COVID-19 DIARY – ALL LIVES MATTER

 

 

20200606_150919
Copyright Lloyd Marken.

 

June 06

Saturday.

In 1944 this was the day allied forces landed in Normandy and began the liberation of Europe.

In 2020 this was the day in Australian capital cities across the country protests were held for Black Lives Matter. They were held for American George Floyd, for 432 Aboriginal deaths in custody and for what some call systemic racism.

The crowds were full of hippies and hipsters.

Young people who had the look of Humanities students more than Law and Commerce ones.

A few even clearly budding media students trying to capture this historic event.

Aboriginal people who have been marching all their lives for their rights suddenly joined by crowds they had never experienced.

People of all races and backgrounds, not necessarily all of the exact same opinion but all united in opposition to inequality.

There were 30,000 in Brisbane at a time when public gatherings in Queensland could be no more than 20.

No fines were handed out as police closed down the streets for the march.

There were no riots although across the country there were examples of minor vandalism and exchanges of pepper spray and arrests.

It appeared almost everybody was wearing a mask and hand sanitisers were on hand as well but given the large numbers – social distancing simply  could not have been maintained at all times no matter how much people tried to respect each other’s space.

Following the weekend Queensland MP Nick Dametto of the Katter Australia Party called on the government to revoke all social distancing fines.

By not getting out there and fining some people gives a very dark message: you’re allowed to break the rules if you have enough people breaking the rules at the same time.” he said.

 

 

He had a point of course, but then again the fines he was talking about had mostly been handed out during a higher proportion of active cases in Queensland to people who wanted to muck around in the park not protest the unjust murder of black people.

I suspect Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk will be holding on tight in the coming two weeks to see if there is a spike in cases before making a final decision on lowering border restrictions amongst others.

I for one think the authorities made the right call in not choosing to escalate the situation, I’m relieved the protests were not hijacked by troublemakers.

I regret that the protesters felt this was the only way their voices could be heard and went against the health advice of the time.

I really regret that.

The protests were held to address racism, their most immediate impact maybe the hurried lowering of restrictions and the undermining of a possible return to them should the need arise.

The protests will remain a divisive topic, one can only hope race one day will not.

On the 6th of June there were four known active COVID-19 cases in Queensland.

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 7,251 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 11. There had been 102 deaths.

Very different numbers to other countries that had seen protests too.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART II

Queensland border restrictions in Darling Downs - Darling Downs

There was another great Four Corners episode this week from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that covered what had happened on the last cruises of the Diamond Princess in February in the North Pacific and the Ruby Princess in March in the Trans-Tasman Sea.

What was pretty concerning wasn’t just the disembarkation of passengers in Sydney on the 19th of March.

What was more concerning that the cruise had ever been allowed to leave Sydney given how COVID-19 had spread through her sister ship in Asia in February. Or the lack of precautions that were made during the cruise when an outbreak was clearly occurring.

For many of us the initial news reports coming out of that part of the world were perceived as something happening over there like previous diseases SARS and MERS.

As the situation escalated at some point the actions of Carnival Corporation become troubling. And people died.

It’s quite a heartbreaking tale.

 

May 27

In Blackwater a town of less than 5,000 in Central Queensland the late miner aged 30 returned a positive postmortem test for COVID-19. In the days ahead with the set-up of fever clinics and contract tracing in the town a second test came back negative.

Nathan Turner had underlying medical conditions that had meant he had been unable to work in recent months due to illness. At age 30 he came the youngest fatality in Australia of COVID-19. The second test was good news for the town in terms of COVID fears but his death remained a tragic loss of one so young.

 

 

There were 484 active cases in Australia on the 25th of May.

On the 17th of March there had been 410 cases which was on the eve of the Ruby Princess docking and ceasing international air travel.

Allowing that changes were in place that weren’t then and awareness from the general populace was different there was a growing push to re-open the economy.

However Epidemiologist Professor Mary-Louise McLaws from the University of NSW advised the same day “Given that there is that, we should be waiting for 14 days … to get to zero and then add those two incubation periods before we start hopping on aeroplanes or coaches or cars to states and territories that have been exemplary in getting their numbers to zero“.

Two days later Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke on the Channel Nine Today show, “The National Cabinet has never agreed that there should be borders closed in Australia,” Mr Morrison said. That was never the medical expert advice that came at any time. Premiers and their governments in states, whether it is South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, have all made their own decisions and so they have got to justify those decisions.

The Federal and State governments have worked hard through their differences at all times during the crisis at unprecedented levels. NSW and Victoria pushed hard to shut down schools and now there were disagreements about the borders.

In the early days of the crisis as the state borders shut it was considered that it may be until September before they were opened again. Now the momentum was shifting.

There is no doubt that those sort of borders do harm the economy, they do harm jobs and it is important that we get those removed as soon as possible. I want to stress, the national medical advice that came from the expert panel that has driven all the other decisions never recommended closing borders.” said the PM.

Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk noted “These are really hard decisions everyone, I have sleepless nights, I understand people are hurting, I understand people have lost their jobs. I want to get people back into work as quickly as possible. But if I don’t do it safely it could cripple our industry for years to come.

Other states were holding firm too. The Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein advised “I won’t comment on the way the Queensland premier deals with her borders nor how the NSW premier deals with hers. It’s quite obvious the federal government has a view but my job is to protect the best interests of Tasmanians.

The Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said “The interstate border will stay. It’s a small inconvenience … it won’t be forever. Our hard borders with the east and our isolation have worked to our advantage and we must keep it that way for now.

This was on the 28th of May, history was about to push the trajectory of these plans in another direction.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS

As corona casualties mount, Putin keeps a low profile – POLITICO

 

21 May

Thursday.

Australia reached 100 deaths due to COVID-19.

During this week the numbers only got worse for America and the United Kingdom.  which moved ahead of Spain and Italy. Russia and Peru also became hotspots and the number in India continued to skyrocket.

On the 21st of May the World Health Organisation reported globally 4,904,313 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 103,210. The number of dead 323,413 with a daily increase of 4,478.

In Australia there were 7,079 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11. There were 100 dead with a daily increase of one.

In Canada there were 79,502 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,003. The number of dead 5,955 with a daily increase of 98.

Peru to build hospital in the Amazon amid rise in Indigenous ...

In Peru there were 99,483 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,550. The number of dead were 2,914 with a daily increase of 125. Peru was now of the hardest hit countries in the world listed individually on the WHO’s website overview of numbers.

In Peru many have been dying from a lack of oxygen equipment in regional hospitals. Loreto which borders Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador and is the largest and least populated region in the country has been the worst hit by the virus.

In India there were 112,359 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,609. The number of dead 3435 with a daily increase of 132. Their national lockdown which began on the 24th of March, had been extended on the 4th of May and was extended on the 17th of May for a further two weeks until the 31st of May.

In Iran there were 129,341 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,392. The number of dead were 7,249 with a daily increase of 66. Iran had been one of the earliest countries to be hit outside of Asia with significant numbers.

In France there were 141,312 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 353. The number of dead were 28,081 with a daily increase of 109.

In Turkey there were 152,587 with a daily increase of 972. The number of dead were 4,222 with a daily increase of 23.

In Germany there were 176,752 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 745. The number of dead were 8,147 with a daily increase of 57.

In Italy there were 227,364 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 665. The number of dead 32,330 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 161.

In Spain there were 232,555 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 518. The number of dead were 27,888 with a daily increase of 110.

What had happened in Italy and Spain was horrible but there was a slither of hope to be found in the daily increases going down.

In the United Kingdom where I have family the numbers were all too scary as the United Kingdom came to be listed as the country with the fourth most number of cases in the world. There were 248,297 confirmed cases with a daily decrease of 525. The number of dead 35,704 with a daily increase of 363.

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

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

In Russia there were 317,554 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 8,849. The number of dead were 3,099 with a daily increase of 127.

In the United States of America there were 1,501,876 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 24,417. The number of dead were 90,203 with a daily increase of 932.

 

22 May

Friday there was a push for state borders to be re-opened by the likes of New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the federal government.

New South Wales and Victoria had more cases. As the states that had shown leadership to urge more restrictions like school closures they were now angling for the borders to become open.

With less cases in their own states the leaders of WA, NT, ACT, SA, TAS and QLD understandably took a different view.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk facing an election in October has a tight rope to walk.

Why Annastacia Palaszczuk could win political points in the ...

She can’t carry out actions that may lead to a second wave but as numbers remain low part of the population will urge caution and the other half will push for the borders to open up.

Plenty of border resident/workers would certainly like to see an end to the inconvenience.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall explained that with less COVID cases the faster local businesses can open more freely aiding in the economic recovery.

I promise you we can create thousands more jobs in South Australia by keeping our borders closed at the moment.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan whose popularity is riding high following COVID-19 wondered aloud “It’s odd, New South Wales is saying don’t catch public transport in Sydney … yet they’re saying ‘why can’t New South Wales people fly to Western Australia.

When push came to shove McGowan didn’t mince his words, “New South Wales had the Ruby Princess — I mean, seriously? And they are trying to give us advice on our borders, seriously?

 

 

I personally feel there is too much of a rush to lower restrictions as quickly as possible and we always seem to be moving ahead of projected schedules.

I am in no rush for the borders to open before July or even later but it seems that may end up happening.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE NATIVES ARE STIRRING

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks at a press conference

 

On Easter Monday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had announced students of essential workers could come to school when Term 2 started up  20APR2020. It was planned for this to be in effect until the 22nd of May with them to be reviewed come the 15th of May. For the first five weeks of term, the majority of students would learn remotely.

When Term 2 started up in Victoria on the 15th of April the advice was as many students to learn from home as much as possible.

In South Australia the decision was left with parents to make with school set to resume on the 27th of April.

With the same term start date, NSW and WA were not yet to make a decision but NSW with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country was having teachers prepare most strongly for remote learning.

Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory had the same policy as Queensland.

In the Northern Territory attendance of students at schools was expected from 20APR2020.

Post the long Easter Weekend I worked from home the rest of the week from the 14th of April to the 17th of April 2020.

I saw the narrative in the news and on social media shift.

People started asking how long until restrictions get loosened.

People would question the COVID-19 numbers which was fair enough. The old “Just as deadly as the flu.” belief from early March started making the rounds again. Do you know anybody who has it? If we’re allowed to go a supermarket, why can’t we got to a restaurant? How many active cases are there now in our state?! These and other questions were uttered. I understood the urgent need to get back to work for some.

However on the 14th of April I looked up the date of the highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases in Australia.

The date was March the 28th and it was 650 cases in one day.

It had only been two weeks since our daily increases had peaked in the country!

For the people seriously impacted by this financially I understood the need to go back to work.

However on the 15th of April there was a strong reminder of the need to make good choices in combating this virus.

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

Just a kilometre or so away from the Bronx in New York City is Hart Island.

Known as Potter’s Field, it has been the burial site of those unclaimed by kin.

Stillborn, unidentified and the very poor are buried in Potter’s Field by prisoners and have been for 150 years after the city bought the land.

Those who died from the American Civil War, tuberculosis, AIDs and yes the Spanish Flu all rest here.

With morgues filling up, the time to claim bodies was cut from 30 days to 15 days.

Until recently prisoners from Rikers were burying the dead on an average of 25 a week. Contractors in safety hazmat suits have taken over in recent weeks and the weekly average of 25 has now become the number buried in a day.

On the 17th of April the World Health Organisation reported there were now more than two million confirmed cases globally.

There were 2,080,235 with a daily increase of 81,839.

139,507 people had died so far. The daily increase was 8,473.

There were 6,468 confirmed cases in Australia with a daily increase of 10. 63 Australians had died.

In Canada there were 28,884 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,344. There were 1,048 dead Canadians with a daily increase of 94 taking the death toll into four digits.

In the United Kingdom there were 103,097 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,617.  The number of dead in Great Britain was 13,729 with a daily increase of 861.

In Spain there were 184,474 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,400. The number of dead 19,130 with a daily increase of 551.

In the United States there were 632,781 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 28,711. The number of Americans who had died from COVID-19 tallied at 28,221 with a daily increase of 2.350.

I just hope that we remember that none of these numbers are acceptable, they’re not preferable to a larger number, they’re thousands of lives lost in a matter of days.

I realise I am very fortunate but I will always believe we needed to be safer rather than sorry.

As sorry as I am to see those bodies being buried in an island near the Bronx.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – SHUT IT DOWN! – PART IV

Coronavirus: Traffic jams on Gold Coast as Queensland shuts borders

25 March

Wednesday was the first day I worked from home.

I’m used to working in my apartment late at night writing stories to meet deadlines. There is no air-conditioning in our house and during the seven months of summer it gets quite hot and uncomfortable in front of the laptop. The sweat of my forearms has warped the wood of the desk over time.

Fortunately for me the temperatures had started to drop so again, with my brand new laptop no less, I felt extremely fortunate.

My back hurt but in the days that followed I found it went away especially if I paced around the place from time to time.

I did get hungry though and went out that night to get takeaway. I noted outside the local shops tables and chairs had been positioned for social distancing and to discourage loitering, markers were out on the floor on where to stand. It was one more subtle shift in how we were living.

That same night the borders to Queensland were closed.

In America President Trump stated an intention to reiterated a desire to re-open the country by Easter if it is suitable.

On the 25th of March the World Health Organisation reported 51,914 cases in the United States of America! Six hundred and seventy-three dead Americans!

While this was simply an absurdly moronic, selfish and irresponsible thing to suggest as a leader while the virus was taking off in the country there were smaller more practical ambitions announced the same day.

Virtually all U.S. late night talk show hosts announced they would be back on the air shooting from home while in isolation starting 30MAR2020.

 

 

26 March

I returned to the office on Thursday as south down at the border people faced a much tougher commute at the QLD/NSW border.

As one man reported to Channel 9 though “It has got to happen. If it helps it helps.”

“I thought there might be just a couple of little police officers at the side of the road but this is good. This is good. We need to do this,” another driver told Channel 9.

 

 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk advised children were to learn from home starting next week however kids of essential workers could attend.

It’s not just our health workers, it’s not just our emergency services workers, it’s not just our police workers, it actually involves anyone who’s in our workforce including people who stack shelves at Woolies and work in a whole [range of] different industries that their students will still be allowed to go to school,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Following on from the announcements of other states this decision was hoped to “strike the right balance.”

 

Balmoral Castle: A Royal Holiday - Wilderness Scotland

It was announced that Prince Charles has coronavirus and is displaying mild symptoms. Both he and the Duchess of Cornwall were isolating at Balmoral.

The heir to the British throne had last seen Queen Elizabeth II on the 12th of March and was in good health. The 98 year old Duke of Edinburgh was not present at that meeting.

 

Queen Elizabeth II Here's the Story Behind the Picture

 

The Prince had last attended a public engagement the same day attending a dinner in aid of the recent Australian bushfires. Since then he had been working from home and was tested on Monday after showing symptoms over the recent weekend.

Also in the UK, 250,000 people signed up to volunteer with the NHS.

The WHO reported March 26 in the United Kingdom, 9,533 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,452. The number of dead were 463 deaths with a daily increase of 41.

 

COVID-19 | IAF creates nine quarantine facilities at its nodal ...

In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the country into a 21 day lockdown prompting panic buying. The population of 1.3 billion people were to remain confined to their homes for the duration.

On the 26th of March the World Health Organisation reported India had 649 cases with a daily increase of 43. The number of dead in the country were 13 with a daily increase of three.

-Lloyd Marken