COVID-19 DIARY – REVIEW OF ‘PLUCKED’ AT ANYWHERE FESTIVAL AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

Weekend Notes 23

 

May 16

 

I got an e-mail a little while back inviting me to review a show at Anywhere Festival which was pretty exciting.

On Sunday night Karen and I left early from a family gathering and headed for Elements Collective a bar in the Valley.

I really enjoyed the themes and jokes of Plucked, the first show from new theatre company WhittleBerry.

The review ran in the Weekend Notes newsletter, racked up some views and the following weekend the show was sold out.

So a lot can be expected from WhittleBerry in the years to come and it was very exciting to see their firsrt show.

You can read my review here Plucked – Anywhere Festival – Brisbane (weekendnotes.com)

I really enjoyed going to the Anywhere Festival in 2021 and seeing a terrific show.

As Karen and I headed home, I once again realised how lucky i was to live in Australia while developments happened elsewhere.

Actress Lisa Hickey made her directorial debut here, I had previously seen her perform in The Curators productions of Uncle Vanya and Ibsen’s Ghosts, and as Cassius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar mounted by heartBeast Theatre, writing reviews for Scenestr and Weekend Notes.

I really enjoyed going to the Anywhere Festival in 2021 and seeing a terrific show.

It had been a while since we had gone to see a show in the Valley. I once again realised how lucky i was to live in Australia while developments happened elsewhere.

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

-Lloyd Marken

 

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 – ROLL OUT ROLL UP – PART XI

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

May 08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 09

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 08, 2020.

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

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

COVID-19 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 – HEAVILY WEIGHED DECISIONS – PART I

May 03

Monday.

The vaccine rollout continued in Australia with vaccinations being opened up to the 2A Cohort. Anyone over 50 could now get the jab and the main jab available was the AstraZeneca one.

This had followed discussions at National Cabinet.

Politically it was commented that maybe with the vaccine rollout not going smoothly the Prime Minister had moved to more closely consult with state Premiers to achieve results and to also share any blame for failure to deliver.

Either way, with the decision to list Pfizer as the preferred jab for under 50s, the very rare examples of blood clotting being reported in media, and elements of the community that were fearful or against vaccinations – there was now a need to build momentum and confidence.

Sometimes I worry that people have become complacent over our good fortune here in Australia.

There are plenty of countries that avoided major outbreaks for some time before falling foul of the virus.

There was also talk about the need to open up borders and that would only be suitable once we got the majority of the population vaccinated.

So this was the next step and a step in the right direction.

Nearly 16 million doses would be part of 2A which was a cohort of six million Australians aged 50 to 69.

I knew that still not all of 1B had been completed which included people with disabilities and the staff at their centres.

Across the country people were lining up at vaccination hubs including people like the 53 year old recently re-elected Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan who rolled up his sleeve for the AstraZeneca jab.

In Melbourne there were waiting times for people who just rocked up on the day – some as long as two hours.

On Monday a new element to the India travel ban that had been announced on Saturday came into effect.

Any travellers who have been in India in the 14 days leading up to their date of arrival in Australia could face jail time of up to five years and a fine of up to $66,000.

The law appeared to be unprecedented and in some circles was labelled immoral and inhuman.

“It is incredibly disproportionate to the threat that is posed,” GP Dr Vyom Sharma told Weekend Breakfast.

Our families are quite literally dying in India overseas. Many people are trying to come back. We know that hundreds of people in this situation are classify as medically and financially vulnerable, to have absolutely no way of getting them out — this is abandonment,” he said.

A week previously the WA Premier Mark McGowan had said, “India is an epicentre of death and destruction as we speak.I don’t think there is any need to go to India, I don’t.

Epidemiologist Michael Toole, from the Burnet Institute cited a lack of confidence in hotel quarantine from the government.

By his count there had been 16 separate leaks from hotel quarantine in the past six months in five major capital cities.

We need to do that by ensuring that the ventilation in every hotel room is adequate and that staff wear the most appropriate protective equipment, including respiratory masks. That just hasn’t happened because we don’t have a national standard. Each state and territory is basically doing their own thing,” he cited as a possible solution.

As I said, we’ve seen in 16 times in the last 6 months. And if we don’t make any improvements, we can expect more than a dozen more breaches to occur in the section six months,” he told.

Hysterical and ruinous': Christmas Island furious over Australia's  coronavirus plans | Christmas Island | The Guardian

Opposition MP Jason Clare suggested Christmas Island as a solution as had been done a year earlier with people returning from China but notably that was previous to the Howard Springs facility being set up.

According to Education Minister Alan Tudge, the Howard Springs facility in the Northern Territory currently has an infection rate of 15 per cent, well above the goal of 2 per cent.

Fifty-seven per cent of the positive cases in quarantine had been arrivals from India. It was placing a very, very significant burden on health and medical services in states and territories,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dlsms4JhCCY

May 04

In the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday morning across Victoria’s 22 mass vaccination hubs there had been a record 6,923 doses administered.

As media spotlight ramped up on the travel ban, Prime Minister Scott Morrison when interviewed said, “I think it would be very remote circumstances that would see them imposed. I don’t want to see them necessarily imposed anywhere because I don’t want to see people breaching the rule. If everybody cooperates, then we can get things in a stronger position and that means we can start those repatriation flights again.

The Australian Medical Association had written a letter to the Prime Minister and Health Minister to remove the jail terms and fine amounts.

“To be clear, the AMA is supportive of the pause on flights so that our hotel quarantine system can be readied for the increased risk that we are clearly seeing now of Australians returning with the virus … from India,” AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said.

“The government, in our view, should be doing everything in its power — chartering flights, using our Defence Force if necessary — to bring the most vulnerable of the Australians in India home. In the longer term there’s also the need to replace hotel quarantine with purpose-built facilities, and I’ve had a conversation with the Minister of Health expressing that view today, and the AMA will continue to fight for that.”

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 4, 2020

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Prep, Year 1, 11 and 12 would return to school next Monday May 11. For the other grades it was planned for them to remain remote learning with a return to classrooms May 25.

COVID-19 DIARY – I GOT VACCINATED WITH ASTRAZENECA

April 27

I caught up with my GP in regards to a recent endoscopy I had taken.

I mentioned I had tried to book a vaccine appointment online and had been unable to.

Weeks earlier she had advised I was under 1B cohort and would be getting the vaccine but the health advice had changed since then.

Pfizer was now the preferred vaccine for under 50s which she explained meant I could now wait for the Pfizer.

I told her I was not concerned about the risk from COVID to myself but I did believe we as a community needed to get as many people vaccinated as much as possible and that I was happy to play my part. i was prepared to get the AztraZeneca vacccine, my specialist had advised I could and the risk was extremely minimal.

There were things she needed to consider as my General Practioner but we were in agreement.

She identified a time to get the jab that Thursday morning, when I mentioned wanting to make a vaccine appointment I was told they were very booked up at the moment but I mentioned Thursday morning and sure enough there was a spare and I was booked in.

My GP has always taken good care of me.

April 29
Thursday was the day and I arrived for my 11:40 appointment.
I got taken into a room and debriefed and filled out a form. It was noted that I appeared younger than 50 (what a relief) but I my specialist and GP had given the go ahead.I went into another room, was sat down, took off my shirt and then I was jabbed in the shoulder.

I was then sat in another room for 15 minutes to see if I had any adverse reactions.

The vaccination was administered entirely by medical staff at my local medical centre.
Fifteen minutes later I was free to go and ushered out the door.
It ran like clockwork and was painless.
I got quite a bruise from my flu vaccination weeks earlier even though the needle had gone in particularly smoothly.
Not such a significant bruise with the vaccine jab, nor fatigue or muscle aches for me althought the next day working from home I had felt my hips and back hurting from sitting at my desk but that happened quite a bit.
I have been hanging on tenterhooks for others I know to get protection from COVID.
My sister in particular in the UK where there had been so many cases and deaths but also friends, family and fellow bloggers from around the world and here.
Getting one myself didn’t make me feel much different.
However I bellieve it is something we should all do as soon as we can, I believe it is part of much larger effort to make our way down the road to recovery.
I wanted Karen to get one too and it seemed likely she would be lucky to receive a vaccination by the end of the year. I was not happy about that.
Yet it still kind of blew my mind that less than 14 months after our lives radically changed in mid-March 2020 and here I was receiving a vaccination.
I was very lucky to live in Australia.
Was it possible my dose had been made in India. I don’t know probably not but it was one more reason to be grateful and to think of what I was going to do with my good fortune.
I understand some people are scared of getting vaccines. The only thing I would say is the statistics seem to suggest you have a one in million chance of dying from the blood clot.
But COVID will cause further outbreaks. Even the small ones expereinced recently in Australia probably carry a greater risk to you than taking the vaccine. Taking the vaccine isn’t just about yourself either, it’s about building a herd immunity that will hopefully bring this disease under control.
I know you’re scared but I know you can be brave too. So maybe talk to your doctor and see what they advise.

20210429_122430
                                Copyright Lloyd Marken.

May 02
On the 2nd of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 151,882,470 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 829,666.
There had been 3,188,172 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 13,229.
In Papua New Guinea there had been 11,262 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 56. There had been 115 deaths.
Two weeks later on the 13th of May, the WHO reported there had been 11,537 vaccine doses administered in the country. That was it. Less than the number of cases reported in the country.
Australia had previously announced a delivery of 8,000 doses in March to the country.
One hundred and thirty thousand vaccine doses had been announced to be delivered to PNG under the COVAX scheme in mid-April.
In Australia there had been 29,812 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 910 deaths.
In Malaysia there had been 411,594 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,881. There had been 1,521 deaths with a daily increase of 15.
In Canada there had been 1,219,425 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,342. There had been 24,219 deaths with a daily increae of 50.
In the United Kingdom there had been 4,418,534 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,907. There had been 127,524 deaths with a daily increase of seven. 
The numbers were now finally under the kind of figures that had been posted during the initial first wave in the UK. They weren’t as low as the daily averages from the previous summer but they were the lowest they had been since September.
In India there had been 19,557,457 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 392,488.
The highest number of daily new cases recorded in the country had been yesterday with 401,993 cases.
There had been 215,542 deaths with a daily increase of 3,689. A new record of daily new deaths in the country.
In the United States of America there had been 32,039,197 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 53,619. Still way too high. There had been 570,835 deaths with a daily increase of 810.
-Lloyd Marken
ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 2, 2020.

COVID-19 – WHEN ONE HURTS WE ALL HURT

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

April 28

As the situation deteroriated in India it consumed our news.

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

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

You’ve all seen the images now.

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

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

Where people had piled up on mattresses in hospital corridors now

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

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

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

The scale of death and illness had overwhelmed the system.

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

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

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

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

It is funny what images get to you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pandemic was raging.

RAGING.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MSF Focus on Papua New Guinea

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

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

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

The following week we made a small donation.

-Lloyd Marken

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

COVID-19 DIARY – THE FALLEN

Bomana Cemetery - Anzac Portal

April 25

ANZAC Day in Australia in 2021.

Light Up the Dawn Services continued across the country repeating the new tradition established last year due to COVID lockdowns.

But public marches did return to most states even if with COVID restrictions.

I took no part in any of it but I did pause and think about the fallen.

On the 25th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 146,142,034 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 850,448.

There had been 3,094,238 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 13,282.

The largest single daily increase of new cases was on the 23rd of April, 2021 – 912,279.

The highest number of deaths recorded in one day remained 16,660 reported on the 28th of January.

I’m sure who died from COVID had been underreported. Through the sheer scale fo the loss it was impossible to know for sure they said.

In Australia there had been 29,658 with a daily increase of 19. There had been 910 deaths.

In New Zealand there had been 2,245 confirmed cases and 26 deaths.

In Papua New Guinea, home of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, there had been 10,670 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 68. There had been 102 deaths. The country remained in the grip of the pandemic spreading.

Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels - Wikipedia

In South Africa there had been 1,574,370 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,385. There had been 54,125 deaths with a daily increase of 59.

In Turkey there had been 4,591,416 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 40,596. There had been 38,011 deaths with a daily increase of 339.

Their highest number of new daily cases had just been a week earlier on the 17th of April with 63,082.

The highest number of daily deaths would be 394 recorded on May the 1st, 2021.

In Germany there had been 3,287,418 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18,773. There had been 81,564 with a daily increase of 120.

In Italy there had been 3,949,517 confimed cases with a daily increase of 13,814. There had been 119,021 deaths with a daily increase of 322.

In Japan there had been 562,141 confirmed cases with a daily increase 5,142. There had been 9,913 deaths with a daily increase of 59. There was growing surge of new cases in the country.

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

In South Korea there had been 118,887 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 644. There had been 1,813 deaths with a daily increase of one.

In Malaysia there had been 390,252 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,717. There had been a 1,426 deaths with a daily increase of eleven. There was a growing surge in Malaysia too.

In Indonesia there had been 1,636,792 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,544. There had been 44,500 deaths with a daily increase of 154.

In Vietnam there had been 2,833 confirmed cases with a daily increase of one. There had been 35 deaths.

In Zimbabwe there had been 38,064 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 1,556 deaths.

In Namibia there had been 47,671 with a daily increase of 288. There had been 624 deaths with a daily increase of two.

Cambodian Capital to End Blanket COVID Lockdown Despite Surge | World News  | US News

In Cambodia there had been 9,975 confimed cases with a daily increase of 616. There had been 74 deaths with a daily increase of three. The country had recently seen the pandemic take off there.

On May 4th, 2021 the country recorded its highest daily number of new cases with 938. The highest number of daily deaths was ten on the 24th of April, 2021. 

In Somalia there had been 13,459 confirmed cases and 689 deaths. No daily increases that day.

The highest number of new daily cases was 326 on March 30th, 2021. The highest number of daily deaths was 32 on April 15, 2021.

In Rwanda there had been 24,535 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 76. There had been 328 deaths.

In Timor-Leste there had been 1,808 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 151. There had been three deaths.

Like Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and others, COVID was starting to be reported more in the tiny young nation. Their population was 1.293 million people. By the 2nd of May, 2021 30,599 vaccine doses would have been distrubuted in the country.

On May 9th, 2021 would be the highest amount of new daily cases with 262. Three deaths on May 14th, 2021 would be the highest daily record in the country so far. 

Fighting COVID-19 in Solomon Islands – Save the Children Australia

In the Solomon Islands there had been 20 confirmed cases and zero deaths reported.

In Afghanistan there had been 58,843 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 113. There had been 2,582 deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In Iraq there had been 1,025,288 with a daily increase of 6,967. There had been 15,217 deaths with a daily increase of 43.

The highest number of new daily cases in the country was 8,696 three days earlier on the 22nd of April, 2021. A new wave of cases was cresting in the country.

In Canada there had been 1,164,581 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,747. There had been 23,883 deaths with a daily increase of 61.

The highest number of new daily cases was 10,275 fours day earlier on April 21, 2021.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,403,174 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,061. There had been 127,417 deaths with a daily increase of 32.

India COVID-19 deaths could touch 1 million by August: Lancet | India News  | Al Jazeera

In India there had been 16,960,172 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 349,691!

It was a new record for new daily cases but pretty much every day was a new heartbreaking record that left death and misery in it’s wake of a scale previously unseen.

There had been 192,311 deaths in the country with  a daily increase of 2,767.

In the United States of America there had been 31,693,289 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 61,884. There had been 566,184 deaths with a daily increase of 838. Still way too high.

Milestones in Space Photography -– National Geographic

All those lives lost in countries around the world.

Just like lives lost in a war.

We were a year into this war, the casaulties were mounting and yet here we were. Vaccines had been made. We opened up, we closed down, waves came and went. Life wasn’t the same and wasn’t going be for a while yet but it still went on.

At the end of it, maybe for a lot of people nothing will ever be the same. Some memories will haunt, some losses will be painfully felt for the rest of days to come.

But come they will.

If not for us then for those who come after us.

All we can do is our best and the rest will take care of itself.

Such was it for those we remember on ANZAC Day.

The Fallen.

The Remembered.

The Lost.

Lest We Forget.

-Lloyd Marken