COVID-19 DIARY – MELBOURNE LOCKDOWN EXTENDED

Meet the Sikhs who keep coming to the rescue for vulnerable Victorians

June 02

Wednesday and six new confirmed cases in Melbourne led the lockdown to be extended in the Victorian capital for another seven days while some restrictions were lowered in regional Victoria.

This was the first time a snap lockdown in Australia had been extended.

If we let this thing run its course – it will explode,” warned Acting Premier James Merlino.

We have to run it down to the ground. There are a dozen countries that had no community transmission going into 2021 that have now lost control. That had community transmission and will probably not bring it back to a point where they have not got community transmission again,” advised Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton.

There were some changes, from Friday people could travel up to 10 kilometres (up from five) from home and senior (Year 11 and 12) students were to return to school to learn too.

Certain labour jobs like landscaping or painting were also allowed.

There would be no ring of steel around the capital but restrictions would be different outside of Melbourne. To ensure people were staying put there would be roving mobile patrols from police and in open regional businesses would have to check ids of people entering. Hmmmm.

Pedestrians cross the road at Flinders Street Station on the first day of eased coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions for the state of Victoria following an extended lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, June 11, 2021.  REUTERS/Sandra Sanders

Across the state it would now be mandatory to sign in when entering any business using a QR Code including supermarktets which until recently had been a recommendation.

Regionally all students could return to school, there was no limit on where or why you could go except for travel to Melbourne – you need a permitted reason for that and restrictions applied to you while you were there.

Still outside of Melbourne you could have no visitors to your home beyond intimate partner or single bubble exceptions.

Regionally face masks wre not required outdoors but were indoors. 

Outdoors gatherings could number ten, beauty and tattoo parlous could resume with mask on and religious gatherings could have up to people as could funerals. Weddings were limited to 10 people.

Outdoor pools, drive-ins, outdoor entertainment venues were capped at a certain capacity or no more than 50 people.

209 million dollars was going to support Victorian businesses.

June 03

Thursday and Dr Norman Swan on the ABC’s 730 program advised, “Be under no illusion, this is the way it’s going to go from now on. More and more high risk variants from low income countries which don’t have access to vaccines. Our protection this year is mass vaccination as fast as possible. We can’t remain a fortress forever.

I believe that when the vaccine roll-out is complete and we drive the number of infections around the world we will see a lower rate of these variants emerging,” Professor Kanta Subbarao of the Doherty Institute advised in the program.

Great we know where we’re headed. Getting there as quickly as possible remains the challenge.

June 04

Friday and Queensland had put in place 18 vaccination hubs in an effort to get 15,000 vaccinations done over the weekend.

The plan was to give priority to aged care and disability care workers and while Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath had advised, “I want to be clear; these sites are not for the general public, they are not open for walk-ins,” but regional authorities like Darling Downs’ Annette Scott did say, “We’ll certainly prioritise the people who’ve registered for a vaccine. You’re more assured of being in and out of the clinic much more quickly. So yes to the walk-ins, but we can’t guarantee you won’t have a wait.

Ms Scott was happy for 16-39 year olds to attend but advised they would not have priority.

“I’m over having the COVID test.  It would be nice to actually have the needle done and not have to be panicky every time we cough or something. I was only actually unwell just last week …  and it made me worried because I’m with people who don’t have very good immunity. Someone’s got to take my shift and the families of the people we’re caring for, they get worried that we’ve been around their loved one and they haven’t been done… It’s hard,” said disability support worker Gabrielle Bright.

They lost all their freedom last year. The clients don’t understand completely and so it’s really scary for them. Last year it was like it was bedlam and now we just want to get it over and done with, we just want to be immunized. We want to be safe,” she told.

Amen.

Two blue signs advertising the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Toowoomba

Australian Medical Association Queensland President Chris Perry warned, “We’re supporting the hubs, but most people should go to their GP where it’s going to be so much easier — the line-ups at hubs could be a bit uncomfortable. They’re trying not to turn people away, but they don’t want everybody turning up. It would just be awful.”

Two cases of the new Delta strain B1617.2 which had been discovered in India and was also now making its presence known in northern England were announced in the cluster of Melbourne cases.

The fact that it is a variant different to other cases it means it is not related, in terms of transmission, with these cases. It has not been linked to any sequence cases across Australia from hotel quarantine or anywhere else that it is not linked in Victoria or any other jurisdiction,” advised Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton.

The cases were amongst a family who had travelled to Jervis Bay so authorities were working with their NSW and ACT counterparts.

It is a concern that it is not linked to other cases but we are chasing down all those primary case contacts for that family and looking into where it might have been acquired,” Sutton. said.

It spread extremely rapidly across India to become the predominant variant, almost the exclusive variant there. It does appear to be the most significant in terms of transmissibility. There isn’t much information about severity of illness with this variant, although there are some anecdotal reports of greater illness in children as well as greater increase transmissibility in children. We have concerns for that reason,” he said.

The Chief Health Officer was buoyed by testing numbers advising, “The fact we’re getting 50,000 tests per day, that is five per cent of Victoria has been tested in the last week. It is a huge part of being able to get on top of this.

Covid Victoria: Melbourne lockdown extended another week, 6 new cases |  Herald Sun

June 06

On Sunday, June 6, 2021 Sunday the World Health Organisation reported there had been 172,677,879 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 394,544.

There had been 3,721,209 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,483.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 16,374 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 47. There had been 164 deaths. As of the 6th of June, 2021 there had been 38,176 vaccine doses administered in the country.

In Australia there had been 30,158 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. There had been 910 deaths. As of the 6th of June, 2021 there had been 5,931,245 vaccine doses administered in the country of 25.36 million people.

Malta takes strict measures as COVID-19 cases surge - Xinhua |  English.news.cn

In Malta there had been 30,568 confirmed cases with a daily increase of nine. There had been 419 deaths. By the 12th of June, 2021 there had been 557,758 vaccine doses administered in the island nation that has a population 441,543 people.

The EU member nation’s vaccine rollout has used shots made by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer-BionTech.

In Venezuela there had been 239,252 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,239. There had been 2,698 deaths with a daily increase of nine. By the 17th of June, 2021 there will have been 1,302,992 vaccine doses administered in the country of 28.52 million people.

Tunisia imposes 7-day lockdown to contain COVID-19 - CGTN

In Tunisia there had been 353,782 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,479. There had been 12,948 deaths with a daily increase of 46. By the 19th of June, 2021 there wil have been 1,554,145 vaccine doses administered in the African country of 11.69 milion people.

In Malaysia there had been 610,574 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,452. There had been 3,291 deaths with a daily increase of 109.
As of the 6th of June, 2021 there had been 3,330,436 vaccine doses administered in the country with a population of 31.95 million people.
Canada extends COVID border closures with US until July 21 | United States  News | Al Jazeera

In Canada there had been 1,389,508 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,063. There had been 25,679 deaths with a daily increase of 35.

By the 17th of June there will have been 30,885,092 vaccine doses administered in a country of 37.59 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,511,673 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,651. There had been 127,836 deaths with a daily increase of 13.

June 2nd no new deaths had been recorded in the country.

July 31, 2020 had been the last day no new daily deaths had been recorded in the country.

On the 17th of June, 2021 there had been 71,672,208 vaccine doses administered in the country of 66.65 million people.

Indian state sharply raises COVID-19 death toll prompting call for wide  review | Reuters

In India there had been 28,809,339 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 114,460.

There had been 346,759 deaths with a daily increase of 2,677.

By the 14th of June, 2021 there would have been 261,740,273 vaccine doses administered in the country.

In the United States of America there had been 33,015,604 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17,729. There had been 591,276 deaths with a daily increase of 583. New daily cases were getting back to the same level as May 2020.

By the 17th of June, 2021 there will have been 317,983,185 vaccine doses administered in the country of 328.2 million people.

Now for a good news story, ABC News interviewed President of the Sikh Volunteers Australia, Jaswinder Singh, whose organisation helped out during the terrible bushfires of 2019-20 and the Melbourne lockdown last year. They were back providing food to people during this lockdown.

“I have lost my father in India. [I] was not able to attend the funeral because of the lockdown restriction. A lot of other community members I have seen in the same boat. Times are hard but only by giving in to others the support and encouragement gives hope for everyone.”

These are the tough times and very hard ones on everyone. But the better we stay together, the better we put our trust into each other the better and the more and more we help each other can only put hope into society and that is the only way to cross this type of crisis.

God bless Jaswinder Singh, God Bless the Sikh Volunteers Australia. WIth people like them we will get through this.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: June 4, 2020

A disgruntled home owner asks the Prime Minister and a press pack to get off his lawn while decked out trackdaks. The Prime Minister happily accomodates him in the wake of President Trump clearing Lafayette Park by force so he can take a photo of him being absolutley useless. 

June 6, 2020

Black Lives Matter protests are held in capital cities across Australia with 30,000 people marching in Brisbane when public gatherings are limited to 20 people.

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

Coronavirus: Watch breathtaking India image on April 5 2020 at 9 pm  captured from Space

May 08

Saturday and I watched the ABC program Planet America which covered that vaccination numbers were going down in America where the most vaccines were available and a country that still had the highest recorded death toll from COVID.

The United States now set a target to have 70 per cent of the population aged 16 and over vaccinated by July 4th Independence Day. Currently about 56 per cent are at least partially vaccinated.

The state with the most fully vaccinated population was Maine with 41.5 per cent.

Texas was at 28 per cent and the state with the least was Alabama with 24.1 per cent.

The Food and Drugs Administration was looking to approve vaccinations for Americans 12 to 15 year olds starting next week.

The Brazil variant had now become the second most prevalent strain in the U.S.

America was also supporting the waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID vaccines.

May 09

In the United Kingdom I got a bit excited that over 40s in the UK were now getting the jab.
I hoped that meant it wouldn’t be much longer for my younger sister and her husband to get the vaccine.

On the 9th of May of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 157,375,575 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 814,195.

There had been 3,278,607 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 13,408.

The WHO reported as of the 20th of May, 1,448,242,899 vaccine doses had been administered worldwide. The population of the world was at least 7.674 billion people.

Coronavirus Can't Kill Me Now'; Africans Cheer Rollout of COVAX  Vaccinations | World News | US News

In Papua New Guinea there had been 12,226 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 140. Two days later there would be 504 new daily cases.

There had been 121 deaths. The next day there would be nine deaths reported. The outbreak continued in PNG.

The WHO reported as of 13th of May there had been 11,537 vaccine doses adminstered in the country. The population of Papua New Guinea was 8.776 million people.

In Australia there had been 29,906 confirmed cases with a daily increase of nine. There had been 910 deaths.

The WHO reported as of the 27th of April 3,089,183 vaccine doses had been administered in the country. The population of Australia 25.36 million people.

Canada: COVID at 'critical' levels, personal contact discouraged |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

In Canada there had been 1,273,169 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,849. There had been 24,529 deaths with a daily increase of 40.

The WHO reported as of the 13th of May there 17,563,063 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of Canada 37.59 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,433,094 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,047. There had been 127,603 deaths with a daily increase of five.

The WHO reported as of the 18th of May there had been 56,992,075 vaccine doses adminitered in the country. The population of Great Britain was 66.65 million people.

In Brazil there had been 15,082,449 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 78,886. There had been 419,144 deaths with a daily increase of 2,165.

The WHO reported as of the 13th of May there had been 50,011,889 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of Brazil was 211 million people.

Turn away if you do not want to be displayed by the plight of the Indian people and what they have endured.

Below is a photo of the bodies in the Ganges River.

Dozens of bodies wash up on the banks of the Ganges River - New York Daily  News

In India there had been 22,296,414 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 403,738. There had been 242,362 deaths with a daily increase of 4,092.

The day before had been the highest daily death count at 4,187.

The country would reach more than quarter of a million dead on the 12th of May with 254,197 deaths.

Only America and India had reached that milestone and the number of cases and deaths was believed to be much higher. 

The WHO reported as of the 17th of May there had been 185,766,518 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of India was 1.366 billion people.

In United States of America there had been 32,338,866 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,192. There had been 575,521 deaths with a daily increase of 790.

The WHO reported as of 13th of May there had been 264,357,485 vaccine doses administered in the country. The population of the U.S. was 328.2 million people.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 08, 2020.

Fifty refrigerated trucks were parked in Sunset Park, Brooklyn spoke to the loss of life in New York City as funeral homes and moratories were overwhelmed.

Here in Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a 3 step program out of lockdown with state governments to choose their own timelines to follow.

COVID-19 – WHEN ONE HURTS WE ALL HURT

India COVID cases above 24 million as mutant spreads across globe |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

April 28

As the situation deteroriated in India it consumed our news.

Seven days in a row of 300,000+ new cases every day.

The situation is critical right now. This pandemic is the worst we have ever seen until now and these two weeks are going to be a hell for us,” said Doctor Shaarang Sachdev, Head of Emergency at his Indian hospital.

You’ve all seen the images now.

It was estimated every four minutes in New Delhi a person died.

People racing family members in the back of cars to hospitals and temples and anywhere else where they heard help could be found but none could.

Where people had piled up on mattresses in hospital corridors now

Parks were being made as make shift crematoriums. Pyres burned on roadsides.

Mass funeral pyres reflect India's COVID crisis, D - GNN

People were dying from COVID long before they could get tested.

The scale of death and illness had overwhelmed the system.

Yet Indian health care workers fought on, they did what they could, they risked their own lives.

A black market had sprung up around oxygen tanks but it seemed there just wasn’t any.

How Kerala ramped up oxygen capacity and supply - India Today Insight News

I get around 50 calls every day, somebody asking for beds, somebody asking for cylinders, somebody asking for drugs. We don’t have anything available and patients are dying,” said one doctor.

It is funny what images get to you.

I took it in when the burning pyres were shown on a scale that was hard to see.

But the image that got to me was men simply laying bricks and building for more cremations.

In a split second my brain recognised the scale of death you’ve seen is nothing compared to what is to come.

Police went everywhere to deal with anger spilling out from a population feeling such anguish and fear.

India's COVID-19 Crisis: Images Reflect the Surge That's Being Felt Around  the World | Council on Foreign Relations

Perversely there were still religous ceremonies and festivals going ahead in river banks, in mass groupings and without social distancing or mask wearing.

The pandemic was raging.

RAGING.

It had raged in Wuhan, it had raged in New York, it had raged in India previously reaching nine million cases and it had raged in Brazil and was still raging.

But it almost felt like the scenes coming out of India…

If we had held out hope that 2021 would not be as bad as 2020 – as I had hoped – well that hope was almost irrelevant now.

India's COVID-19 crisis is a 'crime against humanity,' says prize-winning  author as nation sets new case record - MarketWatch

I do still want to see that the vaccine had changed the situation but seeing loss on such sale meant that whatever gains we came out of this year we had witnessed very clearly that the situation can become as tragic and heartbreaking as it has ever been.

On the 28th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in India there had been 17,997,267 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 360,960. There had been 201,187 deaths with a daily increase of 3,293 deaths.

In the face of such events it can be easy to lose heart. But helping in whatever way you can makes a diffrence. There were many organisations that could use support at this time.

One of them is Medicines Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

On April 28 their website adviseed they were “preparing to support two units within a ‘Jumbo’ hospital in Mumbai. The units will include two sets of tents with about 1,000 intensive care unit bed capacity in each. Five additional medical doctors and five nurses have been recruited to strengthen the response.

Inside Mumbai's jumbo covid facility - Built in a fortnight | The Economic  Times

MSF was also “providing prevention kits, counselling and phone follow-up to high-risk patients, including TB and diabetes patients and the elderly.

Since 2006 MSF have been treating patients in Mumbai for drug resistant tuberculosis and HIV.

They were also indentifying cases and referring patients to suitble hospitals and clinics.

Most of our 256 patients come from the informal settlements where, due to poor living conditions, the risk of disease is high,Dr Hemant Sharma, Project Coordinator of MSF’s COVID-19 response in Mumbai said.

Doctors Without Borders were also doing work in Papua New Guinea.

The situation in Papua New Guinea is an example of the global inequity of access to vaccines and other medical tools. When cases numbers began to soar, health workers here remained unvaccinated, while other countries are hoarding more vaccines than they need,” MSF Medical Manager Farah Hossain said.

MSF Focus on Papua New Guinea

In early April a MSF team supported the COVID_19 facility set up in Port Moresby by the National Capital District’s Provincial Health Authority with a capacity of 43 beds for very ill patients.

The team has trained local medical practitioners on emergency situations, the application of PPE, oxygen therapy and treatment of acute pneumonia.

They go wherever they’re needed and donations go to their underlying cause to allow them to response to any crisis where they’re needed not just where the world’s attention is currently focused on.

The following week we made a small donation.

-Lloyd Marken