COVID-19 DIARY – EASTER IS GOOD TO GO IN QUEENSLAND BUT NOT FOR ME

20210401_171437
                             The entrance to the new COVID Fever Clinic. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

April 01

The first of April was the third day of a three day snap lockdown in the Greater Brisbane region.

It was Thursday and the next day was Good Friday.

The populace waited to have it confirmed that the lockdown would end today.

The number of venues listed from contract tracing had grown significantly.

There was an arguement to be made that had a lockdown be called in the wake of the first case with the PA doctor on the 12th of March that the Byron Bay Bluesfest would have been able to go ahead. That less cases would’ve ended out in the community and travelled as far as Gladstone and Toowoomba.

But case numbers were low as testing numbers had jumped, contract tracing had been ongoing during the lockdown, previous snap lockdowns had seen similar dispersal of the virus far and wide and but ultimately succeeded in their outcome of being a circuit breaker for the disease. There was some anxiety that the lockdown would not end today but if numbers were low this mornign precedent suggested it was likely the Premier would announce it would end.

As you would expect I was working from home.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Pallaszczuk announced in the morning that there were nine new cases in hotel quarantine and only one new case of community transmission and therefore the lockdown would end early at midday today.

I understand a lot of families in Greater Brisbane have made plans and the last thing we want to see are accidents on our roads at 5:00pm this afternoon and into the evening,” advised Premier Pallaszcuk.

Easter is good to go,” she said.

As before following the snap lockdown there would be a period of continued restrictions to remain in place until April 15 like mask wearing when indoors and unable to socially distant.

Cafes and restaurants could have patrons dine in but they had to be seated and there was no dancing to be had.

There was a person per 2 square metre rule for businesses and churches to adhere to.

Household gatherings were limited to 30 people.

There would be no visitors allowed at prisons, hospitals, aged care and disability services for the next two weeks.

We are not out of the woods yet. I’m asking Queenslanders, all Queenslanders, for the next two weeks if we all do the right thing, we can get through this together,” the Premier said.

Thirty four thousand, seven hundred and eleven tests had been carried out in the past 24 hours also giving confidence to authorities.

The amount of testing … has been astronomical,” Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said.

The two PA clusters now had a total of 20 cases linked to them including the new community case that morning who had been at the Byron Bay Hen’s party.

The Queensland Premier had requested an extension to the end of April in reducing the number of returned travellers returning through the state.

There were 82 active cases in hospital and 68 were returned travellers.

“That’s a real risk for us. I think we are the highest rate in the country at the moment with the most number of active cases in hospital,” said the Queensland Premier.

In Queensland there had been 1,386 cases of COVID, six deaths, 2,042714 tests conducted and currently 38 active cases.

As it got near to the end of my working day an e-mail was sent out at work.

Near where I work is the Toowong village shopping centre where I get my morning coffee from Stellarossa Toowong. Sometimes I pass through the newsagency on my way there.

Nextra in Toowong, Brisbane, QLD, Newsagents - TrueLocal

That newsagent had been listed on the Queensland Health website as a “casual contact” venue for Tuesday the 16th of March between 9:30 to 10am.

I backtracked through my notes.

Had I been working from home in the office on that day?

No I had been in the office.

I usually get a coffee around 9am to 10am.

There had been a meeting that morning.

Was it unlikely that I had been there before 10am.

Yes.

Was it unlikely that I had passed through the newsagency that day given I did not regularly do it on a daily basis.

Yes.

But was it possible….

Yes it was possible and therefore what I did next was a no brainer for me.

I finished work at 4:30pm and headed to the Prince Charles Hospital Fever Clinic to get tested having just read the e-mail maybe fifteen minutes prior to logging off.

Queensland Health broke venues from contract tracing into two types, one was close contacts and the second was casual contacts.

If you had been to a Close Contact site at the specified time then you needed to get tested immediately and quarantine until you get a negative result.

For those people even once you received a negative test you were to “complete the contact tracing self-assessment” and “stay quarantined even if you get a negative test until 14 days have passed since you were last there. It can take 14 days before you may show symptoms or test positive.”

There were over 1,700 people who would remain in quarantine as a result of this in Queensland over Easter.

For casual contacts.

“If you have been to any of the below locations at the relevant times you should:

Longtime readers will recall this is not the first time I sought out a COVID test or my first visit to the COVID-19 Fever Clinic at the Prince Charles Hospital.

On the 25th of February I was at The Prince Charles for something else and a nurse had been suspicous of the fact that we were wearing masks.

When I went and got tested for COVID for the first time on the 25th of May, 2020 I strolled throught the hospital to find myself out the back of an education centre.

We queued outside the building, there was a waiting room with chairs with masks to put on if you don’t already have one.

Then another room to go over paperwork.

Then another room to wait and then another room where the test was done.

I asked how deep the swab went and the nurse was very gentle. Perhaps coincidentally.

I returned twice to the place and followed a similar process in June 2020. That time one of the tests was distinctly uncomfortable.

On the 16th of December, 2020 with symptoms I returned to the Prince Charles Hospital to get tested and found the Fever Clinic had been moved. I had to walk through the Emergency Department to enter a long corridor where I found the clinic and got tested.

Now on the 1st of April I drove far from the main hospital to the other end of the campus grounds.

I saw a line of people on chairs in an undercover area outside a building. At the front of it I was checked in by a nurse, I was of course wearing a mask but was instructed to put on a surgical mask and wash my hands. The surgical mask had a blue plastic brim at the top of it where it would be positioned near the nose. It was as flimsy as masks you could buy in pharmacies.

I sat on a chair and waited for my test. I was told I would be called on my mobile. This practice I believe was in place to maybe allow waiting testees to leave and come back so as to keep numbers low at the site during peak testing. There were a few of us seated and waiting but perhaps not as many as there would be during the day or in particular in recent days.

I was there for close to ninety minutes.

A little over an hour before I got called and answered, a little later I was ushered in and got tested.

In December the nose swab was out but was told this time it was back. I felt they were thorugh but it was not painful. I wandered off into the night.

I was due to see my parents that Sunday for Easter and there was a good chance I would return a negative test by then and be free to attend to them.

But I though about my parents on a hospital bed, maybe a ventilator, fighting for their lives.

I had just seem them two weeks earlier.

There had been plenty of cases of people who became ill with COVID past the incubation period of 14 days while in isolation.

I was not prepared to take that risk.

I called them and advised I would not be seeing them and then I called work to arrange working from home.

I had a scheduled medical appointment the following Friday and people would be getting their flu shots at work on Thursday.

I rationalised a subsequent test the following tuesday and isolating before then would bring us up to three weeks since the possibility of having been to the newsagency on the 16th of March so that is what I would do.

Below was taken from the Queensland Health website from the 2nd of April just to give you an idea of how easily a potential spread can occur even if a place where there are so few initial cases out in the community.

-Lloyd Marken

CLOSE CONTACTS

Date Place Suburb Arrival time Departure time
Saturday 20 March Shinobi Ramen Noodle shop
Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre
Carindale 12pm 2.16pm
Saturday 20 March Black Hops Brewery East Brisbane 12pm 2pm
Sunday 21 March Mamma’s Italian Restaurant
69 Redcliffe Parade
Redcliffe 12.30pm 3.10pm
Saturday 20 March Green Beacon brewing Co. Teneriffe 2pm 3.12pm
Saturday 20 March Eatons Hill Hotel Eatons Hill 3.44pm 5.30pm
Monday 22 March PCYC Pine Rivers Bray Park 7.16am 8.10am
Monday 22 March KCF Training (gym) New Birtinya 9.15am 11.30am
Monday 22 March Plus Fitness New Minyama 2.30pm 3.30pm
Tuesday 23 March Plus Fitness New Minyama 7.30am 8.30am
Tuesday 23 March Hamilton Hotel Updated Hamilton 2.20pm 5.23pm
Wednesday 24 March Oliver’s Real food – Dine in Patrons New Maryborough West 11.50am 12.09pm
Friday 26 March FitStop Gym
6/338 Lytton Road
Morningside 6.50am 8am
Friday 26 March Spinnaker Park Café
222 Alf O’Rourke Drive
Callemondah 10.22am 11.23am
Friday 26 March Auckland House
60 Flinders Parade
Gladstone Central 7.23pm 9.30pm
Saturday 27 March Auckland House
60 Flinders Parade
Gladstone Central 7.33am 8.20am
Saturday 27 March Savour Café
Merthyr Village Shopping Centre
New Farm 10.30am 12.10pm
Monday 29 March Premium Pilates & Fitness Coorparoo 9.25am 10.30am

CLOSE CONTACTS INTERSTATE LOCATIONS TO BE REFERRED TO ON THE NSW HEALTH WEBSITE

  • Byron Bay – Friday 26 March to Sunday 28 March
  • Suffolk Park – Friday 26 March to Sunday 28 March
  • Ewingsdale – Sunday 28 March
  • Ballina – Sunday 28 March
  • East Ballina – Sunday 28 March
  • Lennox Head – Sunday 28 March

HISTORICAL CASUAL CONTACTS – OLDER THAN 14 DAYS 

Date Place Suburb Arrival time Departure time
Tuesday 9 – Tuesday 23 March Princess Alexandra Hospital
5D Outpatients Department (Sexual Health Clinic, Infectious Disease Clinic, Immunology A Clinic)New
Woolloongabba 8.00pm
Tuesday 9 March
11.59pm
Tuesday 23 March
Tuesday 9 – Tuesday 23 March Princess Alexandra Hospital Ward 5D New Woolloongabba 8.00pm
Tuesday 9 March
11.59pm
Tuesday 23 March
Wednesday 10 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 1.15pm 2.15pm
Wednesday 10 March Woolworths Everton Park 2.30pm 2.40pm
Thursday 11 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 3.30pm 5.00pm
Friday 12 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 3.30pm 5.00pm
Saturday 13 March Woolworths and Specsavers
Brookside Shopping Centre
Mitchelton 4.00pm 5.00pm
Sunday 14 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 8.30am 10.00am
Monday 15 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 9.00am 10.30am
Tuesday 16 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 4.30pm 5.30pm
Wednesday 17 March Woolworths Everton Park 2.30pm 3.00pm
Wednesday 17 March Studio Pilates Grange 4.30pm 5.15pm

CASUAL CONTACTS

Date Place Suburb Arrival time Departure time
Tuesday 16 March Body Plus Physio Caboolture 08.30am 08.50am
Tuesday 16 March Nextra Toowong Village Toowong 9:30am 10:00am
Tuesday 16 March Silky Oakes Strathpine 12pm 12.05pm
Tuesday 16 March Price Line Pharmacy Albany Creek 12.30pm 12.40pm
Tuesday 16 March Grill’d Eatons Hill 1pm 1.30pm
Tuesday 16 March Meat at Billy’s Ashgrove 2:30pm 2:45pm
Wednesday 17 March Tafe Southbank 8am 4.30pm
Wednesday 17 March Woolworths Everton Park Everton Park 1.39pm 2.13pm
Thursday 18 March Plus Fitness New Everton Park 8.00am 9.30am
Thursday 18 March Milton Fruit Bowl Milton 9:00am 9:20am
Thursday 18 March World Gym North Lakes 9.15am 9.45am
Thursday 18 March Basil and Vine Burpengary 10am 10.15am
Thursday 18 March Giant Chemist
Pacific Fair Shopping Centre New
Broadbeach 1.45pm 2pm
Thursday 18 March Electric Chair Barber Shop Everton Park 3.15pm 4.14pm
Thursday 18 March Studio Pilates New Grange 4.30pm 5.15pm
Friday 19 March Plus Fitness New Everton Park 7.30am 9am
Friday 19 March Lawnton Country Markets Bakery Lawnton 6.11am 6.26am
Friday 19 March Plus Fitness Everton Park 7.30am 9am
Friday 19 March Woolworths Paddington 10am 10:15am
Friday 19 March Bakers Delight Paddington 10:15am 10:30am
Friday 19 March Westfield North Lakes 11.20am 11.50am
Friday 19 March Little Red Dumpling Carseldine 12.10pm 1.16pm
Friday 19 March Studio Pilates New Grange 12.15pm 1pm
Friday 19 March Woolworths Carseldine 1.10pm 1.20pm
Friday 19 March Chemist Warehouse New Windsor 2pm 2.20pm
Friday 19 March TB’s Wine and Beer Rosalie 2:30pm 2:45pm
Friday 19 March Newstead Brewing Co. Newstead 3.54pm 5.29pm
Friday 19 March Aldi Bald Hills 5.10pm 5.18pm
Friday 19 March Super Cheap Auto Bald Hills 5.30pm 5.33pm
Friday 19 March Reef Seafood & Sushi Brisbane Newstead 5.37pm 6.35pm
Friday 19 March The Standard Market Company, Gasworks Plaza
76 Skyring Tce
Newstead 6.35pm 6.45pm
Friday 19 March Public Toilet, Gasworks Plaza
(located to the right of the escalator from the car park)
Newstead 6.46pm 6.47pm
Saturday 20 March Plus Fitness 24/7 Gym Everton Park Everton Park 7.40am 8.34am
Saturday 20 March Coles Everton Park
Everton Plaza Shopping Centre
Everton Park 8.39am 8.44am
Saturday 20 March Neighbourhood Market Co. Everton Park 8.45am 8.55am
Saturday 20 March Westfield Carindale Shopping Centre – any part of the shopping centre Carindale 12pm 2.16pm
Saturday 20 March Black Hops Brewery East Brisbane 2pm 3pm
Saturday 20 March The Bavarian Eagle Street Pier Brisbane City 2.15pm 4pm
Saturday 20 March Market Organics (store only)
190 Enoggera Road
Newmarket 2.45pm 3pm
Saturday 20 March Riverland Brisbane Brisbane City 4.10pm 6.32pm
Saturday 20 March Viscosity Fortitude Valley 6.42pm 7.31pm
Saturday 20 March XCargo Fortitude Valley 7.35pm 9.32pm
Saturday 20 March Baskins-Robbins
2/489 South Pine Road
Everton Park 9.20pm 9.25pm
Sunday 21 March The Standard Market Company, Gasworks Plaza
76 Skyring Tce
Newstead 9.50am 10.20am
Sunday 21 March Presents of Mind Paddington 10:15am 10:30am
Sunday 21 March Genki Mart
3/24 South Pine Road
Alderley 10.30am 10.46am
Sunday 21 March Subway
Strathpine Plaza Shopping Centre
Strathpine 12.50pm 1pm
Sunday 21 March Burrito Bar Everton Park Everton Park 3.24pm 3.33pm
Sunday 21 March Liquorland, Dolphins Central Shopping Centre
Ashmole Road and Klingner Road
Kippa-Ring 4 .40pm 4.50pm
Monday 22 March Bunnings Rothwell
Cnr Anzac Avenue and Bremner Road
Rothwell 7 .14am 7.27am
Monday 22 March Café L’avenue Carseldine 8.51am 8.58am
Monday 22 March Ashgrove Fresh Fruit Shop Ashgrove 9:20am 9:30am
Monday 22 March Zambrero Aspley 12.05pm 12.34pm
Monday 22 March Jacobs Bakery Aspley 12.40pm 12.48pm
Monday 22 March Bunnings Stafford
450 Stafford Road
Stafford 12.40pm 12.50pm
Monday 22 March Bunnings Lawnton 3.15pm 3.30pm
Monday 22 March Strathpine Plaza Shopping Centre Strathpine 3.43pm 3.49pm
Monday 22 March Woolworths Mountain Creek New Mountain Creek 4.15pm 4.40pm
Tuesday 23 March Redcliffe Train Line – Kippa-Ring to Lawnton Kippa Ring to Lawnton 7.00am 8.00am
Tuesday 23 March Café L’avenue Carseldine 8am 8.29am
Tuesday 23 March Woolworths Paddington 9:10am 9:25am
Tuesday 23 March Westfield
(Dymocks and Woolworths)
North Lakes 11am 12pm
Tuesday 23 March Nutrition Warehouse New Maroochydore 11.15am 11.30am
Tuesday 23 March Brightwater Medical Centre at
Brightwater Shopping Centre New
Mountain Creek 12pm 12.45pm
Tuesday 23 March Sushi Train Carseldine 12pm 12.45pm
Tuesday 23 March Zambrero Lawnton 12.51pm 12.55pm
Tuesday 23 March QML Pathology at
Brightwater Shopping Centre New
Mountain Creek 1pm 1.15pm
Tuesday 23 March Lawnton Fruit Market Lawnton 1.57pm 2.05pm
Tuesday 23 March Redcliffe Train Line – Lawnton to Kippa-Ring Lawnton to Kippa Ring 2.00pm 3.00pm
Tuesday 23 March Rosalie Gourmet Market Deli Rosalie 2:30pm 2:45pm
Tuesday 23 March Poolwerx Strathpine Strathpine 3.15pm 3.27pm
Tuesday 23 March Nellas Gourmet Tucker Lawnton 3.37pm 3.47pm
Tuesday 23 March Woolworths Strathpine 4pm 4.30pm
Tuesday 23 March Dan Murphy’s Strathpine 7.26pm 7.36pm
Wednesday 24 March Tafe Southbank 8am 4.30pm
Wednesday 24 March IGA Milton 9:05am 9:15am
Wednesday 24 March Milton Fruit Bowl Milton 9:20am 9:30am
Wednesday 24 March Redcliffe Train Line – Lawnton to Kippa-Ring Lawnton to Kippa Ring 2.30pm 3.30pm
Wednesday 24 March Lawnton Country Markets Lawnton 2.36pm 2.43pm
Wednesday 24 March Coles Everton Park
Everton Plaza Shopping Centre
Everton Park 3.24pm 3.33pm
Wednesday 24 March Uroko Sushi on Train Everton Park 7.19pm 7.33pm
Thursday 25 March Café L’avenue Carseldine 8am 8.29am
Thursday 25 March Aldi Stafford, Stafford City Shopping Centre
400 Stafford Road
Stafford 8.30am 8.45am
Thursday 25 March World Gym North Lakes 8.45am 9.45am
Thursday 25 March Meats at Billy’s Ashgrove 9:10am 9:20am
Thursday 25 March Officeworks Rothwell 12pm 12.30pm
Thursday 25 March Café L’avenue Carseldine 12.34pm 1.34pm
Thursday 25 March Gin Gin Public Toilet (male) opposite Gin Gin Bakery Gin Gin 1.25pm 1.26pm
Thursday 25 March Gin Gin Bakery
41 Mulgrave St
Gin Gin 1.26pm 1.33pm
Thursday 25 March Westfield North Lakes 2pm 3pm
Thursday 25 March Miriam Vale Road Star Roadhouse – male toilet Miriam Vale 2.35pm 2.45pm
Thursday 25 March Nundah Respiratory Clinic
1270 Sandgate Road
Nundah 11.15am 11.40am
Thursday 25 March Oliver’s Real Food – Take away patrons Updated Maryborough West 11.50am 12.09pm
Thursday 25 March Cold Rock Ice Creamery Raby Bay 3.50pm 4pm
Thursday 25 March Woolworths Cleveland Cleveland 4.00pm 4.40pm
Thursday 25 March Redcliffe Train Line – Lawnton to Kippa-Ring Lawnton to Kippa Ring 5.45pm 6.45pm
Thursday 25 March BWS – Lawnton Drive
820 Gympie Road
Lawnton 6.15pm 6.30pm
Thursday 25 March Hanwoori Korean BBQ Restaurant Brisbane City 6.30pm 7.30pm
Thursday 25 March Wintergarden carpark Brisbane City 6.19pm 7.50pm
Thursday 25 March Ceres Pizza Café Strathpine 7.00pm 7.58pm
Friday 26 March World Gym North Lakes 10am 10.30am
Friday 26 March Nurse Station café (Patrons) South Brisbane 10.15am 10.30am
Friday 26 March SPAR Carina Megafresh Carina 11.30am 11.45am
Friday 26 March Coles, Stockland Gladstone Gladstone Central 12.09pm 12.33pm
Friday 26 March Woolworths Coorparoo Coorparoo 12.55pm 1.30pm
Friday 26 March Niche & Co Café Tugun 1.40pm 1.55pm
Friday 26 March Chempro Chemist Tugun 1.55pm 2.10pm
Friday 26 March Redcliffe Train Line – Lawnton to Kippa-Ring Lawnton to Kippa Ring 2.30pm 3.30pm
Friday 26 March Woolworths Kippa-Ring
272 Anzac Avenue
Kippa-Ring 3pm 3.20pm
Friday 26 March Stockland Gladstone (including BWS) Gladstone 4.46pm 5.00pm
Saturday 27 March IGA Redcliffe Redcliffe 12.50pm 12.55pm
Saturday 27 March Sunlit Asian Supermarket
Westfield Garden City
Upper Mount Gravatt 2.30pm 2.45pm
Saturday 27 March Domino’s Pizza Greenslopes 3.30pm 3.40pm
Sunday 28 March 7-Eleven Mackenzie 1.30am 1.40am
Sunday 28 March 52 Espresso Nobby Beach 6.15am 6.45am
Sunday 28 March LeanChef Kitchn Surfers Paradise (Chevron Island) 10am 10.30am
Sunday 28 March Stable Coffee Kitchen Tugun 10.27am 10.48am
Sunday 28 March HOTA Markets Bundall 10.45am 11.30am
Sunday 28 March Surf Life Saving Competition Tugun Beach 12.30pm 2pm
Sunday 28 March Epic Escape Room Southport 1.45pm 5.20pm
Sunday 28 March Kirra Surf Shop
6/8 Creek Street
Coolangatta 2.35pm 3.05pm
Sunday 28 March Southport Park Shopping Centre Southport 3pm 4pm
Sunday 28 March Woolworths Southport Park 3.14pm 3.35pm
Sunday 28 March Tugun Supermarket Tugun 5.20pm 5.30pm
Monday 29 March Rafiki Café Mermaid Beach 6.45am 6.50am

LOW RISK CONTACTS

A low risk contact requires you to monitor for symptoms but not immediately quarantine or even get tested. If a symptom occurs then you get tested and ioslate at home until you receive a negative test.

Place Suburb Arrival time Departure time
Tuesday 23 March Outside Westpac –  Peninsula Fair Shopping Centre
272 Anzac Avenue
Kippa-Ring 3pm 3.30pm

COVID-19 DIARY – GAME OVER – END OF THE FOURTH QUARTER

Byron Bay Area - Accommodation, Maps, Attractions & Events

March 31

Wednesday and there was one new case in hotel quarantine in Queensland and only two new community cases and both were linked to recent cases.

The Blues Festival was cancelled in Bryon Bay for the second year running.

A PA nurse and her housemate but she never had contact to a returned traveller from India that she was linked to. This prompted further questions about how the disease might be spreading in the environment of the hospital.

The nurse had gone to hens party in Byron Bay over the weekend with ten people and an eleventh – a male entertainer. The entertainer and six of the ten guests had now tested positive.

The nurse had not worked directly with a returned traveller with COVID that her infection was linked to after genomic testing.

We just need to work out how she got it on that ward. There is most likely some environmental contamination or some aerosolisation of the virus when the person was admitted. So that’s why that ward has been closed. No-one is going in or out of that ward,” advised Dr Jeanette Young.

The nurse had been given the first dose of the vaccine on March 19.

The Health Minister Yvette D’Ath got a COVID testing following having a sore throat.

A 20 year old man tested positive in Byron Bay.

Music festival to go ahead in NSW town on alert for COVID-19 - NewsFinale

More than 33,000 people get tested including Health Minister Yvette D’Ath after having a sore throat.

The Premier indicated if the numbers were similar tomorrow there was a good chance the lockdown would end on Thursday evening.

The fact we do not have any unlinked community transmission in the south-east or in our state is absolutely encouraging. Fingers crossed all will be looking good for Easter. If we see very good testing rates across Queensland and we don’t see any unlinked community transmission, the signs for Easter are looking positive.,” the Premier said.

One hundred and fourteen residents and staff at TriCare Mermaid Beach aged care residency on the Gold Coast had been tested and all returned negative results advised federal health minister Greg Hunt. This was following news that a contractor had done work at the facility and later tested positive.

Cases as far travelled as Bryon Bay, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Gladstone. Two patients with COVID in the Gold Coast University Hospital, one in Toowoomba hospital and one in Bundaberg hospital.

Since the pandemic had started there had been 1,571 cases in Queensland, seven deaths and 2,485,240 tests had been carried out.

There were now 20 active cases in the state.

For the government the indications were if the numbers held the three day lockdown would be enough.

In January Prime Minister Scott Morrison had put forward the goal of having four million vaccinations carried out by the end of March.

On the eve of reaching that timeframe there was bound to be talk of the fact that the target had not been reached – not even close at 670,349 doses admnistered.

There were not even 4 million doses in the country yet which may be the crucial issue. There had been 3.8 million doses ordered to arrive during this timeframe and instead only 700,000 had. We were up to just under 50,000 doses a day.

It was looking highly unlikely an earlier stated goal of everyone receiving their first dose by the end of October would transpire.

Agricultural Minister David Littleproud put some of the problems at the state level when being interviewed on Channel 9 News.

We have made it very clear to them, have confidence in the supply chain — we have plenty coming through, you cannot leave them in the rack, you’ve got to put them in people’s arms,” he argued.

“They have done three-fifths of bugger all.”

ABC The Drum - @ABCthedrum Twitter Analytics - Trendsmap

This started a war of words between state and federal leaders of all political persuasions.

“Queensland is releasing its vaccine numbers every day. We do not see that from the federal government. If the states are releasing their figures every day I think it’s only fair, fair and reasonable, that the federal government releases their figures every day. We need to have guaranteed supply and we need to have guaranteed times of delivery,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Queensland had completed 89% of 1A vaccinations for frontline workers.

Pfizer vaccines were being used there which required a second dose to be given three weeks later.

We do have to make sure that if we give the first dose that we can give the second dose. Although the Commonwealth has done their best to try and assure us that we would get those second doses, at the same time we’re getting information that supply is not progressing as we had hoped,” advised Dr Young.

For a change New South Wales and Queensland Premier were of a similar opinion.

What is extremely unfair is that when we are given 24 or 48 hours notice about how many new doses we’re getting. As you can appreciate, disseminating that within 24 hours or 48 hours is a difficult task. I want to put the facts on the table because it’s so important for us to not only vaccinate as many people as soon as possible, but also to make the vaccine available through multiple channels,” said New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the report was misleading. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

There is no point in delivering something to us a day ago or two day ago and saying you haven’t rolled them out. I am as angry as I have ever been in this 15 months of war against this virus, said New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

“Let’s get this really, really clear: The NSW government was asked to roll out 300,000 vaccinations to the groups in 1A and 1B. Of that we have done 100,000,” he said.

“The Federal Government was asked and is responsible for 5.5 million people and they have rolled out 50,000. I think the figures speak for themselves.”

“It’s a big job, we’re all doing it, the states and territories are doing it for their frontline workers, we’re doing it through the GP rollout,” advised Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1z8BdDqsOM

A year on from when the pandemic started to sweep the west. Back then we put into actions and waited to see how the first quarter would play out with our health care systems, our supplies, our economies, our way of live and our loved ones.

There have now been four such quarters. A full game if you and game two in the series had kicked off.

Where will this all end and on many people’s mind is maybe how and when?

How many people will die, lose their jobs and businesses, lose their health and when will this threat be out of our lives completely or at least greatly diminished.

We got the vaccine, this year will reveal if that is a game changer and a temporary or ongoing one. They say doctors live in the future, maybe they know.

I know that I do not.

But I remain grateful for all the good fortune I have been a recipient of, I look to do what little I can to help the less fortunate and to take solace in friends, families, some moments of joy and the idea that deeds however small matter. That if we can help each other and think of each other we will have the means to get through this.

It is not over but the first match in the series is.

As we close it, here is a little update.

On the 31st of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported 127,905,155 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 526,819.

There had been 2,798,278 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,047.

Region March 2021

WHO Continents end of March

WHO Continents 2 end of March21

Australia end of march 2021.jpg

In Australia there had been 29,296 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 909 deaths.

China end of March21

In the People’s Republic of China where the virus had originated in Wuhan it was reported there had been 102,734 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 4,851 deaths.

Canada end of march 2021.jpg

In Canada there had been 971,715 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,311. There had been 22,900 deaths with a daily increase of 20. WIth over four million vaccinations Canada was starting to see an uptick in case numbers.

Iran end of March21

In Iran one of the first countries hit hard by the virus had suffered greatly in subsequent waves over the past year and another wave was coming. There had been 1,875,234 confirmed cases with a daily increase 10,250. There had been 62,569 deaths with a daily increase of 91.

6-12 end of march 2021.jpg

Poland end of March21

In Poland there had been 2,321,717 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 32,891. There had been 53,045 deaths with a daily increase of 653. The next day they reported 35,253 new cases, their highest recorded daily increase of cases. A week later on April 8 956 deaths were reported in one day, the highest daily record of new deaths due to the virus.

Colombia end of March 2021

In Colombia there had been 2,389,779 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,049. There had been 63,079 deaths with a daily increase of 124. The population of Colombia was 50 million.

Germany end of March 2021

In Germany there had been 2,808,873 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17,051. There had been 76,342 deaths with a daily increase of 249.

Spain end of March 2021

In Spain there had been 3,282,047 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,202. There had been 76,424 deaths with a daily increase of 76. Spain was one of only nine countries that had reported more than 3 million cases at this point.

Turkey end of March 2021

In Turkey there had been 3,277,880 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 37,303. There had been 31,385 deaths with a daily increase of 155. As you can see above, cases were dramatically on the rise in the country.

Italy end of March 2021

In Italy there had been 3,561,012 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 16,055. There had been 108,879 deaths with a daily increase of 529.

Top 6 end of march 2021.jpg

UK end of march 2021.jpg

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,338,385 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,995. Thre had been a dramatic fall in new daily cases but only in the context of the recent devastating wave. In March last year when the virus shook the world, Britain reported 4,262 new daily cases on the 1st of April, 2020 for example. There had been 126,670 deaths with a daily increase of 55. Great Britain was one of only six countries that had reported more than four million cases.

Russia end of March 2021

In Russia there had been 4,545,095 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,275. There had been no let up in the daily death rates in the the country. There had been 98,850 deaths with a daily increase of 408.

France end of March 2021

In France there had been 4,510,870 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 29,575. There had been 94,763. deaths with a daily increase of 361. On the 5th of April there would be 66,794 new daily cases. Only one day recorded a higher increase in daily cases in the country and that was 86,794 on the 8th of November 2020.

India end of march 2021.jpg

In India there had been 12,149,335 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 53,480. There had been 162,468 deaths with a daily increase of 354. I am writing this on the 7th of May and the dramatic rise of cases has played out in a tragic way. It had already started here. India, Brazil and the United States of America are the only three countries that have reported more than 10 million cases in the world.

Brazil end of March 2021

In Brazil there had been 12,573,615 with a daily increase of 38,927. There had been 313,866 deaths with a daily increase of 1,660. On March 27th the country had reported their highest number of new daily cases with 100,158. The country recorded its highest daily number of deaths on the 10th of April with 4,249.

US end of march 2021.jpg

In the United States of America they reached more than 30 million cases with 30,033,063 with a daily increase of 64,599. There had been 545,051 deaths with a daily increase of 621. No country had suffered more than America this past year and new that over 135 million vacccine doses had been dispensed was cause for celebration but the daily new case numbers there were still high.

We were about to find out what protection the vaccine would grant against new strains and a new subsequent wave when it came.

I hoped it would be promising news.

I hope the worst of this is behind us.

It would come to be that that was not the case for India and others.

But we play on.

It is all we can do.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 31, 2020

Globally we passed over 750,000 confirmed cases and reached 36,522 dead.

On a more heartening note Karen became the Teddy Bear Lady in our local neighbourhood.

COVID-19 DIARY – SEEING IT THROUGH

March 29

The lockdown on Monday Night threw a spanner in the works of my plan to reach 100 kilometres by walking on the treadmill at my gym.

So I asked Karen if she would walk with me around our local neighbourhood. I was concerned about recording the distance accurately and covering a lot of distance.

As we walked along I would decide we would go just one more street over, we won’t go here we change direction down there. We won’t stop here, we’ll go up to the petrol station.

I was concerned we were only covering five kilometres the first night but when I went back and went step by step on Google Maps we had covered much more. Karen of course already knew that.

Karen walked with me as I limped along over those two nights. I’m not sure I could have done it without her.

The first night we covered 7.6 kilometres walking for two hours and twenty minutes.

The first night we reached the end of the Kokoda Track.

March 30

Tuesday we did the first proper day of the second snap lockdown. I worked from home.

There were eight new locally acquired cases in Brisbane.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital it was announced would go into lockdown.

“In light of recent cases of COVID-19 that have been linked to the ward 5D at Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital, a decision has been made for PA hospital to go into lockdown today,” Queensland’s Metro South Hospital and Health Service confirmed in a statement.

“As a precautionary measure, we are continuing to test all staff that have worked in ward 5D at PA Hospital between midday Friday, March 19 and 4:00pm Sunday, March 28.”

Ward 5D is the PA Hospital’s infectious diseases ward. 

Two clusters of cases involved PA staff.

One linking back to the Doctor from the PA from March 12 that led to a landscaper testing positive on on March 25th and now a nurse who possibly got it from a returned traveller from India but had not had direct contact with the patient. The nurse from the PA and her sister had recently been in Bryon Bay for a Hen’s Party.

The Health Minister advised at the time of these cases not enough health workers had received their full vaccinations.

14,589 peole got tested.

For the first time masks were mandatory across the state.

Mater Mother’s hospital sent home staff, one of the new cases had been to the maternity ward recently.

With cases having travelled as far as Bryon Bay and Gladstone and with a few new daily cases it remained to be seen if the snap lockdown would end on Thursday night on the eve of the Easter weekend.

In Toowoomba one school had shut down since many of its teachers had recently been to Brisbane and were in lockdown. There was one case of COVID in Toowoomba hospital.

This virus has not gone away, it is circulating we know in the Brisbane area, at least, so people should be taking those precautions of the COVID-safe behaviours that we’ve been saying all along — keep your physical distance, remember your cough etiquette, wash your hands often, all of these things remain important,” said Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.

On Tuesday night Karen and I walked together again to complete my March On Campaign for the charity Soldier On which helps veterans.

I promised the walk would be shorter than the previous night but it was still 4.4 kilometres covered in 1 hour and twenty five minutes.

I got past my intended goal of 100 killometres with 103 kilometres covered during the month of March.

I would now rest up my hammy and wait for the gyms to re-open.

As we closed out the month, I absolutely couldn’t believe it but $270 had been raised by my donors which was very humbling and good news for our veterans who needed and deserved our help.

Defence Annual Report 2003-04 :: Chapter One :: Year in Review :: Operation  Anode :: Photograph 4

There were 6,268 participants in the March On campaign.

They raised $1,549,576 dollars for veterans and covered 483,060 kilometres.

Amongst them was Soldier On patron 102 year old World War II veteran Sgt Bert who walked 159 kilometres himself during the March On campaign.

Soldier On, was a not for profit charity founded in 2012 to support veterans by John Bale, Cavin Wilson and Danielle Clout. Bale had been close friends with Lieutenant Michael Fussell who was killed in Afghanistan. Three thousand veterans and their families are supported by the charity with a holistic approach to their physical and mental wounds with employment programs, health and wellbeing services, learning and participation activities.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 30, 2020

Jobkeeper is introduced in Australia and hospital ship UNSN Comfort enters New York City harbour. A field hospital is built in Central Park.

COVID-19 DIARY – YOU BIG STUPID LUG

Brisbane, Australia, satellite image - Stock Image - E780/1259 - Science  Photo Library

March 27

I spent most of Saturday recovering from my torn hammy but it made me restless.

I watch some shows on Youtube that focus on pop culture. A lot of them covered Godzilla vs Kong which had just come out.

I also needed to get back out to the gym to complete my 100 kilometres for the March On campaign for Soldier On.

So I I left for a late night session by myself at Chermside cinemas.

I expected not many people to be there but much to my shock there were many people. Hardly near full capacity but easily over half. I limped along with my torn hammy and wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.

I sat there slowly bubbling with shame as the film continually failed to engage me.

What the fuck was I doing there? How could I be so stupid.

On some level I believed we should be in lockdown so I was directly contradicting myself and for no good reason. I was following the health guidelines but not my own reasoning.

I hadn’t thought this through. Still it was just one case for the moment.

Afterwards I went to the gym.

However after I got back home from the gym Karen informed me there was new scare.

One new case had been reported on Saturday following 6,881 tests on Friday.

A friend of the landscaper case from yesterday.

But while that person had been waiting to get test resutls and been told to isolate the man had held a party with 25 people in attendance – apparently!

And I had just gone to the movies with a bunch of people from the local area.

I highly doubted I was at risk but it just felt dumb to have gone. The movie had been far from worth it.

Other Australian states moved to protect themselve from Queensland’s concerns.

Travellers who left with one rules for entering WA landed five hours later to find they needed to go into self quarantine.

At a Australian Football League game the previous night in Geelong supporters of the Brisbane Lions who had travelled to Victoria for the game were told to leave the stadium immediately and get tested and sef isolate by signs around the grounds.

Victorian health alert over Brisbane coronavirus case sees Lions fans told  to leave AFL clash with Geelong - ABC News

This applied throughout Victoria to all Queenslanders who had been to contract listed sites on the prescribed dates. You only had to isolate until you returned a negative test.

In the Northern Territory it was a similar situation except you had 72 hours to get tested and isolate.

In South Australia anyone from the affected LGAs had to get tested and self isolate.

New South Wales and Tasmania prohibited Queenslanders who had been to the contract listed locations from entering unless they were essential travellers. If you were already in those states you had to get tested and self isolate until you received results. 

With 71 active cases in Queensland, it was reported that hospitalisations were as high as they had been at the peak of the pandemic last year. The Queensland government wanted hotel quarantine numbers to be halved in the state.

It is also interesting to watch unbroken press conferences with our leaders.

As other state governments ramped up precautions in light of the news coming out of Brisbane, Queesnland itself did not make any changes.

Why?

Interestingly enough Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called on the federal government to offer aid to north queensland tourism operators as Jobkeeper was coming to an end.

I wondered…

To most of us, it was obvious a lockdown would occur but what would be the trigger?

A new case out in the community for several days had previously done it but… not this time.

Now another new case with a party thrown into the mix and yet still a lockdown was not called.

March 28

On Sunday came news actually that the party well it turned out to just be four housemates. Not twenty five people. This was far from what might have been called in my day a hootenanny.

Questions were asked by journalists but nobody had any clear answers for them and nobody seemed to want to take responsibility except to say that was in the brief and a mistake must have been made.

The Premier, the Chief Health Officer or the Health Minister couldn’t help beyond that.

Mistakes happen I guess, in a way it was nice to see them not just throw some staffer or public servant under the bus but it made me sad to see yet again the narrative of news cycles quickly move on rather than just asking that questions be answered.

With over 11,000 new tests having been carried out the previous day there were three new cases in the state, two from hotel quarantine and one in the community. A brother of one of the new cases.

That night I went back to the gym and walked on the treadmill for the March On campaign for Soldier On. 

Some good news just quickly.

Without going into details, older parents of friends, family and work collegues and fellow bloggers of a certain age in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States of America had at this point been vaccinated.

Not my parents yet but nonetheless this was wonderful news.

Some of these people had underlying health conditions and it was such a relief to see that they had received vaccinations. It reminded us that maybe progress was getting made.

On the 28th of March, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 126,404,770 confirmed cases gloabally with a daily increase of 594,210.

There had been 2,771,779 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 10,358.

In Australia there had been 29,252 confirmed cases with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 956,655 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,093. There had been 22,826 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

Today's coronavirus news: Growing list of Canadian politicians in hot water  over holiday travel; Death toll reaches 52 at Tendercare; U.S. hits 20  million mark in coronavirus cases | The Star

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,326,036 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,399. There had been 126,573 deaths with a daily increase of 58.

In India there had been 11,971,624 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 62,714. The next day India would reach 12 million cases with 12,039,644 and a daily increase of 68,020. There had been 161,552 deaths with a daily increase of 312.

In the United States of America there had been 29,859,706 with a daily increase of 71,187. There had been 543,003 deaths with a daily increase of 1,280.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 27,2020.

Having trialled one day working from home I would finish working in the office on Friday and head home not sure when I would return to the office. I would miss my colleagues.

That night hotel quarantine for Australians from overseas was announced.

The next day Karen worked bravely working a polling station during local council elections carried throughout our state.  

COVID-19 DIARY – PA LINK

Brisbane COVID-19 community transmission case puts city on alert after man  visits multiple public venues while infectious - ABC News

March 26

Friday.

One new case in the Brisbane community got us thinking around the office we might be in for another lockdown in the next few days.

A young landscaper, the man had developed symptoms on Monday and tested positive yesterday.

He had been out in the community for at least five days.

Based on precdent it was becoming highly likely a lockdown was imminent and the Chief Health Officer did not rule it out at the day’s press conference.

Restrictions already in place since last Friday to have no visitors at aged care and disability facilities, hospitals and prisons were due to continue until at least the following Monday.

We need to make sure we are socially distancing and where we can’t, to wear a mask. If you are in that vulnerable cohort, maybe stay at home for the next three days until we understand exactly what is happening here,” advised the Queensland Premier.

Queensland's latest COVID-19 case linked to Princess Alexandra Hospital  cluster

A list of contract tracing sites were also announced including those at the Carindale Shopping Centre on the southside of twon as well as a host of shops on the northside of town like Newmarket, Everton Park, Alderley, Stafford as far away as Redcliffe.

As what was becoming habit I texted people if I knew any of these places were areas they regularly or semi regularly attended.

Outdoors we know is really low risk, so let’s go out and really enjoy the outdoors this weekend,advised Dr Jeanette Young.

What the fuck?

“[But] most importantly of all, everyone, please stay home if you’re sick, as this gentleman did who’s tested positive. Come forward and get tested so we know what’s going on so we can contact trace,” she added.

We were up to 69 active cases in the state including six in hotel quarantine with three of them from Papua New Guinea.

7,584 tests had been carried out in the past twenty four hours.

Genomic testing later revealed that day that the landscaper’s case was linked to the Princess Alexander doctor’s case and of the B117 ‘UK’ strain.

Brisbane hospital locked down after doctor tests positive for COVID-19 -  ABC News

Anyone identified as a close contact will be contacted by the Public Health Unit and required to quarantine. The detail from the genomic testing is getting faster and better — we know that the gentleman who tested positive on late Thursday night was highly contagious. We therefore cannot afford to be complacent — if you have any COVID symptoms at all, please come forward and get tested,” requested Dr Jeanette Young.

Yet we didn’t go into lockdown.

I didn’t dwell on this though as my torn hammy quickly took up my thoughts.

Hamstring GIFs | Tenor

Can I just make some observations? People are not social distancing, Please, we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Now is not the time to break our social distancing, our good hand hygiene and the handshakes,” advised Premier Palaszczuk.

In the larger context of what has transpired across the world this rings very true.

Case numbers didn’t dip in European countries earlier this year that hadn’t carried out lockdowns.

The UK that didn’t rush out of lockdown and has been more gradual and did.

In the States with a massive vaccine roll out case numbers have still been remarkably high with 50,000 new cases a day regularly.

Texas hits 1 million Covid-19 cases, the most in the nation

In India and Brazil no lockdown and look.

That does not provide all the answers and I don’t claim to be an expert. For example the Indian government moved quickly into a far ranging and significant lockdown when case numbers were still relatively low last year and still sufferred greatly with 10 million cases and thousands of deaths.

No wonder there was a relucatance on the part of some Indians to go into lockdown again.

However a lockdown could hardly supress spread in slums where one bathroom is shared by eighty people.

So no I don’t pretend to have answers but I always go back to the basics. It’s something we can do and if it has a chance of helping its better than looking for ways to not to do it.

Ignoring the risk doesn’t seem to have helped very often – in fact quite the opposite.

Papua New Guinea only has about 500 doctors for 9 million people. Now it's  dealing with a Covid outbreak - CNN

In Port Moresby, Papua New Guiea the capital’s hospitals was beyond capacity. Temporary field hospitals were being set up.

Australia and Papua New Guinea have a long history together. For most Australians the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels came to mind. Natives who acted as porter and guides for the Australians on the Kokoda track during World War II. Now could Australia be the angels who supported PNG in their time of crisis?

The Unnoticed Death of Our last Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel - Tasmanian Times

Australia sent 8,000 vaccines to Port Moresby along with medical equipment that included testing equipment but it was believed this would not be enough.

There were already many Australians there on the ground doing what they could alongside the local Papua New Guinea health care heroes.

The PNG government closed schools and restricted travel but housebound lockdowns were not possible in such a country for all.

I think it would be too ambitious to say we can stop this plague at this point in time. The tipping point was probably four weeks ago,” advised Matthew Cannon, CEO of St John Ambulance PNG.

As the spread throughout PNG continued, it prompted the Queensland government to fast track vaccinations through the Torres Strait.

Fear PNG spread may spawn new virus mutations

Dr Mangu Kendino, an Emergency Department doctor, advised 10 per cent of hospital staff had caught COVID and that was just in the past month.

We only have 450 maybe 500 doctors here in Papau New Guinea. That’s one doctor to 17,000 people, you compare that to New South Wales that has a similar population of eight million and that’s 24,500 doctors at least,” explained Matthew Cannon, CEO of St John Ambulance PNG.

Testing capacity was minimal and took up to ten days to get results – far too long.

These health care workers are now the frontline for COVID 2 and if they’re getting infected and passing it onto their families and other patients and if they get sick there is no one to replace them.” told Dr Alison Brown of Australian Doctors International.

Would it crash the health care system… I can’t say for certain. But has it stretched us thin – yes. And are we struggling? Yes,” said Dr Kendino.

On the 26th of March 2021, the World Health Organisation reported in Papua New Guinea there had been 4,965 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 305. There had been 39 deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 26, 2020.

In India Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country into a 21 day lockdown forcing everybody to isolate at home. The World Health Organisation reported in India there were 649 cases with a daily increase of 43. The number of dead in the country were 13 with a daily increase of three.

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

Timeline for Townsville's first COVID-19 vaccinations revealed | Townsville  Bulletin

February 22

The first Queenslander to receive a COVID vaccine in my home state was Gold Coast nurse Zoe Park. The nurse who worked in a COVID ward received a Pfizer jab on monday morning with an estimated 180 receipients following her the same day.

The nurse didn’t mince words about the impact of the disease or the relief the added safety of the vaccine could mean for frontline workers.

It’s a very serious thing – I’ve seen families being torn apart from it. It’s really, it’s really sad what it has done to the patients affected and their families,” Park said.

It’s really scary for healthcare workers to be going home and potentially exposing their family to that as well, so (the vaccine is) very exciting,” the nurse added.

It had been over one year since the 28th of January when the first case of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Queensland and the patient put into isolation at the Gold Coast University Hospital. 

On the day of the first vaccine being administered in the state there had been 1,323 cases all up, 1,912,189 tests administered and six deaths.

But now there was hope.

It was amazing to think what a difference a year makes.

Dr Jeannette Young stands smiling as she walks through Gold Coast University Hospital.

I desperately, desperately hoped this would be where we’d be. I didn’t think we’d reach it, so today is just absolutely fantastic. Just over a year to be vaccinating the first person is … I’m lost for words and I’m not often lost for words — it is just brilliant, said Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young.

This is the answer: we have five million Queenslanders here and if we want to keep five million Queenslanders safe, we need you to get vaccinated,” Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

One down, five million minus one to go,” added Dr Young.

Wednesday would see vaccines dispersed in Brisbane and Friday the first ones in Cairns.

The aim was for 1,000 vaccinations to be administered this first week but more like 10,000 the following week which would also include vaccinations occuring at the Townsville University Hospital, the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and my old stomping ground the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

This was the start of the roll out of category 1A to cover 125,000 peopl  which included health care workers, border and hotel quarantine staff.

There were two new cases reported in Queensland bringing the total to 7 active cases in the state.

With a population of 25 million the majority of Australian were scheduled to receive the AztraZeneca vaccine which would be producted locally by CSL Ltd by the middle of March. It was expected 4 million Australian would be vaccinated by the end of March and all by the end of October.

May be an image of 1 person and standing

In Victoria 100 frontline health care workers were vaccinated at Monash Health, the site and staff who had treated Australia’s very first COVID-19 patient.

Nurse Manager Rachel Hogben was one of those vaccinated, the woman who had been tasked with leading the care of 35 COVID patients at the height of the second wave in Victoria.

We’re now on the offensive you know we’re no longer acting defensively against this. We’re actually on the offensive and it’s an amazing day,” Nurse Hogben said.

An amazing day and an amazing person.

I have been heartened by the sights of initial vaccinations and which have shown so many of the nurses and doctors who put it on the line for their communities now being offered the first real protection we could provide them. They deserve that but they also deserve our thanks. They deserve monuments and medals and tickertape parades but most of all they deserve whatever they need because they have given us everything they have.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 22nd of February, 2021 there had been 28,9626 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In the United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a roap map for coming out of lockdown.

It involved four steps spaced five weeks apart each, the intention was not go back on any of them but Boris allowed that they may to.

Step 1 which obviously caught my attention was on the 8th of March all schools will re-open with outdoor sports allowed. Two people could share a coffee, drink or picnic in a park too.

I obviously not happy about this, teachers I knew in England did not have a snow ball’s chance of receiving their first jab before May and the reactions by schools to COVID cases over the winter made me all too aware of the potential risk those that I cared about were facing.

The BBC reported pupils can access tests and be required to face coverings in classrooms and shared spaces like corridors.

Steam Community :: :: Say 'what' again. Say 'what' again, I dare you, I  double dare you motherf*cker, say what one more Goddamn time!

It was also scheduled for the 29th of March, 2021 and would allow outdoor gatherings of six people and between two households. Tennis and baseketball courts would also re-open.

Step 2 on the 12th of April, it was intended non-essential retail, shops, hairdressers, gyms, swimming pools, public libraries, caravan parks and camp sites and outdoor hospitality like zoos, beer gardens, theme parks and bottleos could re-open.

Funerals could occur with 30 people and weddings with 15.

However there would be no visits between households in doors.

The hospitality curfews woudl end and a revew of international travel restrictions would be announced.

throwing papers up in the air gif | WiffleGif

Step 3 on the 17th of May, two households could visit each other and gatherings of six friends in a pub could take place.

Outdoors gathering could be as large as 30 people.

Thirty was also the number allowed at weddings, funerals and wakes.

Cinemas, musuems, hotels, sporting and performance arts venues would re-open with social distance measures in place. Upt to 10,000 spectators could attend football stadiums.

As mentioned by Beetley Pete at the time there was talk of vaccine passports to help indoor venues to re-open safely. 

Throwing Papers In The Air GIFs | Tenor

Before Step 4 took place, scheduled for the 21st of June, there would be a review of long term measures like mask wearing and social distancing of one metre plus. Also to be looked at was the working from home guidelines, visitors for aged care residents, remaining restrictions for weddings and funerals and opening up of live music venues and nightclubs.

Rate of vaccinations, new cases and new variants would inform all decisions. 

Heartbreak Ridge Gif | Clint eastwood movies, Eastwood movies, Clint

Certainly not at the rate he was going. Despite this the lockdown had been in effect for qutie some time and had not seen an immediate rush out of it following lower numbers. Some coverage here in Australia showed people living in England fatigured by it and over it. I had been very grateful for it. I believe it had saved lives.

Professor Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College London publicly stated the roadmap struck the right balance but warned re-opening schools increased the risk of further cases.

UK Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the five week gap was important and that measures such face coverings, hand washing and self isolation may be needed during the following winter.

The BBC reported there had been over 17 million first jabs administered.

The World Health Organisation reported on the 22nd of February there had been in the UK 4,122,421 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,050. There had been 120,580 deaths with a daily increase of 215.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XIV

Qld's harsh border policy – a conversation with Joe Branigan | Queensland  Economy Watch

 

January 28

 

On Thursday the World Health Organisation reported there had been more than 100 million confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 589,451 bringing the total to 100,511,774.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that come next monday, the first day of February that travellers from 35 LGAs from Greater Sydney could come to Queensland for the first time since the 21st of December, 2020.

There had been a hard border in place between Queensland and New South Wales from the 25th of March, 2020 to the 10th of July, 2020.

That hard border was put in place again from the 8th of August, 2020 until the 3rd of November, 2020. 

On that day while the hard border came down for the state, residents of the Greater Sydney area would be stopped at border checkpoints.

Just under a month later on the 1st of December, 2020 they were welcome too.

But with the Avalon and Berala clusters on the eve of Christmas residents of the 35 LGAs of Greater Sydney were shut out on the 21st of December. 

The hard border with all of New South Wales resumed the next day.

Now the border was going to be open to all, no border declaration passes because there were no hotspots in the country.

The 28 day rule of no community transmission in New South Wales which was a previous benchmark had not been met – it had only been 12 days.

No, we haven’t ignored the rules at all. [Queensland’s Chief Health Officer] Dr Young is very confident in her discussions with the Chief Health Officer of New South Wales and those cases can be related back to the original clusters, so she’s very confident the 28 days has been met,” advised Premier Palaszczuk. 

There was a hint of a sales pitch to proceedings.

 

Coronavirus border restrictions: Queensland reopens border to all of NSW  from February 1, premier confirms

 

I think you’ll see a lot more collective response from premiers and first ministers, to try and get this right. As we’ve seen, the hotspot program has been working quite well. Now is a great opportunity to start making [travel] plans, especially around the Easter holidays,” she said.

The Federal Jobkeeper program was due to end soon and the Far North had been sufferring without international tourists and disruptions to domestic travel compounded the issue. Jobkeeper it was said had been a lifeline and the Federal government held those pursestrings.

More on brand was the Premier’s declaration, “If there was an outbreak of that UK variant strain, I think we’d have to shut down immediately like we did in Brisbane, but fingers crossed that won’t happen.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told during a radio interview welcomed the news.

The important thing is that the right outcome is achieved. We haven’t had a hotspot in NSW for a while and even if we do, the whole state doesn’t need to suffer. I hope this brings a lot of joy and relief to people and that people are reunited. That’s my wish for them,” she said.

The bulk of national media is based out of Sydney and Melbourne and there had definitely been a slant from all media outlets to be critical of Queensland and Western Australia border closures. Not so much the Northern Territory. I guess the elites were upset they couldn’t travel to the Gold Coast or Cairns but were okay if they missed out of Darwin or Launceston. More their loss if you ask me.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian advised that maybe the Queensland Premier was a victim of her own policy. 

Palaszczuk batted away the remark with, “We’ll just let New South Wales be New South Wales.

If you’re a Queensland you’ll understand how that brought a smile to my face. 

It has been a really, really long haul, and it has been tough on everybody, but I’ve always maintained, I have to keep Queenslanders safe,” the Queensland Premier said.

Palaszczuk’s caution and 21 changes to border passage over the past year had paid dividends. 1,386 confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic began and only six unfortunate deaths.

 

State Disaster Coordinator Steve Gollschewski.

 

The change to the border would help redirect Queensland police manpower to other efforts.

At maximum commitment, we’re up to 1,300 police per roster and at the moment we’re under 800 and that’s at any given time,” Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said.

In the past twelve months Queensland Police had dealt with 7 million border declaration passes, processed 700,000 people through airports and checked 1.28 million vehicles at border checkpoints. 

Only 2,670 infringment notices had been handed out and 238 court orders filed for serious offences. 

“Those statistics tell you that by and large, overwhelmingly the Queensland community has done the right thing,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

It had been one year since the first COVID case in Queensland was discovered and the next day would be one year since Queensland had declared a health emergency in response to the pandemic. 

We’re all starting to see a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel with the rollout of the vaccine imminent. I know there’s nowhere else I’d rather be on the globe at the moment — we’re going pretty well. No-one handed us the handbook on how to police pandemics back in January last year — because there isn’t one. We’ve had our eyes wide open and realised there is no playbook for this,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

South Australia was relaxing travel from New South Wales and there were hints Victoria would make a similar decision.

Western Australia had changed their restrictions a week earlier on the 22nd of January, allowing people from Queenland and New South Wales to enter WA if they quarantined for 14 days and had a COIVD test.

My best friend was getting married in Sydney, the change to the border restrictions meant I would be able to go but the wedding was more than two weeks away and a lot could happen in two weeks with COVID.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – END OF BRISBANE LOCKDOWN

Brisbane lockdown to be lifted at 6:00pm but masks and some restrictions to  remain - ABC News

January 11

Monday and I worked from home. The lockdown was scheduled to end at 6pm that night but we would see how things panned out.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced at a press conference that the lockdown as scheduled would end at 6pm.

No new cases had been reported since the lockdown began on Friday.

“This is the best news we could have hoped for, absolutely the best news,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

There would be some ongoing restrictions and some amendments.

The big thing of note was that masks were going to be still be mandatory for the next ten days until 1am the following friday on the 22nd of January.

That was at shopping centres, public transport, gyms and workplaces where people could not keep socially distanced. Where I worked and am on the phone constantly, I kept my mask off at my desk and put it back if I stepped away from it even slightly. I was getting a good idea of what my breath smelled like.

This actually meant I got breaks between having to keep it on and I found it really not a hassle at all.

I didn’t make it to the gym at this time but I heard that the wording was you wore a mask unless you were strenously exercising. I guess this was to avoid people hyperventilating. But what it meant was people were being called on to do personal judgement and to show concern for others as well as themselves. I didn’t trust people to do the right thing for their fellow human beings but that was just me.

Restaurants could take dine-in customers but one person per 4 square metres.

Hospitals, aged care facilities, disability accommodation and correctional centres will remain closed to visitors until January 22.

You could have 20 people at your home, 100 attend a wedding or a funeral up from 10 and 20 respectively. Dancing was only allowed at weddings, not pubs.

Theatres and concert venues could be at 50 per cent capacity.

Test cricket was cancelled and tickets refunded.

Despite coming out of lockdown authorities urged caution.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the restrictions were necessary to ease Greater Brisbane out of the lockdown, and she warned Queenslanders not to become complacent.

COVID QLD: Brisbane lockdown begins as UK mutant virus on loose | The  Courier Mail

This decision was not made lightly. We know this new variant is much more contagious, which is why it is so important we continue to have some restrictions in place for a short period of time,” Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.

The pandemic is still with us,” Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young told.

Globally… This virus is getting worse. For the third week in a row we have seen positive cases of four million new cases a week,” D’Ath said.

Thousands of tests had been carried out in the Greater Brisbane region during the lockdown including 18,000 in the past 24 hours.

Contract tracing had identified 370 contacts of the cleaner at the Hotel Grand Chancellor. One hundred and seventy two had been tested and come back negative.

“I don’t think that everyone has come forward yet,” Dr Young said of all the potential contacts.

“For the next 10 days while we see out the 14-day incubation period we still do have to be on heightened alert,” she added and I couldn’t agree more.

In fact I quite frankly did not know why we weren’t staying in lockdown for a little longer.

On the other hand some elements were questioning why such a measure had been taken over one case even if it was one of the more easily spread UK strain and even if that poor individual had been on public transport and major shopping centres for two days undiagnosed.

The Premier had an answer for them.

Brisbane lockdown to be lifted at 6:00pm but masks and some restrictions to  remain - ABC News

[It’s] definitely not an overreaction. It was absolutely supported by AHPPC [Australian Health Protection Principal Committee], it was supported by National Cabinet, and as you can see it was supported by people in the Greater Brisbane,” she said.

Dr Young backed her up.

The reason that I asked for that three days was for us to be able to immediately go and find as many of the contacts as we could and have them placed into quarantine, so that if they do become positive, they’ve spent the two days, which is the most infectious period, already in quarantine and not out and about in the community,” Dr Young said.

Which again by that reasoning I thought we shouldn’t come out of the lockdown, as Dr Young had said she was concerned not all contract tracing had been done, not all people had come forward.

The fact that a break-out that didn’t occur fuels calls that the steps taken by the government were unnecessary but I believe they should have taken more.

I believe luck was involved here and luck always runs out.

I believe the cost of doing these things never measures up to the risk of what happens if you don’t.

That’s me.

Others take a different view.

But in the end history has shown that we got through this. I am still grateful to live somewhere where government at least takes some action.

To that end it could be suggested that Queensland themselves for the most part did the right thing over this short period of time which would have contributed to the success of the lockdown.

We wore masks, we stayed home, we practiced social distancing.

You know for 72 hours.

Police commissioner Katarina Carroll says more charges to come after two  teens allegedly raped by group of men - ABC News

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll was certainly full of praise for the community.

“When 6:00pm on Friday came, everyone knew what they had to do, and I’ve got to say the compliance and cooperation was second to none,” Commissioner Carroll said.

Only twenty infringement notices had been handed out and 1,300 masks were given out by police rather than fines.

We decided rather than fining people we would hand out masks because it was something new for us in Brisbane and we really wanted to communicate with people and show a bit of compassion. It was an education piece, ‘this is what you should be doing and this is the reasons why, and we have a mask for you. There was just a few that wouldn’t take us up on our offer,” Commissioner Carroll explained.

After the announcement lockdown breaking news advised us of one community transmission. The partner of the hotel cleaner had been re-tested and came back positive. Contract tracing for him continued.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – A QUIET WEEKEND

20210116_175442

Karen and I masked up and ready to get some pizza! Copyright Lloyd Marken.

January 09

It had been ten months since serious restrictions had been placed in Brisbane in the early days of COVID expanding around the world.

Karen and I of course had a quiet weekend.

I got a text message with a longer list of locations on the southside that if you had been it you needed to get tested and self isolate. While the locations were from the area I lived in growing up I had not been to that in recent times. I did pass along to my parents who live on the southside of town but further afield and they advised they had not been there thankfully.

I did consider if I should go and get tested given that the government was keen to have many people get tested to get a better picture of how we were travelling but ultimately I decided against it.

We did go out and get take-away on Saturday night at our local pizza joint Marianas who were happy to see us as we happy to see them.

It was 6pm or so and more so than finding a park easy, more so than the traffic on the road, the thing that struck me was when we got home with the day ending everything was so quiet. No cars driving past, nobody even walking around for their local exercise. It recalled memories from the previous March. Its amazing how quickly you get used to things and how quickly you forget.

January 10

Sunday in the news was the small town of Maleny where Karen and I had shared a first holiday together.

Maleny is tucked away along with Montville, Landsborough, Mapleton and Flaxton in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland full of wineries, B&B getaways, hiking trails, markets and home craft stores.

Anybody who goes to such towns can’t help but be charmed by them and as mentioned on previous posts we have hold dear our particular pizzeria up there by the name of Capriccios.

Alas Capriccios was in the news and unfortunately not for their delicious pizzas or considerate staff.

A woman had been cleared to leave Melbourne having finished her hotel quarantine on the fifth of January.

She flew to Brisbane and travelled to Maleny where for two days she did simple day to day trips we all do. Over two days she only went to Purple Palate Cellars, the Woolworths and Capriccio’s Pizza which when you think about it is just good common sense but then Queensland Health were advised by Victoria she had retested positive.

This of course raises all kinds of questions which would prompt further restructure of the testing and repatriation process.

Dr Jeanette Young advised in a briefing that there was 14 day ‘quarantine’ for those who don’t have the virus. Once they do they had to be in ‘isolation’ for 10 days or 3 days where they no longer presented with symptoms. This had worked well in Australia prior to the UK strain and this woman coming to Maleny.

Now the 10 days in ‘isolation’ was going to be 14 days too.

For now what it meant was a person who thought she was okay now had found out she was sick, a business I have been a happy patron of for many years had to be shut down and a town of three and half thousand people was thrown into disarray.

Capriccio’s co-owner told ABC News Tamara Leacy that her and other staff were getting tested at the pop-up testing centre that had been set up.

We’re going to get tested ourselves so that we’ve got the all clear and we can move on from that. Just to put our own minds at ease,” she said

Business partner Dominic Venditti confirmed on Capriccio’s social media page that Capriccio’s was shut until Queensland Health gave them the all clear and urged customers to get tested.

A big thanks to everyone! We love our community let’s all do what we can to stay safe,” he wrote.

The monthly Montville Markets were cancelled with one of the organisers Deborah Davis saying, “Even though we’re not in the Greater Brisbane area, there are a number of high risks for us. We experience high visitor numbers and many of these visitors come from Brisbane.

Again history has proven me to be overtly cautious but knowing how closely connected the towns of Mapleton, Montville, Flaxton and Landsborough were at the time I was concerned that not enough people were coming out and getting tested and that the Sunshine Coast should be involved in the three day lockdown anyway and that the three day lockdown should be longer.

But we would see history prove that we did fine without taking the actions I thought were necessary.

There were no new cases in Brisbane on Sunday.

There were 20 active cases in Queensland, most of them were in hotel quarantine.

Police had minimal trouble too, 15 fines were handed out in the last 24 hours, 700 masks were handed out by police officers to those seen out in public without one. Only fined where they refused to comply. The go soft approach to get everybody in the right mindset which seemed to work well.

I myself was wearing a mask as soon as I left my front door but not while inside my car by myself There was talk over the weekend that I was in the wrong with that so I started to wear a mask inside my car too and that later got reframed.

The 8th of January, 2021 was the first time masks had been made compulsory in Brisbane but previous scares last winter and at the beginning of the pandemic meant that most people had them ready to go and were happy to comply.

As the Northern Beaches area of Sydney came out lockdown there were three new cases in Sydney related to both the Berala Cluster and the Avalon Cluster – the latter now reaching a total of 150 cases.

On the 10th of January, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 89,328,503 confirmed cases of COVID worldwide with a daily increase of 836,427.

The only larger daily increase of new cases has been on the 20th of December with 842,714.

Could we dare hope this would be the turning point, the worst day of new cases never to be repeated or taken over by a new horrid figure.

Can we hope?

There had been 1,923,799 deaths globally with a daily increase of 12,947.

In Australia there had been 28,582 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 909 deaths. The last death reported on the 29th of December.

In Canada there had been 644,348 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,214. There had been 16,707 deaths with a daily increase of 128.

The latest on COVID-19 developments in Canada on Jan. 6, 2021 | Kamloops  This Week

In the United Kingdom a country 66.65 million people they had reached over 3 million cases. There had been 3,017,413 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 59,937.

There had been 80,868 deaths with a daily increase of 1,035.

On the 13th of November the United Kingdom had reached a new record for new daily cases – 33,470.

The worst day in the day months of March and April had been 5,487 on the 24th of April.

On the 24th of September, 6,178 new daily cases had broken past that previous record.

The record continued to be broken but 22,961 on the 5th of October dwarfed all previous records. 

26,687 later that month on the twenty second beat that.

Then in the wake of Remembrance Day, 33,470 on the 13th of November.

With winter and new deadly strains the figures drastically changed, the risk ever greater in the country where I have loved ones.

As Christmas beckoned there were 35,383 new daily cases on the 15th of December.

The record was broken again on the 21st of December with 35,385 and again 23DEC2021 36,803 and again Christmas Eve 39,237.

On the 29th of December it was a new record of 41,385 new daily cases.

The 30th of December it was a new record of 53,135 new daily cases.

A new year and a new record with 55,892 new daily cases on the 1st of January, 2021.

London, England, lockdown

03JAN2021 – 57,724.

05JAN2021 – 58,784.

06JAN2021 – 60,916.

07JAN2021 – 62,322.

On the 9th of January, 2021 a new record of daily new cases in the United Kingdom was reached – 68,053. 

We can become numb to numbers but I can tell you with my sister half way around the world 68,053 new cases a day had our attention. We were worried.

In India there had been 10,450,284 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 36,867. There had been 150,999 deaths with a daily increase of 429.

In the United States of America there had been 21,761,186 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 313,516. There had been 365,886 deaths with a daily increase of 3,599.

On the 9th of January they had reported a daily increase in deaths of 4,176.

The only larger daily figures reported had been 5,000 deaths on the 3rd of May, 2020 and 6,409 deaths on the 17th of April.

Ballbag was impeached a second time.

My city was in lockdown but I felt very safe and lucky to live where I did.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BRISBANE GOES INTO THREE DAY LOCKDOWN

In pictures: Eerie pictures of Brisbane's empty streets | The Advertiser

January 8

Friday morning I drove into work.

It’s my first fix of news for the day often, sometimes my only until late in the evening.

There was mention of COVID of course but nothing related to my hometown.

I was interested in what was happening Sydney as a friend of mine was hoping to get married there on Valentines Day.

I parked my car, walked the twenty minutes or so up to our offices.

The whole way I walked without a mask.

No one wore masks in Queensland these days.

I walked through the door and plonked my bag on my desk and started work.

I overhead a conversation about a colleague leaving at 3:30pm maybe.

My supervisor came around and asked if I heard that?

It was 8:35am.

He told me we were going into lockdown at 6pm tonight. No one leaving their houses except for medical reasons essential work or food.

I told him there had been nothing on the radio.

I got on the internet, sure enough there was a post on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation website with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announcing the lockdown.

It was 23 minutes old.

The plan was to go ahead with the work day but if staff needed to plan around this development they could.

I called Karen to touch base about groceries. I couldn’t raise her.

I gave it a few minutes and went up to my supervisor and advised I’d like to use my lunch hour now to get some groceries sorted.

I wasn’t just thinking about the daily shop.

I was given permission, I took one of the masks my sister in law had made for me out of my bag and headed for Toowong village.

I texted Karen at 8:46am to call me.

I had no idea if she was out of the loop.

I went to the fruit shop. Already there were more people in the shop than usual. Not everybody knew. Somebody helpfully told a customer looking around perplexed that the lockdown had been announced and she thanked them.

I was not the only one wearing a mask, it seemed almost everyone had one, as if they had been waiting for the signal and now it had been sent.

I dashed over to the chemist and bought some medical masks thinking about people at work who may not have a mask with them and were catching public transport home. I needn’t have worried, it seemed much like myself, everybody had masks ready to put on.

I’d walked up in the early morning with no masks in sight and 30 minutes later stood in Coles surrounded by dozens of people wearing masks of one sort or another.

Many nearby residents stood in Coles having come to do their weekly shop surprised by the long lines and big crowds.

Despite this people seemed polite and helpful to each other, didn’t take too much of any one product and gave each other some space.

Why I was there?

I wanted to be prepared for worse case scenarios.

I wanted staples on hand if I had to isolate at home for several days.

I was planning for more than what had just been announced.

I got some tinned food, rice, soup, some fruit and not much else. I felt dialed down and calm, just thinking a little ahead and not being greedy or fearful.

Of course that may not be how other people see it and I can understand that too.

My actions were similar to many others across the city as supermarkets were swamped.

I admired the incredible effort of the supermarket staff as they managed this massive influx of people and the need to re-stock.

Didn’t they have people at home they were worried about?

Didn’t they need to buy after their shift was over?

Greater Brisbane enters three-day lockdown amid UK COVID-19 variant concern

It really was quite admirable.

Retail staff have really shouldered some huge burdens during this pandemic with little if any reward.

I had never been in a store so crowded even during Christmas when it is bedlam.

I followed a line that had started at the check-outs and was naturally snaking around in a circle out the front of the store before going down an aisle past the centre. It went all the way down that aisle not long after I joined it.

I was in that aisle for several minutes not knowing what awaited me when I got out of it. Then the line moved fast and split into two. Those going through the self check-outs and the rest of us going old school. I saw a line outside the store several metres long.

The store had reached capacity and was letting people in groups once enough had of us had left. If I had waited until lunch I may have been in such a line and while people weren’t hoarding it just seemed unlikely a lot would be left on the shelves of certain things people at such a time like milk or break or pasta or yes rice or toilet paper. Having never seen the store like this I took some pictures.

I was on my way back to work at 10am when I got in touch with Karen. She was locked out on our balcony with her phone running low. So I got leave to go drive home, open up the balcony door, and drive back to work.

I effectively started working at sometime after 11am but from then on I surprisingly had a productive day.

I was very grateful for the flexibility and support shown by leadership.

The lockdown was to last until 6pm Monday.

We would all be working from home on Monday but in my particular team we were set up do this. The volume of traffic may bring complications but we were prepared to work through the situation as best we could.

I wouldn’t say we were afraid of the potential break-out. We had been in lockdown before. We of course were worried about each other, and concerned with making arrangements but when the hammer falls you just tend to deal with things as they come and hope for the best.

So what prompted this lockdown?

Well on Thursday while the news was dominated by the attacks on the Capitol we were informed that Queensland’s 113 day streak of no new community transmissions was over. A hotel cleaner at the Grand Chancellor hotel where repatriated Australians were staying in hotel quarantine had contracted COVID.

Of particular concern was that she had been on public transport from the city to Altandi and probably come into contact with a number of people while unknowingly contagious.

So the next morning the Queensland Premier had decided to “Go hard and go early,”

The Greater Brisbane region of Brisbane, Logan Ipswich, Moreton Bay Region and Redlands Bay were part of the lockdown. The neighbouring Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast were not part of the lockdown prompting some Brisbane residents to head there before the 6pm lockdown came into place. I probably would have put them in lockdown given the distances involved and that many people commute from those areas into Brisbane.

“Think of it as a long weekend at home,” advised Premier Palaszczuk.

Funerals were limited to 20 people and weddings to ten.

Given the incubation period of two weeks for COVID, a three day lockdown seemed quite short.

The reasoning was it gave enough time for effective contract tracing to occur much like the reasoning behind the six day lockdown in South Australia back in November.

I felt without any expert knowledge that three days was too short.

“We need to act really fast, we need to find every single case now. Until we have found all those people, we can’t relax. We have to bring this in fast rather than be able to wait and see what the extent of the spread is. Because once its spread it will be too late to act,” advised Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young given that the cleaner had caught the UK strain which was 70 per cent more contagious.

It’ll be too late if on Monday I stand up here in front of you and say we’ve had 10 cases and they’ve been out infectious in the community infecting people,” she said.

Later that night in the wake of people hitting the shops the Premier was on the news advising people that people could still have take-away and that people could shop and that the shops would not run out.

Certain shelves were bare by Friday night but would get restocked quickly enough.

The situation prompted larger conversations about moving hotel quarantine out of major metropolitan cities which must have just delighted regional areas.

There were changes afoot with repatriation of Australians, they would cut returning numbers by 50% and increase testing requirements.

“All of the things we’ve done in the past, all of the controls we’ve talked about in terms of test, trace, isolate — all of those personal measures and even some other measures we have had to do in certain times will become less effective if this virus was to be established,” Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said.

This virus continues to write its own rules and that means that we must continue to be adaptable in how we continue to fight it,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told us.

Meanwhile in the United States of America in the wake of the attacks on the Capitol there was a lot of talk about what to do with the outgoing President. There is not a lot I will add here except to say that pretty everything I feared that would come to pass – did. This was the noise that followed in the wake of a significant and upsetting event. But noise that ultimately revealed just how little was going to change.

For months I had been watching what was happening in other countries and even in other states and feeling very fortunate. I felt even perversely guilty because we had not suffered like other parts of the world. We were not suffering  like that yet but we were now facing an increased risk, being called upon to live with restrictions and to act with some caution.

I hoped we would do the right thing.

For those overseas who had suffered so much it must have seen almost comical.

“I heard you’re in lockdown. What happened?”

“A hotel quarantine cleaner got it.”

But authorities were racing to stop something much larger happening. The cleaner from the 2nd of January until she had symptoms and got tested immediately had been in close contact with 70 other people.

Even more troubling was the fact that she had the UK strain.

Epidemiologist and University of Queensland Associate Professor Linda Selvey told the ABC, “If it wasn’t this new variant, there wouldn’t be this kind of response. There is quite a lot at stake and the idea is to stamp this out pretty quickly.

The concern is that there may well be a whole lot of cases. This lockdown provides some breathing space and an opportunity to learn whether there are other cases and what’s actually going on,” Selvey added.

If you did nothing, obviously it expands much more rapidly but it also means that if it got out, that the restrictions that you would need to put in place to get the R under one to control it would actually have to be more severe. It won’t necessarily be longer, but we may need harder restrictions, coming down faster for a wider area in order to get it under control,” explained Bond University Professor Paul Gasziou.

-Lloyd Marken