COVID-19 DIARY – A YEAR INTO IT

20200313_210011At the Brisbane Comedy Festival, March 13 2020. Copyright Lloyd Marken

March 13

For me it always come back to Friday the 13th of March.

As we entered 2021 there were lots of anniversary milestones.

The first reported case in America, in the UK, in Australia, when restrictions came into place for air travel.

Monday the 16th of March was actually when new restrictions came into place in Australia but it is Friday the 13th that holds the most significance for me when the restrictions were announced.

That whole week things had been brewing.

Schools shut down in France, only food stores and pharmacies were allowed to be open in Italy, the stockmarket crashed, government ministers across the world were testing positive for the virus and the World Health Organisation was declaring a global pandemic.

We knew we were building to something but Friday the ripchord was pulled.

The Formula 1 in Melbourne was cancelled, the Prime Minister announced there would be no mass gatherings of 500 people or more come Monday. How quaint that now seems.

Formula One's Australian Grand Prix cancelled amid coronavirus fears |  Formula One | The Guardian

I went to the Brisbane Comedy Festival that night and met up with some friends to review Dave Hughes doing his stand-up show for Scenestr magazine. There was a sense of one last hurrah before leaping into the unknown.

We didn’t know what was to come but we knew it was coming.

Nothing was going to be the same for a while. What would become the new normal? The sooner we found out the sooner the whole population could become comfortable with it.

There was an uncertainty in the air but also a resolve.

Now that things were happening we just knew we had to get on board with it and reassuringly most people’s thoughts turned to others and how to help them.

Whether it was fundraising for Meals on Wheels America,

The Salvation Army here in Australia,

charities that help Australian veterans like Mates4Mates, Soldier On with patron 101 year old Sgt Bert who is a genuine Rat of Tobruk, and veterans’ families Legacy,

or The International Association for Human Values as they provided food to daily wage earners who had lost their jobs in India,

or the Endeavour Foundation who help people with disabilities,

or Medecins Sans Frontieres as they provided medical aid across the world for COVID or disaster relief,

or the charity Headspace that provides mental health support for young people,

or the After School All Stars Program for school children in America that pivoted during COVID to provide food during lockdowns,

or the GoFundMe page BuyThemACoffee organised by Kaylie Smith who raised over $80,000 dollars to provide free coffees for nursing staff across the country,

or a little initiative in support of a small cafe in Toowong called StellaRossa that saw 200 coffee vouchers delivered to hospital staff at the nearby The Wesley Hospital,

or The London Ambulance Service Charitable Fund

– the legacy and example of Captain Tom Moore lived on in many acts far and wide.

Money isn’t everything either, whether it was a phone call, a skype, some flowers or a gift, or where possible a visit.

People looked out for each other and buoyed each other’s spirits.

I know I owe a great deal to many calls to my parents and to the humour and kindness of my dear friends and wife.

Recently a work colleague tracked down a Lego kit from the 1980s, created a package to house it with some kind words on it and handed it over to me.

I think it is one of the best gifts I have ever received.

I don’t like to think about what it might have cost him but the most important thing to me is the thought that went into it and the reason he gave it to me is truly humbling.

I posted my first post about COVID-19 back on the 22nd of April covering events starting the 3rd of March. I eventually caught up with current events and with each post scheduled two days apart I had a whole month of posts scheduled throughout July at the end of June.

Then I went on my secondment and subsequently fell behind.

I’m still playing catch-up.

This will be the 148th post in a row on this topic.

The COVID-19 Diary changed my blog, made it more personal which I need to be vigilant about not doing too much of.

I have written about other things but always in the context of this COVID year.

I probably imagined that I would write about it for at least a year or two but not necessarily at this length.

20200606_150919 Copyright Lloyd Marken.

During June in the wake of Black Lives Matters and receding COVID numbers I wondered what I would write about next.

I felt more removed from events happening around the world – rather than writing about what was happening to me I was merely curating news.

Then the outbreak from hotel quarantines happened in Victoria and it seems there has always been something ever since including lockdowns and scares in Brisbane.

Also I became aware of the need to write about nice things happening like my holidays, secondments and weddings.

20200703_094616

The Polish Place. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Subsequent waves were devastating countries like the U.S. and U.K. and Brazil and now places like India. Just as that first wave was in China all that time ago.

With fellow bloggers and family in those countries they have never been far from my mind as I wrote about the situation in Australia which by comparison made me feel very fortunate.

It seemed a tall order to have our scientists come up with a vaccine in twelve months back at the beginning but they did.

20210214_191802

Copyright Lloyd Marken

Being a year on makes you wonder where we will be a year from now.

Hopefully better off.

Hopefully there will be less diary entries.

Hopefully.

I do strongly suspect I will still be writing about COVID to some extent for some time to come.

Last year I saw my family in early March for birthday catch-ups.

I didn’t see my parents again in person for roughly three months. Then not again until November,

Then Christmas.

Then around New Years.

Then March again for the birthdays a year on.

That was nice.

Awesome Time Lapse Video Of Planet Earth Taken On The ...

On the 13th of March of 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 138,347 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 9,432.

There had been 5,087 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 362.

On the 13th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 118,774,981 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 482,705.

There had been 2,637,553 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,548.

We felt we had beaten it': New Zealand's race to eliminate the coronavirus  again

On the 13th of March, 2020 in New Zealand there had been 5 confirmed cases with a daily increase  The first case reported in the country had been on the 28th of February, 2020. The first recorded death would be on the 29th of March, 2020.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in New Zealand there had been 2,066 confirmed cases with a daily increase of five. There had been 26 deaths.

Ladakh to Kerala, vaccine rollout begins | India News,The Indian Express

On the 13th of March, 2020 in India there had been 78 confirmed cases with a daily increase of one. The first recorded cases were five on the 30th of January, 2020. The first death due to COVID-19 was recorded on the 13th of March, 2020.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in India there had been 11,333,728 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 24,882. There had been 158,446 deaths with a daily increase of 140.

Canada: military reveals “horrific” conditions in aged care homes ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 with a daily increase of 59 cases the total number in Canada jumped to 152. The first death recorded March 11, remained the only one in the country.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Canada there had been 899,757 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,018. There had been 22,371 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

A row of patient transport vans are parked outside the Epping Gardens aged care home.

On the 13th of March, 2020 there had been 189 cases of COVID-19 in Australia with 49 of those cases reported that day alone. There had been three deaths in my country at that point.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Australia there had been 29,102 confirmed cases with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 909 deaths.

What to know about social distancing strategies amid coronavirus ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 there were 802 cases in total reported in the United Kingdom. Over a quarter of those had just been reported that day – 208. There were two new deaths leading to a total of 10.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in the United Kingdom there had been 4,247,068 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,759. There had been 125,343 deaths with a daily increase of 175.

New York City Mass Graves On Island Are Increasing Because Of ...

On the 13th of March, 2020 in the United States of America there were 277 new cases with a total of 1,264 overall. There were 36 dead, 7 from that day alone.

In the United States of America there had been 29,000,561 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 60,312. There had been 527,068 deaths with a daily increase of 1,570.

Coronavirus digest: France reports over 50,000 cases in single day | News |  DW | 25.10.2020

In France on the 13th of March, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported an increase from 2,281 to 3,640 in the country. There was a daily increase of 31 dead in the country taking the total of 79.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in France there had been 3,946,733 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 25,120. There had been 89,632 deaths with a daily increase of 290.

Coronavirus: South Korea declares highest alert as infections surge - BBC  News

On the 13th of March, 2020 in South Korea there had been 7,979 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 110. There had been 67 deaths with a daily increase of one.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in South Korea there had been 95,169 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 490. There had been 1,667 deaths with a daily increase of five.

COVID-19 and the Iranian Shadows of War | Chatham House – International  Affairs Think Tank

On the 13th of March, 2020 in Iran there had been 11,368 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,289. There had been 514 deaths with a daily increase of 85.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Iran there had been 1,731,558 confirmed cases with a a daily increase of 8,088. There had been 61,069 deaths with a daily increase of 53.

Image: A man wearing a protective mask passes by the Colosseum in Rome on March 7, 2020 amid fear of Covid-19 epidemic.

In Italy the WHO reported a daily increase of 2,547 cases bringing the national total to 21,157. The death toll increased by 252 taking us to 1,268.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in Italy there had been 3,175,807 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 26,790. There had been 101,564 deaths with a daily increase of 380.

Medics work in ICU of Huoshenshan Hospital- China.org.cn

On the 13th of March, 2020 in China there had been 80,991 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 3,181 deaths with a daily increase of eight.

On the 13th of March, 2021 in China there had been 102,276 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 73. There had been 4,849 deaths. That’s not fuckin true but anyway that is what was reported.

Photos: Sobering images show Brazil's mounting coronavirus death toll

I thank you for following me on this journey, for sharing it with me. It has meant a lot to me to continue writing and to have people who read and comment or offertheir own knowledge. As we continue I hope the journey gets easier and I hope you are there with me.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – GOD BLESS SIR TOM MOORE

A mural of Capt Sir Tom in Southport

February 02

Many years I was walking through the city on my way to work in the lead-up to ANZAC Day.

There was a gentleman big jowled sitting in a wheelchair selling badges.

On his cap was stitched 105 Field Battery.

I noted that 105 had been at the battle of Long Tan.

“Long Tan was the last action I was in,” he told me.

I thanked him, I asked him to pick a badge out for me. He chose a slouch hat with the feather that denoted the Australian Light Horse. Our calvary that charged at Beersheba in World War I and now rode armoured personal carriers.

I wondered if he had a relative that served in the Light Horse and that is why he chose it.

But I did not ask.

We said our farewells and walked on to work.

The gunners at Nui Dat rained down hell on the Vietnamese at Long Tan. Over three thousand rounds in three hours from their L5s. Without them the vastly outnumbered 6RAR soldiers would have been overrun.

At one point they were ordered by the Australian infantry to fire on their own positions, the situation so precarious.

Here was a man who had been there.

He had a story.

I wondered how many people passed him that day oblivious to this fact.

I wanted to hear his story.

We owe a lot to our vets but how often do we even recognise them?

Captain Tom recalls fighting on the front lines in Burma in WWII and  memories of VE Day | EXPRESS INFORMER

I imagine it was the same for Captain Tom Moore for many years.

A hero in our midst unheralded but loved and known and appreciated by those in his community.

That all changed last year.

A simple goal on his part to use his walker and do some laps of his garden to raise some money for other heroes galvanised a nation to action and lifted morale in the most of desperate of times.

It was never what he did that was the big deal – it was what he got us all to do through the simplicity of his actions and beliefs.

We were and are in trouble – so ask yourself what are you going to do about it? What can you do about it? Where is the help needed most?

Captain Tom Moore had an answer to all three of those questions and got to work.

Captain Tom Moore invited to ring Lord's bell and offer England team-talk |  England cricket team | The Guardian

The fact that a veteran of war raised funds for those on the frontlines of saving lives and risking their own in hospitals and health care centres across the country was wholly appropriate.

One old hero spurned to action yet again for our current health care heroes of today.

His old Regiment gave him a medal and an Honour Guard as he finished his final laps. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over his house for his birthday. The Queen knighted him.

But perhaps his greatest honour and at the heart of his legacy is 1.5million people donated to his NHS Fundraiser and over 39 million pounds went to our health care workers.

One and half million people did something inspired by him.

Countless more too indirectly, prompted to take action even if it was in support of another charity or through another mechanism other than fundraising.

Why the British hero Captain Tom Moore mattered - Chicago Tribune

You of course already know where this is going.

Captain Tom Moore was admitted to hospital on Sunday and passed away on the 2nd of February, 2021 from COVID.

He was 100 years old.

It had been less than a year since he completed the 100th lap of his 25metre garden on the 16th of April, 2020 way ahead of the deadline of his birthday on April 30th.

Medication that he took for pneumonia meant he could not be vaccinated. Somehow the fact that a hero of the COVID pandemic who could have passed from a whole range of natural causes at such an age was cut down by the virus quietly angers me.

But Captain Moore faced the foe we are all facing with dignity and grace and courage.

One last example of inspiration.

One more act of courage from a man who had lived his life well and a soldier who had never failed to answer the call to action and to do his duty.

Britain′s ′Captain Tom′ dies of coronavirus at age 100 | News | DW |  02.02.2021

The flag at 10 Downing Street flew at half mast, Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying, “Captain Sir Tom Moore was a hero in the truest sense of the word. In the dark days of the Second World War he fought for freedom and in the face of this country’s deepest post-war crisis he united us all, he cheered us all up, and he embodied the triumph of the human spirit.He became not just a national inspiration but a beacon of hope for the world. Our thoughts are with his daughter Hannah and all his family.

His daughters Hannah Ingram-Moore and Lucy Teixeirareleased a statement full of thanks to everyone but in particular our health heroes who they wrote, “unfalteringly professional, kind and compassionate and have given us many more years with him than we ever would have imagined.”

We are so grateful that we were with him during the last hours of his life; Hannah, Benjie and Georgia by his bedside and Lucy on FaceTime. We spent hours chatting to him, reminiscing about our childhood and our wonderful mother.

Who was Captain Tom's wife Pamela?

Dr Adam Briki on working for the NHS and the fundraising of his great  uncle, Captain Tom

Picture shows proud Captain Tom Moore with his daughter on her wedding day  - Mirror Online

Captain Sir Tom Moore: His Life In Pictures

Who is Captain Tom Moore's daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore?

Captain Sir Tom Moore: 'I always think of the beneficial things' | British  GQ

An Audience with Hannah Ingram-Moore, Captain Sir Tom Moore's daughter -  MKFM 106.3FM - Radio Made in Milton Keynes

We shared laughter and tears together. The last year of our father’s life was nothing short of remarkable. He was rejuvenated and experienced things he’d only ever dreamed of. Whilst he’d been in so many hearts for just a short time, he was an incredible father and grandfather, and he will stay alive in our hearts forever,” they wrote.

God bless Captain Tom Moore and thank you for your service.

Rest now old soldier.

Your duty is done.

We can’t all be heroes like Captain Tom Moore but we can all live a little bit more from his example.

-Lloyd Marken

Captain Sir Tom Moore's funeral to get flypast by WWII plane | World news |  The Guardian

COVID-19 DIARY – ARISE SIR TOM MOORE

Capt Tom Moore becomes Sir Tom after being knighted by Queen ...

 

July 17 

Captain Tom Moore, the 100 year old World War II veteran of the Burma campaign who had raised close to 33 million pounds for the NHS Charities went to Windsor Castle with his family.

Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II walked over from her granddaughter’s nearby wedding to make a special exception to the cessation of such ceremonies to formally knight the centenarian.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “On occasion, the Queen invests individuals privately during audiences.”

The Queen herself had chosen to join the Auxillary Territorial Service in 1945 serving in London during the war.

 

Queen Elizabeth knights 100-year-old vet Captain Tom: See all the ...

 

When quizzed about what was discussed between the two, ever the loyal Knight Sir Tom replied “No. That’s between the Queen and I,” he said “I don’t think I’ll tell anybody what she said, it was just the Queen and I speaking privately and it was a great honour for me to be able to speak to her at all.

Captain Tom was joined by his daughter Hannah Ingram, son-in-law Colin Ingram, grandson Benji and granddaughter Georgia.

Arise Sir Tom and God Bless.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WALK ON SIR THOMAS MOORE

Tom Moore stands with a walking stick on a sunny day in his garden, with his walker nearby.

 

19 May

Monday I started feeling some mild flu like symptoms and it only got worse on Tuesday so as a precaution we decided I would work from home the whole week. Originally it was expected I would be coming in Thursday and Fridays.

The national broadcaster’s program Foreign Correspondent ran a great piece  about how COVID-19 was affecting the lowest paid workers in India.

At the best of times, living conditions in slums will cause people who live in better conditions to feel sadness, shame or horror.

In the slums of Mumbai a bathroom will be shared by 80 people in a daily basis, under such circumstances it is easy for a virus to spread.

People had moved from the regions to work in those slums for corporations that once the country shut down no longer paid them. Many just started walking home with public transport shut down. They will walk for days with the possessions they have.

With COVID-19 in full flight the disproportion of wealth in any society is being made more apparent.

I don’t have any answers but this episode reminded me yet again how lucky I am and wonder about what I could do to help others.

 

 

 

Tom Moore

20 May

Some people leave their run late.

Nobody would have felt Tom Moore had much else left to do on the eve of turning 100. A veteran of World War II he had served in Burma and come back home and raised his family and lived a good life.

Yet when the grandfather who had been born in the time of the Spanish flu pandemic started to live through COVID-19 he set himself a task.

He would walk 100 laps of the 25 metre loop in his garden with the aid of his walking frame before his upcoming 100th birthday on the 30th of April in the hopes of raising $1,000 pounds for the UK National Health Service (NHS).

As he completed his laps and promised “Tomorrow will be a good day,” his determination captured the heart of his nation and the world.

With Michael Ball and NHS Voices of Care Choir he recorded a version of You’ll Never Walk Alone which topped the UK Charts.

On April 16 when he completed his 100th lap the 1st Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment were on hand to provide him with a guard of honour.

 

 

On the day of his 100th Birthday the Royal Air Force’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew over his home in Bedfordshire.

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/embed/p08bzts4/52735192

At the end of his efforts he had broken a Guinness World Record for most money raised by an individual through a walk. His fundraising total $33 million pounds! (61.8 million Australian dollars) for the NHS whose workers he refers to as “national heroes.

He was made an Honorary member of the English Cricket Team which is not nearly as good as being an Honorary member of the Australian Cricket Team but probably means a lot to him as an Englishman.

The retired Captain was made an Honorary Colonel.

Then Boris Johnson decided fuck it, let’s give him a knighthood and the Queen thought yeah well we bloody well should. Overwhelmed by the honour he tweeted thanks to the Prime Minister, Her Majesty The Queen and the Great British public.

I will remain at your service.

It’s unknown how the ceremony will go ahead or when.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Moore said, adding, “I hope she’s not very heavy-handed with the sword, because by then I might be rather a poor old weak soul.”

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

Every time I read about this man I just cry.

I cry because it’s not really what he did that matters, it’s what he inspired in others that does.

He stood for certain values we are afraid we are losing.

Last month he said “Let’s all carry on and remember that things will get better. We have had problems before — we have overcome them — and we shall all overcome the same thing again.

He demonstrated in his resolve and spirit what we can all do and others have picked up his example.

One and half million followers and donors and countless more making a decision every day to be a little bit more like Captain Tom.

Arise Sir Moore and God bless you.

-Lloyd Marken