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

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

May 17

Monday.

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

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

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

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

And now we had the stats.

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

Only 999 had received a jab.

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

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

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

There were complications to be sure.

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

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

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

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

There was consent to be gained or established.

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

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

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

We need to do better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Increase in infrastructure could be the boom Toowoomba needs

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

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

Howard Springs is 25 kilometres from Darwin.

Mickleham is 40 kilometres from Melbourne.

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

Wellcamp Airport is 160 kilometres from Brisbane.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 17, 2020

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

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

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

April 19

Monday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

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

Six million Australians would come under the 2A phase.

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

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

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

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

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

Australia remained slow in getting its country vaccinated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 21

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

This was a huge relief for me.

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

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

April 22

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

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

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

The death toll stood at 184,657.

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

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

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

April 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was heartbreaking.

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

We were reminded the virus never sleeps.

It never rests.

We can’t afford too either.

-Lloyd Marken

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

Byron Bay Area - Accommodation, Maps, Attractions & Events

March 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A 20 year old man tested positive in Byron Bay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were now 20 active cases in the state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABC The Drum - @ABCthedrum Twitter Analytics - Trendsmap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the report was misleading. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

There is no point in delivering something to us a day ago or two day ago and saying you haven’t rolled them out. I am as angry as I have ever been in this 15 months of war against this virus, said New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

“Let’s get this really, really clear: The NSW government was asked to roll out 300,000 vaccinations to the groups in 1A and 1B. Of that we have done 100,000,” he said.

“The Federal Government was asked and is responsible for 5.5 million people and they have rolled out 50,000. I think the figures speak for themselves.”

“It’s a big job, we’re all doing it, the states and territories are doing it for their frontline workers, we’re doing it through the GP rollout,” advised Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1z8BdDqsOM

A year on from when the pandemic started to sweep the west. Back then we put into actions and waited to see how the first quarter would play out with our health care systems, our supplies, our economies, our way of live and our loved ones.

There have now been four such quarters. A full game if you and game two in the series had kicked off.

Where will this all end and on many people’s mind is maybe how and when?

How many people will die, lose their jobs and businesses, lose their health and when will this threat be out of our lives completely or at least greatly diminished.

We got the vaccine, this year will reveal if that is a game changer and a temporary or ongoing one. They say doctors live in the future, maybe they know.

I know that I do not.

But I remain grateful for all the good fortune I have been a recipient of, I look to do what little I can to help the less fortunate and to take solace in friends, families, some moments of joy and the idea that deeds however small matter. That if we can help each other and think of each other we will have the means to get through this.

It is not over but the first match in the series is.

As we close it, here is a little update.

On the 31st of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported 127,905,155 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 526,819.

There had been 2,798,278 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,047.

Region March 2021

WHO Continents end of March

WHO Continents 2 end of March21

Australia end of march 2021.jpg

In Australia there had been 29,296 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 909 deaths.

China end of March21

In the People’s Republic of China where the virus had originated in Wuhan it was reported there had been 102,734 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 4,851 deaths.

Canada end of march 2021.jpg

In Canada there had been 971,715 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,311. There had been 22,900 deaths with a daily increase of 20. WIth over four million vaccinations Canada was starting to see an uptick in case numbers.

Iran end of March21

In Iran one of the first countries hit hard by the virus had suffered greatly in subsequent waves over the past year and another wave was coming. There had been 1,875,234 confirmed cases with a daily increase 10,250. There had been 62,569 deaths with a daily increase of 91.

6-12 end of march 2021.jpg

Poland end of March21

In Poland there had been 2,321,717 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 32,891. There had been 53,045 deaths with a daily increase of 653. The next day they reported 35,253 new cases, their highest recorded daily increase of cases. A week later on April 8 956 deaths were reported in one day, the highest daily record of new deaths due to the virus.

Colombia end of March 2021

In Colombia there had been 2,389,779 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,049. There had been 63,079 deaths with a daily increase of 124. The population of Colombia was 50 million.

Germany end of March 2021

In Germany there had been 2,808,873 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17,051. There had been 76,342 deaths with a daily increase of 249.

Spain end of March 2021

In Spain there had been 3,282,047 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,202. There had been 76,424 deaths with a daily increase of 76. Spain was one of only nine countries that had reported more than 3 million cases at this point.

Turkey end of March 2021

In Turkey there had been 3,277,880 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 37,303. There had been 31,385 deaths with a daily increase of 155. As you can see above, cases were dramatically on the rise in the country.

Italy end of March 2021

In Italy there had been 3,561,012 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,055. There had been 108,879 deaths with a daily increase of 529.

Top 6 end of march 2021.jpg

UK end of march 2021.jpg

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,338,385 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,995. Thre had been a dramatic fall in new daily cases but only in the context of the recent devastating wave. In March last year when the virus shook the world, Britain reported 4,262 new daily cases on the 1st of April, 2020 for example. There had been 126,670 deaths with a daily increase of 55. Great Britain was one of only six countries that had reported more than four million cases.

Russia end of March 2021

In Russia there had been 4,545,095 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,275. There had been no let up in the daily death rates in the the country. There had been 98,850 deaths with a daily increase of 408.

France end of March 2021

In France there had been 4,510,870 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 29,575. There had been 94,763. deaths with a daily increase of 361. On the 5th of April there would be 66,794 new daily cases. Only one day recorded a higher increase in daily cases in the country and that was 86,794 on the 8th of November 2020.

India end of march 2021.jpg

In India there had been 12,149,335 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 53,480. There had been 162,468 deaths with a daily increase of 354. I am writing this on the 7th of May and the dramatic rise of cases has played out in a tragic way. It had already started here. India, Brazil and the United States of America are the only three countries that have reported more than 10 million cases in the world.

Brazil end of March 2021

In Brazil there had been 12,573,615 with a daily increase of 38,927. There had been 313,866 deaths with a daily increase of 1,660. On March 27th the country had reported their highest number of new daily cases with 100,158. The country recorded its highest daily number of deaths on the 10th of April with 4,249.

US end of march 2021.jpg

In the United States of America they reached more than 30 million cases with 30,033,063 with a daily increase of 64,599. There had been 545,051 deaths with a daily increase of 621. No country had suffered more than America this past year and new that over 135 million vacccine doses had been dispensed was cause for celebration but the daily new case numbers there were still high.

We were about to find out what protection the vaccine would grant against new strains and a new subsequent wave when it came.

I hoped it would be promising news.

I hope the worst of this is behind us.

It would come to be that that was not the case for India and others.

But we play on.

It is all we can do.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 31, 2020

Globally we passed over 750,000 confirmed cases and reached 36,522 dead.

On a more heartening note Karen became the Teddy Bear Lady in our local neighbourhood.