COVID-19 DIARY – SECOND SNAP LOCKDOWN IN BRISBANE

Greater Brisbane lockdown announced, masks mandatory across Queensland  after 10 new COVID-19 cases, four locally acquired - ABC News

March 29

When I arrived at work Monday morning there was a rumour going around a lockdown was about to be announced.

Sure enough that is exactly what happened, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the Greater Brisbane region (this included Ipswich, Logan, Redlands and Moreton Bay) would enter a three day lockdown starting from 5pm.

Masks were mandatory except in private residencies and vehicles.

You could only leave home for food, work, medical reasons or exercise.

Schools were closed again for children of essential workers.

Cafes and restaurants were shut but could provide take-away.

Two visitors could be allowed in a house.

I had been wondering what the trigger would be and it turned out it was very simple – numbers. Not big numbers but just enough to take action.

In January one new case out in the community had trigged the lockdown.

Now it was four following three previous ones. The PA Doctor from the 12th of March.

Not the landscaper from the 26th of March or his friend on the 27th.

But on the 29th there 10 new cases and four of them – count’em four not one! – were from community transmission.

Two were of an unknown origin and the other two were directly linked to the PA cluster including a brother of one of the earlier cases.

In her own words the Queensland Premier said, “Now what this says to us is the fact that there are now more community transmission and these people have been out and about in the community. And that is of now concern to Queensland Health and of course concern to me.

One of the cases was a man who had been in Gladstone from March 25 to March 27.

Auckland House - Gladstone Central QLD 4680, Australia

Two of the others was a nurse who worked at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and her sister. They had been in Byron Bay from March 26 to 28.

The Premier’s tone was softer in announcing this lockdown almost like she was trying to rally us for another go of it.

“I know this will mean some disruption to people’s lives but we’ve done this before and we’ve got through it over those three days in the past and if everyone does the right thing, I’m sure that we will be able to get through it again,” she said.

There seemed to be less panic buying but there was certainly evidence of it and plenty of things staples running dry on the shelves.

Eleven thousand, six hundred and twentry four tests had been carried out in the past 24 hours.

“I know in is a really big call, I know it is really tough,” said Premier Palaszczuk.

“We have Easter coming up, we have school holidays coming up but let’s do it now and let’s do it right, and let’s see if we can come through it at the other end.”

I didn’t sleep last night – so I think I am very worried,” the Premier candidly shared.

There were now 73 active cases in Queensland. 

When the first lockdown was announced on the 8th of January there had been 23 active cases in the state.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 29, 2020. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a late night briefing on a Sunday following a meeting of the National Cabinet. I remember being moved. He looked tired but resolute, numbers were climbing, in New York the amount of death was relentless. And I just thought we have something ahead of us, all of us and we have to do what we can.

COVID-19 DIARY – YOU BIG STUPID LUG

Brisbane, Australia, satellite image - Stock Image - E780/1259 - Science  Photo Library

March 27

I spent most of Saturday recovering from my torn hammy but it made me restless.

I watch some shows on Youtube that focus on pop culture. A lot of them covered Godzilla vs Kong which had just come out.

I also needed to get back out to the gym to complete my 100 kilometres for the March On campaign for Soldier On.

So I I left for a late night session by myself at Chermside cinemas.

I expected not many people to be there but much to my shock there were many people. Hardly near full capacity but easily over half. I limped along with my torn hammy and wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.

I sat there slowly bubbling with shame as the film continually failed to engage me.

What the fuck was I doing there? How could I be so stupid.

On some level I believed we should be in lockdown so I was directly contradicting myself and for no good reason. I was following the health guidelines but not my own reasoning.

I hadn’t thought this through. Still it was just one case for the moment.

Afterwards I went to the gym.

However after I got back home from the gym Karen informed me there was new scare.

One new case had been reported on Saturday following 6,881 tests on Friday.

A friend of the landscaper case from yesterday.

But while that person had been waiting to get test resutls and been told to isolate the man had held a party with 25 people in attendance – apparently!

And I had just gone to the movies with a bunch of people from the local area.

I highly doubted I was at risk but it just felt dumb to have gone. The movie had been far from worth it.

Other Australian states moved to protect themselve from Queensland’s concerns.

Travellers who left with one rules for entering WA landed five hours later to find they needed to go into self quarantine.

At a Australian Football League game the previous night in Geelong supporters of the Brisbane Lions who had travelled to Victoria for the game were told to leave the stadium immediately and get tested and sef isolate by signs around the grounds.

Victorian health alert over Brisbane coronavirus case sees Lions fans told  to leave AFL clash with Geelong - ABC News

This applied throughout Victoria to all Queenslanders who had been to contract listed sites on the prescribed dates. You only had to isolate until you returned a negative test.

In the Northern Territory it was a similar situation except you had 72 hours to get tested and isolate.

In South Australia anyone from the affected LGAs had to get tested and self isolate.

New South Wales and Tasmania prohibited Queenslanders who had been to the contract listed locations from entering unless they were essential travellers. If you were already in those states you had to get tested and self isolate until you received results. 

With 71 active cases in Queensland, it was reported that hospitalisations were as high as they had been at the peak of the pandemic last year. The Queensland government wanted hotel quarantine numbers to be halved in the state.

It is also interesting to watch unbroken press conferences with our leaders.

As other state governments ramped up precautions in light of the news coming out of Brisbane, Queesnland itself did not make any changes.

Why?

Interestingly enough Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called on the federal government to offer aid to north queensland tourism operators as Jobkeeper was coming to an end.

I wondered…

To most of us, it was obvious a lockdown would occur but what would be the trigger?

A new case out in the community for several days had previously done it but… not this time.

Now another new case with a party thrown into the mix and yet still a lockdown was not called.

March 28

On Sunday came news actually that the party well it turned out to just be four housemates. Not twenty five people. This was far from what might have been called in my day a hootenanny.

Questions were asked by journalists but nobody had any clear answers for them and nobody seemed to want to take responsibility except to say that was in the brief and a mistake must have been made.

The Premier, the Chief Health Officer or the Health Minister couldn’t help beyond that.

Mistakes happen I guess, in a way it was nice to see them not just throw some staffer or public servant under the bus but it made me sad to see yet again the narrative of news cycles quickly move on rather than just asking that questions be answered.

With over 11,000 new tests having been carried out the previous day there were three new cases in the state, two from hotel quarantine and one in the community. A brother of one of the new cases.

That night I went back to the gym and walked on the treadmill for the March On campaign for Soldier On. 

Some good news just quickly.

Without going into details, older parents of friends, family and work collegues and fellow bloggers of a certain age in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States of America had at this point been vaccinated.

Not my parents yet but nonetheless this was wonderful news.

Some of these people had underlying health conditions and it was such a relief to see that they had received vaccinations. It reminded us that maybe progress was getting made.

On the 28th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 126,404,770 confirmed cases gloabally with a daily increase of 594,210.

There had been 2,771,779 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 10,358.

In Australia there had been 29,252 confirmed cases with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 956,655 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,093. There had been 22,826 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

Today's coronavirus news: Growing list of Canadian politicians in hot water  over holiday travel; Death toll reaches 52 at Tendercare; U.S. hits 20  million mark in coronavirus cases | The Star

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,326,036 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,399. There had been 126,573 deaths with a daily increase of 58.

In India there had been 11,971,624 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 62,714. The next day India would reach 12 million cases with 12,039,644 and a daily increase of 68,020. There had been 161,552 deaths with a daily increase of 312.

In the United States of America there had been 29,859,706 with a daily increase of 71,187. There had been 543,003 deaths with a daily increase of 1,280.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 27,2020.

Having trialled one day working from home I would finish working in the office on Friday and head home not sure when I would return to the office. I would miss my colleagues.

That night hotel quarantine for Australians from overseas was announced.

The next day Karen worked bravely working a polling station during local council elections carried throughout our state.  

COVID-19 DIARY – PA LINK

Brisbane COVID-19 community transmission case puts city on alert after man  visits multiple public venues while infectious - ABC News

March 26

Friday.

One new case in the Brisbane community got us thinking around the office we might be in for another lockdown in the next few days.

A young landscaper, the man had developed symptoms on Monday and tested positive yesterday.

He had been out in the community for at least five days.

Based on precdent it was becoming highly likely a lockdown was imminent and the Chief Health Officer did not rule it out at the day’s press conference.

Restrictions already in place since last Friday to have no visitors at aged care and disability facilities, hospitals and prisons were due to continue until at least the following Monday.

We need to make sure we are socially distancing and where we can’t, to wear a mask. If you are in that vulnerable cohort, maybe stay at home for the next three days until we understand exactly what is happening here,” advised the Queensland Premier.

Queensland's latest COVID-19 case linked to Princess Alexandra Hospital  cluster

A list of contract tracing sites were also announced including those at the Carindale Shopping Centre on the southside of twon as well as a host of shops on the northside of town like Newmarket, Everton Park, Alderley, Stafford as far away as Redcliffe.

As what was becoming habit I texted people if I knew any of these places were areas they regularly or semi regularly attended.

Outdoors we know is really low risk, so let’s go out and really enjoy the outdoors this weekend,advised Dr Jeanette Young.

What the fuck?

“[But] most importantly of all, everyone, please stay home if you’re sick, as this gentleman did who’s tested positive. Come forward and get tested so we know what’s going on so we can contact trace,” she added.

We were up to 69 active cases in the state including six in hotel quarantine with three of them from Papua New Guinea.

7,584 tests had been carried out in the past twenty four hours.

Genomic testing later revealed that day that the landscaper’s case was linked to the Princess Alexander doctor’s case and of the B117 ‘UK’ strain.

Brisbane hospital locked down after doctor tests positive for COVID-19 -  ABC News

Anyone identified as a close contact will be contacted by the Public Health Unit and required to quarantine. The detail from the genomic testing is getting faster and better — we know that the gentleman who tested positive on late Thursday night was highly contagious. We therefore cannot afford to be complacent — if you have any COVID symptoms at all, please come forward and get tested,” requested Dr Jeanette Young.

Yet we didn’t go into lockdown.

I didn’t dwell on this though as my torn hammy quickly took up my thoughts.

Hamstring GIFs | Tenor

Can I just make some observations? People are not social distancing, Please, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Now is not the time to break our social distancing, our good hand hygiene and the handshakes,” advised Premier Palaszczuk.

In the larger context of what has transpired across the world this rings very true.

Case numbers didn’t dip in European countries earlier this year that hadn’t carried out lockdowns.

The UK that didn’t rush out of lockdown and has been more gradual and did.

In the States with a massive vaccine roll out case numbers have still been remarkably high with 50,000 new cases a day regularly.

Texas hits 1 million Covid-19 cases, the most in the nation

In India and Brazil no lockdown and look.

That does not provide all the answers and I don’t claim to be an expert. For example the Indian government moved quickly into a far ranging and significant lockdown when case numbers were still relatively low last year and still sufferred greatly with 10 million cases and thousands of deaths.

No wonder there was a relucatance on the part of some Indians to go into lockdown again.

However a lockdown could hardly supress spread in slums where one bathroom is shared by eighty people.

So no I don’t pretend to have answers but I always go back to the basics. It’s something we can do and if it has a chance of helping its better than looking for ways to not to do it.

Ignoring the risk doesn’t seem to have helped very often – in fact quite the opposite.

Papua New Guinea only has about 500 doctors for 9 million people. Now it's  dealing with a Covid outbreak - CNN

In Port Moresby, Papua New Guiea the capital’s hospitals was beyond capacity. Temporary field hospitals were being set up.

Australia and Papua New Guinea have a long history together. For most Australians the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels came to mind. Natives who acted as porter and guides for the Australians on the Kokoda track during World War II. Now could Australia be the angels who supported PNG in their time of crisis?

The Unnoticed Death of Our last Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel - Tasmanian Times

Australia sent 8,000 vaccines to Port Moresby along with medical equipment that included testing equipment but it was believed this would not be enough.

There were already many Australians there on the ground doing what they could alongside the local Papua New Guinea health care heroes.

The PNG government closed schools and restricted travel but housebound lockdowns were not possible in such a country for all.

I think it would be too ambitious to say we can stop this plague at this point in time. The tipping point was probably four weeks ago,” advised Matthew Cannon, CEO of St John Ambulance PNG.

As the spread throughout PNG continued, it prompted the Queensland government to fast track vaccinations through the Torres Strait.

Fear PNG spread may spawn new virus mutations

Dr Mangu Kendino, an Emergency Department doctor, advised 10 per cent of hospital staff had caught COVID and that was just in the past month.

We only have 450 maybe 500 doctors here in Papau New Guinea. That’s one doctor to 17,000 people, you compare that to New South Wales that has a similar population of eight million and that’s 24,500 doctors at least,” explained Matthew Cannon, CEO of St John Ambulance PNG.

Testing capacity was minimal and took up to ten days to get results – far too long.

These health care workers are now the frontline for COVID 2 and if they’re getting infected and passing it onto their families and other patients and if they get sick there is no one to replace them.” told Dr Alison Brown of Australian Doctors International.

Would it crash the health care system… I can’t say for certain. But has it stretched us thin – yes. And are we struggling? Yes,” said Dr Kendino.

On the 26th of March 2021, the World Health Organisation reported in Papua New Guinea there had been 4,965 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 305. There had been 39 deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 26, 2020.

In India Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country into a 21 day lockdown forcing everybody to isolate at home. The World Health Organisation reported in India there were 649 cases with a daily increase of 43. The number of dead in the country were 13 with a daily increase of three.

COVID-19 DIARY – MARCH ON

Meet Australia's own fund-raising legend walker - CONTACT magazine

March 01 – March 28

You may recall previously a post on the charity Soldier On and their patron 101 year old Sgt Bert Le-Merton who had raised $107,191 for the charity by walking 96kms around his local Sydney neighbourhood.

He reached that last September.

Last check he was at 419 kilometres. 

Founded in 2012, Soldier On supports 3,000 veterans and their families with a holistic approach to their physical and mental wounds with employment programs, health and wellbeing services, learning and participation activities.

In March they ran a campaign called March On, calling on people to cover 96kms throughout the month to raise funds for the charity.

Having recently dialled back my gym attendance I saw this as a good opportunity to get back in shape and raise funds for our veterans.

I knew I could probably cover about 3-4kms on a treadmill in half an hour. This meant I would have to regularly attend the gym to get to 96kms by the end of the month.

So on the first of March I went and got on the treadmill.

I played on repeat Bill Conti’s Going The Distance theme from the film Rocky. At different points in the music I would move from a walk to a jog to a faster job and back again and repeat for 30 minutes before cooling down for five minutes.

The treadmill told me I covered 4.04 kilometres that night and burned 255 calories in those first 35minutes.

Soldier On : Home

As you get older it becomes mandatory to stretch before you exercise and I made sure I stretched but being out of shape I found my body resistant.

I jogged on Monday the 1st, Wednesday the third and by Thursday my shoulder was in a lot of pain.

From jogging.

I rubbed deep heat throughout the day and pushed myself to go back that night on the fourth.

The whole 96 kilometres loomed over me, I couldn’t afford to miss too many days.

Friday the shoulder continued to bug me but it hurt less.

I went Friday night the fifth and Saturday and Sunday and Monday right through to Thursday.

An unbroken eight day stretch and the shoulder got better, I got fitter too.

I stopped listening to Going the Distance and just listened to regular podcasts from The Ringer while shifting speeds at different timed intervals.

The RAN in the Gulf - Two Years On | Royal Australian Navy

Day 10 I was on track with 33 kilometres done so I upped the distance to cover to 100 kilometres.

I never repeated that eight day stretch.

I missed the Thursday 11th of March as I was attending Triple X and needed to write my review after.

I jogged the 12th and 13th but not the 14th. No excuses.

I had a session on the 15th and got to 51kms right on schedule but did not jog the sixteenth.

From there I had a five day unbroken streak from the 17th to the 21st.

On the 18th of March I covered 4.51 kilometres in 36 minutes. Four kilmoetres in 31minutes before starting the cool down late. 299 calories burnt, an average pace of 7.5kms/per hour. The scales put me at 109.3kgs and a BMI of 33.7.

At this point I had been jogging consistently for three weeks.

On the 17th of March I finally got under 110 kgs on the scale for the first time in forever. I started wearing ties at work and swapped out my suspenders for a belt. It made me look like I had gained weight rather than lost it but I knew that belt couldnt’ have been worn comfortably earlier without the hard work so i enjoyed it.

Friday the 19th of March I got to my lowest weight during the month with 109.1kgs and BMI of 33.7.

I was starting to increase the speeds a little to burn a little fat, to cover a little bit more distance but not too much.

Why Do People Walk The Kokoda Trail | Adventure Excellence

Ninety six kilometres was chosen because it was the length of the Kokoda Track and as you went along in your goal different milestones told you how far you had travelled.

Menari 34.8kms. Templeton’s Crossing at 63kms. Eora Creek.72kms.

Templeton’s Crossing is named after Captain Sam Templeton Commander of B Company in the famed 39th Battalion. He was also affectionately known as Uncle Sam by some of the men.

Jack Wilkinson, a fellow soldier, noted the following in his diary in 1942:

“…Two long hills to climb.  Missed out on tea as I was with last of the troops.  Had a job to get some of them to make it..

‘Uncle Sam’ came back and helped me about half way up the last hill.  I was carrying four rifles and three packs and had doubts about making it myself. 

But ‘Uncle Sam’ insisted on carrying all my gear as well as that of others. “

Captain Templeton went Missing in Action during the Kokoda campaign. He never returned home. Another casaulty of war.

625 Australians died during the Kokoda Track campaign. The battle saved Australia from invasion.

Virtual War Memorial | Samuel Victor TEMPLETON

I reached Templeton’s Crossing on the 21st of March at the end of the five day streak. I was covering consistently 4.4 to 4.5 kilometres now in the same time frame where I had covered a little over 4 on the first night.

I had worked through the initial pain for getting back into exercise. I was now leaner, more fit and faster.

I had to complete seven sessions in the next ten days to reach my goal.

But on Monday the 22nd my left leg was bothering me with soreness. I decided to rest it.

Tuesday the 22nd I came back and did my best session but the left leg was still bothering me.

4.47 kilometres in 35 minutes to score an average pace of 7.7 kilometres per hour and burn 309 calories. I had jogged one minute longer by mistake on the 18th to reach 4.51kilometres.

I went and saw Two Man Tarantino on Wednesday the 24th and rested it again.

Thursday the 25th I raised in conversation with a colleague about maybe just walking the rest of the campaign but I had set myself a goal and really wanted to see it through.

Thursday I worked through the pain and jogged but made sure I didn’t push myself. I was back down to 4.32kms, 290 calories, 7.4kph but was grateful to see the scales tip at 109.3kgs having recently chowed down on the Brisbane Powerhouse Snackbar Menu Pizzas.

RAMSI chapter ends in Australia's Pacific story - Devpolicy Blog from the  Development Policy Centre

Friday morning I felt pretty good.

I was getting lunch at a burger joint when my legs got caught in between two chairs.

My body reflexively pulled up to get out of it and I felt my RIGHT leg explode and i let out a yelp.

I limped out with my lunch and back to work.

No matter how gently I walked, the back of my right leg will regularly send this tearing sensation to my brain and I would be unable to take another step for a brief second.

I was in pain.

Having never been an athlete i had no reference for what was happening.

This was more than a pulled muscle.

I struggled back to work but found only standing gave me releif. Sitting down the back of the leg became sore from the pressure and walking constantly agitated it.

I asked a very kind colleague to drive me back to my car and I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to drive it. I pushed the chair back a little which made the leg rest more horizontally than usual and that seemed to not agitate it.

I went to bed with some deep heat and tried to rest it up.

Pilots from 75 Squadron RAAF are welcomed back to Al Udeid airbase by Group  Captain William ... | Australian War Memorial

My dream of jogging the whole month was over.

I had 19 kilometres to go in five days and no way I would be able to jog in the next five days.

I was not even sure if I would be able to complete the 100 kilometres.

I was so disappointed.

Because during that month many kind donors some of which remained anonymous had given money for our veterans in the belief that I would reach my goal.

I went back to the gym on Saturday and walked on the treadmill for 50 minutes and covered 4.37kilometres. This would keep me on track to get to 100kms by the end of the month but it was going to be close.

The next night I went back and found the leg was doing okay so I stepped up the walking pace and covered 4.70kms.

As I walked those two nights my leg would seize up but I found I was able to keep going.

On the second night I did seize up at one point quite a bit and my right leg went down. Fortunately I grabbed the handles, shot my left leg to the side off the treadmill and was able to drag my right leg up and keep going.

I haven’t seen a physio but it appears that I tore my hammy.

Why was I doing this you may ask?

There were 6,268 participants in the March On campaign.

They raised $1,549,576 dollars for veterans and covered 483,060 kilometres.

Soldier On on Twitter: "August 15 1975, Sergeant Bert Le-Merton was in  Borneo receiving news that the war was over. 75 years later, he will  #MarchOn as he begins his 96km journey

One of them was 102 year old World War II veteran Sgt Bert who walked 159 kilometres in March.

“If I can do it, you can too… so get up off your saddle and March On with me to support our veterans.” said Sgt Bert.

Another was a young veteran named Holly who had been diagnosed with complex PTSD and received help from Soldier On.

“Soldier On provided a safe space for me during some of my darkest times. I am forever grateful for the support I received following my diagnosis of complex-PTSD. Without Soldier On, I’m not sure if I would be here today.” Holly said.

These were words that galvanised me through the month when I felt lazy or tired.

Maybe ego was involved, I was pushing myself and seeing results and admitting to injury would derail all of that. I like to think of myself of someone who rarely sets goals but often sees them through.

But mostly i just wanted to say I did it for all of the people who were supporting our veterans

And for the veterans themselves.

Two people I served with briefly in the Reserves both did March On. One of them had been in the Regs and gone to East TImor.

Two friends I had at school had served.

One was a signaller in the Army and served in the Solomon Islands.

Another went into the RAAF and did two tours of Iraq.

They seem fine but they know as I do that many of our veterans are not fine.

Since 1999: 46 AUST soldiers killed on active service. 239 returned  soldiers have taken their lives. - Michael Smith News

They’re comitting suicide at an alarming rate and Soldier On is helping them as are many of other worthy charities.

For Holly, for Sgt Bert, for Captain Sam Templeton, for all of our veterans I wanted to see this through.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – TWO MAN TARANTINO REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

Scenestr 6

March 24

While the British people solemly remembered all that they had lost I paradoxically on the other side of the world I found myself returning to the Brisbane Powerhouse for the first time since March 13, 2020 when I had attended the Brisbane Comedy Festival as the first restrictions were announced in Australia. No more than 500 people at a venue starting Monday the 16th of february.

Now here I was back on the 25th of March, 2021 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Interestingly enough I was there to review the show Two Man Tarantino for Scenestr magazine. I had previously reviewed the show back in 2018 for the Wonderland Festival so I was setting myself an interesting challenge.

The show seemed even better this time around to me and you can read my review here –Two Man Tarantino Review @ Brisbane Powerhouse (scenestr.com.au)

Again there was no mask wearing and the theatre was packed as per current health guidelines.

Karen and I also enjoyed our beloved Snack Bar Menu pizza after the show.

In such moments you can’t help but feel that something has been regained if only briefly after having been absent for so long.

But the virus never rests. It is always out there waiting to strike.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – REMEMBERING THE MANY AND THE FEW

COVID-19: Queen reflects on 'grief' of pandemic as country falls silent to  mark one year since lockdown | UK News | Sky News

March 22

I saw my GP on Monday the 22nd of March. As we discussing a few recent things to do with my health she mentioned my COVID vaccination.

I advised I was too young but she told me I would come under 1B for an underlying health condition. I asked if she was sure and she was.

I guess I had thought about it but often saw it as something to come down the line.

She told me to keep checking the website, no vaccines were availble at my medical centre yet but they would be soon as part of the 1B roll out.

UK lights up in remembrance of lives lost on anniversary of first lockdown  | Leigh Journal

March 23

I checked with my specialist who treated me for the underlying health condition which was well under control and he gave me the green light for to get the COVID vaccination.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the third wave currently going through Europe would come to the UK.

I’ve talked to our (European) friends repeatedly over the period – we’re all facing the same pandemic, we all have the same problems.” the Prime  Minister said.

If there is one thing that is worth stressing is that on the continent right now you can see sadly there is a third wave under way. People in this country should be under no illusions that previous experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, it washes up on our shores as well. I expect that we will feel those effects in due course.

That’s why we’re getting on with our vaccination programme as fast as we can but a vaccination campaign and developing vaccines, rolling them out – these are international projects and they require international co-operation.” said Johnson and I wholeheartedly agree.

Recently case numbers were on the rise and restrictions were coming into place across the continent. Recently several nations had suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Now the President of the European Commission had floated the idea of blocking drugs being exported to the UK which had vaccinated much more of their population.

Throughout most of 2020 the UK had been per capita one of the highest case number and deaths nationally across the globe.

I’m reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months that they don’t want to see blockades, I think that’s very important.” the UK Prime Minister advised.

London Ambulance Service joined a minute's silence to remember those who  lost their lives during the pandemic - Harrow Online

March 24

In Britain they paused on the anniversary of their first lockdown and remembered 126,000 of their fellow countrymen and women ahd had passed away in the past year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson who lesser measures at a slower pace than Australia and New Zealand and even many other European nations allowed, “There are probably many things that we wished that we’d known and probably many things that we’d done differently at the time.

Cautiously but irreversibly, step by step, jab by jab – this country is on the path to reclaiming our freedom,” said the Prime Minister.

Looking at the assembled nurses and ambos and doctors standing in reflection and remembrance of those who were lost.

How many of those deaths had they personally witnessed?

How many lives had they saved?

Had they seen any colleagues fall?

These were our heroes of a battle that still raged on and here they were still standing.

For us.

March 25

The first 800,000 of the locally made AstraZeneca jabs rolled out from CSL. The hope was to produce a million jabs and distribute them per week. This came in the wake of the short suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe having ended a week earlier.

It has to be said it was a great sight to see, the CSL plant was ready to run red hot in getting as many vaccines as possible produced and out in the community or wherever it was needed given a recent break out of cases in Papua New Guinea.

A lot of hard work had already been done to reach this point.

In India cases were on the rise and discovery of new mutant strains. There was a pause of Indian produced AstraZeneca vaccine which could cause problems of getting vaccines to Great Britain and Brazil and countries that would be served through the COVAX scheme.

India itself was looking to ramp up its vaccination scheme with people over 45 to get the jab next month.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 22, 2020. 

Following a National Cabinet meeting with state Premiers the Prime Minister announced all indoor entertainment, sporting and religious venues were to be shut from midday the next day. This included pubs, clubs and restaurants and cinemas.

With an expected rise in unemployment dole payments were going to be doubled.

The World Health Organisation reported on March 22 that Australia had 1,098 cases with a daily increase of 17. The death toll was seven.

COVID-19 DIARY – UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

Global Covid report: Belgium facing new lockdown as Germany takes in  patients | Belgium | The Guardian

March 14

In New South Wales a hotel quarantine worker at the Sofitel Hotel tested positive to COVID.

What was noteworthy about the case is the man had already been vaccinated.

Although let’s unpack that a little.

The security guard received his first Pfizer jab on the 2nd of March.

When he tested after most recent shifts March 5th and 6th going into the early hours of the 7th he tested negative after those shifts.

When he returned to work on the Saturday he tested positive.

That’s one jab of Pfizer less than a week earlier when he most likely became infected and the Pfizer jabs works on a basis of two jabs three weeks apart with full effectiveness reached a week after the second jab.

[This is] obviously good news, but you should be aware the antibody reaction required from vaccination doesn’t get confirmed or doesn’t achieve its maximum [until] some time after the first and second vaccination,” noted New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

Add to this is the simple fact that medicos are advising particularly with the new strains, vaccinations don’t stop you from getting COVID they stop you from hopefully coming down with a severe case with it.

As we have said all along, vaccination helps but it does not necessarily stop you getting the virus,” Hazzard said.

COVID NSW: No new cases linked to Sofitel Wentworth hotel quarantine |  Daily Telegraph

While we are still learning how the vaccines impacted transmission, what we would hope for … is if you are vaccinated, you probably don’t have such a high viral load, you are protected against severe illness. Your viral load may well be lower and, therefore, it will potentially stop you transmitting it to the same degree. But a lot of this work is still being looked at and the science is being worked through as we literally speak.,” advised New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant.

[The vaccine is] very effective, but not 100 per cent effective” against mild and moderate disease, but it was almost 100 per cent effective against severe disease, hospitalisation and death,” said Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.

It’s why the measures we have in place will have a part to play in our daily lives for many a while yet.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison receiving his second shot advised, “You should still try to observe the COVID-safe behaviours — I’m wearing a mask today.

One hundred and thirty hotel quarantine workers who worked the same shift with the guard on Friday March 12th going into Saturday morning were getting tested and isolating.

Contract tracing was underway for the locations the guard had hit in between his negative and postive test results.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported there had been 136,000 people go through the 14 day hotel quarantine since March 2020.

There had been 5,048 cases in New South Wales during the pandemic.

This case ended a 65 day streak of no new locally acquired cases.

Queensland COVID outbreak sparks health officials to change vaccination  policy | 7NEWS.com.au

March 16

Speaking of second shots of Pfizer.

Tuesday in Queensland nurse Zoe Park the first receipent of a Pfizer jab in Queensland received her second shot three weeks later along with several other health care workers.

Channel 9 News Australia reported 22,000 of 37,000 health care workers that came under the 1A grouping had received their first shot.

New South Wales had vaccinated 37,000 in the same time period.

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath advised the state government was on track to complete 1A vaccinations in a fortnight.

Good news given the PA case.

Four hundred close contacts had been identified from that case and were getting tested. About 58% had come back negative.

Tensions between state and federal government consultation were raised.

Last week I was told these trays weren’t going to be delivered but it’s arrived in the last hour. So its changing daily,” D;Ath advised.

There were no answers yet on what caused the outbreak at the Hotel Grand Chancellor.

To our north there was growing concern of rising COVID numbers in Papua New Guinea.

Five hundred recent tests in the country had returned 250 positive results. Of 36 active cases of COVID in Queensland – 18 could be linked back to Papua New Guinea.

The Australian government moved to provide support to their neighbour with $500 million dollars worth of foreign aid.

On the 16th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 2,351 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 82. There had been 26 deaths.

Having only days earlier seen the first AstraZeneca vaccinations take place in Australia, European nations were suspending the roll out of the vaccine.

Italy, Germany and France, Cyprus and Slovenia along suspended its use pending assessment from the European Medicines Agency which were meeting on Thursday.

Spain had suspended use for two weeks.

Earlier Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Austria, Latvia, Sweden, Romania and Bulgaria had stopped using it too.

The side effects cited included blood clots, there had been deaths following vaccinations.

The language of the national leaders struck a tone of precaution but indicated they expected the measure was temporary.

Hospitals in Paris were almost beyond capacity, Italy was in lockdown and there was already a supply issue of getting enough vaccines across Europe that suspending the use of AstraZeneca excaberated.

“As of today, there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said.

The European Medicines Agency reported as of March 10, 30 cases of blood clotting had been reported from 5 million Astra Zeneca vaccinations across 30 European countries.

Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon. More than 11 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca have now been administered across the UK, and the number of blood clots reported after having the vaccine is not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population.” said Dr Phil Bryan who was head of vaccine safety at the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

AstraZeneca itself reported out of 17 million vaccinations, 15 events of deep vein thrombosis and 22 evetns of pulomonary embolism.

Germany: Clashes erupt as parliament votes on COVID rules | Coronavirus  pandemic News | Al Jazeera

March 18

Professor Anthony Harnden who was deputy chair of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) had some strong words regarding the suspension of AstraZeneca.

You cannot stop and start vaccination programs without losing some public confidence,” he told the ABC.

There will be many, many people in Europe, [who] feel now that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is second best … which is patently untrue. I have no doubt that Europeans have died because of some of these decisions. They have large portions of their vulnerable elderly population unprotected because of an incorrect decision that they made about delaying the AstraZeneca dose in the elderly population. It’s going to affect us all, ultimately, if we have a huge amount of transmission and infection within Europe.,” he said.

There were significant national politics at play here.

Britain had recently left the European Union.

Case numbers were down in the UK while rising on the continent with the dominant strain now being… you guessed it – the UK strain.

Certain poorer European countries were going to need to use AstraZeneca while a country like Italy for example was mostly vaccinating with Pfizer.

Even so the vaccine rollout in Europe had been going slower than in the UK.

In Britain 39 out of every 100 people had been vaccinated compared to 11 out of every 100 in France, Germany and Italy.

For example Italy had been averaging 200,000 vaccinations per day before the suspension, it needed to double that to get to 80 per cent of its population vaccinated by September this year.

While Pfizer/BioNTech was a Belgium-American collaboration. The Oxford-AstraZeneca jab was a British-Swiss collaboration.

East Europe hit with new COVID-19 wave as Polish, Bulgarian leaders test  positive - Global Times

March 19

The European Medicines Agency report came out and its four main findings were the benefits of getting a vaccine far outweighed the risk of side effects, there is no associated increased risk between the jab and blood clots, no problem with batches or manufacturing but the vaccine may be associated with very rare cases of blood clots.

Following this out of the 13 countries that suspended the use of AstraZeneca, Italy, France and Germany advised they would resume its use.

Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands said they would start using it again next week.

Poland had never stopped.

The Oxford jab is safe and the Pfizer jab is safe. The thing that isn’t safe is catching COVID, which is why it’s so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes,” Great Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised in a press conference where he announced he would get vaccinated tomorrow at the very hospital where he had been treated for COVID-19.

March 20

France and the UK’s Prime Ministers and Slovenia’s President rolled up their sleeves for the AstraZeneca jab to help in restoring confidence in the vaccine following the suspension of its use in Europe.

France was back in lockdown.

Bulgaria had resumed AstraZeneca vaccination, out of a population of seven million only 355,000 of its people had been vaccinated – the lowest number in the European Union.

Places like Hungary and Bosnia were also going into lockdown as case numbers surged. The former had one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe.

On the 20th of March the World Health Organisation reported there had been 122,039,807 confirmed cases globally with a daily incrase of 552,244.

There had been 2,697,760 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 10,509.

In Iceland there had been 6,097 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 29 deaths.

In Australia there had been 29,183 with a daily increase of 17. There had been 909 deaths.

In Cyprus there had been 41,475 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 364. There had been 241 deaths.

In Ireland there had been 229,306 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 510. There had been 4,576 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Latvia there had been 96,524 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 622. There had been 1,811 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Denmark there had been 221,455 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 638. There had been 2,397 deaths.

In Slovenia there had been 204,534 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 941. There had been 4,276 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Norway there had been 84,553 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,034. There had been 648 deaths.

Bosnian returnees face delays, confusion over COVID-19 quarantine |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

In Bosnia and Herzegovina there had been 151,337 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,446. There had been 5,773 deaths with a dialy increase of 44.

In Austria there had been 504,693 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,306. There had been 8,795 deaths with a daily increase of 25.

In Canada there had been 922,848 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,609. There had been 22,590 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

In Bulgaria there had been 299,939 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,162. There had been 11,932 deaths with a daily increase of 115.

Coronavirus Manchester: How life will change under Tier 3 lockdown - Sound  Health and Lasting Wealth

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,284,547 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,458. THere had been 126,026 deaths with a daily increase of 100.

In Romania there had been 886,752 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,593. THere had been 22,020 deaths with a daily increase of 143.

In Sweden there had been 744,171 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,740. There had been 13,387 deaths with a daily increase of 18.

In the Netherlands there had been 1,186,425 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,355. There had been 16,238 deaths with a daily increase of 45.

In Hungary there had been 560,971 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,132. There had been 18,068 deaths with a daily increase of 227.

In Germany there had been 2,645,783 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,033. There had been 74,565 deaths with a daily increase of 207.

In Italy there had been 3,332,418 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 25,707. There had been 104,241 deaths with a daily increase of 386.

France Covid-19: Paris compulsory face-mask rule comes into force - BBC News

In France there had been 4,146,171 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 35,066. There had been 91,429 deaths with a daily increase of 267.

In India there had been 11,555,284 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 40,953. There had been 159,558 deaths with a daily increase of 188.

In the United States of America there had been 29,376,388 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 58,826. There had been 534,484 deaths with a daily increase of 1,513.

Most of Europe was not only experiencing surging case numbers but as bad as any their country had ever seen this past winter.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 19, 2020.

Italy overtook China with the most recorded deaths from COVID with 41,035 confirmed cases and a daily increase of 5,322. The death toll was 3,407 with a daily increase of 429.

In Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison annonced there all foreign travellers would be banned from entering the country.

Tasmania became the first Australian state to close its borders.

The Ruby Princess crusie ship disembarked 2,700 passengers in Sydney.

COVID-19 DIARY – A YEAR INTO IT

20200313_210011At the Brisbane Comedy Festival, March 13 2020. Copyright Lloyd Marken

March 13

For me it always come back to Friday the 13th of March.

As we entered 2021 there were lots of anniversary milestones.

The first reported case in America, in the UK, in Australia, when restrictions came into place for air travel.

Monday the 16th of March was actually when new restrictions came into place in Australia but it is Friday the 13th that holds the most significance for me when the restrictions were announced.

That whole week things had been brewing.

Schools shut down in France, only food stores and pharmacies were allowed to be open in Italy, the stockmarket crashed, government ministers across the world were testing positive for the virus and the World Health Organisation was declaring a global pandemic.

We knew we were building to something but Friday the ripchord was pulled.

The Formula 1 in Melbourne was cancelled, the Prime Minister announced there would be no mass gatherings of 500 people or more come Monday. How quaint that now seems.

Formula One's Australian Grand Prix cancelled amid coronavirus fears |  Formula One | The Guardian

I went to the Brisbane Comedy Festival that night and met up with some friends to review Dave Hughes doing his stand-up show for Scenestr magazine. There was a sense of one last hurrah before leaping into the unknown.

We didn’t know what was to come but we knew it was coming.

Nothing was going to be the same for a while. What would become the new normal? The sooner we found out the sooner the whole population could become comfortable with it.

There was an uncertainty in the air but also a resolve.

Now that things were happening we just knew we had to get on board with it and reassuringly most people’s thoughts turned to others and how to help them.

Whether it was fundraising for Meals on Wheels America,

The Salvation Army here in Australia,

charities that help Australian veterans like Mates4Mates, Soldier On with patron 101 year old Sgt Bert who is a genuine Rat of Tobruk, and veterans’ families Legacy,

or The International Association for Human Values as they provided food to daily wage earners who had lost their jobs in India,

or the Endeavour Foundation who help people with disabilities,

or Medecins Sans Frontieres as they provided medical aid across the world for COVID or disaster relief,

or the charity Headspace that provides mental health support for young people,

or the After School All Stars Program for school children in America that pivoted during COVID to provide food during lockdowns,

or the GoFundMe page BuyThemACoffee organised by Kaylie Smith who raised over $80,000 dollars to provide free coffees for nursing staff across the country,

or a little initiative in support of a small cafe in Toowong called StellaRossa that saw 200 coffee vouchers delivered to hospital staff at the nearby The Wesley Hospital,

or The London Ambulance Service Charitable Fund

– the legacy and example of Captain Tom Moore lived on in many acts far and wide.

Money isn’t everything either, whether it was a phone call, a skype, some flowers or a gift, or where possible a visit.

People looked out for each other and buoyed each other’s spirits.

I know I owe a great deal to many calls to my parents and to the humour and kindness of my dear friends and wife.

Recently a work colleague tracked down a Lego kit from the 1980s, created a package to house it with some kind words on it and handed it over to me.

I think it is one of the best gifts I have ever received.

I don’t like to think about what it might have cost him but the most important thing to me is the thought that went into it and the reason he gave it to me is truly humbling.

I posted my first post about COVID-19 back on the 22nd of April covering events starting the 3rd of March. I eventually caught up with current events and with each post scheduled two days apart I had a whole month of posts scheduled throughout July at the end of June.

Then I went on my secondment and subsequently fell behind.

I’m still playing catch-up.

This will be the 148th post in a row on this topic.

The COVID-19 Diary changed my blog, made it more personal which I need to be vigilant about not doing too much of.

I have written about other things but always in the context of this COVID year.

I probably imagined that I would write about it for at least a year or two but not necessarily at this length.

20200606_150919 Copyright Lloyd Marken.

During June in the wake of Black Lives Matters and receding COVID numbers I wondered what I would write about next.

I felt more removed from events happening around the world – rather than writing about what was happening to me I was merely curating news.

Then the outbreak from hotel quarantines happened in Victoria and it seems there has always been something ever since including lockdowns and scares in Brisbane.

Also I became aware of the need to write about nice things happening like my holidays, secondments and weddings.

20200703_094616

The Polish Place. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Subsequent waves were devastating countries like the U.S. and U.K. and Brazil and now places like India. Just as that first wave was in China all that time ago.

With fellow bloggers and family in those countries they have never been far from my mind as I wrote about the situation in Australia which by comparison made me feel very fortunate.

It seemed a tall order to have our scientists come up with a vaccine in twelve months back at the beginning but they did.

20210214_191802

Copyright Lloyd Marken

Being a year on makes you wonder where we will be a year from now.

Hopefully better off.

Hopefully there will be less diary entries.

Hopefully.

I do strongly suspect I will still be writing about COVID to some extent for some time to come.

Last year I saw my family in early March for birthday catch-ups.

I didn’t see my parents again in person for roughly three months. Then not again until November,

Then Christmas.

Then around New Years.

Then March again for the birthdays a year on.

That was nice.

Awesome Time Lapse Video Of Planet Earth Taken On The ...

On the 13th of March of 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 138,347 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 9,432.

There had been 5,087 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 362.

On the 13th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 118,774,981 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 482,705.

There had been 2,637,553 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,548.

We felt we had beaten it': New Zealand's race to eliminate the coronavirus  again

On the 13th of March, 2020 in New Zealand there had been 5 confirmed cases with a daily increase  The first case reported in the country had been on the 28th of February, 2020. The first recorded death would be on the 29th of March, 2020.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in New Zealand there had been 2,066 confirmed cases with a daily increase of five. There had been 26 deaths.

Ladakh to Kerala, vaccine rollout begins | India News,The Indian Express

On the 13th of March, 2020 in India there had been 78 confirmed cases with a daily increase of one. The first recorded cases were five on the 30th of January, 2020. The first death due to COVID-19 was recorded on the 13th of March, 2020.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in India there had been 11,333,728 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 24,882. There had been 158,446 deaths with a daily increase of 140.

Canada: military reveals “horrific” conditions in aged care homes ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 with a daily increase of 59 cases the total number in Canada jumped to 152. The first death recorded March 11, remained the only one in the country.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Canada there had been 899,757 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,018. There had been 22,371 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

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

On the 13th of March, 2020 there had been 189 cases of COVID-19 in Australia with 49 of those cases reported that day alone. There had been three deaths in my country at that point.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Australia there had been 29,102 confirmed cases with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 909 deaths.

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

On the 13th of March, 2020 there were 802 cases in total reported in the United Kingdom. Over a quarter of those had just been reported that day – 208. There were two new deaths leading to a total of 10.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in the United Kingdom there had been 4,247,068 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,759. There had been 125,343 deaths with a daily increase of 175.

New York City Mass Graves On Island Are Increasing Because Of ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 in the United States of America there were 277 new cases with a total of 1,264 overall. There were 36 dead, 7 from that day alone.

In the United States of America there had been 29,000,561 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 60,312. There had been 527,068 deaths with a daily increase of 1,570.

Coronavirus digest: France reports over 50,000 cases in single day | News |  DW | 25.10.2020

In France on the 13th of March, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported an increase from 2,281 to 3,640 in the country. There was a daily increase of 31 dead in the country taking the total of 79.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in France there had been 3,946,733 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 25,120. There had been 89,632 deaths with a daily increase of 290.

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

On the 13th of March, 2020 in South Korea there had been 7,979 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 110. There had been 67 deaths with a daily increase of one.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in South Korea there had been 95,169 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 490. There had been 1,667 deaths with a daily increase of five.

COVID-19 and the Iranian Shadows of War | Chatham House – International  Affairs Think Tank

On the 13th of March, 2020 in Iran there had been 11,368 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,289. There had been 514 deaths with a daily increase of 85.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Iran there had been 1,731,558 confirmed cases with a a daily increase of 8,088. There had been 61,069 deaths with a daily increase of 53.

Image: A man wearing a protective mask passes by the Colosseum in Rome on March 7, 2020 amid fear of Covid-19 epidemic.

In Italy the WHO reported a daily increase of 2,547 cases bringing the national total to 21,157. The death toll increased by 252 taking us to 1,268.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Italy there had been 3,175,807 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 26,790. There had been 101,564 deaths with a daily increase of 380.

Medics work in ICU of Huoshenshan Hospital- China.org.cn

On the 13th of March, 2020 in China there had been 80,991 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 3,181 deaths with a daily increase of eight.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in China there had been 102,276 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 73. There had been 4,849 deaths. That’s not fuckin true but anyway that is what was reported.

Photos: Sobering images show Brazil's mounting coronavirus death toll

I thank you for following me on this journey, for sharing it with me. It has meant a lot to me to continue writing and to have people who read and comment or offertheir own knowledge. As we continue I hope the journey gets easier and I hope you are there with me.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – CAREFUL ICARUS

Princess Alexandra Hospital | Our Digital Health Service

March 12

There tend to be moments during this pandemic when hope overtakes us.

Particularly here in Australia because case numbers have been very low.

There are these moments where the disease just does appear to be out there in the community.

At these moments governments make restrictions that seem to inspire a feeling of monumental change and hope.

In June 2020 case numbes were low as we came out of the first wave and restrictions were lowering across the board.

Sure on some level people know there have to be subsequent waves but when the threat is not present…

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

Then there was an outbreak in Victoria following a case coming out of hotel quarantine and the number of dead from aged care residents skyrocketed.

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

In early December all the state borders were open.

This had not happened in seven months and Christmas was days away and case numbers were low.

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

Were we going to have Christmas like normal in Australia?

Sadly no.

The Avalon cluster took off in Sydney causing border restrictions to return in time for Christmas.

Image result for sydney christmas covid 19

With the vaccine rolling out in UK and US and others to come people looked to 2021 to be radically different from 2020.

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

But within the first week of the new year there was the attack on the U.S. Capitol, my home town went into lockdown and the death toll in the UK, US and places like Brazil and others was truly horrifying.

Viewpoint: What the Capitol riot means for US foreign policy - BBC News

Grim start to 2021 for Brazil with 200,000 Covid deaths

So standing in a full crowd without masks to go see Triple X as if everything was back to normal sent alarm bells ringing.

We’re never out of this.

Not until everybody has been vacinnated and then how are we are going to get booster jabs to the necessary people in time.

There are many challenges ahead of us but also hope to be taken from the possible – POSSIBLE! – slowing down of the virus’s evolution and what appears to be less hospitalisations and deaths than can be obtained from even our first batch vaccines against new strains even if if eradicating the disease remains a long shot.

Until then.

This thing comes in cycles and when people are ready to let their hair that kind of is when the cycle comes back around.

So it should come as no surprise that comes Friday the 12th of March this was a small scare to come out of the Princess Alexandra hospital.

A doctor working at the PA caught COVID wednesday and was out and about Thursday before testing positive Friday morning. 

This ended Queensland’s run of 59 days of no community transmission.

The PA went into a form of lockdown, only essential visitors were allowed, all staff, patients and those coming to the hospital must wear masks.

While the Emergency Department remained open, the public were encouraged to seek help elsewhere.

Non urgent outpatient booking and elective surgery was to be postponed.

I think this may serve as a timely reminder that the virus hasn’t gone away despite our excellent control in this state and this country, and that’s why we need to really get on with that vaccination program to further reduce the risks of events like this happening,” Director of Infectious Diseases at the Mater Hospital, Paul Griffin, said.

There were 40 active cases in Queensland.

Biden announces national vaccine finder website, May 1 eligibility for all  adults | Healthcare IT News

In the United States of America it was one year on from when the World Health Organisation announced a global pandemic, the NBA suspended its season and the US stockmarket plunged.

“We’ve lost family and friends, we’ve lost businesses and dreams. We’ve lost time.” President Joe Biden solemly noted.

All adult Americans would be elligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1 he promised.

The American President set a goal to have the country be in a different place by the 4th of July.

“Where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus,” he said.

I hope it comes to be so but the new variants will need to dealt with too.

Reassuringly here was a President who would not set dates for a re-opening with no scientific basis but would make goals based on real ground made.

March 13

It was reported that the PA doctor had seen two COVID patients on Wednesday with the UK strain of COVID.

That the doctor had not yet received a vaccine jab as part of the 1A rollout.

The doctor had limited interaction with the community on Thursday but five sites were named.

The Morning After Cafe at West End, Corporate Box gym at Greenslopes, Stones Corner Hotel at Stones Corner and the two low risk venues of McDonalds at Coorparoo and the after 7pm on the Thursay at the Corporate Box gym after the Doctor had left that site.

Throughout the Greater Brisbane area all aged care and disability homes and hospitals were closed to visitors

All inside those places had to wear masks – there was no mask mandate for the greater community.

In January one case of COVID-19 in the community had sparked a three day lockdown.

That case had been out in the community for more than one day and had caught public transport.

This was maybe why there was a different reaction for the moment from the state government.

Maybe there were larger considerations.

THe political capital that is expended from lockdowns, there were parts of the community that believe such actions are showboating and devastate small business. Since January, Jobkeeper was due to end March 28th and Jobseeker payments would be significantly reduced.

I do not know but as time wore on the PA case would remain relevant.

In the United States of America the COVID Relief Bill was signed into law and 100 million vaccine doses had been delivered after 52 days in office.

The Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci was interviewed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert who spoke of the increasing vaccine rollout and more collaboration between state governments and the federal one.

As Colbert noted there was a sense of hope in the air and Dr Anthony Fauci told him that hope was not misplaced – the main point was when.

Dr Fauci noted cases were plateuing in their decrease and he warned that the plateau was at too high a point. Public health measures he said were still required.

He also spoke about the likelihood of eradicating the virus but he hoped to strike a balance between controlling it and eliminating it.

It was an interesting interview to have with Dr Fauci a year on from the outbreak in the U.S.

He spoke of how the virus spreads in maybe half of cases from people asymptomatic or presyptomatic and that he wished had they known that a year earlier as they would have moved more agressively in shutting things down.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ‘TRIPLE X’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

Scenestr 5

March 11

I was fortunate enough to be on assignment with Scenestr once again on the Thursday the 11th of March.

Since the pandemic hit Brisbane I had been to three films and one stand-up show.

Now I was going to the theatre again to see Triple X, which had its season cut short a year ago due to COVID.

It was a privilege to be there to see the show’s return that had been promised by Queensland Theatre and delivered against some unprecedented odds.

At the end of the show the lead performer and writer Glace Chase appeared to be becoming emotional.

The show itself was wonderful, detailing a love story rife with laughs and pain and yearning.

What was interesting for me having not been to the theatre in a while was the measures.

We had to sign in on a Qld Government App at the venue. The menu was slightly altered to mostly packed foods and drinks.

And yet…

Looking out over the lobby before going into the show there was a sizeable crowd and nobody was wearing a mask because the current health advice was not to.

Then when we went into the venue it was a packed house with everybody seated together with no spare seats in between.

Again completely in keeping with the health advice but being aware of what was being experienced elsewhere in this world made our current circumstances seem a little surreal.

There were 41 active cases in Queensland on the 11th of March, 2021. 

Not many at all but substantially up from 11 at the beginning of the month and even from January where when had we gone into lockdown for three days.

The highest number of active cases then had been 30 on the 15th of January.

Clearly the number of cases in hotel quarantine was increasing.

Anyway the show was wonderful and you can read my review here Triple X Review @ Queensland Theare (scenestr.com.au)

I was fortunate to have interviewed the director Paige Rattray two years earlier in the lead up to the run Hedda directed by her too. 

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken