There was an impending state election in WA and McGowan had proven very popular for his handling of the COVID pandemic. This decision showed a Labor Premier yet again putting lives ahead of other concerns.
Queensland Health declared the locked down areas to hotspots and anybody travelling from them would need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Queensland.
On the 31st of January the World Health Organisation reported there had been 102,259,861 confirmed cases worldwide with a daily increase 564,517.
More than 100 million cases had been reached on the 28th fo January, 2021 with 100,511,774.
There had been deaths globally with a daily increase of 2,218,894 with a daily increase of 13,912.
In Australia there had been 28,806 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.
In Canada there had been 770,793 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,690. There had been 19,801 deaths with a daily increase of 137.
In the UK there ahd been 3,796,092 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 23,275. There had been 105,571 deaths with a daily increase 1,222.
In India there had been 10,746,183 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 13,052. There had been 154,274 deaths with a daily increase of 127.
In the United States of America there had been 25,676,612 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 164,415. There had been 433,173 deaths with a daily increase of 3,521. Twenty five million cases had been reached January 27 with 25,050,308.
On Thursday the World Health Organisation reported there had been more than 100 million confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 589,451 bringing the total to 100,511,774.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that come next monday, the first day of February that travellers from 35 LGAs from Greater Sydney could come to Queensland for the first time since the 21st of December, 2020.
There had been a hard border in place between Queensland and New South Wales from the 25th of March, 2020 to the 10th of July, 2020.
That hard border was put in place again from the 8th of August, 2020 until the 3rd of November, 2020.
On that day while the hard border came down for the state, residents of the Greater Sydney area would be stopped at border checkpoints.
Just under a month later on the 1st of December, 2020 they were welcome too.
But with the Avalon and Berala clusters on the eve of Christmas residents of the 35 LGAs of Greater Sydney were shut out on the 21st of December.
The hard border with all of New South Wales resumed the next day.
Now the border was going to be open to all, no border declaration passes because there were no hotspots in the country.
The 28 day rule of no community transmission in New South Wales which was a previous benchmark had not been met – it had only been 12 days.
The Federal Jobkeeper program was due to end soon and the Far North had been sufferring without international tourists and disruptions to domestic travel compounded the issue. Jobkeeper it was said had been a lifeline and the Federal government held those pursestrings.
The bulk of national media is based out of Sydney and Melbourne and there had definitely been a slant from all media outlets to be critical of Queensland and Western Australia border closures. Not so much the Northern Territory. I guess the elites were upset they couldn’t travel to the Gold Coast or Cairns but were okay if they missed out of Darwin or Launceston. More their loss if you ask me.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian advised that maybe the Queensland Premier was a victim of her own policy.
Palaszczuk batted away the remark with, “We’ll just let New South Wales be New South Wales.“
If you’re a Queensland you’ll understand how that brought a smile to my face.
My best friend was getting married in Sydney, the change to the border restrictions meant I would be able to go but the wedding was more than two weeks away and a lot could happen in two weeks with COVID.
There was an interesting report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation which highlighted yet again a two speed economy in the country.
There had been a 1.9 billion dollar jump in savings from pre-COVID trends.
The richer you were the richer you were probably getting, the poorer you were the poorer you were probably getting. Car sales were up, house buying was up too and consumer spending was almost back to normal.
Those on lower incomes jobs were more likely to have lost work or lost income.
There had even been job growth in high income work!
Generally speaking people who could afford a holiday, a night out, international travel – well they saved. And the people who drove their ubers, served them drinks, and cleaned their hotel rooms. Well they lost out.
The poorer got poorer and the richer saved money.
It was one year since the first Australian COVID-19 case was discovered in Australia.
One year on the World Health Organisation reported there had been 28,766 confirmed cases with a daily increase of five. There had been 909 Australians that had died from the disease.
On the same day the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use in Australia although the AztraZeneca vaccine was going to be the main one used in Australia, the Pfizer one was the first to approve.
These words ring even more true given how slowly the vaccination roll out has been.
Fifty to sixty countries had been involved in vaccinating with 64 million doses given out globally.
Israel was one of the most vaccinated countries in the world with 41.8 doses per 100 people which was very needed given they had recorded their highest daily increase of of new cases of 10,116 on the 20th of January, 2021. Five days later there 594,820 confirmed cases and 4,390 Israeli deaths.
The United Arab Emirates, Seychelles and Bahrain populations were also reaching some of the highest vaccination levels in the world.
By the way I love the way anchor Michael Rennie crosses to Casey Briggs. Often feels like some passive aggressive stuff there or maybe some sexual tension. Who knows on air chemistry is a hard thing to build.
John Hopkins university reported 100 million people globally had been infected by COVID and over two million deaths.
There was an interesting conversation about the global COVID figures but no hard facts.
I held my breath last year to see how COVID would rip through the third world and places like Africa yet North America and Europe are still faring the worst in terms of numbers.
There were a variety of factors at play there, warmer climates could help although tell that to people living through the pandemic in South America.
Secondly reporting was not as vast, accurate or even ongoing in some countries.
Also some of these countries were ruled by dictators who could shut down the populace in a way other nations would not.
There was also the factor that some poorer nations had lived through several previous pandemics and had learnt some hard lessons.
Portugal it was reported now had the highest per capita rate in the world.
Portugal did not shut down over Christmas. Imagine if the UK had done the same?
There was good news for Sydneysiders too restrictions were due to ease on Friday.
Given I was potentially planning a trip to Sydney in the immediate future this was either good news or bad news. With the lower of restrictions it may encourage the Queensland government to change their border stance. Bad news in the sense that if it led to an outbreak the borders would stay up.
Five visitors in a home was increased to 30.
Fifty people could gather together outdoors.
Three hundred could attend a funeral or a wedding, although only a bridal party of twenty could dance.
No cap on hospitality venue numbers but a four square metre rule was in place. Hopes for a two square metres rule in two weeks it was reported could double numbers at venues.
People did not have to wear masks but were encouraged to where they could not effectively maintain social distancing.
The one year anniversary of COVID in Australia coincided with Australia day.
Australia is sometimes referred to as ‘the lucky country’. I certainly felt lucky to live in Australia this past year. Lucky that after many years of intermittent work I had a permanent job during a global crisis. I had enjoyed holidays, saved up money while others lost everything. I sought to help where I could but the suffering has been so vast. Our luck has been undeniable in the face of the plight of others.
A loss of 909 in comparison to 100,000 or 400,000 or two million is undeniable.
And it sticks to the forefront of your mind when the 100,000 is in a country where a family member lives.
So yes Australia has been the lucky country.
Not without its own failures, not without its own loss and not without its own need to remain vigilant as we hope the situation changes with the roll out of vaccines across the globe and its going to need be the globe and fast if we want this to have a chance of working.
But for now I had to count my blessings.
On the 27th of January the World Health Organisation reported there had been 99,921,895 globally with a daily increase of 487,000.
There had been 2,155,748 deaths globally with a daily increase of 13,447.
Two million deaths has been reached on the 16th of January with 2,007,200 souls lost.
The highest daily increase globally of new cases was 842,448 on the 20th of December, 2020 a little over a month earlier.
The highest number of daily deaths globally would be the next day with 16,716 reported on the 28th of January, 2021.
In Australia there were 28,780 confirmed cases with a daily increase of three. There were 909 deaths.
In Canada there were 753,011 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,628. There were 19,238 deaths with a daily increase of 144.
In the United Kingdom there were 3,689,750 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20,088. There had been 100,162 deaths with a daily increase 1,631.
The United Kingdom had officially reached more than 100,000 deaths.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he took full responsibility but I don’t know if that good enough given the precdent of decisions taken by other countries. I’m no expert but Johnson’s strategies were slow in comparison to othe countries and saying you took full responsibility is not the same as actually taking it.
The first time I watched widow Gordon Bonner being interviewed I cried. His wife died from COVID.
Her name was Muriel Whiteley before marrying Gordon at age 20 in 1957. They had been together all that time since.
There were many such widows in the UK, the U.S., Brazil, Russia, China, Kenya and Australia.
We’re all united in our grief, maybe we can all be united in efforts to fight this thing.
In India there had been 10,689,527 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,689. There had been 153,724 deaths with a daily increase of 137.
In the United States of America there had been 25,050,308 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 133,409. There had been 417,889 deaths with a daily increase of 1,885.
I watched with interest what would happen in the UK. I did not hold out hope that the schools would remain closed until all teachers been vaccinated but how close the two timeframes might land I had some interest in.
I read an article from The Evening Standard that Boris Johnson was to hold a 5pm press conference.
Two million Britons had received vaccinations in the past week alone.
That was one jab – not both.
Also the highest daily death count of 1,820 had occurred.
As these events unfolded apparently there was pressure to end the lockdown.
In the same week of the highest daily death count.
I had no confidence that restrictions would stay as long or as severe as I saw necessary. Maybe it was just not possible to get to the UK to where Australia was now. If people catch and pass on COVID without becoming symptomantic then stopping the spread certainly presented many challenges.
If the most vulnerable people receive both jabs, if our health care workers could receive both jabs before re-opening then that undeniably would save lives but this was not was being discussed.
They were talking about one jab by the 15th of February, 2021.
Under consideration was a new plan to have everyone who tests positive for COVID given 500 pounds. The proposal would possibly cost 450 million pounds a week but encourage people to get tested and isolate. The payment would be made regardless of age, employment status or ability to work.
The press conference came and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom advised, “In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant – the variant that was first identified in London and the south east – may be associated with a higher degree of mortality. It’s largely the impact of this new variant that means the NHS is under such intense pressure.”
The UK R number was cited as between 0.8 to 1.
Academics and researchers advised that Johnson’s suggestion of an higher mortality rate may not be be certain. Which fitted with the language the Prime Minister had employed.
Tuesday it was announced that Defense Production Act would be utilised to increase the roll out of vaccinations. Mass vaccination centres were going to be set up including a massive workforce trained up to administer the vaccinations. The goal 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of the new administration.
“I gave you my word, we will manage the hell out of this operation,” said President-Elect Joe Biden.
On the 20th of January,2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 3,466,853 with a daily increase of 33,355. There had been 91,470 deaths with a daily increase of 1,610. The most deaths reported in one day in the island nation since the pandemic began.
The winter that came well over 6 months after the initial outbreak of COVID-19 across the world had proven far more deadly in Europe and the Americas then the initial outbreak.
Figures from March and April were now pygmies next to those of October through to January.
The vaccine had arrived but production and distribution was a massive logistical undertaking.
Cathedrals, GP centres and convention centres were all employed.
The UK Government had made the decision on the 30th of December to vaccinate all with the first jab and then proceed with the second jab 12 weeks later hoping to grant more protection across a larger part of the populace faster.
The following is from the British Medical Journal:
The health care system even buoyed by volunteers was stretched to breaking point.
It was reported that in England on average a new COVID patient was admitted to hospital every 30 seconds.
Like veterans from a war, health care workers who lived through this time would never be the same.
What they went through would only really be understood by those who went through it too.
Some were not going to be able to continue in the profession.
Some had paid the ultimate price already.
The next day the World Health Organisation reported 38,905 new cases and 1,820 new deaths in the United Kindgom. A new record.
In the United States of America a piece of political theatre never the less touched me deeply inside.
During a tragedy the debate goes do you focus on what is being lost or do you try to inspire, to revel in a brighter future.
At Christmas time when researching about the history of Christmas trees I read that President Carter had only lit the top star of the National Christmas Tree in 1979 saying the rest of the lights would be turned on when the hostages in Iran had returned. The following year the tree was only lit for 417 seconds, one second for each day the hostages had been held in captivity.
The gesture was very much in keeping with Carter.
But the gesture did not bring the hostages back and in similar years of national pain the National Christmas Tree has not been used to reflect those times but more likely to be seen as constant regardless of the outside world.
It should be noted though that in 2001 the colour scheme was changed to red, white and blue and helping to light the National Christmas Tree were Leon Patterson, 5 and Faith Elseth, 6 who had been victims of the attacks on September 11, 2001.
In 2005 the tree was lit with the help of Jackie, Melissa and Jenna Kantor who started Project Backpack to help children displaced by Hurricane Katrina get new backpacks filled with books, toys and school supplies.
Yet the question remained for me, when and how should a symbolic gesture being made about COVID-19.
On the 20th of January, 2021 I got my answer.
After a year of “It will magically go away,” “We’re doing very well,” “Everything is COVID, COVID. After the election you’ll never heart about it again” suddenly on the eve of taking over leading the nation President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris went to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and remembered the dead.
All 400,000 of them.
405,399 American military personnel died in World War II. 297 deaths per day.
It was needed.
I know a lot of thought and crafted intent went into this moment utilising national iconography known around the world but ultimately the power of it came from the simple truth at the heart of it.
The Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, spoke at the event saying, “At this twilight hour, our beloved nation reverently pauses in supplication to remember and to pray for the many thousands of people who have died from the coronavirus during this past year.”
“We pray for those who have died and the families and loves ones that they left behind. And may it be a resounding gesture of gratitude for all those who have cared for the victims of this virus and their loved ones. Our sorrow unites us to one another, as a single people with compassionate hearts,” he said.
Not to wallow in remorse, not to incite anger and blame, just to allow a nation for a moment to acknowledge a great loss has been suffered. From it could grow a new resolve to strive to save lives and to be grateful for the lives already saved.
As President-Elect Biden said on the day, “To heal we must remember, and its hard sometimes to remember but that’s how we heal.”
Marine One took off from the White House lawn and for the last time with Ballbag on board.
The helicopter circled the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. in farewell.
Within hours America had a new President who had taken sacred oath to faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States of America and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Referring back to President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclaimation, Biden set forth his own goals for a legacy.
With a deadly pandemic still raging across the country, a population deeply divided politically and with high unemployment President Joe Biden made a promise.
I noted to myself not long after, a simple acknowledgement that so many people had died and a commitment to do everything they could rather than downplay the threat was sadly refreshing. It’s not a high bar but an important one to clear.
January 21, 2021 the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration marked one year since the first reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States of America – five of them.
One year later the World Health Organisation reported there had been in the United States of America 24,037,236 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 152,937. There had been 398,435 deaths with a daily increase of 2,280.
Friday I was at work in the office, wearing a mask and taking it off at my desk as I had been throughout the week. The lockdown had ended on Monday evening kicking off a ten day period of wearing masks amongst other restrictions.
Once those circumstances were over you had to put the mask back on as soon as practical.
On my up to the Toowong village to get my morning coffee I passed a man chowing down on a burger. If you were eating you didn’t have to be wearing a mask. Was this guy munching on a burger while waddling down ramps to avoid wearing a mask? On my way back I got in the elevator alone, at the last minute a woman jumped in sans mask. I’m not one for confrontation but my icy silence must have caught her attention. She gave me a big friendly smile and offered, “For me to have a really nice day.”
Often my fellow bloggers abroad tell me from their perspective they feel Australia has done a great job. I do feel very fortunate about the decisions that were made by all levels of government, I do think luck and isolation played its part but also good decisions were made and relatively early.
But people are people, a three day lockdown is nothing and here we were with the cracks already showing in a 10 day mandate to wear masks. How much would we have failed if called upon to deal with what people overseas had? How much could we still fail if our luck didn’t hold?
Sunday there was a family get together with my in-laws.
I wore a mask although government restrictions did not mandate it for such household gatherings where up to 20 people could gather. Clearly it would have offered ultimately no protection if something there had been infected with the virus which of course was highly unlikely.
If it had been up to me alone, I would not have been there. Despite the low risk I just wanted some time to pass since the lockdown.
But in life you find you have competing obligations.
I am obligated to do things for my fellow human beings.
For my work colleagues.
For my family which includes my in-laws.
But most of all the person I am most obligated to consider the needs, safety and feelings of is my wife.
I made my decision to go and I made my decision to wear my mask.
It was a lovely get together.
On the 17th of January the World Health Organisation reported there had been 93,676,141 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 486,056.
There had been 2,010,864 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,567.
The day before the death toll had reached more than 2 million people with 2,001,297.
In Australia there had been 28,689 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20. There had been 909 Australian deaths.
In Canada there had been 695,707 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,816. There had been 17,729 deaths with a daily increase of 191.
In the United Kingdom there had been 3,357,365 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 41,342. There had been 88,590 deaths with a daily increase of 1,295.
In India there had been 10,557,985 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15,144. There had been 152,274 deaths with a daily increase of 181.
In the United States of America there had been 22,871,330 confirmed cases. There was no daily increase reported but the next day there was a daily increase of 473,093. This paled in comparison to the largest daily increase in confirmed cases of 667,188 on the 19th of December, 2020 also following a day of new reported cases.
There had been 381,522 deaths with no daily increase reported.
Here people talked fatalistically, spoke about a need to live. Caught up with others. Talked stats. Lamented economic consequences of state border closures. Interestingly not one of those fucking people were nurses and doctors. For lack of a better way to put it, these people were victims of our luck and success.
I hoped we would not squander it.
The vaccine was coming, now was not the time to lose our priorities.
There were three new cases in Queensland, two in hotel quarantine and the third the previously reported partner of the hotel cleaner from the Grand Chancellor Hotel.
While the fallout from the attack on the U.S. Capitol continued in the news I won’t add a lot here. I was sad by what happened and sad that the villain I call Ballbag would not be impeached and so what else is there to say.
Do you really need me to rail against that snake Mitch McConnell as much as I railed against Ballbag?
Trump failed the American people and let more of them die than had in their bloodiest war of the 20th century.
I’m still angry about that.
On the 12th of January the World Health Organisation reported there had been in the United States of America there had been 22,009,275 confirmed cases with no daily increase reported. There had been 369,304 deaths with no daily increase reported.
But I wanted to post here the speech that was made by Arnold Schwarznegger in the wake of the attack. Schwarznegger is an old school Republican and paradoxically a progressive. A old white man and an immigrant. He is everything that represents the best of the American dream and the flaws and mistakes that we are all capable of as humans. Whatever you think of him, this speech should strike a nerve.
In the United Kingdom there were mass vaccinates sites opened at convention centres and sports stadiums, a makeshift makeshift morgues in Surrey as local hospitals went beyond capacity.
Despite the deadpan delivery in the clip below one older gentleman Ron Heath summed it up succinctly upon leaving with his first jab.
“You know you’re not going to die,” he said.
So far 2.3million Britons had been received their first jab.
Since Christmas day there had seen 13,000 new patients in hospital.
On the 12th of January the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there had been 3,118,522 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 46,169. There had been 81,960 deaths with a daily increase of 529.
In Ireland per capita deaths had skyrocketed following lowering of restrictions before Christmas. They had gone from an daily infection rate of 10 per 100,000 people to 132 per 100,000 people with the world’s worst infection rate!
On the 12th of January the World Health Organisation reported in the Republic of Ireland there had been 152,539 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,926. There had been 2,352 deaths with a daily increase of eight.
As of the 14th of March there have been 226,358 confirmed cases and 4,534 deaths.
Wednesday and 120 people were moved the Hotel Grand Chancellor where so far six cases had been found. Four returned travellers quarantining there and the hotel cleaner and her partner.
Guests who were counting down the days were told they would now have to spend another 14 days in quarantine.
“There’s now a possibility that they became infected in the quarantine hotel,” she said.
The Labor party took shots at the government and proposed new laws set to cut penalty rates framing it around the pandemic.
Nurses, cleaners and the service industry like waiters were all set to lose money they said.
“This pay cut is Scott Morrison’s thanks to the people who got us through the pandemic – the frontline and essential workers who put themselves at risk by showing up to work and steering Australia through the crisis,” Industrial Relations spokesman Tony Burke said.
The flip side of course was that several small businesses were struggling to remain open during the pandemic and reduced wages could help with that too.
On the 13th of January the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 28,634 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20. There had been 909 deaths.
The Guardian reported more than 100,000 people had died from coronavirus in the United Kingdom.
Cases are now in decline, however, with a further 47,525 positive cases across the UK reported on Wednesday. But the numbers of people in hospital have continued to increase, with 4,253 more people admitted, an increase of 35% over the last seven days.
“The figures are also in stark contrast to counties that have maintained low case and death rates, including Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia where death rates per 100,000 people stand at 0.03, 0.5 and 3.6.
On the 14th of January the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there had been 3,211,580 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 47,525.
There had been 84,767 deaths with a daily increase of 1,564.
On the 14th of January the World Health Organisation reported in New Zealand there had been 1,872 confirmed cases. There had been 25 New Zealand deaths. There were no daily increase in either figure that day reported.
There would be some ongoing restrictions and some amendments.
The big thing of note was that masks were going to be still be mandatory for the next ten days until 1am the following friday on the 22nd of January.
That was at shopping centres, public transport, gyms and workplaces where people could not keep socially distanced. Where I worked and am on the phone constantly, I kept my mask off at my desk and put it back if I stepped away from it even slightly. I was getting a good idea of what my breath smelled like.
This actually meant I got breaks between having to keep it on and I found it really not a hassle at all.
I didn’t make it to the gym at this time but I heard that the wording was you wore a mask unless you were strenously exercising. I guess this was to avoid people hyperventilating. But what it meant was people were being called on to do personal judgement and to show concern for others as well as themselves. I didn’t trust people to do the right thing for their fellow human beings but that was just me.
Restaurants could take dine-in customers but one person per 4 square metres.
“Globally… This virus is getting worse. For the third week in a row we have seen positive cases of four million new cases a week,” D’Ath said.
Thousands of tests had been carried out in the Greater Brisbane region during the lockdown including 18,000 in the past 24 hours.
Contract tracing had identified 370 contacts of the cleaner at the Hotel Grand Chancellor. One hundred and seventy two had been tested and come back negative.
“I don’t think that everyone has come forward yet,” Dr Young said of all the potential contacts.
“For the next 10 days while we see out the 14-day incubation period we still do have to be on heightened alert,” she added and I couldn’t agree more.
In fact I quite frankly did not know why we weren’t staying in lockdown for a little longer.
On the other hand some elements were questioning why such a measure had been taken over one case even if it was one of the more easily spread UK strain and even if that poor individual had been on public transport and major shopping centres for two days undiagnosed.
Karen and I masked up and ready to get some pizza! Copyright Lloyd Marken.
It had been ten months since serious restrictions had been placed in Brisbane in the early days of COVID expanding around the world.
Karen and I of course had a quiet weekend.
I got a text message with a longer list of locations on the southside that if you had been it you needed to get tested and self isolate. While the locations were from the area I lived in growing up I had not been to that in recent times. I did pass along to my parents who live on the southside of town but further afield and they advised they had not been there thankfully.
I did consider if I should go and get tested given that the government was keen to have many people get tested to get a better picture of how we were travelling but ultimately I decided against it.
We did go out and get take-away on Saturday night at our local pizza joint Marianas who were happy to see us as we happy to see them.
It was 6pm or so and more so than finding a park easy, more so than the traffic on the road, the thing that struck me was when we got home with the day ending everything was so quiet. No cars driving past, nobody even walking around for their local exercise. It recalled memories from the previous March. Its amazing how quickly you get used to things and how quickly you forget.
Quiet sunset on Saturday. Copyright Lloyd Marken.
Quiet sunset on Saturday. Copyright Lloyd Marken.
Quiet sunset on Saturday. Copyright Lloyd Marken.
Quiet sunset on Saturday. Copyright Lloyd Marken.
Sunday in the news was the small town of Maleny where Karen and I had shared a first holiday together.
Maleny is tucked away along with Montville, Landsborough, Mapleton and Flaxton in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland full of wineries, B&B getaways, hiking trails, markets and home craft stores.
Anybody who goes to such towns can’t help but be charmed by them and as mentioned on previous posts we have hold dear our particular pizzeria up there by the name of Capriccios.
Alas Capriccios was in the news and unfortunately not for their delicious pizzas or considerate staff.
A woman had been cleared to leave Melbourne having finished her hotel quarantine on the fifth of January.
She flew to Brisbane and travelled to Maleny where for two days she did simple day to day trips we all do. Over two days she only went to Purple Palate Cellars, the Woolworths and Capriccio’s Pizza which when you think about it is just good common sense but then Queensland Health were advised by Victoria she had retested positive.
This of course raises all kinds of questions which would prompt further restructure of the testing and repatriation process.
Dr Jeanette Young advised in a briefing that there was 14 day ‘quarantine’ for those who don’t have the virus. Once they do they had to be in ‘isolation’ for 10 days or 3 days where they no longer presented with symptoms. This had worked well in Australia prior to the UK strain and this woman coming to Maleny.
Now the 10 days in ‘isolation’ was going to be 14 days too.
For now what it meant was a person who thought she was okay now had found out she was sick, a business I have been a happy patron of for many years had to be shut down and a town of three and half thousand people was thrown into disarray.
Capriccio’s co-owner told ABC News Tamara Leacy that her and other staff were getting tested at the pop-up testing centre that had been set up.
Again history has proven me to be overtly cautious but knowing how closely connected the towns of Mapleton, Montville, Flaxton and Landsborough were at the time I was concerned that not enough people were coming out and getting tested and that the Sunshine Coast should be involved in the three day lockdown anyway and that the three day lockdown should be longer.
But we would see history prove that we did fine without taking the actions I thought were necessary.
There were no new cases in Brisbane on Sunday.
There were 20 active cases in Queensland, most of them were in hotel quarantine.
Police had minimal trouble too, 15 fines were handed out in the last 24 hours, 700 masks were handed out by police officers to those seen out in public without one. Only fined where they refused to comply. The go soft approach to get everybody in the right mindset which seemed to work well.
I myself was wearing a mask as soon as I left my front door but not while inside my car by myself There was talk over the weekend that I was in the wrong with that so I started to wear a mask inside my car too and that later got reframed.
The 8th of January, 2021 was the first time masks had been made compulsory in Brisbane but previous scares last winter and at the beginning of the pandemic meant that most people had them ready to go and were happy to comply.
As the Northern Beaches area of Sydney came out lockdown there were three new cases in Sydney related to both the Berala Cluster and the Avalon Cluster – the latter now reaching a total of 150 cases.
On the 10th of January, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 89,328,503 confirmed cases of COVID worldwide with a daily increase of 836,427.
The only larger daily increase of new cases has been on the 20th of December with 842,714.
Could we dare hope this would be the turning point, the worst day of new cases never to be repeated or taken over by a new horrid figure.
Can we hope?
There had been 1,923,799 deaths globally with a daily increase of 12,947.
In Australia there had been 28,582 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 909 deaths. The last death reported on the 29th of December.
In Canada there had been 644,348 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,214. There had been 16,707 deaths with a daily increase of 128.
In the United Kingdom a country 66.65 million people they had reached over 3 million cases. There had been 3,017,413 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 59,937.
There had been 80,868 deaths with a daily increase of 1,035.
On the 13th of November the United Kingdom had reached a new record for new daily cases – 33,470.
The worst day in the day months of March and April had been 5,487 on the 24th of April.
On the 24th of September, 6,178 new daily cases had broken past that previous record.
The record continued to be broken but 22,961 on the 5th of October dwarfed all previous records.
26,687 later that month on the twenty second beat that.
Then in the wake of Remembrance Day, 33,470 on the 13th of November.
With winter and new deadly strains the figures drastically changed, the risk ever greater in the country where I have loved ones.
As Christmas beckoned there were 35,383 new daily cases on the 15th of December.
The record was broken again on the 21st of December with 35,385 and again 23DEC2021 36,803 and again Christmas Eve 39,237.
On the 29th of December it was a new record of 41,385 new daily cases.
The 30th of December it was a new record of 53,135 new daily cases.
A new year and a new record with 55,892 new daily cases on the 1st of January, 2021.
03JAN2021 – 57,724.
05JAN2021 – 58,784.
06JAN2021 – 60,916.
07JAN2021 – 62,322.
On the 9th of January, 2021 a new record of daily new cases in the United Kingdom was reached – 68,053.
We can become numb to numbers but I can tell you with my sister half way around the world 68,053 new cases a day had our attention. We were worried.
In India there had been 10,450,284 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 36,867. There had been 150,999 deaths with a daily increase of 429.
In the United States of America there had been 21,761,186 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 313,516. There had been 365,886 deaths with a daily increase of 3,599.
On the 9th of January they had reported a daily increase in deaths of 4,176.
The only larger daily figures reported had been 5,000 deaths on the 3rd of May, 2020 and 6,409 deaths on the 17th of April.
Ballbag was impeached a second time.
My city was in lockdown but I felt very safe and lucky to live where I did.
I went to the fruit shop. Already there were more people in the shop than usual. Not everybody knew. Somebody helpfully told a customer looking around perplexed that the lockdown had been announced and she thanked them.
I was not the only one wearing a mask, it seemed almost everyone had one, as if they had been waiting for the signal and now it had been sent.
I dashed over to the chemist and bought some medical masks thinking about people at work who may not have a mask with them and were catching public transport home. I needn’t have worried, it seemed much like myself, everybody had masks ready to put on.
I’d walked up in the early morning with no masks in sight and 30 minutes later stood in Coles surrounded by dozens of people wearing masks of one sort or another.
Many nearby residents stood in Coles having come to do their weekly shop surprised by the long lines and big crowds.
Despite this people seemed polite and helpful to each other, didn’t take too much of any one product and gave each other some space.
Why I was there?
I wanted to be prepared for worse case scenarios.
I wanted staples on hand if I had to isolate at home for several days.
I was planning for more than what had just been announced.
I got some tinned food, rice, soup, some fruit and not much else. I felt dialed down and calm, just thinking a little ahead and not being greedy or fearful.
Of course that may not be how other people see it and I can understand that too.
My actions were similar to many others across the city as supermarkets were swamped.
I admired the incredible effort of the supermarket staff as they managed this massive influx of people and the need to re-stock.
Didn’t they have people at home they were worried about?
Didn’t they need to buy after their shift was over?
It really was quite admirable.
Retail staff have really shouldered some huge burdens during this pandemic with little if any reward.
I had never been in a store so crowded even during Christmas when it is bedlam.
I followed a line that had started at the check-outs and was naturally snaking around in a circle out the front of the store before going down an aisle past the centre. It went all the way down that aisle not long after I joined it.
I was in that aisle for several minutes not knowing what awaited me when I got out of it. Then the line moved fast and split into two. Those going through the self check-outs and the rest of us going old school. I saw a line outside the store several metres long.
The store had reached capacity and was letting people in groups once enough had of us had left. If I had waited until lunch I may have been in such a line and while people weren’t hoarding it just seemed unlikely a lot would be left on the shelves of certain things people at such a time like milk or break or pasta or yes rice or toilet paper. Having never seen the store like this I took some pictures.
Copyright Lloyd Marken.
Copyright Lloyd Marken.
Copyright Lloyd Marken.
Copyright Lloyd Marken.
I was on my way back to work at 10am when I got in touch with Karen. She was locked out on our balcony with her phone running low. So I got leave to go drive home, open up the balcony door, and drive back to work.
I effectively started working at sometime after 11am but from then on I surprisingly had a productive day.
I was very grateful for the flexibility and support shown by leadership.
The lockdown was to last until 6pm Monday.
We would all be working from home on Monday but in my particular team we were set up do this. The volume of traffic may bring complications but we were prepared to work through the situation as best we could.
I wouldn’t say we were afraid of the potential break-out. We had been in lockdown before. We of course were worried about each other, and concerned with making arrangements but when the hammer falls you just tend to deal with things as they come and hope for the best.
So what prompted this lockdown?
Well on Thursday while the news was dominated by the attacks on the Capitol we were informed that Queensland’s 113 day streak of no new community transmissions was over. A hotel cleaner at the Grand Chancellor hotel where repatriated Australians were staying in hotel quarantine had contracted COVID.
Of particular concern was that she had been on public transport from the city to Altandi and probably come into contact with a number of people while unknowingly contagious.
So the next morning the Queensland Premier had decided to “Go hard and go early,”
The Greater Brisbane region of Brisbane, Logan Ipswich, Moreton Bay Region and Redlands Bay were part of the lockdown. The neighbouring Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast were not part of the lockdown prompting some Brisbane residents to head there before the 6pm lockdown came into place. I probably would have put them in lockdown given the distances involved and that many people commute from those areas into Brisbane.
“Think of it as a long weekend at home,” advised Premier Palaszczuk.
Funerals were limited to 20 people and weddings to ten.
Given the incubation period of two weeks for COVID, a three day lockdown seemed quite short.
The reasoning was it gave enough time for effective contract tracing to occur much like the reasoning behind the six day lockdown in South Australia back in November.
I felt without any expert knowledge that three days was too short.
“We need to act really fast, we need to find every single case now. Until we have found all those people, we can’t relax. We have to bring this in fast rather than be able to wait and see what the extent of the spread is. Because once its spread it will be too late to act,” advised Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young given that the cleaner had caught the UK strain which was 70 per cent more contagious.
Later that night in the wake of people hitting the shops the Premier was on the news advising people that people could still have take-away and that people could shop and that the shops would not run out.
Certain shelves were bare by Friday night but would get restocked quickly enough.
The situation prompted larger conversations about moving hotel quarantine out of major metropolitan cities which must have just delighted regional areas.
There were changes afoot with repatriation of Australians, they would cut returning numbers by 50% and increase testing requirements.
“All of the things we’ve done in the past, all of the controls we’ve talked about in terms of test, trace, isolate — all of those personal measures and even some other measures we have had to do in certain times will become less effective if this virus was to be established,” Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said.
Meanwhile in the United States of America in the wake of the attacks on the Capitol there was a lot of talk about what to do with the outgoing President. There is not a lot I will add here except to say that pretty everything I feared that would come to pass – did. This was the noise that followed in the wake of a significant and upsetting event. But noise that ultimately revealed just how little was going to change.
For months I had been watching what was happening in other countries and even in other states and feeling very fortunate. I felt even perversely guilty because we had not suffered like other parts of the world. We were not suffering like that yet but we were now facing an increased risk, being called upon to live with restrictions and to act with some caution.
I hoped we would do the right thing.
For those overseas who had suffered so much it must have seen almost comical.
“I heard you’re in lockdown. What happened?”
“A hotel quarantine cleaner got it.”
But authorities were racing to stop something much larger happening. The cleaner from the 2nd of January until she had symptoms and got tested immediately had been in close contact with 70 other people.
Even more troubling was the fact that she had the UK strain.