COVID-19 DIARY – MELBOURNE OUTBREAK PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON LACK OF VACCINE CARE FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT

May 31

Monday, a new week and there were 11 new cases in locked down Melbourne.

There was an indication in the news coverage that the lockdown would be extended.

Raising concerns was three new cases linked to aged care where cases had led to most of Australia’s deaths from COVID in 2020, in particular in Victoria during their series of lockdowns.

One was a Arcare Aged Care Worker and the son of the worker.

The other a 99 year old! Arcare Aged Care female resident who was asymptomatic but had been transferred to hospital. She had previously received her first doze of a COVID vaccine.

Also positive was an unvaccinated Arcare worker who had also worked at a Blue Cross Nursing home last week as well.

Up until Thursday staff in aged care were allowed to work across facilities until the lockdown took effect.

All remaining Arcare staff and residents were now going to be offered the Pfizer vaccine even though AstraZeneca was seen as the primary one to dispense to over 50 year olds.

The unvaccinated staff member had been on leave three weeks earlier when some residents had been vaccinated and left over doses were given to staff it was reported by Channel 9.

655 aged care residents died in Victoria last year from COVID last year. So far there have only been 910 deaths from COVID in Australia so far.

Both the Blue Cross residency and the Arcare residency were now in lockdown with a staff member of the Blue Cross facility having tested positive.

Pfizer doses were rushed to the Arcare facility the same day to offer to staff and residents either their first or second doses of the vaccine

It turned out one of the protestors in Melbourne over the weekend who breathed on media and was carted off by Police worked in aged care.

The situation amplified the fact that now in the fourth month of vaccines rolling out in Australia we still didn’t have all aged care residents and those with disabilities and attending staff vaccinated.

Partly that was because the vaccine was not mandatory for either those vulnerble citizens or those who took care of them.

Part of it was because it was complicated to deliver the vaccine to them.

Part of it was supply had been slow and state and federal authorities had chosen to race to get the vaccine out to as many of the general public that they could.

It did mean though that those who are often forgotten because they don’t have as loud a voice were being left behind in this race.

There was talk of maybe making COVID vaccinations mandatory for Aged Care Staff and as the ABC reported there was precedent of making those who worked in hotel quarantine get vaccinated in order to work.

June 01

Tuesday.

Close to 42,699 Victorians got tested in the past 24 hours as the cluster of cases grew to 54 iwth three new cases.

There were thankfully no new cases in aged care.

Meanwhile there was concern over how the virus was currently spreading. One of the day’s four new cases in VIctoria was thorugh fleeting contact and one new cases had never been to any of the contract tracing sites.

Speaking of the contract tracing sites there were plenty of them in Melbourne.

The state’s mass vaccination sites were going to “roll-out the red carpet” to aged care workers.

It was known that nine per cent of them had been fully vaccinated so far while on the job!

But the full numbers from them attending their own GP, etc was unknown.

On the ABC’s 7:30 program Professor Katy Eager from the University of Wollongong told that aged care workers were to their own devices to get vaccinated leaving them out of 1A frontline workers cohort.

Walk ins were to have a priority lane and go the front of the queue to get vaccinated from the 2nd of June through to Sunday the 6th at ten mass vaccination sites across Victoria, four in Melbourne and the rest in towns like Ballarat, Bendigo, Wodonga and Traralgon.

The Victorian government was also setting up nine disability vaccination centres for those with disabilities to get vaccinated.

It was reported just 335 people with disabilities in residential care out of 22,000 had been fully vaccinated.

Channel 9 News reported that 38,912 , 86% of aged are residents in Victoria have received one vaccine dose. Around half at 25,319 had received one dose.

In Australia 72,707 aged care workers have had either one or two jabs out of a workforce totalling 366,00.

The Victorian government wouldn’t be drawn on whether the lockdown would be exended or if there would be one set of rules for Regional Victoria and one for the capital Melbourne.

The World Health Organisation also announced they would now call strains after the Greek alphabet rather than from the country it originated from.

A sentiment I understand but one that I think will just cause confusion at a time when clarity is required. The B.1.1.7 mutation we knew as the UK strain would now be referred to as the Alpha variant, the B.1.315 mutation we know as the South African strain would now be referred to as the Beta variant, the P.1 mutation we knew as the Brazilian variant would now be referred to as the Gamma variant and the B.1.617.2 mutation known as the Indian variant would now be referred to as the Delta variant.

We’ll see how that works out.

The ABC aslo reported on the lockdown in Malaysia, only essential businesses were open, schools had moved to online learning and people could only move in a ten kilometre radius from their home. Of note you could exercise by jogging but not cycling. Malaysia’s hospitals were filling up.Ministers and Deputy Ministers were giving up their salary for three months to fund government health initiative. projects. There was also a 12.5 billion stimulus package.

A exhibition building in Kuala Lumpur had been converted into a mass vaccination site. mass immunisation centre.

On the 1st of June, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in Malaysia there had been 572,357 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,824. There had been 2,796 deaths with a daily increase of 67.

The country had reached a new daily record of confirmed cases May 30 with 9,020.

On June 3rd, 126 daily deaths would be a new daily record in that figure.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 30, 2020 

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised two millions deemed clinically extremely valuable that they could now leave their homes once a day for a little exercise and could even meet with a person from another household if there was only one of them. The advice was not to go to shops or crowded places and that services providing delivery of food or medicine would continue.

Rwanda reports its first fatality due to COVID-19, a 65 year old driver who had returned home from a neighbouring country when he fell ill.

The Queensland’s government moved to Step 2 of the National Three Step Program ahead of schedule from June 12 to 12pm June 1.

There could now be gatheirngs of twenty people and you could travel anywhere in the state.

Fellow blogger Beetley Pete wrote of the sad passing of his friend Brian Cushion from COVID.

June 1, 2020

Police were used to clear protestors from Lafayette Park so the President could oddly hold the Bible and take a picture.

COVID-19 DIARY – VICTORIAN LOCKDOWN SPURS ON VACCINATIONS

Barricades block the entrance to Flinders St station on the first day of a five-day lockdown implemented in the state of Victoria in response to a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Melbourne, Australia, February 13, 2021.  REUTERS/Sandra Sanders

May 27

Still Thursday.

There were 11 new cases overnight in Victoria prompted the state to go into a seven day lockdown.

A cluster linked to the Wollett man who had quaratined in South Australia and then tested postive now stood at 26 cases out of 34 active ones in Victoria.

There were five reasons why people could leave home during the lockdown.

Shopping for food, travel to work, medical care and caregiving, exercise around your local area for two hours AND… getting vaccinated.

At the same time the state government announced from tomorrow anyone over 40 would be elligble to get vaccinated leading the VIctorian vaccine hotline to crash due to the flurry of calls. 77,000 calls were received in a 15 minute window.

With 40-49s able to apply to get vaccinated, half the population of Victoria could arrange to get vaccinted.

Meanwhile those with disabilities and some in aged care remained unvaccinated.

Our most vulnerable people.

We also know that our nation’s vaccine rollout has been slower than we’d hoped. And if more people were vaccinated, we might be facing a different set of circumstances. Sadly, we’re not,” Acting Premier James Merlino said.

Maybe a cheap shot at the federal government as he as state leader carried out what would be an unpopular action.

People lined up at the Convention Centre.

On Tuesday the Victorian government at state facilities had dispensed 16,000 vaccinations and on Wednesday they had carried out 12,677. Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton advised Victoria could do 30,000 a day and with proper supply they could reach 100,000 a day.

We have delivered 666.000 doses to the Victorian government and over 853,000 doses to primary care in Victoria,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

Channel 9 News reported that 9 aged care facilities in the state had yet to receive one single dose in the fourth month of the vaccine roll-out in Australia. Dr Norman Swan speaking on the ABC’s 7:30 program said it was 29 aged care facilities.

Schools would switch to remote learning while childcare and kindergartens remained open.

Restaurants and cafes were back to only take-away.

Public gatherings were out as were private gatherings but intimate partners could see each other and singles could have one visitor. Shopping and exercise should be within a five kilometre radius of home.

Only 10 people were permitted at funerals and weddings were only allowed under exception circumstances.

Masks were mandatory.

The lockdwon was scheduled to end 11:59pm June 3.

Melbourne COVID-19 exposure site list grows as authorities scramble to  contain cluster - ABC News

If we make the wrong choice now, if we wait too long, if we hesitate too much, this thing will get away from us. And lives will be at risk,” Merlino explained in making the decision to go into lockdown. The fifth carried out in Victoria.

We know where transmission occurred. There’s the workplace that’s been identified and all of the others are the related households and casual links for the City of Whittlesea outbreak. So that’s very reassuring, that’s great work again of contact tracing, but it’s also about people giving very detailed information about where they’ve been so that we can make those links appropriately,” said Professor Sutton.

One of the cases was an elderley man who had come out of ICU but was on a ventilator.

We send our best wishes to that family and we send our prayers for a quick recovery,” Health Minister Martin Foley said.

“My understanding is that just in recent days we’ve passed over 50 per cent of over-70-year-olds being vaccinated. Sadly this was not one of those 50 per cent.”

40,411 tests had been carried out in the past 24 hours and there were 21 new testing sites set up with over 200 operating across the state as queues backed up into the night and people had to be turned away.

Victoria enters COVID-19 lockdown as cases from Melbourne outbreak grow -  ABC News

The Acting Premier advised there were 150 exposure sites to be listed and there had been 10,000 close contacts following contract tracing.

From 1am tomorrow Queensland would be shut to Victorians.

Only Queensland residents returning to the state will be allowed entry and they must enter 14-days of hotel quarantine.

Those who had entered before the borders closed and been in Victoria in the past 14 days needed to observe Victoria’s lockdown rules.

If you’ve filled out a declaration pass, you’ve been in Victoria in the last 14 days, you will need to follow exactly the same process as if you were still in Victoria. That means you must stay wherever you are for the next seven days, when it will be reviewed by Victoria and you can only leave for those essential reasons,” advised Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young.

Stay at home order lifted for Victorian travellers in NSW

From 4pm today anybody entering New South Wales from Victoria had to observe the same lockdown rules while staying in New South Wales.

South Australia had closed the border to their Eastern neighbour at 6pm Wednesday night.

The only people allowed into SA from the affected area from that point on are essential travellers and returning South Australians, who will need to quarantine for 14 days.

People are unable to enter Tasmania if they have been in Victoria in the past 14 days.

Western Australia had closed the border to Victoria too.

From midnight Thursday travellers from Victoria will be banned from entering the Australian Capital Territory unless they have an exemption.

ACT residents who leave Victoria to come home after that time can enter but must follow stay at home requirements until the 3rd of June when the lockdown was scheduled to end in Victoria.

The Northern Territory has declared Greater Melbourne and Bendigo COVID-19 hospots, meaning anyone arriving from those areas will undergo mandatory quarantine. 

Anybody who had been in those areas since May 12, needed to get a COVID test and isolate until they returned a negative test.

New Zealand hit pause on the travel bubble between them and Victoria.

This outbreak is inevitable, we will see more until hotel quarantine is tightened up so its a weakness in our system that needn’t be and let’s hope this is the wake-up call to fix it.” Professor Brendan Crabb from the Burnett Institute said.

WIth a bit of luck and good management this Melbourne outbreak will be the warning shot we need to get vaccinated.

-Lloyd Marken