COVID-19 DIARY – INTERLOPERS

Goondiwindi Chamber of Commerce

June 08

Tuesday there was some good news in my household – my wife got the Pfizer vaccine. She had made a booking and went to a vaccine site at the Prince Charles Hospital for people in her age group.

This was a welcome development.

As I lamented the failure to vaccinate our more vulnerable I was happy my wife now had received a dose and of Pfizer.

Having gotten the AstraZeneca I had expected my wife to have to wait many more months until the end of the year to get her first dose.

As a husband you prefer your wife to be more protected than yourself and now she was.

In not so good news she was advised she wouldn’t automatically get a follow-up dose in three weeks time.

She had to make the booking herself and she was advised the efficacy would still be there if it took up to nine weeks. She made a booking for as soon as she could.

First Look at Sunshine Coast's New $430m CBD

June 09

Wednesday and news in Australia must seem comical to overseas readers but here we go.

A couple left Melbourne on the 1st of June when it was in lockdown. They travelled through rural New South Wales and arrived in Queensland and Goondiwindi June 5th. After three days out in the community of the Sunshine Coast and one of them tested positive to COVID.

Questions were raised given their route away from the coast and the fact that when they left Melbourne it was in lockdown but it could be that the couple were re-locating for work which would have granted them exemption as well other approved reasons.

That would have to be established.

Also being established was more testing hours at the Sunshine Coast and more vaccine doses being delivered to the area too.

Speaking of locked down Melbourne restrictions were being lifted in the southern capital come Friday.

Now the limit you could travel was 25 kilometres – up from 10. There were no home gatherings allowed but students were going back to learning at school.

From Friday will be required indoors only and many businesses can re-open but with limited capacities.

One new local case reported overnight, over 1,200 remained isolating from the rest of Melbournians.

June 10

Thursday and the male partner of the couple from Melbourne had tested positive. The parents they had stayed with had tested negative as residents came out in droves to get tested across the Sunshine Coast.

Another 400 people are self-isolating and getting tested after potentially coming into contact with the couple at exposure sites in Goondiwindi, Toowoomba and the southern Sunshine Coast.

Nine thousand and eight hundred tests had been carried out the day before.

Authorities were hopeful the pair had been near the end of their transmissible cycle. Hospitals and aged care facilities did not go into lockdown.

The couple had relocated to Queensland for the man’s work and a requirement from his new employer was for him and his wife to get tested so he would have COVID clearance to start work. That is when the positive tests for her came back.

While the Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath would not point the finger at the couple while the matter was under investigation she did confirm, “If people do get an exemption to travel they are requried to quarantine.

Moree's much-loved Mayor Katrina Humphries calls time on 13-year tenure  ahead of September election - ABC News

Mayor Katrina Humphries of the small New South Wales town of Moree with a population 7,383 was ready to point the finger.

Bitterly disappointed. Actually quite disgusted – I think its an incredibly un-Australian thing to do. We’ve looked after ourselves, we’ve managed so well and then people can just ruin it for everyone. We’ve just got over a flood, we’ve had three years of drought, we’ve kept our community safe and now this rubbish.,” she said.

The town of Moree was running out of COVID testing kits.

Sunshine Coast cafe owner Pierre Mortensen felt for four of his staff who were now isolating.

What a shame, they were doing nothing wrong – just doing their jobs and now they’re in a 14 day lockdown,” he said.

As some restrictions were due to be lifted in Melbourne the next day, authorities changed their minds about mask wearing only indoors. Now masks would remain mandatory both outside and inside.

A 52 year old woman died from blood clotting in the brain after receiving a AstraZeneca. Two deaths having resulted from 3.6 million vaccines.

That actually meant in Australia there was so far a one in a 1.8 million chance of dying from blood clotting after having AstraZeneca.

But it also led to another unlikely statistic.

Two Australians had now died in 2021 from blood clotting following getting an AstraZeneca jab.

Only on Australian had died from COVID in 2021 so far.

However 909 had died in 2020 and I wondered of those 909 how many would take the AstraZeneca vaccine if they were still alive to have that opporunity?

June 11

Dr Sanjaya Senanayake was on the Channel Nine Australia’s morning show Today to discuss the COVID variants and their new names and how they compared to each other.

I was resistant to the renaming since it when someone mentioned Brazilian, UK and Indian strains I had a fairly good understanding of what that meant.

Alpha strain? Which one is that?

Of course in recent weeks all the talk is about the Delta strain so it’s easier to remember which one that is.

Still Dr Senanayake broke it down, Alpha, Beta, Delta, Kappa,

Both Delta and Kappa strains had originated in India but it was the Delta strain that was now most dominant in the UK and 50 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha strain.

The Alpha strain was the UK strain or in the UK what was known as the Kent strain.

The Infectious Disease Expert advised in the program the original Wuhan strain infected at a rate of 2.5 people, the Alpha or UK strain at 3.75 and now the Delta or Indian strain 5.5 people.

He advised UK data showed out of 12,000 Brits who got infected with the Delta variant only 1 per cent went to hospital but even more interestingly only 2 per cent of those 12,000 had been fully vaccinated He didn’t mention how many had received one jab but those kind of statistics suggested while the Delta variant or Indian strain was able to spread more quickly it was not necessarily more deadly than previous strains.

He advised research in the UK suggested risk of symptamatic disease was reduced by 60 per cent from two doses of AstraZeneca and 88 per cent from two doses Pfizer and that was before you looked at hospitalisations and deaths.

June 12

Saturday and a mass vaccination hub in Sunshine Coast aimed to 1,000 vaccine doses dispensed in a day given the recent scare from the relocating Melbourne couple.

No community cases were recorded in Queensland that day.

June 13

It was reported by Channel Nine News that from mid-July over 300 GPs across Australia would be able to dispense PFizer vaccines. That was expected to increase to 600 by the end of the month.

The Therapeutic Goods Administrator advised Pfizer doses could now be stored in a normal fridge for 31 days which would help a great deal in terms of logistics.

On the 13th of June 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 175,349,190 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 398,721.

There had been 3,795,727 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 10,250.

As of the 4th of July, 2021 there had been 2,988,941,529 vaccine doses dispensed across the globe.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 16,727 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45. There had been 165 deaths reported.

It appeared the recent wave of cases that started to rise in early March, 2021 was coming down in the country.

By the 24th of June, 2021 there will have been a measly 51,170 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. 

In Australia there had been 30,237 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. There had been 910 deaths.

By the 27th of June there would have been 7,500,700 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

Malawi sacks heads of Covid-19 taskforce amid audit of use of funds |  Governance | The Guardian

In Malawi there had been 34,485 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 15. There had been 1,159 deaths with a daily increase of one.

As of the 4th of July, 2021 there had been 492,390 vaccine doses dispensed in the small landlocked Africa nation of 18.63 million people.

In Nepal there had been 608,472 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,694. There had been 8,412 deahts with a daily increase of 46.

There had been 3,232,604 vaccine doses dispensed in the country with 28.61 million people.

In Malaysia there had been 652,204 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,793. There had been 3,844 deaths with a daily increase of 76.

By the 24th of June there will have been 6,823,104 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

In Canada there had been 1,399,716 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,442. There had been 25,886 deaths with a daily increase of 13.

By the 1st of July, 2021 38,068,118 vaccine doses will have been dispensed in the country of 37.59 million people.

Peru revises pandemic death toll, now worst in the world per capita | Otago  Daily Times Online News

In Peru there had been 1,998,056 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,799.

The next day the country would reach the milestone of two million cases with 2,001,059.

There had been 188,100 deaths with a daily increase of 253.

Per capita Peru had the worst COVID death toll in the world.

As of the 1st of July there will have been 7,569,763 vaccine doses dispensed in the country of 32.51 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,558,498 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,550. There had been 127,896 deaths with a daily increase of twelve.

Cases of COVID were on the rise in the country.

By the 27th of June there will have been 77,038,257 vaccine doses dispensed in the island nation.

In India there had been 29,439,989 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 80,834. There had been 370,384 deaths with a daily increase of 3,303.

6,148 deaths had been reported on the 10th of June, 2021. A new daily record.

By the 27th of June, 2021 there will have been 323,663,297 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

NYNG helps vaccinate 10,000 people a day at Javits vaccinations site |  Article | The United States Army

In the United States of America there had been 33,120,623 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,354. There had been 594,272 deaths with a daily increase of 394.

By the 1st of July there will have been 330,160,573 vaccine doses dispensed in the country of 328.2 million people.

394 daily deaths in America. Remember when that was shocking and now we think what an improvement such numbers it’s not even news.

But each of one of those 3,795,727 deaths matters and my heart goes out to the people who know those who are no longer with us.

Hopefully we’re getting there. I know it doesn’t feel like it sometimes but hopefully it is true and I choose to hope.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – ONE PFIZER VACCINATION NOT A GREAT LOOK BUT FIVE MILLION NATIONAL VACCINATIONS LOOKS GOOD

Annastacia Palaszczuk et al. posing for the camera: (

June 07

Monday and Victoria recorded 11 new cases in the community bringing the total to 81 from this latest outbreak.

Three people were in hospital.

Three of the new cases wre linked to the Arcare aged care facility which took that cluster to nine cases.

A cluster in West Melbourne had grown to 14 cases with four new ones from the same household including three children.

Children do not need to be worried … kids overwhelmingly get mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. [It] doesn’t mean they can’t transmit, doesn’t mean that we don’t need to isolate them and quarantine them, but they overwhelmingly get mild illness,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

Three of the new cases are linked to the City of Whittlesea outbreak, which now stands at 32 cases.

The day before 24,265 tests had been conducted in Victoria and in state-run sites there had been 17,719 vaccine doses administered.

That added to a total of 550,000 tests conducted in the state since the current outbreak had started two weeks earlier.

Two of the cases at Arcare were a 79 year old resident and an agency nurse who last worked a shift on Saturday. Everybody who worked a shift at Arcare on Saturday were being required to get tested and quarantine for 14 days.

It is critical for us that all these primary close contacts isolate effectively and safely and that the new staff coming in to do the vital work of looking after those residents do so in a very safe and controlled environment,” Victoria’s COVID Response Commander Jeroen Weimar.

Will Victoria's coronavirus lockdown be only seven days? - ABC News

Three of the new from the Whittlesea cluster had tested postive of day 13 of their quarantine.

In fact nine of the eleven new cases were already identified as close contacts and had isolated which was good news according to Professor Sutton.

A number of those won’t have had any symptoms during that entire period [in isolation] so they’ll be picked up on that day 13 test. If they were tested on day seven they might actually have tested positive earlier, but the fact that every single one of them needs to have a confirmed day 13 test before they’re released from quarantine is a standard precaution to be absolutely sure,” he said.

One of the new cases was a cleaner at a construction site which had been listed as a contact stie, he along with 200 others had gotten tested as a result with him the testing positive.

For the lockdown the Victorian government announced a $30 million pakcage. 4.5 million for emergency food relief, grants for food hubs, income support of $800 per person to be administered through the Red Cross and $12 million for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

It is very much about saying, there is a whole lot of people in our community whose voice is not particularly loud sometimes, but we need to make sure that we provide that support,” Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan said.

He said there were new people presenting at emergency food relief agencies who had never before accessed that service.

It’s not just about case numbers, if cases are already in quarantine then they’re not adding to any level of population risk but also they’re not creating more work for the health department by identifying additional exposure sites where we have to then try and screen people who have also been there. When you’ve got low numbers [of cases in an outbreak], it can look very bumpy, but the reality is that might be exactly what you’d expect if you’ve got so many people in quarantine who we know have been exposed directly to a case,” advised Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett.

Queensland to extend coronavirus restrictions in wake of Victoria cluster,  more vaccine hubs to open - ABC News

In Queensland 63,272 vaccine doses had been dispensed in the past week with 17,032 of those over the weekend.

The state’s Health Minister Yvette D’Ath advised Queensland was getting 50,000 Pfizer doses now per week from the federal government allowing certainty with supply and distribution amongst community vaccine hubs.

To get [a delivery], and sometimes it would arrive early and we’d be told ‘that’s all you’re getting for three weeks’ … now we’re getting consistency,” she said.

AstraZeneca was left to be delivered by GPs to those 50 and over.

After the media beat-up from the previous week Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk aged 50 years and over advised she had received the Pfizer vaccine.

She advised she would have gotten the AstraZeneca jab but they were recommended to be taken twelve weeks apart and the Pfizer jab three weeks.

Premier Palaszczuk advised with a possible trip to meet the Olympic committee in Tokyo along iwth the Lord Mayor of Brisbane and the Australian Prime Minister for a Brisbane bid to host the games in 2032.

There may be a requirement for the state to present to the whole Olympic committee about the Olympics, and I would have been unvaccinated and that’s why I had the Pfizer,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The Chief Health Officer got AstraZeneca, the Health Minister got AstraZeneca, so the Cabinet is following the guidelines,” she added.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins in Queensland, as nurses, police inspector  receive first jabs on the Gold Coast - ABC News

Dr Jeanette Young who was in late 50s but technically a health care worker had received AstraZeneca following health care workers getting Pfizer jabs as part of the 1A roll out.

So not only was Premier Palaszczuk getting the vaccine at a time that the popularity of the AstraZeneca vaccine was waning but she was doing it in order to be able to take an overseas trip as thousands of Australians struggled to travel internationally for work or seeing dying loved ones for example. It certainly was not a good look but a lot of that came down to timing.

Australian PM is vaccinated as rollout begins - BBC News

On February 21st, the 52 year old Prime Minister Scott Morrison got a Pfizer jab along with 84 year old Jane Malysiak and others as the first Australians to get vaccinated.

The Prime Minister taking the only vaccine available in the country at the time and as a leader showing a confidence in taking the vaccine.

Not long after the 50 year old New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian received her first AstraZeneca jab. 

Over-50s rebellion threatens to derail vaccination program

No biggie, other Premiers weren’t rushing out, perhaps to not be seen to be using the privilege of their position but Premier Berejiklian was again showing confidence in a vaccine and as a leader taking care of her health so she could do her job.

On the 9th of April the Australian goverment made the Pfizer the preferred vaccine for those under 50 heightening concerns in the community of the safety of AstraZeneca.

Premier Mark McGowan rolls up his sleeve for first dose of AstraZeneca  COVID-19 vaccine | PerthNow

53 year old Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan rolled up his sleeve for the AstraZeneca jab on the 3rd of May. As a leader over 50 Premier McGowan struck the right tone getting AstraZeneca and the 2A rollout having opened up to allow anyone over 50 to get vaccinated he seemed to not be jumping the queue but just taking up the opportunity that everyone in his age group could now take up.

Now a mere month later Premier Palaszczuk getting a Pfizer jab got some people’s knickers in a twist. I wasn’t one of them but once again timing is a delicate thing and simply put it wasn’t a good look.

As part of the 1B cohort the Premier and Chief Health Officer could have received their first dose in late March reported The Daily Mail.

In mid-April she got the flu jab and had to delay two weeks then got a tetanus shot after her dog bit her during a playfight.

Where she had previously selflessly wanted to wait her turn, whether her trip to Tokyo would ensure million of dollars in work and economic prosperity for the people of her state, if she did end up going. It didn’t matter. It just wasn’t a good look. Maybe two weeks earlier wouldn’t have mattered. But in politics timing is everything.

As one person commented on social media, “It took me over six months, seven cancelled flights and $10,000+ to fly back to Australia to hug my terminally ill mum one last time and you are talking about ‘needing’ to go to the Olympics? Absolute joke and a kick in the guts to stranded Aussies. Assuming home isolation on return too.

Some smart people over the weekend noted a lack of queues at a vaccine hub and got vaccinated as walk ins but the advice was still to make bookings.

More than 936,000 doses have been delivered in Queensland with about 92,500 people fully vaccinated.

The state was also the first to approve 50 pharmacies to dispense vaccinations in remote and regional areas.

It’s just beyond belief we are not using the thousands of pharmacies at our disposal to get millions of vaccines out of fridges and into people’s arms,” The Pharmacy Guild of Australia President Trent Twomey told The Australian.

They estimated the roll out would take another 408 days to complete and with pharmacies that could be slashed to 241 days.

“It’s not an issue of training, infrastructure, supply or consumer confidence – all this is, is bureaucratic red tape which is slowing down the process towards herd immunity.”

The battle of a purpose built quarantine facility continued after the federal government issued a set of criteria to be met.

The Premier’s response.

If the Commonwealth wants to set the criteria they can design the facility, they can construct the facility, they can pay for the facility, and they can run the facility. After all quarantine is a federal government responsibility,” she said.

The Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was all for purpose built quarantine facilities in the country having included funding for it in last month’s budget reply speech.

There had been no breakouts from the Howard Springs Facility so far, there had been 21 or 22 from hotel quarantine in the past year.

Deputy opposition leader Richard Marles says there is just one purpose-built facility in Australia, Howard Springs in the Northern Territory, which unsurprisingly has no COVID-19 breakouts, while there has been 21 or 22 from hotels over the past year.

Fit-for-purpose facilities should be doing the bulk of the work,” Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles told the ABC’s Insiders program.

In good news Australia hit five million vaccine doses administered.

It had taken us 47 days to reach our first one million jabs, now 1 million had been dispensed in just the past nine days.

National Vaccine Operational Coordinator Commordore Eric Young advised 811,980 Pfizer doses would arrive onshore in the next couple of days and 230,000 AstraZeneca doses produced locally by CSL Limited would be batch released too.

Commodore Eric Young says extra 50,000 Pfizer doses distributed to NSW hubs  - ABC News

The Royal Australian Navy officer advised the biggest week yet of the vaccine rollout would take place with 1.1 million doses distributed across two and a half thousand locations in Australia including an additional 100,000 vaccine doses for Victoria where Melbourne remained in lockdown.

-Lloyd Marken

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

COVID-19 DIARY – NEWS JUNKIE

May 21

In the wake of my sister and her husband finally getting the jab it was timely to think of where vaccinations were in the UK.

More than 37 million Britons had received at least one vaccine dose.

The initial roll-out targeted 32 million people who were either aged over 50, or residents and workers in aged care, or frontline health care workers, or those with underlying health problems and unpaid carers.

People who fell under those categories had accounted for 99% of all COVID deaths in the UK and the government had aimed to have offered anyone in that group at least their first jab by the 15th of April.

Now the rollout had expanded to get 21 million Britons aged 20 to 49 years old to receive their first jab by mid-July.

The thirty seven million equated to 70% of the adult population.

More than 21 million had their second dose.

There was a move to crank up second doses to over 50s in the wake of the new Indian variant.

In mid-march 500,000 first doses were administered per day.

Now first doses averaged 190,000 per day and 340,000 second doses were being administered on average.

Chart showing the total number of vaccine doses per 100 people by country

Public Health England has estimated that 11,700 deaths have been averted in people aged 60 years or older in England up to 25 April 2021, as a direct effect of being vaccinated.

Scotland has vaccinated 92% of those aged 40 and over with at least one dose, while Northern Ireland and Wales have reached 89%.

England, on average, has vaccinated 91% of the same age group, with the South West reaching 94% and London 83%.

Well over half of the adult population of Great Britain has received their first done and roughly a third have received their second dose.

There have been disparities between ethnic groups and poorer and wealthier areas.

The Pfizer-BioNTech jab – the first to be given the green light in December – is being imported from Puurs, Belgium.

A second vaccine, from Oxford University and AstraZeneca, is being made at a number of sites in Britain. Further doses are expected to come from the Serum Institute of India and the Halix plant in the Dutch city of Leiden.

The third, from Moderna, is coming from sites in Switzerland and Spain, via Belgium.

The UK is also lined up to receive at least three further vaccines if they are approved for use.

A jab manufactured by US firm Novavax will be made in Stockton-on-Tees in north-east England, while another by French company Valneva will be made in Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland.

The third, produced in the Netherlands by Belgian firm Janssen, owned by Johnson & Johnson, should also be available later this year.

On the horizon were vaccines from Valneva, GlaxoSmithKline, Novavax and Janssen.

Ministers have also announced an eighth deal with biopharmaceutical company CureVac to develop vaccines against future variants.

On Friday here in Australia there was plenty of COVID news to cover.

Some continued coverage in the need to get more people with disabilities vaccinated.

There was talk of putting blood clot cases into perspective from COVID restrictions.

There was talk of the need to get overseas students able to study at Universities in Australia.

Gauri Gupta, sister of Govind Kant’s who passed away in India, spoke to 7:30 about her loss.

There was talk of getting MRNA production up in Australia in the next two years with the federal government putting a callout for companies to make applications.

In the past, whenever we have needed boosters because a pathogen has mutated, it has generally taken about six months to get that up and running in a laboratory setting. With the mRNA vaccines it only takes six weeks. So that in itself is a big game-changer,” Professor Sanjaya Senanayake told Channel 9’s Today of the benefits of local mRNA production.

12,000 daily vaccination doses in New South Wales took the number of vaccinations in the state past 1 million wtih 1,030,428.

The national total was 3,472,874.

Out of that roughly two thirds were AstraZeneca doses and the other third was Pfizer.

Channel 9 reported 24 cases of of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) linked to AstraZeneca vaccinations in Australia with 21 confirmed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration

Recently a 53 year old South Australian man received a jab on the 4th of May and ended up in hospital May 18 with severe abdominal pain.

There was also the 18 year old nurse in Queensland, a 57 year old woman in and a 79 year old man both from Victoria.

Over 230 volunteers were allowed back into the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne including ‘The Splint Ladies‘ who have each been volunteering at the hosptial for three decades.

It was also reported that earlier in the week the Chinese made COVID vaccine Sinopharm was dispensed in the Solomon Islands making it the first Pacific Islander nation to receive the vaccine. Australia had also pledged to deliver 60,000 doses of AstraZeneca to the islands.

No one is safe unless everyone is safe. That means having access to vaccine is very critical and for countries like Solomon Islands that are extremely vulnerable because of our isolation and also because of our limited resources, accesss to vaccine for us is almost likened to life. And we are so grateful to the COVAX facility for the AstraZeneca vaccine as well as the People’s Republic of China for the Sinopharm vaccine,” Solomon Islands Health Minister Dr Culwick Togamana said.

India appeared to be coming off the peak of its largest and most devasting wave. The virus was spreading more rurally sadly in the country which would have consequences since there were less resources in those places.

In neighbouring Nepal it was reported 50 per cent of COVID tests returned positive on a daily basis, sometimes higher. The number of hospitalisations had increased and beds and oxygen were in short supply.

Following a petition that I coincidentally signed urging the Australian government to help, they announced seven million dollars of support would be sent.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 21st of May, 2021 in Nepal there had been 488,645 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,227. There had been 5,847 deaths with a daily increase of 190.

But for some none of that was the big news of the day.

Oh no.

The big news for them was that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had not yet had her COVID vaccine.

And neither had the Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young.

With so much coverage about blood clots people argued leaders taking the jab could build confidence.

They argued this struck the wrong tone, gave the wrong message.

Dr Young as a health care professional was waiting to get Pfizer and the Premier merely said she was waiting to do it after her flu shot which she had not yet had – halfway through Autumn.

At work we had taken our flu shots in early April but another school of thought was workplaces should hold off giving flu shots so early in the season.

In the past 24 hours in Australia 92,000 doses had been administered in the country.

The next day there was continued back and forth reported between Premier Palaszczuk and Prime Minister Morrison about the potential Wellcamp Airport quarantine facility. No real movement there.

On the ABC their program The Vaccine covered the latest on the vaccine roll-out in Australia and the latest news coming out of India.

Health Minister Greg Hunt’s words at a press conference were covered as unhelpful as the main vaccine on offer in Australia remained the AstraZeneca vaccine which had links to very rare cases of blood clotting.

Right now we want to encourage everybody over 50 to be vaccinated as early as possible but we’ve been very clear as supply increases later on in the year there will be enough vaccine of mRNA for every Australian,” Greg Hunt said.

You could argue it was simply acknowledge the fact that some people were going to hold out for Pfizer regardless of their age but there was a need to encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as they could.

Also has history had shown, we couldn’t assume that vaccine doses would arrive as we hoped they would at the end of the year in the quantities expected. There was a winter to contend with in between too.

Casey Briggs reported there had been 3.47 million vaccine doses dispensed in the country with over 100,000 doses dispensed.

The seven day average was just under 70,000 a day.

it was also reported cases were back on the rise in Brazil and surging in many South East Asian nations like Thailand and Malaysia.

Thailand hits over 1,300 daily COVID-19 cases after new year travels |  Daily Sabah

Physician and journalist Dr Norman Swan on the program spoke about vaccine hesitancy and the roll-out in Australia in general.

He advised waiting for Pfizer a choice someone could make but that given the leaks from hotel quarantine already and the rising number of infectious cases now was not the time to wait to get vaccinated.

The latest 617 Indian variant 617 was almost 40 more infectious than the British variant.

The R number is the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to on average.

The original Wuhan variant that swept the world had an R number of of 2.4

The UK strain that originated in Kent had an R number of 4.5.

Indian Covid variant could overwhelm NHS if it proves more transmissible  than Kent strain

It was estimated the Indian variant’s R number was at least 6 maybe even as high as 8 and could prove a little vaccine resistant.

He also reminded that risk of death from COVID goes up and the risk of blood clotting from AstraZeneca goes down.

He also spoke of how initial clinical trials presented the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine with an efficacy rate of 62 per cent.

SInce those trials, AstraZeneca was been dispensed twelve weeks apart with better results and both AstraZeneca and Pfizer seemed to give almost 100 per cent chance of avoiding hospitalisation from COVID. The current efficacy rate in the real world from infection was about 85 per cent with AstraZeneca and 95 per cent with Pfizer. A significantly smaller gap.

Infectious disesases expert Associate Professor Sanajaya Senanayake from Australian National University also joined the program.

You will hear there was a blood clot today, and you don’t hear about the half a million cases people who received vaccines who didn’t get a blood clot,” he noted about media coverage.

Which I understood what I meant but at the same time the number of vaccines being dispensed was being reported and also the reality of the statistical likelihood was also being covered but of course fear doesn’t make you act sensibly.

Australia at the moment does not have community transmission of COVID which is a wonderful thing in so many ways but combined with the one in a 100,000 risk of a clot with the AstraZeneca vaccine people are hesistant,” said Associate Professor Senanayake.

There was so much talk about the need for more marketing, the fear of blood clots and while I understand all of that is relevant.

I have to say the most important thing was getting our most vulnerable and our most keen vaccinated. That came down to logistics and that came down to organising.

COVID vaccine rollout delays frustrate vulnerable Australians in priority  group - ABC News

My older sister in disability care had still not been vaccinated.

Our aged care residents and staff had still not all been vaccinated.

Plenty of young people were keen do the smart thing and get vaccinated.

Worry about them.

They don’t need an ad to convince them and they know what’s at stake.

Now we’ve seen in Taiwan a country who like Australia has controlled COVID really well what can happen. They’ve got a very low vaccination rate and COVID has been introduced into the community, they’re having about 300 cases a day now and they’re going into a lockdown. That’s the danger here. We can go from having no COVID to having widespread community transmission in the blink of an eye. And then trying to mass vaccinate everyone when there is a lot of COVID around that becomes complicated,“warned Senanayake and his words would only been proven more true in the weeks ahead.

May 23

Sunday and on the 23rd of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 166054891 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 590064.

There had been 3564623 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 11865.

In the Solomons Islands there had been 23 cases recorded and zero deaths. As of the 13th of May it was reported 11,536 vaccine doses had been administered.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 15,187 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 54.

There had been 156 deaths with a daily increase of two.

More had to be done.

There had been 13 new daily deaths recorded on the 20th of May, a record for the country.

More had to be done.

As of the 13th of May there had been 11,537 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

In Australia there had been 30,004 confirmed cases with a daily increase four. There had been 910 deaths.

As of the 27th of April, there had been 3,089,183 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

COVID: Nepal reeling from a deadly second coronavirus wave | Asia| An  in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 07.05.2021

In Nepal there had been 505,643 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,591. There had been 6,153 deaths with a daily increase of 129.

By the 29th of May there would have been 2,802,596 vaccine doses administered in the country with a population of 28.61 million people.

In Malaysia there had been 505,115 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,320. There had been 2,199 deaths with a daily increase of 50.

As of the 16th of May, there had been 1,914,554 vaccine doses administered in the country with a 31.95 million people.

In Canada there had been 1,352,121 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,676. There had been 25162 deaths with a daily increase of 51.

The country had reached the milestone of 25,000 dead from COVID on the 20th of May with 25,018 and a daily increase of 35. 

The country was coming off its most recent and largest wave of COVID with the percentage of its population much higher than it had been only a few weeks earlier.

By the 27th of May there would be 22,622,529 vaccine doses dispensed in Canada which had a population of 37.59 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,460,450 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,523. There had been 127,716 deaths with a daily increase of six.

By the 31st of May the UK had dispensed 64,923,228 vaccine doses amongst a population of 66.65 million people. 

France's sidewalk cafes and restaurants reopen after 6-month shutdown -  MarketWatch

In France there had been 5,497,073 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,821. There had been 107,732 deaths with a daily increase of 75.

By the 29th of May there would have been 36,487,886 vaccine doses dispensed in a country with 67.06 million people.

In India there had been 26,530,132 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 240,842. There had been 209,266 deaths with a daily increase of 3,741.

The next day India would reach the milestone of over 300,000 COVID deaths with 303,720 and a daily increase of 4,454.

While the country was coming down from its most devastating wave with reported case numbers there had been 4,529 deaths reported four days earlier on the 19th of May. The highest number of daily deaths from COVID in the country ever.

By the end of the month on the 31st of May, there would have been 218,358,591 vaccine doses dispensed in India.

Brazil's Covid Crisis Is a Warning to the Whole World, Scientists Say - The  New York Times

In Brazil there had been 15,970,949 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 76,855. There had been 446,309 deaths with a daily increase of 2,215.

In Brazil the highest number of daily deaths had been 4,249 reported on the 10th of April, 2021.

By the 27th of May there would have been 60,017,445 vaccine doses dispensed in a country with 211 million people.

In the United States of America there had been 32,762,914 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 27,921. There had been 583,696 deaths with a daily increase of 743.

By the 27th of May there would been 294,270,594 vaccine doses dispensed in a country with 328.2 million people.

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 21, 2020 

The United Kingdom came to be listed as the country with the fourth most number of cases in the world. There were 248,297 confirmed cases with a daily decrease of 525. The number of dead 35,704 with a daily increase of 363.

In Brazil there were 271,628 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17,408! The number of dead were 17,971 with a daily increase of 1,179.

May 22, 2020

There was talk of opening up state borders in Australia. In response Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said, “New South Wales had the Ruby Princess — I mean, seriously? And they are trying to give us advice on our borders, seriously?“.

COVID-19 DIARY – MARKETERS SAY YOU NEED TO MARKET SALVATION

May 20

Thursday.

There was news that Pfizer jabs could be more easily dispersed here in Australia. Currently Pfizer can be stored for up to five days in a regular fridge but now following research The Therapeutic Goods Administration were looking to approve normal fridge storage times be extende up to 31 days.

3,278,854 vaccines doses had been administered in Australia but 1.5 million doses were currently in storage so dispersal could be helped.

There was also talk in the media for the need for a bigger flashier advertising campaign for vaccination. Either the song and dance numbers from Asia or the charm of New Zealand’s relaxed demeanour or the starpower fo Sir Michael Caine and Sir Elton John in the UK or Dolly Parton in the U.S.

Advertising Guru Simon Reynolds who created the chilling Grim Reaper HIV advertisements from the 1980s wasn’t pulling any punches thirty years on. His advice, cut through apathy with fear because there is little doubt there virus is something to be afraid of.

With over 3 million dead and 164 million infected I am inclined to agree.

When asked if his advice was to use fear again he replied, “Well use reality.”

Pfizer drugs could be stored in a regular fridge from the now with fridge storage times going from 5 to 31 days which could prove a major development.

With the end of Jobkeeper in Australia, the unemployment rate had gone from 5.7 per cent in March to 5.5 per cent in April.

Thirty thousand and six hundred jobs had been lost in the month but the people looking for work also decreased from 66.3% to 66.0%.

Basically there were less people working and less people looking for work too.

Unemployment was effectively where it was pre-COVID in Australia which was kind of miraculous but that wasn’t too say there were people who had lost work or lost their business.

Eunice Wang had gone from a part time job in the tourism industry to casaul work in retail. Less hours, less security and less money but she was all smiles.

Heroes come in all forms.

Her resilience just one more example of what we need to support and what we need to find within ourselves.

Others like Jimmy and James Gantidis of the struggling to survive Melbourne River Cruises.

The Wall Street Journal had also covered the COVID crisis in India with an informative concise video.

In the United Kingdom the BBC was updating a page Covid: When will I get the vaccine with information.

On the 20th fo May, it advised people aged 34 and over could book to get their first vaccine dose. In Scotland it was anyone over 30 and in some parts of Glasgow it was anyone over 18. The Welsh were the same as Glaswegians and in Northern Ireland people 25 and up could get vaccinated. There was priority for some to get second doses too in England where the Indian variant was taking off.

Second doses are also being offered earlier to some people as concerns grew over the second variant.

With the priority on those age groups that meant those who wanted to get vaccinated in older age brackets should have mostly already done so. Also the bulk of frontline health and social care workers, clinically extremely vulnerable people and those with underlying health problems aged over 16 had also been prioritised.

Those who had their first done should have received their second dose within twelve weeks of the first. There was a shift too for those over 50 with health conditions to get their second dose now within eight weeks of the first jab.

The three vaccines of choice in the UK remained the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZenea and Moderna.

Previously the decision had been made on the 7th of April to offer an alternative for those under 30 from the AstraZeneca vaccine due to extremely rare cases of blood clots.

At the end of March 20 million doses of AstraZeneca had been administered with 79 cases of blood clots resulting in 19 deaths. A one in million chance fo dying. Out of those nearly two of the cases had been women, the people who died were 18 to 79 years old with three of them under 30.

Since the 7th of May that had heen applicable to those under 40 years of age.

That decision was taken as the numbers racked up to 242 clotting cases and 49 deaths from 28.5 million doses administered.

The UK’s medicines safety regulator says there have been 242 clotting cases and 49 deaths, with 28.5 million doses of the vaccine administered.

With thoses stats the risk of death from a blood clot was two in a million chance for people over 40 and four in a million chance for those over 30.

The risk of a clot is roughly one in 100,000 for people in their 40s, but rises to one in 60,000 for people in their 30s. Two in a million people in their 40s died rising to four per million people in their 30s.

Table comparing the Oxford, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax and Janssen vaccines

Official guidance currently was to have people get the same vaccine for both doses. It was believed teh three vaccines currently being used in the UK would prevent people becoming seriously ill or dying even against variants.

It appeared the Indian variant spread more easily.

Companies were working to have booster jabs ready to counter variants by autumn in the northern hemisphere.

The Cov-Boost study will recruit 3,000 people of all ages to test whether re-vaccinating some people in the autumn is necessary.

The UK had on order eight different vaccines and 517 million doses.

Following on from 40 million Pfizer doses initially there were now at least 60 million Pfizer booster jabs to come in the northern autumn.

Chart showing the vaccine doses the UK has on order
In the UK the vaccine was being offered to pregnant women.
The UK’s vaccine committee says pregnant women should be offered a jab when other people their age get one.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferable, they say, because data relating to 90,000 pregnant women has not raised any safety concerns.

Data on how the AZ vaccine works in pregnant women may become available in the near future.

For the moment Pfizer was approved for use in over 16 year olds and AstraZeneca and Pfizer over 18s with of course that major caveat regarding AstraZeneca.

In Canada and the U.S. Pfizer was approved for use with teenagers.

No decision has been made on whether teenagers or younger children will be offered a vaccine in the UK.

AstraZeneca is trialling its vaccine on six-to-17-year-olds in the UK. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are currently testing their vaccines on those aged 12-18.

Moderna and Pfizer are also testing their jabs on children between six months and 11 years old.

There were 2,135 new daily COVID cases in Great Britain on the 20th of May.

And three daily deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 20, 2020

It is announced that Captain Tom Moore who raised 33 million pounds for the UK’s National Health Service by completing 100 laps of his garden in the lead-up to his 100th birthday will receive a Knighthood from Her Majesty The Queen.

Captain Tom wears glasses, blazer and war medals with a thumbs up in front of cakes decorated with planes and tanks.

COVID-19 DIARY – REPATRIATION

Howard Springs quarantine capacity boosted | Katherine Times | Katherine, NT

 

May 14

 

The first repatriation flight for Australians from India since the short lived travel ban took off from New Delhi with only half of the 150 the passengers scheduled to be on board.

Forty-six people had COVID and twenty four were close contacts. 

Forty six having tested positive for the more contagious Indian variant and people close to them left behind for what would have been their deliverance.

While the government tried to fill the flight with more passengers, it struggled to do so because of the window for pre-flight testing restrictions.

People like Jitin Wig whose wife and toddler tested positive. 

“The whole medical system here is a shambles, so if it does get serious here for any of us, I’m not sure how I’d be able to get help. I’m not sure if I’d be able to get any medicines, I’m not sure if I’d be able to get any oxygen, or anything else they might need,” Wig said of the overworked Indian health care system they might need help from in the coming days.

I understand the government’s position, if people are testing positive, they don’t want to bring the infection over, I understand they are trying to protect the economy, the people. Even though I’m one of those people who didn’t get to go on a flight today, I would still agree that I somebody is testing positive, it is best – for the larger good, I would say – to not bring them over,”the father added.

He did want the government to help those left behind with medical support and consider taking particularly vulnerable people if they had COVID. 

Would you want to board an international flight with someone with COVID on board?

What was the likelihood somebody on that flight would ultimately test positive?

Could other arrangements be made to get those vulnerable people home than just putting them on a flight with others? 

Surely.

Sunny Joura interviewed on ABC News was due to travel on the same flight with his elderley mother but he tested positive. 

In a moment that would have been unsettling he did well to stay calm during an interview with ABC News. He had previously tested negative to fly back on the 28th of April when the ban was put in place. 

He did suggest that decision could now potentlally prove to have turned out to be a death sentence for him.

He also said that only five repatration flights had been sent over from June to December 2020 to India which had been a missed opportunity to get people home before this subsequent wave. Only 750 out of 10,000 Australians in the country had been able to get on repatriation flights during that six month period. He had been trying to get home for 11 months and had had two flights previously cancelled but this was the first time he had tested positve.

The goverment had tried to fill the suddenly spare seats but pre-flight testing didn’t give much of a window of time.

Prior to boarding people take a PCR test two days before the flight and then a rapid antigen test. Both have to return negative results.

 

 

QF112 arrived at the RAAF base in Darwin on Saturday morning. Picture Glenn Campbell

 

May 15

 

The next day Qantas Flight 112 touched down in RAAF Darwin with the passengers headed for quarantine in Howard Springs.

I’m sure they didn’t feel that whatever they had gone through was over but hopefully the worst of it was.

How many would test positive while in quarantine?

How many had left for India to care for a loved one or bury them?

How many counted themselves lucky just to be home?

I wonder.

For what its worth in this small corner of the internet.

Welcome home, it’s good to have you back and hope to have everyone home soon.

“We really need to ensure that we have a system in place to bring these people safely home so they can receive the medical care here in Australia that they require. If our system can’t handle easily 100 people coming back who are testing positive a week, if that if it can’t handle that, then we need to look seriously at our healthcare system,” Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott, from the Global Health Security Network, said.

 

 

May 16

 

On the 16th of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 161,854,452 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 675,747. 

There had been 3,367,187 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 12,305.

They're our family': Australia pledges 1m Covid-19 vaccine doses to Papua  New Guinea | Papua New Guinea | The Guardian

In Papua New Guinea there had been 13,928 confirmed cases. There had been 136 deaths.

There had been 504 new daily cases on May 11. Thirteen deaths would be reported on the 20th of May, the most in one day in the small nation. The spread of the virus was still going on in PNG.

As of the 13th of May there had been 11,537 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. 

In Australia there had been 29,967 confirmed cases with a daily increase of ten. There had been 910 deaths.

As of the 27th of April there had been 3,089,183 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

In Canada there had been 1,318,399 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,991. There had been 24,869 deaths with a daily increase 44.

As of the 20th of May there had been 20,124,578 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of Canada was 37.59 million people.

African nation worst hit by COVID-19 falling behind on vaccines | The Japan  Times

In South Africa there had been 1,611,143 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,750. There had been 55,183 deaths with a daily increase of 59. 

As of the 25th of May, 2021 there had been only 182,983! vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of South Africa was 58.56 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,447,984 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,156. There had been 127,675 deaths with a daily increase of seven.

Those daily numbers were similar to the early part of March 2020 when the first wave was building and late August before numbers continued to rise to devastating effect over winter. Not quite the lull of June and July 2020 but close.

As of the 24th of May there had been 60,965,594 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of Great Britain was 66.65 million people. Given they were now vaccinating people 38 years old and over there must be a few who had gotten second doses or even more?

World reacts to India's catastrophic COVID surge | Coronavirus pandemic  News | Al Jazeera

In India there had been 24,684,077 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 311,170. There had been 270,284 deaths with 4,077.

A record of new daily deaths had been set on the 12th of May with 4,205 deaths recorded that day.

As of the 24th of May there had been 200,494,991 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. 

In the United States of America there had been 32,574,504 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 40,431. In March, April, May and June 2020 the daily averages had never been that high. Many had been less than 20,000 back then. 

There had been 579,664 deaths with a daily increase of 680.

As of the 13th of May there had been 283,181,265 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. The population of the U.S. was 328.2 million people.

 

-Lloyd Marken

 

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 14, 2020

A MacDonalds at Fawkner in Melbourne Victoria had 90 staff tested and isolated pending results after a break-out of eight COVID-19 cases from the fast food outlet including four staff members and four family members of a worker.

May 15, 2020

On the 15th of May the World Health Organisation reported 6,989 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 14. 98 Australians had died and there was no daily increase.

 

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

What is the Moderna COVID vaccine? Does it work, and is it safe?

May 13

Thursday Australia announced a deal to procure 25 million doses of the American Moderna vaccine with 10 million jabs hopefully by the end of year and then 25 million booster jabs next year to deal with variants.

As the federal govenrnemt looked to set-up production of MRNA vaccines in Australia Moderna’s CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement, “We look forward to continuing discussions with Australia about establishing potential local manufacturing opportunities.

Adelaide plant BioCina who had bought a plant in Adelaide off Pfizer threw its hat into the ring as being able to produce MRNA vaccines like Moderna at its facility within 12 months.

We can have the ability to manufacture a hundred, a hundred and fifty million doses that would serve the region rather than just Australia so there is an export oppourtunity as well,” BioCina Chief Executive Ian Wisenberg said.

This followed deals with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Novaxin and Moderna would still need to secure the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

If supplies from Pfizer were delayed maybe ones from Moderna, which had a cited efficacy rate of 94.1 per cent, might help with numbers..

We think there is no reason why you can’t mix and match vaccines. The trial data is not out yet. There’s some trials being done UK looking at AstraZeneca first done and Pfizer or Moderna second dose.” Department of Health Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said looking ahead to the future.

The Univesity of South Australia was also developing a vaccine in partnership with Biotech Company Semetis had also received three million dollars from the Australian government. It was possible still a year from getting to the market. 

In New South Wales 7,500 people got vaccinated in one day.

WIth 7 new cases of blood clots in Australia there were now 18 cases of blood clots from 1,800,000 vaccinations in Australia. That was 1 in a 100,000 chance of having it happening to you someone vaccinated. Remember 1 in 600 Americans had died from COVID last year.

An independent panel for the handling of the pandemic released its findings.
It didn’t get much news coverage despite holding many lessons for I learn from not just for future pandemics for the current ongoing one.

Some critical points were the sharing of information between nations, empowering the World Health Organisation and effectively in terms of the outbreak in the West a lack of action throughout the month of February, 2020.

ABC News reported some suggestions were a disease surveillance system that could publish information about developments in a country they were working in without the need to get permission to do so and rich countries doing more to vaccinate poorer nations.

Let’s hope some lessons are learned from the panel’s findings.

On the 12th of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation recorded in India there had been 4,205 deaths in one day.

A new record.

May 14

A new step in the vaccine roll-out a week on from the 2A cohort was due to start next Monday with 400,000 Pfizer doses to be dispensed to 14 different sites across Victoria for a small group of those under age 50.

You had to make a booking and priority would be given to critical and high risk workers, adults with underlying health conditions, disabiltiy and aged care carers and workers.

Uber Drivers and public transport workers could make a booking from May 24th the following Monday.

Victorian Acting Premier James Merlino advised the state was averaging 8,000 vaccinations a day. A testing clinic at the Melbourne Showgrounds would also open a mass vaccination hub on Monday as well.

I am very supportive of any measures to get as many people vaccinated as possible as quickly as possible. Winter is coming,” Shadow Health Minister Georgie Crozier said.

The bulk of contract tracing and COVID tests following in the wake of a man who had tested positive earlier in the week having travelled from Adelaide had returned negative results with no new daily community cases. The man had originally departed India on the 19th of April and travelled via the Maldives and Singapore.

Channel Nine News reported three hundred thousand vaccine doses had been given out so far in the state.

Army drafted in as 'mass' coronavirus testing is rolled out in Bolton | The  Bolton News

In Great Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the staged steps to lower restrictions could be disrupted by the Indian strain which was spreading through Great Britain.

In one week Public Health England reproted cases of the variant had tripled in the country with 1,255 in England, 35 in Scotland, 12 in Northern Ireland and eleven in Wales.

On May 14th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in the United Kingdom there were 2,656 new daily cases.

On Monday England was due to open up pubs and restaurants and six people from two households could gather at one of their places.

After that was the fourth and final step due June 21 where there will be no limits on social gatherings indoors or outdoors, no limits on weddings and nightclubs will re-open.

That seemed to still be on the cards but the PM warned, “I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move to step four in June.

But I urge everyone to exercise the greatest caution because the choices we each make in the coming days will have a material effect on the road ahead,” he added.

Having down throught the ages with one jab currently anyone over 38 could get vaccinated. Now there was a run on to cut the 12 week gap between the first and second jab to just eight weeks for those over 50 or with underlying health conditions.

Mr Johnson added that there was “no evidence to suggest that our vaccines will be less effective in protecting people against severe illness and hospitalisation”.

The UK’s Chief Medical Adviser Professor Chris Whitty warned that if the Indian variant was more transmissible the island nation would see a significant surge.

That’s a really critical question to which we do not yet have the answer. We expect over time this variant will overtake and come to dominate in the UK in the way that the Kent variant did,” he added.

Remember how the UK strain was up to 70 per cent than the orginal COVID that across the West, well the Indian strain could be 50 per cent more transmissible than the UK strain according to the Scientific Adivsory Gorup for Emergencies (Sage).

The British Army were deployed to the towns Blackburn and Bolton to help with handing out test kits.
Mobile testing units had been set up Bolton and opening hours and delivery of doses had been increased at that town’s vaccination centres.
A rapid response team of 100 nurses, public health advisers and environmental health officers had also been sent.
Opération gif 3 » GIF Images Download
In the United States of America the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eased indoor mask wearing guidance for vaccinated people allowing them to not wear masks in most indoor places.

The CDC guidelines showed quite clearly by vaccinating you were less at risk and could engage in more activities.

As vaccinations slowed down there was a push to encourage more of the populace to drive those vaccinated numbers just a little higher.

Governors were doing their part like in Ohio where vaccinated adults could go in the draw to win one million U.S. dollars. I’ll do it for free but God Bless America.

But New York Mayor Bill De Blasio was a man more after my own heart tucking into fast food that New Yorkers could get from Shake Shack if they got vaccinated. Free fries and a burger?! Hmmmmmm.

God Bless America!

And God bless Bill de Blasio, don’t listen to the haters Mr Mayor, you looked good tucking into that burger. I would’ve made a meal of it.

-Lloyd Marken

Bill De Blasio GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 13, 2020

The number of unemployed was cited as 10% or 1.4million Australians. This was the highest unemployment rate since the early 1990s recession in Australia and in which unemployment had risen at a far slower rate then during the pandemic.

May 14, 2020

A MacDonalds at Fawkner in Melbourne Victoria had 90 staff tested and isolated pending results after a break-out of eight COVID-19 cases from the fast food outlet including four staff members and four family members of a worker.

COVID-19 DIARY – HEAVILY WEIGHTED DECISIONS – PART II

India's COVID-19 deaths will rise sharply till mid-May—US study | Inquirer  News

May 06

A Sydney man and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 having visited 14 suburbs over five days where he unknowingly had the virus.

In a twist there was no explanation for how we caught it.

Genomic testing linked him an American man who quarantined at the Park Royal in late April. So there was a missing link.

New restrictions were put in place on the eve of Mother’s Day to run three days until midnight Sunday night.

Mask were to be worn indoors and on public transport, there was no singing or dance indoors with the exception of weddings where 20 could get up and boogy. No more than 20 visitors were allowed in households and no more than two visitors to aged care facilities.

If this was WA or Queensland they would have shut down the whole city. They would have said stay at home, they would have said don’t go about your business. We’re saying the opposite,” jabbed Premier Gladys Berejiklian

Which was a bit funny because recently the Queensland Premier had chosen not to go into lockdown when a case had been out in the communtiy for several days. That decison ultimately meant that two Queenslanders with COVID had travelled to Byron Bay leading to the Bryon Bay Bluesfest having to be cancelled in Berejiklian’s home state.

Additionally there was the missing link element here, somebody was out in the community potentially with COVID with no idea that they had it, maybe even more.

Yet the New South Wale Premier was urging people to go out about their business.

It also did eventuate in a lockdown in south east Queensland so Berejiklian’s comments needed to taken as seriously as her thoughts had been prior to making them.

In Victoria state run vaccination centres were averaging 8,000 jabs a day since phase 2A started earlier in the week.

The New Zealand government paused travel from Sydney for two days.

Six thousand people from New South Wales had travelled to New Zealand over the last 6 days would be contacted.

Those who had been to Sydney hotspots travelling into Western Australia were ordered to self quarantine for 14 days and those entering Queensland had to go into hotel quarantine.

Canada also approved Pfizer for use on teenagers aged 12-16 following trials. There was still a long way to go in vaccinating the adult population though.

Nationwide the same day 14,568,067 doses had been dispensed and 1,173,962 people or 3.1 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated out of a national population of 37 and a half million.

In Queensland a man was in Intensive Care following blood clotting after getting the AstraZeneca vaccination. He was one of five cases of clotting across the country in the past ten days as the government moved to deliver 270,000 doses of the vaccine next week.

There had been eleven cases of blood clotting after 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca had been given in Australia including one dose to yours truly.

That is 11 / 1 400 000.

That is so far you had a 1 / 140 000 chance of getting a blood clot.

Out of those eleven cases though had been one fatality.

The threat of dying from COVID remained higher even in a country like Australia where case numbers and deaths had been so low.

Capacity at the Howard Springs facility was due to expand from 850 to 2,000 in preparation for repatriation flights from India as more aid from Australia landed in India.

An ABC News report said that these expansions would be complete by the end of the month, not May 15 but it did give the government time to have undertaken a lot of the work to expand capacity if repatriations did begin on May 15.

Two weeks is a long time in politics, Perth had been in lockdown at the end of April with talk about high numbers of COVID cases in hotel quarantine.

Back then the pressure was on for the Federal Government to act to protect the country from another outbreak in the community and certain sectors of the media were constantly bemoaning shutdowns as hurtful to the economy.

The plan to do something had been discussed at National Cabinet and signed off by health beaurecrats.

But now less than a week later and the focus was on the moral considerations of such an unprecedented decision and the government seemed anxious to peel back the law in another weeks’ time.

Phrasing it around lower number COVID cases in hotel quarantine and a shift to more repatriations through facilities like Howard Springs made sense.

Specialist staff at the Howard Springs facility wear heavy PPE gear.

It was understood the first repatriation flight from India would start as soon as the ban lifted May 15 with a flight that could bring home 200 passengers with priority given to 900 Australians stranded in the sub-continent that were classed as vulnerable.

It was expected that Howard Springs would be close to empty of travellers quarantining there at that point.

Anybody scheduled to board would have to return two negative results before stepping on the plane.

“This second wave is very bad, the logistics in India are very difficult, people are living in remote towns and villages and to get them safely to an airport is a very difficult undertaking. These are the real, practical consequences. There are thousands of people, many dying on the streets in India. So it’s going to be very complex,” Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

I imagine those Australians waiting to get on those flights were like, “Yeah no shit mate.”

There would only be one repatriation flight per week, previously to the travel ban there had been two a week from India.

But two weeeks was a long time for the virus to wreak havoc.

How many people would die waiting for a flight home in that time?

On May 6th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in India there had been 21,077,410 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 412,262.

A world record for daily new cases.

There had been 230,168 deaths with a daily increase of 3,980.

A new record of daily deaths in India too.

May 07

The next day the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the ban would end on May 15.

The original decision to put in place that biosecurity order until the 15th of May has proved very effective and it will run its full course until that time without any change,” Morrison said.

The challenge we have had with arrivals from India is the higher incidence of infections and the stress that was placing on the quarantine system,” he explained.

Australia's Scott Morrison stands by 'one country' remark on China and  Taiwan | The Japan Times

At one point the infection rate at Howard Springs was 15 per cent, much higher than the goal of two per cent causing concern for the quarantine system and potentially Darwin’s hospital system.

However now those numbers had halved and there was an expectation they could be close to zero by next weekend.

No decision had been made yet about commercial flights coming in from India.

Meanwhile the situation in India remained dire.

Positive test results for COVID were averaging about 20 per cent and plenty of people were not getting tested and dying from COVID.

The percentage fo the population that had been fully vaccinated was 2.2%.

More than 46,000 Red Cross staff and volunteers were helping in India.

In the capital city Kathmandu of neighbouring Nepal positve test results for COVID were up to 47 per cent. The country was in lockdown and its hospitals were stretched.

On May 7th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in India there had been 21,491,598 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 414,188.

The highest ever – 414,188.

The global total of new cases in the world that day was a little over double this with 853,895.

There had been 234,083 deaths with a daily increase of 3,915.

The next day would set a new record with 4,187 deaths. 

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 6, 2020

In Melbourne, there was an outbreak at the Cedar Meats abattoir leading to 62 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 DIARY – ONE LOCKDOWN ENDS AND A NEW BAN BEGINS

Cyclist wearing mask rides near fence of lookout over looking Perth city skyline of tall buildings.

April 26

Monday.

Perth came out of its snap lockdown with no new community cases reported that day.

Mandatory mask wearing would remain until at least 1 minute past midnight on Saturday morning.

Retaurants, pubs and cafes could re-open but indoor gyms, nightclubs and casinos would remain shut.

“The short three-day lockdown has done the job it was designed to do. It was the circuit-breaker we needed to limit community spread. Western Australians have done their bit to keep our community safe,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

QANTAS plane on tarmac in Hobart.

April 27

On the larger scale the Australian government made a decision to stop all direct flights returning from India India due to the higher number of COVID cases from returned travellers in hotel quarantine in particular from India.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all indirect flights through other cities like Doha, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur had been paused by their respective governments.

Last week on the 22nd of April, National Cabinet had made the decision to reduce flights from India by 30 per cent. 

It followed a reduction in repatriations and travellers going through hotel quarantines due to increased case numbers in said quarantine.

The ban halted two passenger flights from India to Sydney, two repatriation flights from India to Darwin and eight further repatriation flights scheduled for the first two weeks of May.

Travel to India was also retricted to matters of national interest, under medical exemption and for COVID-19 purposes.

Specialist staff at the Howard Springs facility wear heavy PPE gear.

On the 24th of April the number of positive cases at the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory had reached 48.

“The Northern Territory only has a certain amount of ICU beds,” the Northern Territory Deputy Opposition Leader Gerard Maley had said.

As of that Saturday, a total of 6,668 people have arrived in Darwin on repatriation flights since October last year, of which 117 have tested positive to COVID-19.

The total number of positive coronavirus cases reported in the Territory is 160, with all cases relating to international or interstate travel.

The Prime Minister said the total number of weekly cases in hotel quarantine had risen from 90 to 143.

The pause would last until May 15.

It was reported 9,000 Australians in India wanted to return home with 650 of them categorised as vulnerable.

Australia says chance of jail remote for India travel ban offenders - Times  of India

We don’t think the answer is to just forsake those in India and just shut them off. I don’t see this as a problem we have to solve, I see this as a group of people we need to help. These are Australians and Australian residents who need our help, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

When flights resume, all passengers will be required to have both a negative COVID-19 PCR test result and a negative rapid antigen test result prior to departure.

The Australian government was also sending 500 ventilators, 1 million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 and N95 masks, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields.

On the 27th of April, the World Health Organisation reported there had been 17,636,307 confirmed cases with a daily increae of 323,144. There had been 197,894 deaths with a daily increase of 2,771.

“I stress this is an initial package, there’ll be more to follow,” the Prime Minister advised about the aid being sent.

“This is the challenge of a pandemic, you don’t get the perfect of all situations,” the Prime Minister said.

The European Union decided to sue AstraZeneca for breach of contract after they failed to deliver 30,000,000 dozes of their COVID vaccine by the end of June. The pharmaceutical company was only going to be able to deliver a third of that amount.

The U.S. government planned to send 60 million doses of AstraZeneca overseas to where it is needed if the move gets approval from the Food and Drugs Administration.

-Lloyd Marken