COVID-19 DIARY – THE SECOND QUARTER

Coronavirus India news summary: Sunday 5 July 2020 - AS.com

 

July 5

It was Sunday and I was due to go back to work having had a very nice time on holidays.

In the meantime the pandemic had been with us in Australia affecting our lives since March. We were now in the second quarter, a second 3 month period of living with the virus.

Numbers in Victoria were going up, as were American southern and fly over states. As part of the West saw a bit of a respite in numbers the disease was accelerating the havoc it wreaked across the rest of the globe.

In Victoria there had been 75 cases reported the day before. There had been 2,536 cases and 20 deaths in the state. There were 543 active cases and close to a million tests had been carried out.

The number of locked down post codes had expanded from ten to twelve.

In those postcodes there are only four reasons to go out, shopping for food, medical care or caregiving, exercise and study or work if study or work cannot be done from home.

Businesses in these areas were back to having restrictions, for example cafes only doing take-away.

The World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 11,128,629 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 204,438. There had been 528,238 deaths with a daily increase of 5,191.

In Australia there had been 8,362 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 107. The number of deaths was 104.

In Canada there had been 105,091 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 319. There had been 8,663 deaths with a daily increase of 21. As July unfolded daily increases in case numbers and deaths would be consistently lower than figures from April and May. They were still too high but it was something to give hope potentially.

In the United Kingdom there had been 286,724 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 579. The number of deaths were 44,198 with a daily increase of 67.

In India there had been 673,165 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 24,850. There had been 19,268 deaths with a daily increase of 613.

In the United States of America there had been 2,776,366 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 51,933. The number of deaths 129,226 with a daily increase of 745.

I had a really nice week but that was not the experience of millions around the world. I just wanted to take a moment to remember that.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – EATING AND WALKING, WALKING AND EATING – PART IV

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The Polish Place. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

July 3

Friday morning we packed up our gear and headed off into the morning for our last brunch and walk of our holiday.

We had made a 10am booking at The Polish place which boasts spectacular views. My in-laws had stayed in the accommodation there previously and were very happy with their stay. It is well known on the Mountain.

We got an early booking because like every other establishment we had eaten at that week they could only make bookings for their indoor area at 50%. Random show-upperers could probably get a spot but booking capacity was limited by COVID. I didn’t run to risk it and just as well. Despite not being a morning person we rocked up at 9:30 with cars parked outside and a few couples waiting in the courtyard outback as it was watered down with a karchered down.

A popular joint.

We were given an option of outdoors and shown to the table we picked. Karen and I ordered Polish coffees (a bit too strong for us) and potato pancakes.

Suddenly two lorikeets popped up on the railing next to our table, they didn’t flinch when I shooed them with my arm. They just stood there for a while before toddling off.

When the young waitress came back, I asked if the birds were going to be a problem. She assured me they absolutely could be known for jumping up on tables while you’re your meal. She did helpfully point out however they seem to be go for the sweet stuff so the delicious cream in a jug that came with our coffees must have gotten their attention.

I’ll put you out of your suspense. We never saw the lorikeets again.

The next bird we saw was The Polish Place’s signature dish a roasted duck for two. Stuffed with Granny Smith apples and marjoram and served with red cabbage, Polish gnocchi, fried apple and cherry sauce.

It was bursting with flavour, I wasn’t used to a savoury dish with lots of sharp tart and fresh flavours mixed in the meat. I quite liked it and again, as tempting as the chicken in creamy dill sauce looked, we were enjoying something that was possibly fairly unique to this place.

As soon as we were done with the duck I looked to a nearby tree where three magpies flew into view and perched themselves. As soon as we stood up they flew down and the waitress did have to push them out of the way as she cleared our plates. Karen was surrounded by the three before she left the table. This amused her as I walked over to her and asked her to come with me.

We hadn’t really bothered been bothered by the birds, the staff was lovely, the views spectacular and the food amazing! Still I wondered if next time I would dine indoors.

 

 

Then we walked up the road to the beginning of Witches Falls, a 3.5km circuit I believe. There was a sign at the beginning that said not to work it during rainfall and as we went along I could see why. The path was narrow, elevated and would be very tricky if it became muddy due to rain.

Thankfully it was a beautiful day and as we descended there was literally a metre where the path was covered in vines and as you walked through it you moved from bush to rainforest. Amazing.

There was a fork in the circuit where you could go on and find the lookout, go back the way you came or continue and finish up the circuit. We went on to the lookout, when we came back we noticed a lot of people pausing and so I offered directions.

I had dressed for the restaurant so with my jumper off I was wearing a dress shirt with suspenders and black trousers.

This amused a lot of people, as a group of older women came by and I offered directions they noted I was very dressed up and one of them even offered “I hope she says yes.”

This cracked Karen up.

We began our ascent and left a scrunchy we found on the path on a post.

 

 

We got back to the car and just started driving back to Brisbane.

I left gifts for my Mum and Dad in their backyard and then called them. To my surprise they offered to talk to me through the window.

Instead when I went to the backyard they set up chairs for us to sit apart and chat.

It was the first time I had seen my mother in person since the 8th of March and my Dad the 15th of March. It was the 3rd of July.

A reminder sometimes you have got to push your luck.

My parents had not entertained visitors as restrictions lowered and active case numbers became single digits in Queensland. The wisdom of this strong stance was only going to bear out as the right call as the situation continued to deteriorate in Australia.

Yet here was a little respite for me, for them, for the country.

The perfect final touch to my very unlikely holiday in years during a pandemic.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – EATING AND WALKING, WALKING AND EATING – PART III

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Stonehaven Guest House. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

July 2

If I had ever entertained the idea of going up to Mount Tamborine and relaxing with my spa and backyard my wishes quickly evaporated. Sprung loose from our regular dwellings Karen was ready to seize the day. So Thursday we drove a short drive to Gallery Walk.

Gallery Walk is what a lot of us think about when we think about Mt Tamborine. It is where all the niche shops are lined up on one long street like so many small towns that cater for couples of all ages getting away to a romantic B&B, staying nearby as somebody they know gets married our just hoping to live it up at a winery.

You know the type of strip I’m talking about, there was a German cuckoo clock shop with stein mugs, there was a crystal shop, a leather shop, a retro clothes shop and a few liquer shops.

 

 

Karen and I walked up and down it twice figuring out what gifts we were buying and for whom. Karen’s main goal was to pick up a bottle from the Tamborine Mountain Distillery. Years ago this had been located elsewhere and the owner was a bushy white bearded man who’s wife had come from the former USSR.

I have memories of going up there to get a bottle for my sister and send it to her in the UK. It felt like I had wandered into a garage shed and picked up a Soviet knickknack. The new location and owners lacked this sense of discovery or character. Now it was just another business sadly but Karen liked her liquer and I liked that she was happy.

She also wanted to check out the Red Baron airplane at the Bavarian Cafe which I had gone to by myself years earlier while attempting to go hiking. This is where we saw the beginning of the trail for the Witches Fall circuit. We did see some of the beautiful sunset as well as a crowd gathering but we were hungry.

 

 

That night we had a booking at Belvederes to sit and eat inside where we were served by wonderful staff and ate some great wood-fired oven made pizzas. Highly recommend.

The shop is hard to miss, just look for the place painted in the colours of the Italian flag. I clocked four other couples dispersed across it, every one of them looked like city people on holidays at a B&B. Must be interesting to live in a town where people are constantly coming to your place to get away from their own.

 

 

That night I went down to the backyard again in the evening where a voice called out to me in the dark. He told me not to be alarmed, his name was Quacker and I had met him earlier that week.

A duck came out from the shadows into the light. I said “Hello,” and he replied “How’s it goin?”. After exchanging pleasantries he informed me that he had a couple of mates who were trying to sell their house.

 

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Quacker when I met him earlier in the week. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

I sympathised given the market, I myself was still trying to save up for a deposit. He told me the house wasn’t too expensive because his mates were fairies.

He took me up the creek where I met his friends who had a beautiful home with a stepping stone path. I asked how much and their price was very reasonable.

The fairies set one condition, they were hoping to stay in Brisbane from time to time and would the new owners let them stay overnight during these times. They would be out by morning they promised and would leave the place spick and span.

I said I thought I knew some owners who would be happy to accommodate that. So I bought the house and thanked Quacker and the fairies and handed the house to my niece and nephew the following weekend and asked them to honour the deal which they seemed more than happy to agree to.

It had been a productive day so I went inside to have my spa and go to bed.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – EATING AND WALKING, WALKING AND EATING – PART II

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Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

July 1

Karen and I awoke Wednesday to enjoy our holiday at Mt Tamborine. We walked down from where we were staying to enjoy a hearty breakfast at a local cafe where a Kookaburra sat outside from a nearby creek.

 

 

The Curtis Falls walk was just outside the cafe.

This set the pattern for the next couple of days, brunch followed by walking so our pants wouldn’t be too tight when we stat down for an early dinner followed by an early dinner and a spa bath.

In fact you can skip the next couple of posts after that paragraph. That is pretty much what happens.

We went up to Curtis Falls which had quite a few people on the track, it was school holidays. We tried to maintain social distancing and it seems most people were on board with that but it is important to note that at the time the number of active cases in Queensland were single digits. There were still some restrictions in my place but we were feeling a little safer.

It was a quick 1.5km circuit walk although we were to find that we are not as fast as we used to be when covering these small distances.

 

 

Next up inspired by Curtis Falls I was keen to check out one of the more epic waterfalls I knew this area had to offer. We ended up at Purling Brook Falls circuit at Springbrook National Park.

This was 4km which involves quite an descent and ascent but it was pretty easy going. For the sights it is quite worthwhile and unlike say Mapleton Falls in the Sunshine Coast this walk allows you to climb down to the valley floor and take the waterfall in from another angle.

As we descended a group of young people came up behind me. Out the front was some gym bunny with a blonde ponytail and tight bike pants that she had probably never worn while actually riding a bike.

There was no “Excuse me,” or a polite inquiry if I could move aside. She just came barreling down on top of me hoping the sound of her voice as she chatted on with her companions about some people she knew right now right behind my head would be hint enough that I should just jump out of her way and let her inherit the world as clearly my time had passed on.

 

 

I paused and turned as the blonde black blur passed me still informing the valley about her latest personal developments. I smiled at her companions who smiled back, they seemed grateful for my courtesy and I appreciated theirs.

I didn’t hear Bunny Girl much after that as I was too busy doing an impersonation of her for Karen’s enjoyment or probably more accurately my own.

We never saw her again but we did take in the beautiful views, listened to the wildlife around us or took time to take pictures of our lovely surroundings.

There was even a moment when I went fairly close to a ledge up high. Just cause.

Down on the valley floor the falls looked spectacular and once we got to the job I went back on the track to the first look-out just to take it in one last time.

It was not lost on me that people were having to isolate home and worse and yet here I was on holidays looking out over a valley. I guess when you’re denied so many things long enough you have a new found appreciation for well..anything..all of it-life!

 

 

On the way back we stopped at the top of Mt Tamborine. Cars all pulled over to the side of the road and people walked over to a lookout hill. We were spread far and wide, metres apart, socially distancing but we sat down together as one and we watched the sunset.

There was something communal and comforting in that small window of time after weeks of being cut off from groups.

Many years ago I worked long hours in a job that stressed me out. On weekends I would go into the office and on a sunday afternoon I would walk across the road to Eagle street pier and watch the sun set over my river.

It seemed to help and it has never been lost on me that perhaps we should take time more often to watch the sun set rather than racing home or setting out dinner which is how it often seems to be.

Anyway Karen and I picked up pizza from a place called Belvederes at North Tamborine, ate our fill from the box and went outside to the backyard which was beautifully lit up.

The night was fairly cold so we eventually went in for our spa and bed.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – EATING AND WALKING, WALKING AND EATING – PART I

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Karen and I on holidays with the last days of my beard. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

As the year moved on I was told at work in the strongest terms despite the pandemic or even because of it, I should give myself a break. At the time there was a possibility that people may only be able to travel up to 250 kilometres from home. So I planned around that.

I had not taken recreational work from work in many years. We had gone to Newcastle for a long weekend in 2017, my first holiday in six years. I had attended my sisters wedding in London in country for 58 hours in 2018, there had been stays in hotels for a night or two but this was me taking recreational leave from work for the first time in a long time.

I did not want to stay at home on the couch and watch Netflix but I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money.

I also wanted Karen to have a holiday too.

So while thousands died across the world, I went on holidays and I am going to write about it. I’m sorry if that seems tone deaf. I guess I was following health advice from my government, maybe spending money in the area was good for some businesses but I went on holidays. I had a nice time and know that is only due to the grace of God.

June 30

Karen and I drove down to where we were staying at North Tamborine.

It was a Scottish themed manor named Stonehaven Guest House, by that I mean there was a lot of wood in it and Scottish themed paraphernalia everywhere. We stayed in a room called Edinburgh. Next day was Balmoral. One day I walked downstairs musing to my wife about the Australian battle Coral-Balmoral during the Vietnam War and wondering how Balmoral related to Scotland.
It’s where the Royal Family holidays of course which my wife reminded me of with the patience of a saint. Damnit and I’m the one with the Scottish heritage.

We loved the place, the staff were great but kind of left us alone which suited us. There was a beautiful backyard with a creek and a gazebo that was lit up at nights.

 

 

Our first night we walked around our up the road and got a layout of our surroundings. Up the road was a series of shops and the local ANZAC Memorial.

 

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Tamborine Mountain ANZAC Honour Roll. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

We went to a nearby Irish pub but they were booked out until later with the spacing required due to COVID-19. Fair enough. I looked around on my phone and made a call to a place called The Fox & Hounds Inn.

The gentleman on the other end said he would be happy to take a booking and asked me what time and I said now was fine. He laughed and told me he still didn’t open for another 8 minutes so we agreed to half an hour.

The pub was cosy on a cold winter’s night and even with social distancing there were a few customers that night. I got some salmon with a thing called bubble and squeak. I didn’t mind but didn’t love the bubble and squeak but my goodness the salmon was amazing. Karen really enjoyed her Guiness pie too.

Some of the pub is made with parts of a pub imported from England contributing to the construction of the inn.

 

 

There were also English ales available with a range more varied and authentic than say what you would get in Brisbane at the franchise Pig’n’Whistle. Nothing against the Pig’n’Whistle which I love but when in Rome you hope you’re enjoying something you can’t get back home.

There is also the Foxy Lady Ginger Cider which is brewed locally and exclusively for them.

We finished off with dessert, I got a Raspberry Eton Mess which basically was a mixture of cream, meringue and raspberries in a glass and my goodness it was good.

I think Karen had an apple and rhubarb crumble but I didn’t care because I had the best dessert after she beat me with the best meal. An even draw.

All night there was one waitress working the floor, taking orders, delivering food and passing good vibes along to every customer as they waited for food or got served drinks.

The owner out the back worked the entire kitchen by himself and the food was delicious and kept coming.

The waitress was so good, I called him out from the kitchen to pass on how much of a credit she was to the place and he agreed advising me he didn’t have her there full time because she was still going to school.

A lot of us will live entire lives without being able to remain that calm and quick under the pressure of a restaurant setting. I think she’ll go far, I wished I had also passed on what a great job he did.

 

 

It could have been being on holidays for the first time in a while but there was a little magic in the air.

The kind of magic you have when you’re on holidays and you find a little place to eat that just fits the bill and the staff are so good and the place is so nice you feel it was almost done all for your benefit.

We had a similar night at a place in Maleny in 2008 called Capriccios and it was nice to have it again.

Now though we made our way back to Stonehaven, our home for the next three nights and the spa we had in our room.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – LOCKDOWN POSTCODES

SES volunteers set up a gazebo in a street on a sunny day

 

June 29

Monday I was on holidays and so didn’t go into work.

In Victoria things were beginning to escalate.

People who were in hotel quarantine who refused to get tested were going to be kept in quarantine for another 10 days.

10 suburbs were going into lockdown in Melbourne with only four reasons for people to move in around or enter those postcodes.

Premier Andrews had also announced that some parents had refused testing for their children for the nasal swab test and so a saliva test would be available.

Ten suburbs received a testing blitz, Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir, Hallam and Pakenham.

There had been daily double digit increases in COVID cases for each of the previous 13 days.

There were 70 Australian Defence Force members deployed to help.

 

June 30

Premier Daniel Andrews announced ten postcodes were going into lockdown for the next month.

There would only be with only four reasons for people to leave their homes, for work or school, for caregiving, exercise or to get food or essentials.

In these hotspots gatherings will be limited to family or two people, cafes and restaurants were back to take-away only and gyms, swimming pools, cinemas, playgrounds and community activities were over.

These suburbs were back in lockdown while the rest of the country enjoyed a different way of life.

Hotel quarantines or people returning from overseas were no longer going to be coming into Melbourne.

 

COVID-19 DIARY – SURGING AHEAD

 

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

 

It’s been few weeks since I wrote my blog, I had over a dozen posts scheduled for the entire month of July and that covered right up until what was then up to date events of the 21st of June.

Then I went on holidays and started a secondment and four weeks have gone by in the wink of an eye and I am back playing catch-up. This time I wonder, particularly given the secondment if I will catch up.

I never planned for this site to regurgitate the news or to be political but it has always been personal and it has been fascinating to write about things from the perspective of a few days after the events.

COVID is going to be with us for at least a year or two in a very consuming way.

Do I really want to write about all of that?

I guess I do so I will just have to try. Thank you all for reading.

 

June 26

Friday.

I had worked in the office all week. With leave planned for the following week, the numbers continued to rise in Victoria.

The Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy and the Prime Minister strode up to the microphones on the 26th of June for what would be the last time. They were wearing scarves in support of Australia and New Zealand’s successful bid from the night previous to host the Netball World Cup. Their jovial mood reflected some relief in what they had shared together.

It was now over three months since COVID cases had really taken off in Australia and while developments in Victoria were of concern they did not prove to give people pause.

There had been 63 cases in the state in the previous 48 hours. Out of 30 cases from the previous 24 hours, five were travellers quarantining in hotels, seven were linked to clusters already identified, five from routine testing and a final 13 were still being investigated. 

Professor Murphy was moving on to Secretary of General Health, a promotion delayed due to the crisis. His position having unexpectedly elevated into a more public role had not suited the reserved Doctor but his consistent demeanor throughout had been of some comfort and would be missed.

Bracing for surge, PM announces billions in health measures

 

COVID-19 case numbers were taking off in the third world and this was not lost on the Prime Minister.

On, obviously, a more serious note, there are a million new cases being reported of COVID-19 around the world every week. We are seeing the virus take hold in places like South America now at a level difficult to imagine and we are anticipating similar types of scenarios in Africa and other parts of the world as the virus makes its way. The challenge being faced globally only gets more complicated, more complex, more difficult. And against that backdrop, Australia’s performance is remarkable, and that is a tribute to all who are involved.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison sought to assure Australians that outbreaks were to be expected and that the government was prepared to respond and that while the outbreak was currently in Victoria that it could easily be somewhere else in another instance and that we had to show solidarity.

And what this should say to Australians should be a message of confidence. There will be outbreaks. What matters is the response. There will be outbreaks and what matters is that we continue to build our capability to deal with those outbreaks. As you see the response on the ground, that is a reassurance to Australians all around the country that we can deal with this, and we will continue to deal with this.”

The outgoing Chief Medical Officer also had a few things to say.

So as the PM has said, this virus is accelerating around the world. We are in a very fortunate island, but we will remain at risk of importation of cases for the foreseeable future. Every day in Australia we have cases in hotel quarantine, mostly in New South Wales and Victoria, because they’re taking the lion’s share of that hotel quarantine hotel. Hotel quarantine is never going to be 100 percent perfect and importation our borders, whilst we have done so well with borders, we can’t be absolutely sure that there won’t be more and continuing imports of cases. We also, as we’ve said, can’t be sure that there isn’t small amounts of virus circulating in parts of the country. So the outbreaks, mini outbreak, we’ve seen in Victoria is what we predicted.”

“What we planned for. When I took to the National Cabinet the plan for reopening, removing restrictions, we assured National Cabinet that the likelihood of outbreaks was high and that we were ready to respond to them. And that is exactly what the Victorian health authorities are doing right now. They have a huge team, they’re contact tracing over a thousand people. They’re testing extraordinary numbers of people. And that’s a way to bring a localised outbreak under control, to go to where the problem is, engage with the population test, isolate, quarantine, standard public health response.

There was also a change in policy with returning citizens and permanent resident going into hotel quarantine advised Professor Brendan Murphy.

We are going to start testing people on entry to quarantine and testing people before they leave quarantine to see whether a testing regimen might help in the future to modify that quarantine in certain circumstances. But at the moment, even though we know it’s a burden on our returning citizens and permanent residents, it’s something that the great majority are very happy to put up with because they know it’s protecting their fellow Australians from the importation of this virus.

The Prime Minister also spoke on our behalf in thanking Professor Murphy for his work.

Outside of that, this is the Chief Medical Officer’s last briefing is the Chief Medical Officer. He’s been in the living rooms of Australians now for many months. And I know, Brendan, you have been a person of great assurance to Australians with your calm way of explaining what are often very complex things. You’ve given Australians, I think, a great peace of mind. Brendan is taking up the role of Secretary of the Department of Health, which we delayed because of the seriousness of this issue and his keenness to continue on in that role and until he was in a position to now hand it over to Dr Kelly. And so I want to thank you very much, not just for the way you’ve reached out to Australians, Professor Murphy, but the outstanding leadership you’ve shown across the AHPPC, the medical expert panel, and the unfailing advice that you’ve provided to me and to my ministers and to my Cabinet. And so we thank you very much.

 

The ABC’s excellent program Four Corners did an episode on nursing home Newmarch house in Sydney which that week which I watched that weekend.

The program was saddening in how we had failed to take care of our elderly in these vulnerable nursing homes.

As residents got COVID-19 they were all isolated in their rooms and not allowed visitors. Staffing was an issue and despite measures put in place the virus spread through the home.

The level of care suffered in the home as well which meant often the last days of the residents were lonely and full of ill health regardless of COVID itself.

In the aftermath the Anglicare Sydney’s Chief Executive Grant Millard, which runs Newmarch house, conceded more should have been done even NSW Health were not looking to take aged care residents into hospitals automatically.

“Look, if I had the time again, I would be insisting people who are COVID-positive go to hospital,” Mr Millard told ABC Radio.

“In hindsight, that would have been my preference.”

In the end 19 residents died in Newmarch house, the last on the 2nd of May. Her name was Alice Bacon and she was the 100th Australian to die from COVID-19. Two of those 19 residents who died after recovering from COVID-19 are not counted towards the national tally.

Alice Bacon’s daughter Mary Watson told Four Corners, “I don’t believe for a minute that the infection in the residents or in the staff occurred from that one person initially. There had to be cross-infection across the way. They didn’t want it anywhere out of there. They wanted whatever was going to happen to stay at Newmarch and be contained and not have it any spread anywhere else in the community.

There is a little bit of shame in me for not really having cared too much about those poor souls dying in nursing homes or their families cut off from and worried about them.

 

On the 26th of June the World Health Organisation reported there had been in Australia 7,558 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 37. There had been 104 deaths with a daily increase of one.

In Canada there had been 102,242 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 279. There had been 8,484 deaths with a daily increase of 30.

In the United Kingdom there had been 307,984 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,118. There had been 43,230 deaths with a daily increase of 149.

In India there had been 490,401 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17,296. There had been 15,301 deaths with a daily increase of 407.

In Russia there had been 620,794 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,800. There had been 8,781 deaths with a daily increase of 176. Hmmm…..???

In Brazil there had been 1,188,631 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 42,725. There had been 53,830 deaths with a daily increase of 1,185.

In the United States of America as case numbers declined in the states first and worst hit by the pandemic numbers began to surge in the south and mid-west. California got no respite either. There had been 2,367,064 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 37,061. There had been 121,645 deaths with a daily increase of 690.

Numbers were on the rise in South America, Africa and South East Asia as Europe began to see a decline.

For what it is worth, stay safe everyone.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – IT’S HERE

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

June 18

Monday 15th of June I was sick with an ear ache. The 16th I worked from home and the rest I was in the office, unexpectedly on the Wednesday, as planned for the Thursday and Friday.

In Queensland there were three active cases.

Yet on the 19th of May when discussing a case that had no traceable source Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young had said, “These are the cases that worry me.”

This is why we cannot assume we have beaten this virus — we haven’t. It is unlikely that we will, ever. We’ll have to find ways of managing it and the hope of course is for a vaccine to assist us in that.” she warned.

As we waited to see if there was a bump in cases following protests things were comparatively stable in Australia.

There was even hope to be found in the stats coming out of nations hit very hard by the pandemic.

But that was not the case everywhere.

On Thursday I was driving into work listening to the news on the radio when I heard that new cases in Beijing appeared to show a mutation of the virus.

That got me worried. What kind of mutation? Was it airborne? I think I had heard somewhere weeks earlier that the science didn’t bear that out as a likely scenario but a mutation was not good news.

A quick google search told me the mutation had apparently led to a longer incubation period, this meant it could stick around longer and infect more people particularly within a household.

Not great news but not where my deepest fearful thoughts had led me.

We didn’t need this disease to get much deadlier, as the week came to a close two things were being reported.

While finally the curve was flattening across Europe, America was still suffering and in South America and Africa the disease was on the ascent.

Continents1Continents2

India who had gone into lockdown quickly was being left to white knuckle its way through the virus as it became the country with the fourth most number of confirmed cases in the world.

Brazil crossed a million cases and Chile and Peru were also seeing numbers skyrocket.

After a decrease in numbers Iran, one of the first countries hit hard outside of China, was now suffering a second wave.

With three actives cases in Queensland if you thought this thing was over you were not paying attention and you were a fool.

For weeks I had worried about what would happen to the third world when this virus hit them.

That threat was no longer on the horizon – it was here.

Coronavirus morning headlines as worldwide death toll passes ...

June 19

In the United Kingdom they moved from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3.

Schools and non-essential retail continued to gradually be re-opened. There was talk of social distancing measure going from 2 metres to 1 metre.

Boris Johnson had previously said, “As we get the numbers down, so it becomes one in 1,000, one in 1,600, maybe even fewer, your chances of being two metres, or one metre, or even a foot away from somebody who has the virus is obviously going down statistically, so you start to build some more margin for manoeuvre.

In Wales people still have to stay within five miles of their home but it was announced that schools would re-open 29JUN2020 and travel to and from Wales could go be allowed come 06JUL2020.

Retailers, houses viewings, non-contact outdoor sports and accommodation were planned to re-open the following Monday 22JUN2020. There was no announcement guidance yet for when pubs, cafes, restaurants and hairdressers would re-open.

The British government is scheduled to review its new quarantine policy on the 29th of June at the 3 week mark.

That policy requires people arriving in the UK should drive their own car to their destination and not use public transport or taxis.

They must not go to work, school or public areas or have visitors except for essential support.

They must not go out to buy food – where they can rely on others. ?… I’m not sure what happens if they can’t rely on others.

The fine for being found in breach of this £1,000 pounds in England, Northern Ireland Wales. In Scotland it is £480 with the maximum fine for repeat offenders in Scotland £5,000. No idea how any of this is enforced.

Scottish Coronavirus Cases Could Already Be 50,000, CMO Says ...

Yet already the government was trying to secure travel corridors with other European countries that would be exempt from this. Even though Europe had suffered a high volume of cases and deaths.

Was it possible that the travel industry in the UK was not prepared to take this lying down and was bringing considerable political pressure to bear?

Here in Australia 97% of the airline industry business has disappeared. Airlines are facing bankruptcy and the tourism industry which is such a massive part of our GDP has lost over half of its business and its international business isn’t looking to come back anytime soon.

Domestic tourism is certainly crying out for state border restrictions to be lowered in time for the winter holidays. The ski season is going ahead in the very two states that have the highest number of cases.

Yet the decisions being made currently by Whitehall in regards to international travel are simply flabbergasting to me. You’ve finally got this thing receding, don’t fucking blow it for some money! People’s lives are more important than that!

Coronavirus in Scotland: latest update as number of people ...

 

June 21

Throughout the week new cases were on the rise in Victoria. 21 on Wednesday, 18 on Thursday, 13 on Friday and 25 on Saturday.

On the eve of lowering restrictions Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews held a press conference and advised that there would be a change of plans.

He cited the case increase was not due to recent mass protests but that people who were supposed to be self isolating but rather going to family gatherings and going to work.

Sometimes they were doing this after they had been advised that they had tested positive for COVID-19!

There was no exact breakdown but we were told that over half of cases since April in Victoria had come transmissions within a household.

With that in mind gatherings were going to see tighter restrictions come back in. Only five visitors to a household at a time. Only gatherings of ten at an outside family gathering. Down from 20.

Interestingly limits of gatherings in restaurants, pubs, community halls, public libraries, Churches and museums were going to remain at 20. They were due to see an increase come Monday but that was now off the table.

The Premier said there would be a push-ahead with re-opening of gyms, cinemas, pubs and TABS with a 20 person limit.

Perhaps most interestingly the Victorian ski-season was going ahead with facilities open albeit with screening and safeguards in place.

Also flagged was the idea of locking down specific hotspot areas if need be.

 

 

 

June 21

There were now 45 new cases recorded over the weekend alone in Victoria.

In Queensland it was decided that except for “a limited number of essential purposes” anyone returning from 36 hotspots area in and around Melbourne would need to quarantine for 14 days upon landing in Queensland.

In Queensland there were currently three active COVID-19 cases, two of them in the Gold Coast.

What Victoria’s case numbers meant for plans to lower state borders in the coming weeks remained to be seen.

Australia Late June

In America Trump held a rally in Tulsa. With thousands of Americans dead, the economy in recession and his polling numbers down there wasn’t a high turn out for the American leader.

Plenty of excuses were offered, there was after all a pandemic on and there had been weeks of protesting across the country.

There were protestors and police present and plenty of Trump supporters.

Just not 40,000 expected to fill an over-capacity area outside for a second speech nor enough to fill up the 19,000 capacity BOK centre.

Trump didn’t talk too much about COVID-19 but he did mention that one of the downsides of testing so many people is you find out a lot of fucking people have it.

Seth Meyers GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers - Find & Share on GIPHY

This is good news for most leaders, it means you can identify hotspot areas, carry out contract tracing, isolate those who have it, treat them in hospital in order to preserve their life and eventually the hope is with a lot of testing and these follow-up kind of obvious measures you stop the virus spreading and you know you therefore stop people dying and hell after a while you even start to lower some restrictions and get people back to work and having the economy moving.

It’s a good thing. It’s a great thing. It’s a necessary thing and it’s an obvious thing.

But Ballbag had a different take.

When you do testing to that extent you’re going to find more people. You’re going to find more cases, so I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down please.’

Of course the liberal bias media fixated on that and of course the White House asserted it was all in jest in regards to the horrible media coverage the President was getting.

I like to fix there were a lot of good people in Tulsa that night, braving a pandemic, showing support for an embattled leader that they believed had not only their best interests at heart but those of their country and their fellow Americans.

I saw a man in a wheelchair, young aspirational couples, black people. I’m sure there were veterans, nurses and teachers in that crowd.

I don’t meant to offend them when I voice my own personal opinions about him.

So please turn away for a second….

Trumpy this country needs what only you can provide…your absence.

Or in other words.

 

 

That afternoon I was with my in-laws celebrating a birthday. We were able to spend time together as a family, it was something to feel grateful for. So many people didn’t have this right now, so many people had lost loved ones, so many more were facing dire prospects.

On the 21st of June the World Health Organisation reported there had been 7,436 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 27. The number of deaths 102, a figure reached on the 24th of May.

Having reached six figures in case numbers on the 20th of June, in Canada on the 21st there had been 100,629 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 409. There were 8,346 dead with a daily increase of 46.

WHO6-12

In Turkey there had been 186,493 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,248. There were 4,927 dead with a daily increase of 22.

In Germany there had been 189,822 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 687. There had been 8,882 deaths.

In Iran there had been 202,584 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,322. There had been 9,507 deaths with a daily increase of 115.

In Chile there had been 236,748 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,355. There were 4,295 dead with a daily increase of 202.

In Italy there had been 238,275 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 264. There were 34,610 dead with a daily increase of 49.

In Spain there had been 245,938 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 363. There were 28,322 dead with a daily increase of seven.

WHOTop6

In Peru there had been 247,925 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,537. The number of dead were 7,660 with a daily increase of 199.

In the United Kingdom there had been 303,114 confirmed cases with a  daily increase of 1,295. There were 42,589 dead with a daily increase of 128.

In India there had been 410,461 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15,413. The number of dead were 13,254 with a daily increase of 306.

In Russia there had been 584,680 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,728. There were 8,111 dead with a daily increase of 109.

That day Brazil had reached more than one million cases with there having 1,032,913 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 54,771. The number of dead 48,954 with a daily increase of 1,206.

The United States of America having reached over two million cases on the 13th of June, now on the 21st there had been 2,208,829 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 36,617. There were 118,895 dead with a daily increase of 690.

Having reached 8 million cases on the 17th of June, on the 21st globally there had been 8,708,008 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 138,926.

There had been 461,715 deaths with a daily increase 4,743.

That’s right…

461,715 people had died from this fucking thing and it was only getting started.

Yet again, I asked myself what are you going to do and I hoped I would find an answer however meagre, however small but something.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY STELLAROSSA TOOWONG

 

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Pictured: Stellarossa staff member Andrea and author with the Director of Medical Services, Jim Houston and the General Manager Sean Hubbard of The Wesley Hospital on the 12th of June, 2020. Copyright The Wesley Hospital.

June 12

I’ve worked in a lot of different places and sooner or later every office worker finds the local café that makes their coffee just the way they want it. Ever since I started working at Toowong in 2018 it’s been the Stellarossa café for me.

I’ve seen a few young baristas come and go, young people moving onto the next big adventure but every single one of them has been a star at their job and as a person.

My first year the Owner/Manager gave me a Christmas card.

When the coronavirus took off in March it was them who told me Tom Hanks had it.

It was the Manager who looked off in the distance two weeks later when I asked him how was business and he replied it had slowed down.

I remember one morning standing in front of those young baristas advising I may not be in next week. We were all feeling the uncertainty of the times and I wanted to offer something more than words.

When I came back after Easter having worked from home I had already been putting notes in the tip jar.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on the 24th of March they had been doing take-away only and there was a new owner, Kate, who had taken on the business at the height of the pandemic.

With business down she was trying to ensure all of her staff got at least one shift each week. Some of them were not eligible for assistance even if they needed it.

As a former hospital wardsman, I had wanted to give something back to nurses.

In March there were questions about whether we would have enough PPE for our health staff, if the disease would continue to spread and at some point if our health care system would be overwhelmed.

Our nurses were putting those concerns aside to be there for us even if it meant they may end up facing what doctors and nurses had faced in Lombardy and Barcelona and New York.

When I read about the BuyThemACoffee initiative in an article written by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt on Weekend Notes, I knew I had found a way to thank our nurses. Founder Kaylie Smith had been advised by nurses what they really wanted was a coffee.

After donating to the BuyThemACoffee initiative, I later wondered if I could do something similar involving Stellarossa Toowong.

I got in touch with the BuyThemACoffee initiative to get advice from them on what I should do. Then I contacted the nearby Wesley Hospital and things quickly began to take shape.

The Wesley Hospital advised they would like to receive gift vouchers for their staff which would keep the logistics of the exercise simple.

The Wesley Hospital, is part of UnitingCare Health (UCH), a not-for-profit private hospital group operated by UnitingCare Queensland, which provides health and community services on behalf of the Uniting Church.

The Wesley is one of the largest private hospitals in Queensland with over 2,000 staff who provide highly specialised care to their patients.

I set up a GoFundMe page on the 21st of April, 2020 to hopefully raise $250 for Stellarossa Toowong.

GoFundMe Page

 

I wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Local small businesses are doing it tough due to the economic slowdown of COVID-19.

At the same time health care workers are on the frontline of dealing with this global pandemic, facing increased workloads and risk.

Inspired by the BuyThemACoffee initiative, I got in touch with the Wesley Hospital near my workplace and they advised some coffee vouchers for staff would be appreciated.

Local cafe Stellarossa, which serves the best coffee in Toowong, will be on hand to provide the coffees from the vouchers.

Anybody who works near Toowong Village will be aware of how tough local businesses are doing at the moment, trying to take care of staff and keep their workplace running in these uncertain times.

As a former hospital wardsman, I can attest to how selfless and hardworking all hospital staff are.

This is a chance to do something kind for those whose kindness and courage always shines through, but particularly in times when we’re hurting.

This is chance to support workers and their workplace through the economic downturn. 

Our aim is to raise $250 but whatever final goal we reach. you can be certain your donation will put money in the cash till of a small business and a coffee in the hand of a health care worker.

Both will be grateful for your donation which will make a difference in their lives.”

As a former wardsman,  I was planning for the cards to go to nurses and doctors, volunteers, admin staff, allied health, doctors, cleaners and kitchen staff.

Stellarossa HQ swung their weight behind it showcasing the GoFundMe page on their facebook page on the 12th of May. A few flyers were handed out and put up around the store.

Stellarossa Facebook

Friends, strangers and work colleagues at the Queensland College of Teachers (including The Social Club) and even one of these young baristas (Hannah) who I had partially set up the page to help did the rest. I am truly touched by their generous spirit.

These types of business have been likely to have a daily turnover of $300-$400 during the height of restrictions.

By the 21st of May, at a time when nobody has not been financially impacted these wonderful donors had raised $450 to help Stellarossa Toowong and to give thanks to heroes we should never take for granted and are always there for us when we need them.

I was away sick as a precaution during this period but on the 4th of June I was able to give the manager/owner of Stellarossa Toowong $450 in cash on behalf of all those generous donors.

The manager advised me the money raised would be enough for 112.5 coffees but she had chipped in the rest of the money to have enough for 200 cards.

That is the calibre of the people I’m talking about here.

In the coming days, things were arranged with the Wesley Hospital to deliver the 200 gift cards.

 

Kate who was keeping her business running and supporting her staff through tough times was too shy and busy to attend.

Instead I went over to the Wesley Hospital with one of the young baristas Andrea who is in her second year of studies as a physiotherapist.

The General Manager, Sean Hubbard and the Director of Medical Services, Jim Houston was on hand to take delivery of the vouchers from us and to thank us.

Photos were taken from their media team including of the delivery of the vouchers to staff around the hospital which were uploaded to The Wesley’s facebook page.

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Courtesy of The Wesley Hospital Facebook page.
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Courtesy of The Wesley Hospital Facebook Page.
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Courtesy of The Wesley Hospital Facebook Page.
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Courtesy of The Wesley Hospital Facebook Page.
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Courtesy of The Wesley Hospital Facebook Page.

Wesley Facebook

Friends, work colleagues and strangers had done a wonderful thing and I feel so fortunate to have just been a part of it.

 

June 13

That Saturday I picked up Karen from a shift.

She had gotten some unexpected work for the university in place of exam invigilation which had been wonderful news.

We were late for our nephew’s eighth birthday.

It was the first whole family gathering we had with all of my in-laws together since the crisis started.

Everybody maintained social distancing but it was good to be with everybody.

The reclaiming of what had been put on hold continued.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART III

Tim Peake shares stunning pictures of the UK from space on his ...

 

Originally I was going to work from home Monday and Tuesday but ended up working in the office the entire week from Monday the 8th of June to Friday the 12th of June which I really enjoyed.

We’re still rotating staff between working from home and working in the office and working to maintain a high level of customer service.

Restrictions have lowered, case numbers are down but our day to day existence is still not back to the way it was and it is not expected to be for a long time.

 

June 11

I went to Jetts Fitness at the airport where I work out just after 9pm only to discover the gym was closed from 8pm to 5am currently. I called my gym the next day and established I wouldn’t be charged any fees but it would be a while yet for me and shift workers until we could return to the gym. …and I was feeling so inspired after watching The Last Dance.

 

June 12

Restrictions are being lowered faster than you would have expected back in March.

Pressure mounts for states to re-open their borders and the recent mass protests seem to be a tipping point.

If mass outbreaks of the disease don’t follow these mass gatherings there is no question all state governments will look to open the borders and lower restrictions even more.

That means a window of about two to three weeks.

Say July 10.

On Friday the Prime Minister held a meeting with National Cabinet and a press conference afterwards.

The Deputy Premier of Queensland Steven Miles says Queensland will look to lower border restrictions on July 10.

South Australian Premier sets 20JUL2020 for borders being re-opened having closed the borders almost four months earlier on 24MAR2020.

Western Australia does not make any firm commitments.

There is advice that in stadiums with a capacity of over 40,000 crowds at 25% capacity

A limit of 100 in attendance at indoor gatherings will be scrapped in favour of 4 metre distancing. Having walked around supermarkets lately I’m not sure how you’re going to enforce 4 metre distancing but good luck.

On Friday afternoon in a press conference Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked a question about the current removal programs from streaming services in recent days like Gone With The Wind in America on HBO Max.

Also closer to home shows like Little Britain and Summer Heights High where white actors had performed black characters in comedy shows in black face which has severe historical connotations.

His answer which also alluded to a recent debate about statues showed where his priorities were.

“I’m worried about jobs. I’m worried about 800,000 Australians going on to JobSeeker in the last three months. I’m not interested in what they’re showing on streaming services,” he said.

I couldn’t agree more.

 

 

On the 12th of June the World Health Organisation reported there had been 7,410,510 (more than 7 million were confirmed on the 9th of July) confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 136,572. The number of dead were 418,294 with a daily increase of 4,925.

In Australia there had been 7,825 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 102 deaths in Australia.

In Canada there had been 97,125 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 472. The were 7,960 dead with a daily increase of 63.

In India there had been 297,535 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 10,956. There were 8,498 with a daily increase of 396.

In the United Kingdom there had been 291,413 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,266. There were 41,279 dead with a daily increase of 151. The only silver lining to be found was that currently there appeared to be a downward trend in the number of daily increase of cases.

 

UK Figures

 

In the United States of America there had been 1,988,646 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 20,315. There were 112,810 dead with a daily increase of 832.

-Lloyd Marken