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 – BORDER WARS – PART VIII

September 10

Thursday the Prime Minister Scott Morrison had made a call to the Queensland Premier making a request to see if a young woman based out of the Australian Capital Territory could come out of hotel quarantine where she was spending 14 days.

She had made the trip to Queensland to see her father who was ill.

Sadly he had passed away and now the Prime Minister was asking if there was a way to have the young woman attend the funeral with her family. 

Apparently there wasn’t. 

Scott Morrison had lost his father earlier in the year in the wake of his failures during the worst bushfires this country had ever experienced. His father had not lived to see his son’s political fortunes turn around and public support grow. It was evident that Morrison adored his father as most children do. His public discussion of his attempts to have this woman attend her own father’s funeral were the first real time he had spoken of his loss.

Alas the Queensland Premier did not make it happen and did not appreciate the call. Although it must be noted the young woman was allowed out of quarantine later to say goodbye to her father on that day away from her family. She also subsequently came out publicly and said she felt the issue had been made political which she was not happy about.

Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk did have a few things to say about the incident after speaking in Parliament to say she would not be bullied.

Look, I feel these issues very personally – just like everyone else does. That’s why we’ve put in place this specialist care unit. We have 80 people in this exemptions unit looking at these issues and these people are human beings as well. They’re having to go through all these details, and make really difficult and tough decision but this is happening in other states as well,” the Queensland Premier said.

“It’s happening around the world. It’s not nice.”

While the Premier did throw support for the border exemption unit she had created the previous Friday she did say all decisions were ultimately to be made by her Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young which could be inferred as a gesture of throwing her under the bus given the political heat the Premier was receiving or a steadfast resolution that policy would be decided by those who were best placed to make these health decisions regardless of the political context.

I also understand 229 exemptions for specialist workers, healthcare and compassionate grounds,” Palaszczuk advised.

There had also been 31,000 freight exemptions granted and 170,000 border zone exemptions granted according to the Premier. 

Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Sonya Bennett also advised that Queensland Health was working to make things easier for the NSW family of 39 year old Mark Keans who was in a Queensland hospital fighting cancer to visit him.

I think we all recognise that these are difficult situations. In every situation with Mark Keans and others, the department works closely with applying for exemptions to find a solution to support what they would like. But at the same time recognising we need to continue to mitigate any risk of transmission,” Dr Bennett said.

There were two new cases in Queensland overnight with 28 active cases in the state. In the past 24 hours there had been 9,216 tests carried out.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles advised one active case had a positive development.

An eighty-one year old COVID-19 patient who had been in hospital for 77 days already having contracted it on the Ruby Princess cruise ship was now scheduled to move out of Intensive Care next week. 

GO RICHARD!

September 13

In the United Kingdom there were 3,330 new daily cases of COVID-19 following the previous day’s 3,497.

There were also five new deaths.

Scotland reported 244 new cases, the most since the 6th of May according to Reuters.

From Monday England was to bring in new bans on social gatherings to combat the rise in figures.

In Queensland the apolitical Australian Medical Association Queensland came out publicly with a strong show of support for the state’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young. As their Dr Bav Manoharan put it, “Do we want more people at funerals or do we want more COVID funerals?”.

Good on them, Dr Young has done nothing but her job to the best of her ability and her actions have been of overwhelming benefit to Queenslanders.

The Queensland Premier was prepared to put it all on the line with an upcoming election in six weeks.

If it means I have to lose the election, I will risk all that if it means keeping Queenslanders safe. I will always stand up for I believe to be right in this state,” Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk said.

I’m putting myself out there, I’m putting myself on the line. But I’m making no apologies for keeping Queenslanders safe at this time,” she advised.

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 28,696,020 confirmed COVID-19 cases globally with a daily increase of 313,614. 

There had been 919,724 deaths around the world with a daily increase of 5,660.

In Australian there had been 26,607 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 42. There had been 803 deaths with a daily increase of six.

In Canada there had been 135,626 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 702. There had been 9,163 deaths with no daily increase.

In the United Kingdom there had been 365,178 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,497. There had been 41,623 deaths with a daily increase of nine.

In India the day before there had been a new record for daily cases with 97,570. That record would be broken again on the 17th of September with 97,894 cases on that day alone. On the 16th of September there would be 1,290 deaths reported in the country, only the reporting of 2,003 deaths on the 17th of June had been larger.

On the 13th of September in India there had been it was 4,754,356 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 94,372. There had been 78,586 Indian deaths due to COVID-19 with a daily increase of 1,114.

In the United States of America there had been 6,386,832 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,523. There had been 191,809 with a daily increase of 1,022.

September 14

On Monday it was reported that the Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young had received death threats and now had a permanent police protection with officers at her home and travelling with her.

The Queensland Australian Medical Association President Steve Perry told of the situation for the CHO, “It has been quite stressful and it hasn’t been helped by cowardly people threatening to take the life of a woman.

For her part Dr Young referred back to the suffering of others when admitting the difficulties she had endured.

But then, this [pandemic] has taken an enormous toll on nearly every single person in our community. We can’t see a clear end to this. So, we’re going to all have to work this through together and work out how we can manage this as well as go forward,” she said.

Queensland’s Health Minister Steven Miles refused to discuss individual cases of families trying to see each other following the media coverage of one daughter trying to attend her father’s funeral with the Prime Minister calling the Queensland Premier.

I never have and never will address individual cases … I know that the chief health officer and her team go through [all exemption applications] very, very carefully, and wherever they can they are as compassionate as they possibly can be, while also ensuring Queenslanders are kept safe,” said the Minister.

The QAMA President advised Dr Young had been working 5am to 10pm every day to go through hundred of applications for border control exemptions at one point.

It was quite hard work. She now has eight or 10 people who can help her do that,” he said referring to the special exemption unit.

Amazing how we can complain when we don’t leaders who stand up to media spin and relentless opposition but when we finally do we don’t show our support. There was an upcoming election in Queensland and Premier Anastacia Palasczuk was about to find out how much support she had.

-Lloyd Marken