

In Australia there was new daily record of new cases in the country with 721 reported by teh World Health Organisation.

I haven’t covered all the famous people who passed in 2020 like Kenny Rogers, Olivia de Harvilland, Dame Vera Lynn, but I feel compelled to mention the passing of Regis Philbin most famous for The Regis and Kelly Morning Show in America and hosting the game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire but for whom I knew because he was a regular guest on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Regis one night a few years back talked about being in the Navy and two tough veterans asked him what he wanted to do with his life. He said work in entertainment but… and they didn’t want to hear about it so Regis went out and lived his dream. I always liked that moment, it came at the right time in my life.

Secondly is the passing of Senator John Lewis, his good fight continues in America and around the world today and so there was comfort and sorrow to be found in his passing. Mostly there was inspiration to be taken.

I thank them both.

Meanwhile things were developing in Victoria on Friday.

August 2

Sunday August the 2nd was another moment for me when I watched a political leader have to front up to the cameras and by extension the world, history and convey what was happening and what was needed.

There is a lot of criticism of Premier Daniel Andrews in his own state. Not just from the usual attack dogs like Sky News Australia who seem to every day find a new thing to attack him for whether it contradicts previous criticisms or not.

There is talk for example that port deals with China have been the wrong call. That the department of health in Victoria has been gutted by a failure to spend money where it is needed and for long term planning.

The chief criticism comes though from using private security firms, often cheap ones to provide security in hotel quarantine which led to an outbreak of cases which has larger implications for what has followed in Victoria.

That bears investigation and may very well bear criticism.

Yet from my vantage it often seems Andrews has been embattled, made the tough calls or held together in a storm. One week they’re calling for him to sacked because there are so many cases and the next that power has gone to his head because he wants to maintain a state of emergency to fast track measures as less cases are reported but there are still way more than any other state. He gets criticised for not reacting fast enough and then for not having a road map out of lockdown when cases are still too high.

Maybe that’s fair, everything needs to be held accountable but I’m getting a little sick of tired of media having weekly amnesia when it comes to dealing with this thing. One week we need to shut down. The next we need to open up because whale watchers aren’t getting enough tourists.

Here’s the facts the minute there was an outbreak in the southern state that meant a death sentence for a certain amount of aged care residents. That is death, that is what we are trying to avoid and what even the best decisions will not curtail death completely.

So yes the situation is constantly changing and a rise in unemployment means a rise in suicide and domestic violence.

We need to take care of each other but part of that are accepting measures need to be put in place and maintained until numbers drastically go down.

Anything less is reckless.

Anyway Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Sunday the 2nd of August a curfew in Victoria. This would begin the most extensive and toughest restrictions ever enforced in Australia in the age of COVID.

There were 671 new cases in Victoria that day alone and 6,322 active cases in the state, 385 of those were hospitalised and 38 cases – people! were in Intensive care.

Out of the 6,322 active cases, 1,083 were linked to aged care.

760 cases had no known source which was of great concern to the Premier and his health authorities.

“Those mysteries, that community transmission, is in many respects our biggest challenge and the reason why we need to move to a different set of rules,” Premier Andrews said.

After six weeks at stage 3 lockdowns Melbourne would move to stage 4, regional Victoria would move to stage 3.

A curfew would be in place from 8pm to 5am where you could only leave your home for work or to care for someone.

Only one person from a household could go shopping per day and within five kilometres of home. Daily exercise could only be done within five kilometres of home too.

There was a ban on weddings with the only exception being compassionate grounds.

Funerals could be attended by ten people.

Wednesday and school children would be back to remote learning in the state.

There were going to be further information conveyed the next day but reducing people at work and maybe a slow down of industries.

Like press briefings given by Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier in the year, the gravity of what Andrews was saying could not be ignored. I was moved and I admit I was a little moved for him. Unlike other world leaders, I have never doubted that all the Australian ones with all their flaws, mishaps and different political persuasions have been doing their best and I don’t envy them.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-02/victoria-coronavirus-restrictions-imposed-death-toll-cases-rise/12515914

The World Health Organisation reported on the 2nd of August globally there had been 17,678,181 cases with a daily increase of 268,718.

There had been 675,850 deaths with a daily increase of 6,106.

On Australia there had been 17,282 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 377. There had been 200 deaths with a daily increase of four.

In Canada there had been 116,312 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 513. There had been 8,935 with a daily increase of six.

In the United Kingdom there had been 303,956 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 771. The number of deaths 41,202 with a daily increase of 13.

In India there had been 1,750,723 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 54,735. There had been 37,364 deaths with a daily increase of 853.

In the United States of America there had been 4,523,888 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 67,499. There had been 152,630 deaths with a daily increase 1,365.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – I’M NOT DISAPPOINTED, JUST ANGRY

Parklands Christian College coronavirus case prompts order for ...

 

July 30

In Victoria there were 627 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths.

Given what would be occurring to frontline health care workers I donated again a very small amount to the BuyThemACoffee Initiative who were giving coffees to hospital staff in Victoria.

Border closes were in fluctuation.

New South Wales was closed to Victorians.

Queensland didn’t want anybody coming from Victoria or Greater Sydney.

South Australia didn’t want anybody coming back from Victoria, NSW and the ACT.

Tasmania thought it was best if people stayed put in Victoria, NSW, Qld and the ACT.

The Australian Capital Territory did not want travellers from Victoria.

The Northern Territory did not want visitors from Victoria and New South Wales. 

Western Australia did not want anybody from anywhere coming over.

Jim and Peter Staffieri waiting in the dark outside Epping Gardens Aged Care home.

On a cold Victorian evening two sons Jim and Peter waited outside Epping Gardens nursing home for hours. They got to wave to their 92 year old mother Luisa Staffieri as she was loaded on an ambulance and taken to hospital. She has COVID-19.

There are 61 residents and 22 staff at Epping Gardens who have been infected.

34 residents were taken out of the home to hospital on Monday and more Tuesday.

Thank Christ.

I mean it, thank you God.

Because there is no doubt in my mind. Once there is a case at a nursing home, dispersal of residents to hospital care is the smart play and the only play.

It won’t save them all but we can’t get enough of them out and we can’t do it fast enough.

As the ABC reported, “Peter said he was glad to see his mother transferred out of Epping Gardens because he had “no confidence” she would get the care she needed in the home.

At least in the hospital she’ll get the care that she needs, I think it would be too late if she got sick here,” he said.

There were 87 outbreaks at aged care homes that had already claimed nine lives.

Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) training to serve overseas on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions were also going into Victoria setting up shop in nursing homes like Ebbing Homes while patient transport vans took patients to hospitals.

 

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

Two dark green tents are erected on a lawn outside the Epping Gardens aged care home buildings.

The Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt dubbed the AUSMATs the “SAS of the medical world.” They’re good, they have to be to do their job. Comforting words that sell print.

What we’ll need is something short of everything we’ve got to preserve as much life as possible.

The Federal Government was also supplying 500,000 reusable face shields and a further 5 million face masks from the National Medical Stockpile. See Ballbag, the state needs something you just give it.

 

 

Thursday was a big day in Queensland.

A couple returned from the Apollo Restaurant in Sydney, came back before it was declared a hotspot, self-isolated, tested positive and as a result had not spread the disease.

That was one couple.

Then were two 19 year old women had travelled from Melbourne through Sydney to Brisbane on the 21st of July.

They lied on their declaration forms about where they had been and did not quarantine.

On the 30th of July they were vilified in the press and received $4,000 in fines as calls were made to enact harsher penalties for such law breakers. One of the girls had a sister who was also infected.

For eight days they had been out and about in the community.

One worked at a school, one after an after hours school care centre.

Fear and anger spread through the community.

The area they live and work in is within the general area of where my parents live and where my older sister lives.

Statistically things were even more dangerous for them back in March and yet now I felt some concern.

We all had felt a second wave was inevitable but the circumstances were beyond disappointing.

It was a bitter pill to swallow.

I naively exclaimed at one point why were hand bags so important to go to Melbourne for?

Then it was suggested that there may have been a certain pressure placed on them to make such a trip. I don’t know.

But on the 30th of July I could have sworn in two weeks Queensland would have many more cases and would be on higher restrictions.

I am always happy to be proven wrong.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – LIFE ISN’T CHEAP – MAKING A DIFFERENCE IS

 

July 26

There was a new record in new daily cases in the United States.

74,235.

In Victoria there were 458 new cases and ten new deaths.

Seven of those deaths were related to aged care facilities, one was a man in his 40s.

Melbourne had been in Stage Three lockdowns for the past 17 days.

There had been 8,181 cases in Victoria.

42,573 tests had been conducted in the state yesterday with Premier Daniel Andrews thanking Victorians.

“That is a very impressive effort and we are very grateful to each and every Victorian coming forward and getting tested,” he said.

For those who did not want to wear masks he had something to say.

Ten families are currently planning funerals today and the youngest of them have lost someone in their 40s. If you are just making a selfish choice about your alleged personal liberty, quoting some, I don’t know, something you’ve read on some website – this is not about human rights. Wear a mask – it’s not too much to ask. If you don’t, you will get fined and that is as it should be,” he said.

 

July 28

It was Tuesday and I donated some money to Stand with Daily Wage Earners. Money for those who have lost work due to COVID in India and face losing a lot more. I donated to the International Association for Human Values. They’re founded by some humanitarian and spiritual leader who is big into meditation – Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shanka. They consult with the United Nations, have captains of industry on their board and are a recognised NGO with donations covered as tax deductible.

They’re distributing kits to feed a family of four for ten days at a cost of 1000 Indian Rupee.

The kits include 5kgs of Wheat Flour, 2kgs of Dal, 3kgs of Rice, 500mls of oil, 100 grams of Tumeric Powder, 100 grams of Red Chilly Powder, 100 grams of Cumin Seeds, 100 grams of Black Mustard Seeds, 100 grams of Curry Masala and 2 bars of soap.

Such a kit to feed a family of four for ten days cost me $20 in Australian dollars.

I bought two.

There was also a video posted by an Australian GP Dr Warren Lee who had contracted COVID-19 and “recovered”. A lot of people like to think about COVID as a disease that kills those with underlying health conditions and older people. The numbers back them to an extent. I think they would benefit from watching Dr Lee’s video.

 

 

July 29

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned COVID infections will occur in aged care facilities.

Duh.

He also said rather unfortunately, “When it rains, everyone gets wet.

The problem was he was right, given the number in Victoria there were going to be cases in nursing homes. There already were. With that came a death sentence. If 29 aged care facilities are affected then even the most optimistic amongst us suddenly fears that can’t help but result in 29 deaths. 58? 145? 464?

He wanted aged care staff to be very careful.

The principal cause for transmission into aged care facilities has been through workforce transmission. It is principally come through the infection of staff, more broadly in the community, many cases completely unaware of that infection and by the time they become aware of that infection, then obviously they’d been in those facilities,” he said.

Secretary of the Department of Health, Professor Brendan Murphy also said, “One of the things we have all learned about this virus in the last six months is this terrible combination of a virus that can spread so easily in a fit young people, sometimes without any symptoms, and yet when it gets into our frail elderly people, it wreaks havoc. And it has a very significant death rate, fortunately some do recover but it is a very, very nasty virus with the elderly.

More than 750 health care workers in Victoria already had COVID-19.

Portland Protesters Breach Fence Around Federal Courthouse – NBC ...

In America after six weeks of increasing tension and violence Ballbag or more Vice President Mike Pence spoke to Oregon Governor Kate Brown that they would start to withdraw federal troops out of Portland, Oregon.

Governor Brown didn’t mince words, “These federal officers have acted as an occupying force, refused accountability, and brought violence and strife to our community.

There to protect the Federal Courthouse they essentially became surrounded in it. On a nightly basis wading out to clash with protestors but ultimately not taking control of the streets.

Such clashes had led to stun grenades being set off around the feet of protesting Mums and fracturing the skull of one individual when that skull was hit with a non-lethal round.

Good job Ballbag.

a group of people riding horses on a city street: Photograph: Amy Harris/REX/Shutterstock

Having arrived at the beginning of the month their presence had led to an escalation in protests.

Mayors of eleven cities including Chicago, Atlanta and LA wrote to the White House accusing him of deploying the troops for political purposes.

Ballbag is running a law and order campaign.

Of deploying troops without proper identification and snatching citizens off the streets the Mayors wrote, “These are tactics we expect from an authoritarian regime – not our democracy.

Again good job Ballbag.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – COVID PAYMENTS SET TO REDUCE AS CASES CONTINUE TO RISE

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

 

July 20

Monday and another week began in earnest. I was very busy and stressed about my secondment but was enjoying the work.

In the news there was some talk about a proposal that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaczszuk put forward for the border processing to move south into northern NSW to alleviate wait times and to help those who lived in the border communities such as Coolangatta. She claimed she had suggested this back in March.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian had a straight forward response.

I’m happy to consider all options except I do not believe at any stage we should move the border. If anything, the border should be moved north. There is zero infection in northern NSW at this stage,” she said.

So that was that.

There were a couple of a cluster of cases in New South Wales.

 

In Victoria there were 275 confirmed cases overnight and it was announced that masks were going to become mandatory come Thursday. Students across the state were going back to learning from home.

 

 

Federally there were announcements made about changes to welfare.

There are 3.5 million people on Jobkeeper which is a $1,500 payment for workers who are employed but who are not getting any hours from their employer due to the economic shutdown.

After September, Jobkeeper which worked out to $1,500 a fortnight would go down to $1,200 and then on the 4th of January, 2021 $1,000 a fortnight. It would also switch to a two tier system.

Then there are 1.3 million on Jobseeker which was the old Newstart allowance for people looking for work. When COVID and a sharp rise in unemployment occurred there was $550 supplement added to the Jobseeker allowance. That would be reduced to $250 per fortnight in October and continue until March 2021.

The government was hoping that as time went on more and more would be at work as these payments decreased. The debt was increasing and there was certainly reform needed around Jobkeeper.

Yet for those who would struggle to survive with less money this gave them some certainty about what was coming and increased uncertainty about how they would get by.

 

 

July 21

A woman out and about garnered a little bit of media interest when she was found walking outside of her local area. But she had a very simple explanation.

KAREN FROM BRIGHTON ‘CALLS IN’:

Don’t miss a moment of Kennedy Molloy and subscribe to the Catch Up podcast on the Triple M app! Download it on iTunes or Google Play.

 

July 22

In Queensland on Wednesday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk did not rule out further border restrictions even as she called on people to visit the state if they were not coming from one of the declared hotspots.

I am absolutely determined to keep Queenslanders safe,” she said.

If we have to declare further hotspots we will declare further hotspots and if there is an outbreak of community transmission in NSW like we have seen in Victoria we will not hesitate to take quick and swift action.

Facing an election in October, businesses particularly tourism ones were hurting and she wanted to show her support including scrapping of fees for those who run whale watching tours. This would equate to about $6,000 for each operator.

In Victoria there was a growing need to be considered.

40 aged care homes in the state had at least one positive COVID-19 case and over 200 cases were linked to aged care facilities.

Anybody familiar with what had happened at Newmarch House in New South Wales knew this was of particular concern.

The lessons from Newmarch were clear to some.

Professor Marylouise McLaws, an infection control expert at the University of New South Wales and an adviser to the World Health Organisation noted in an article published by The Guardian that infection control was very difficult in aged care homes.

“Unless you have dedicated bathrooms – and not every aged care facility does – and unless you have highly trained staff in infection control, which you don’t have in aged care, then it is very difficult to ensure that any shared area is kept clean all the time,” she said.

This bore out with the fact that residents at Newmarch were isolated in their rooms and COVID free for weeks before becoming ill with it.

Newmarch sent 16% of infected patients to hospital and 19 residents died. 

Also in New South Wales the Dorothy Henderson Lodge sent 80% of patients to hospital and six of their residents died.

Professor McLaws and Professor Joseph Ibrahim (Head of the Health, Law and Ageing Research Unit at the Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University believed generally speaking patients should be moved to hospitals to avoid infecting residents. Aged care staff just are not trained in infection control the same ways. McLaws pointed out they don’t have pressured rooms, Hepa filters and designated areas to store PPE. Ibrahim also said their capacity for waste is not the same.

How much would their advice be heeded.

How many people were at risk if they were not listened to.

In Victoria there were 484 new cases, the largest in a single day since the pandemic began.

 

July 23

In Victoria 403 cases were reported overnight with five deaths taking the state’s death toll to 49.

There were 201 Victorians in hospital with COVID and 40 in Intensive Care Unit including four children. Victoria Health Minister Jenny Mikakos advised 20% of Victoria’s COVID patients were under 50.

A man in his 50s was also one of the ones who had passed away.

Premier Daniel Andrews as a result said, “One of the terrible tragedies today is a man in his 50s — this is not just something that affects people that are frail-aged. That would be reason enough to do what we’re doing, but it would be wrong to assume that young people are somehow immune to this.

Premier Andrews advised there 3,630 active cases in Victoria.

Premier Andrews also advised that 9/10 people who were confirmed cases were continuing to move around the community after developing symptoms. Over half of people who got tested did not immediately self-isolate after waiting to get their results.

He also announced a $300 payment that could be claimed by casuals or those with insecure work who needed to self-isolate.

Minister Mikakos said the data showed a quarter of infections from the start of July are young people in their 20s and people over 60 only represented 6%.

Premier Andrews said “If you want this to be over, if you want to get to the other side of it and find that COVID normal — and be able to go and have a beer, or go and have a meal with a friend and be able to move around the community much more freely than you can now — you’ve got to follow the rules.

On the 23rd of July the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 15,019,293 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 248,393.

There had been 614,311 deaths with a daily increase of 7,035.

In Australia there had been 12,896 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 468. There had been 128 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Canada there had been 111,697 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 573. There had been 8,862 with a daily increase of four.

In United Kingdom there had been 297,663 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 751. There had been 41,047 deaths with a daily increase of 17.

Having reached over one million cases on July 17, in India on the 23rd of July there had been 1,238,635 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,720. There had been 29,861 Indians die with a daily increase of 1,129.

In the United States of America there had been 3,868,453 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 62,929. There had been 141,479 deaths with a daily increase of 1,042.

-Lloyd Marken