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

COVID-19 DIARY -BORDER WARS – PART X

Change that could open Qld border | Daily Mercury

November 23

This shit is bananas.

November 24

On the 25th of March, 2020 Queensland had closed its state borders. As time went on and the threat receded they opened up to other states but not to New South Wales where cases numbers remained high.

Yet the numbers did come down and on the 10th of July the borders were opened with New South Wales.

Following a break-out of cases the borders were closed again on the 8th of August.

On the 3rd of November my home state opened up to NSW again with the exception of the greater Sydney area.

On the 24th of November it was announced that residents from the greater Sydney area would be welcome too from the 1st of December without the need to quarantine for 14 days. This followed 28 days of no community transmission in Sydney.

Much of Greater Sydney has been barred from entry since August 1.

Queensland closed its borders to parts of Victoria in mid-May, and all of the state from the start of July.

There were high hopes to open up to Adelaide soon too.

The important thing is to recognise that this virus is circulating throughout the world, that the case numbers are increasing. We’re very safe here because of international border restrictions, but it could happen at any time. It was so unexpected when they got that case in South Australia and their hospital system down there is to be commended, that they picked up that case so quickly. Any cough, cold, sniffle, sore throat, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, any symptom, anywhere in the state, please just come forward and get tested,” Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young advised.

A middle-aged woman in business suit talks in a garden in front of older woman in black dress.

November 25

Wednesday.

The next day the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced she would open borders with Victoria on the 1st of December following 28 days of no community transmission.

“Can I congratulate [Victorian Premier] Daniel Andrews, their Chief Health Officer and all of Victorians because this is just such fantastic news,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Residents of 20 hotspots in Adelaide could not do the same yet but given recent developments with the South Australia lockdown that could just be a matter of time.

[The Chief Health Officer] is still concerned about that cluster, but we will make further announcements about that at the end of the month,” the Queensland Premier said.

Coming from those kind of hotspots in Adelaide and or overseas in the past 14 days would see people required to complete a border declaration to enter the state.

The “hard border” it was announced the same day would be dismantled come the first of December. The operation spread across the state had been a huge undertaking manned by Queensland Police, the Australian Defence Force and the State Emergency Services.

Those travelling from hotspots would have to fly into Queensland.

Flights in domestic airports direct from any hotspots would be me by police and random checks of other flights would be conducted.

Failure to comply with a travel obligation could lead to a $4,003 fine.

Coronavirus: Victorians fined trying to cross Queensland border

Importantly, for those people that have been in Adelaide, or any hotspot that may be declared, or overseas within the 14 days, they will need to complete the online border declaration pass application, and fly into Queensland. They won’t be allowed to travel across the road borders and undergo mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days, unless they have an exemption,” explained Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski.

That didn’t mean it would be a free for all driving into Queensland.

You won’t see the fixed checkpoints on Queensland’s borders anymore — on the roads that is. Police will still be conducting random intercepts of vehicles and checking, in particular, people that may have come from South Australia. We’ll also be checking for people who may have travelled from the hotspot and have not completed their border declaration,” the Deputy Commissioner explained.

It did mean the closure of Queensland’s state borders for the first time in a century was about to end.

For now.

Flight Centre boss prediction: 'Qld borders will open to NSW in weeks'

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said more than 1 million vehicles and 640,000 travellers  had been checked during the border closure and more than 50,000 people into quarantine.

The policeman was also proud of his fellow officers.

“That’s a long haul … nine months of standing on borders. It’s a great relief for us to be able to return those officers to their normal duties,” he said.

Interestingly given the scope of the operation he advised the hard border could be brought back within a day if need be.

With the announcement of opening up the border the Queensland Premier spoke of hope for families to come together and tourist towns like Cairns and the Gold Coast to see some extra business having suffered so much in 2020 due to the loss of international and at times domestic travellers.

Kuranda Scenic Railway - Tropic Wings

Flight Centre CEO Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner who had to shut 100 of his centres across the country earlier in the year told ABC Radio Brisbane that his company had received more domestic online booking yesterday than any other day in the history of the company.

It just shows you how quickly people will come back,” he said.

Flight Centre CEO Graham ‘Skroo’ Turner told ABC Radio Brisbane the business received more domestic online bookings yesterday than on any other day in their history.

The Queensland Premier was adamant, “I can’t predict the future.”

However she spoke about what people had endured with the border closure and allowed to admit she hoped.

Queensland border to open to Victoria on December 1 after 28 days with no  COVID-19 community transmission, Premier says - ABC News

Let’s hope, fingers crossed, that that won’t happen, let’s absolutely hope that families can get together with families over this Christmas period,” she said.

Some words ring truer now in light of recent events than they already did back then.

We have to make sure that we manage our international borders. If Australia’s going to open up to Australia, the last thing we want to see, to put Australians at risk, is for a whole scale opening of our international borders — that would be catastrophic. Our hotel quarantine across our nation — now that we’re opening up Australia to Australia — needs to be even tighter. We still have to live in a COVID-safe world, unfortunately things are not normal, and what we’re seeing overseas in the Northern Hemisphere, you only need one outbreak in hotel quarantine and you’re back to square one,” she said.

In regards to state border closures she indicated the following of the National Cabinet decision to define hotspots.

The threshold will be that we will go to a hotspot regime, which is what we have done in the past. We’ve had a High Court case which said very clearly that states do have the option to close borders to protect the health of their citizens.

I will post here an interview that the Queensland Premier had with a Morning TV crew who are based down south.

Palaszczuk has chosen her words poorly in the past but she is all class while these two clowns make absolute fools of themselves.

She also spoke perhaps for the first time publicly about personal losses during the time she led our state through the greatest crisis of modern times. She hasn’t played this card in the past when pushing us through these contentious decisions, she hasn’t felt sorry for herself, she has stayed the course, put the lives of others before any other consideration and made the tough calls.

That’s a leader!

Thank you Premier Palaszczuk and thank you Professor Young.

In Queensland on the 25th of November, there had been 1,291 cases of COVID-19, six deaths, 1,675,612 tests conducted. There were currently 29 active cases in my home state.

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART IX

Australian States Close Borders as COVID-19 Threat Intensifies | Voice of  America - English

November 03

Just hours before Queenslanders went to the polls Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk announced that travel would be allowed between New South Wales and Queensland with the exception of greater Sydney from 1am 03NOV2020.

Despite opening up thousands of people to travel Daniel Cschwind, CEO of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council seemed non-plussed advising that tourism business from Sydney was normally worth $3 billion a year.

If the cynics amongst us thought Palaszczuk was playing politics on the eve of an election she firmly denied it. 

I have accepted her [Dr Jeannette Young’s] recommendations to me lock, stock and barrel. I am honest with the people of Queensland, that is what I said I would do,” she said.

The Premier held firm about putting health concerns above economic ones.

When you have a virus that is out of control your economy is locked down. There was one or two cases in Victoria, the virus got out of control and the whole state was locked down and we saw 700 deaths — I do not want to see 700 deaths in Queensland,” she said.

To read the ABC coverage it certainly seemed to indicate that the Qld Premier would get no boost from her decision with the QANTAS CEO and Tourism Vendors being asked to offer their two cents all of which was negative. 

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young was more concerned with stopping the spread of the disease. 

I have reviewed the situation in NSW and prior to yesterday they had four LGAs [local government areas] in Sydney that had had cases of community transmission that NSW was unable to link to any known clusters, which means that they have transmission and they don’t know where it is coming from,” she said.

People travelling from rural New South Wales into Queensland through Sydney would not be able to enter for 14 days. Queenslanders who landed in Sydney airport could travel onto rural New South Wales as long as they didn’t stop in Sydney.

When asked about opening up fully to the southern state Dr Young advised, “I will always give advice to make sure that Queenslanders are kept as safe as they can possibly be kept safe. Anything could happen, but also there’s a strong possibility that we’ll be open because NSW is getting on top of these cases,” she said.

We have always said as a national cabinet we have an aspiration that families can be reunited around Christmas time, but once again anything can happen so we need to monitor community transmission,” Premier Palaszczuk advised.

That week there had been two positive sewerage tests of COVID-19 in Ipswich and Brisbane’s bay area urging Dr Young to tell people, “There is a concern, that we may have virus circulating and the best way to deal with that is to come forward and be tested.

In Queensland on the 30th of October there had been 1,325 cases, 6 deaths, 1,421,147 tests carried out since the pandemic began. I was three of those tests. There were ten active cases in the state.

In New South Wales on the 30th of October there had been 4,228 cases, 55 deaths and 3,042,039 tests carried out. There were 71 active cases and one person was in Intensive Care.

On the 3rd of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 27,602 confirmed cases with a daily increase of seven. There had been 907 Australian deaths.

The NSW-Victoria border is reopening after the coronavirus shutdown —  here's what to expect - ABC News

November 04

Wednesday Premier Gladys Berejiklian put her money with her mouth was and announced a plan to open the border with Victoria 1 minute past midnight on the 23rd of November, 2020.

Berejiklian has closed the borders to Victoria with great regret on the 8th of July.

They may have, because of the lockdown, actually gone down a path of having eliminated it at this point in time. Come a minute past midnight on November 23, there will be free movement between NSW and Victoria,” Premier Berejiklian said.

There were nine new cases in New South Wales, three local and six in hotel quarantine having returned from overseas. More than 17,000 tests were carried out in the state.

Victoria had gone five days with out a new case of COVID-19. There had been 20,345 COVID-19 cases and 819 deaths in the state.

The Australian Capital Territory followed suit with NSW in regards to Victoria.

“Waiting a full two weeks before making changes will allow enough time for ACT Health to assess the impact of restrictions and ensures the ACT is consistent with NSW,” ACT Health Minister Rachel-Stephen Smith said.

The Premier of NSW wouldn’t be opening her border if she didn’t have confidence Victorians could maintain the low numbers,” advised Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

However, he urged Victorians not to be in too much of a hurry to leave their own state.

“Don’t go to Sydney for Christmas for summer holidays. We have lots of places here you can visit,” he said.

Victoria has never closed its borders to residents from other states.

On the 4th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 27,610 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. The death toll remained 907 Australian deaths.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – WELL YOU’VE HEARD OF ME NOW

Qld Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaking to the media in Brisbane in  February, 2015 - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

October 31

The Queensland State Election was held on Saturday. A third of voters turned out on the day, the rest had either voted via post or through pre-polling. This was unprecedented. If the election was a referendum on how Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk had handled COVID-19 then it was a resounding affirmation of her policies. Fifty two seats were won by the Labour party, 34 by the Liberal National Party and 7 going to independents and smaller parties.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington had done well given we were in the middle of a crisis to win so many seats but was replaced within days of losing the election.

Many years ago I had been working in government walking past somebody being interviewed outside the executive building. A colleague mentioned that it was the Opposition Leader Anastacia Palaszczuk.

I’d never heard of her.

Within a year she had won an unlikely victory in a election called in a calculating move by the LNP over summer 2015. No one had expected her to win and nobody knew how she would fare.

She won again in October 2017 and now again in October 2020. State elections will now run every four years at the end of October. If she sees out this current term she will become the second longest serving Labour Premier in the state and the fourth overall.

That is if nobody knifes her or her political fortunes do not radically change.

I guess what I’m saying is the unlikely leader with the hard to spell name has become a figurehead in her party and a Premier who has done the job when history threw down a moment for her to meet.

I had not heard of her then.

Now everybody knows Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk.

A lovely smile for Sunday. | Sean connery, Lovely smile, Photo

As I watched the state election unfold that night on the TV a piece of news came in that Sir Sean Connery had passed away at the age of 90.

A lot has been written about Sir Sean in recent days. I won’t have much to add except that I enjoyed his work. I watched The Russia House for the first time upon hearing of his passing and I thought it was really wonderful. I think Connery liked roles like that particularly in his later years. He’s very vulnerable in The Russia House and very real. Then you see him in something like The Rock or The Hunt for the Red October and you think what a movie star. But going back and looking at some of his work like the early James Bonds or even A Bridge Too Far or The Untouchables it is amazing even in the big films in star roles he always seems so flesh and blood. It is with no small delight that I look back and think that Connery became a bigger star later in life and a sex symbol for the fact that he was real and always played it so.

Vale Sir Sean Connery.

November 01

On the 1st of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 46,067,515 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 518,856.

There had been 1,196,274 deaths globally with a daily increase of 7,046.

In Australia there had been 27,590 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. There had been 907 deaths.

In Canada there had been 231,999 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,457. There had been On the 29th of October with a daily increase of 28 deaths the country had recorded more than 10,000 Canadian deaths due to COVID-19 at 10,001. On the 1st of November there had been 10,110 deaths with a daily increase of 36.

In the United Kingdom on the 1st of November the country reported there had now been more than 1 million reported cases. There had been 1,011,664 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 21,915. There had been 46,555 deaths with a daily increase of 326.

In India there had been 8,184,082 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 46,963. There had been 122,111 deaths with a daily increase of 470.

In the United States of America on the 26th of July there had been a record of new daily cases – 74,235.

On the 25th of October there was a new record of new daily cases – 82,630.

On the 31st of October a new record of daily cases – 89,048.

I remember my father talking back in July of 60-70,000 new daily cases in the country with real dismay and a little fear.

Now on the 1st of November there had been 8,952,086 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 99,356. There had been 228,185 deaths with a daily increase of 1,007.

During the news coverage there was talk about how smoothly and peaceful the election was carried out in the state as thoughts turned to the upcoming U.S. election which was fraught with anxiety.

How sadly true those thoughts would prove.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – THE THIRD QUARTER

COVID-19 HIGHLIGHTS | Death toll reaches 15 as Saudi-returnee Gujarat woman  succumbs; 2 new cases in- The New Indian Express

October 01

And so we entered the third quarter of living with this thing we called COVID-19. In fact such a big part of our lives throughout 2020 it was simply referred to as COVID. Some called it Coronavirus and some called it the Rona and one dipshit called it the Chinese virus. Stop trying to make fetch a thing Ballbag – its not a thing.

In Queensland we had had a few moments of alarm, the two young women who came back from Melbourne “bag shopping” and the Wacol cluster. We would look to the south and figured it was only a matter of time before we were in trouble. We still felt that way but on the 1st of October the government announced certain restrictions were going to be lowered.

Outdoor density in businesses with a COVID Safe Plan would be one person per 2 square metres. The maximum number of people at an outdoor event went from 500 to 1,000. Outdoor stadium capacity increased from 50 to 75 per cent. These directives replaced previous ones made 24JUL2020.

Queensland planned to re-open with New South Wales from 01NOV2020 if they achieved 28 days of no community transmission. The border had previously been opened with NSW from the 10th of July before closing again on the 8th of August. 

Standing, eating and drinking at bars and restaurants would be allowed in Queensland too.

Stage 5 in Queensland would start on the 1st of November too, allowing 40 people at private gatherings and 40 people will be allowed to dance at weddings. That cap of 40 was hoped to go to unlimited in December.

“The reason we can ease more restrictions is because families have done a good job,” advised Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Stage 6 restrictions scheduled to begin in Queensland on the 1st of December would have gatherings of 50 people in homes and 1,500 people will be allowed to attend outdoor events.

Dancing at weddings rather than clubs was explained by Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.

It’s about that close interaction. At venues there are a lot of people who don’t know each other, you wouldn’t normally interact with them. That’s why we want to start with weddings, where people genuinely do know each other,” Dr Young said.

Dr Young did give the green light for wriggling your hips while standing at a bar.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian advised she had not spoken to Premier Palaszczuk but was happy with the possibility of opening up in November.

I would welcome that with open arms. If that is the case, I’m ecstatic about it. I would’ve hoped it happened sooner but I can live with the 1st of November because it gives hope to our local residents,” Ms Berejiklian said.

There were two new cases reported overnight in my home state, both in hospital having been onboard a ship in quarantine. 5,200 tests had been carried out overnight in Queensland. 

There were now six active cases in my home state.

In Victoria there were seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 overnight and two deaths – both linked to aged care. Spare a thought for them and their families for the moment. There is a lot of talk about how lucky Australia has been and there has been a lot to be grateful but a lot of Australian died, most of them elderly, most of them without their family able to say goodbye and I don’t care how old they were they still had some life left to live. 

Chadstone butcher in ICU, as authorities investigate Box Hill Hospital  coronavirus outbreak - ABC News

Eleven cases in Melbourne were now linked to a Butcher at the Chadstone shopping centre. The Victorian Premier pointed out this group of cases could’ve been worse if restrictions had been lower. 

There’s been a bit written and a bit said in recent times, and perhaps for a long time, about superspreaders and how a very small number of cases can lead to a very large number of cases. Just for a moment imagine what a normal Chadstone would have looked like … if that scenario had played out when we had had literally, in the course of a day, hundreds of thousands of people moving through that setting,” Andrews said.

He warned that the modelling showed if restrictions were lowered too soon then an event like Chadstone could lead to hundreds of cases. 

Despite this, he believed at the moment Melbourne was still on track to see further restrictions lowered come the 19th of October. Although it would depend on how things panned out. He did suggest travel outside of Melbourne may not be on the cards at that exact point. 

I can’t at this stage say that that ring of steel, as it has been called, will just be thrown open and you can travel throughout the state. That might not be a smart thing to do at that point. But that shouldn’t also be read to mean that for all of the second half of October and all of November that those rules would stay in place, it might be a shorter period,” the Premier advised.

Biden spends July 4 with son, other troops in Iraq - The San Diego  Union-Tribune

In America this week Ballbag and former Vice President Joe Biden faced in their first debate. There were no winners on the night Ballbag was a pig who couldn’t speak with any grace or respect, a mockery of his office which he invokes whenever anybody asks him simple questions in press conferences.

We also got news of why Ballbag was so desperate to hold onto the Presidency, he was in debt. Some businessman.

President Elect Joe Biden was hardly the debater of his former years but when he repeated my son until being he was able to finish his sentence he showed a grace and strength that Trump for all his bluster has never been able to muster even an atom of.

Eyeballing the camera, Biden addressed Americans and showed where his attention was focussed. Trump leaning over his lectern because he can’t stand up straight deflecting away from any of his own failings showed what he offered the country in crisis.

Like his shrivelled-up mushroom it was nothing of substance.  

 

October 02

As COVID-19 was on the decline for now in Victoria and therefore Australia it was on the rise in other countries, some of which were yet to have really ever have received a respite of serious note like the United Kingdom where I had loved ones.

I was consumed with the last week of my secondment but in the weeks ahead it would come to pass to new waves in Europe and the Americas far worse than those experienced in March and April would come to pass. 

For now here were some of the stats as reported by Crikey on the second of October.

For the month of September 23 countries recorded zero deaths up from 21 in August.

Total deaths in September across the world were 158, 543 down form 173,778 in August. For Crikey that was progress albeit it was different for each region.

In Europe deaths per million were 7.8 in Switzerland, 6.8 in Italy, 5.5 in Ireland and 2.4 in Germany. All of these countries had suffered deaths per million per month above 70 in April. Ireland and Italy were above 230. 

COVID-19 was already making its presence felt again in France and Spain. In September there were 1,321 death at twenty per million in the former and 2,697 deaths at 58 per million in the latter. 

Coronavirus: France sets another daily record for infections with 13,500  new COVID-19 cases | Euronews

Also North, South and Central America were now far and away the worst hit. Six American nations with 9.9 per cent of the world’s population accounted for more than half of the 158,543 global deaths due to COVID-19. They were the USA (24,134 deaths), Brazil (22,581), Mexico (13,005), Argentina (8,439), Colombia (6,634) and Ecuador (4,799). Of the 16 countries with the most deaths per million, 13 were in the Americas.

The article noted that data, “only as reliable as the agencies in each source country. We must accept that several nations cannot report infections and deaths accurately, including some which showed zero deaths in September.

These include poor African countries Burundi, Eritrea and Niger which have basic health facilities, and China which, with 1.44 billion people spread across 9.6 million square kilometres, seems unlikely to have had no deaths at all.

Five advanced nations which suffered no fatalities in September were Estonia, Iceland, Luxemborg, Singapore and Taiwan. Malaysia only recorded nine deaths and New Zealand three. 

The following countries Finland, Latvia, Cyprus, Norway, Lithuania, Germany, Slovakia, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Uruguay recorded deaths below three per million.

Six countries lost more than 30 to 70 people per million in September, Bulgaria, Bahrain, Oman, Spain, Romania and Israel.

Only three countries fared worse in the same month, America with 73 deaths per million, Chile with 76 per million and Argentina with 186 per million. 

Just three countries fared worse than 70 deaths per million: the US,  Chile and Argentina (186).

In Australia there had been 234 deaths in the same month which equalled out to 9.2 people per million. In August 455 deaths had equated to 17.8 per million. Of fifty four highly developed nations Australia ranked 29th last month just outside the top half. 

The United States of America ranked 52nd out of those 54 advanced nations with 23,134 deaths at a rate of 73 per million. Chile with 1,452 deaths equalled a  rate of 76 deaths per million and Argentina with 8,439 deaths equalled the worst rate of 186 deaths per million in their population.

Crikey noted, “September confirms that most governments which are following the science, speaking the truth to their citizens and implementing appropriate preventative and remedial strategies are making progress. But not all. Random surges are still bedeviling several nations, despite their best efforts. Those regimes not yet following the science, not being straight with their people and not implementing the recommended policies are experiencing serious and worsening outcomes.

As we began the next quarter there was hopeful signs in Victoria and troubling ones abroad. Europe and North America were about to head into winter too.

Can we stop the inevitable winter surge of COVID-19? - Los Angeles Times

On the 2nd of October the World Health Organisation reported there had been 34,216,443 confirmed cases globally with a 324,784. 

On the 29th of September we had reached over one million deaths globally with 1,002,734 with a daily increase of 3,896.

On the 2nd of October there had been 1,013,318 deaths globally with a daily increase of 6,274.

In China there had been 91,082 reported cases with a daily increase of 21. There had been 4,746 deaths with a daily increase of none. I mean that is really something extraordinary. 

In Fiji there had been 32 confirmed cases so far and two deaths.

In Cambodia there had been 278 confirmed cases with a daily increase of one. There had been zero deaths reported which was still the case. 

Coronavirus Success Story: How Rwanda Is Curbing COVID-19 : Goats and Soda  : NPR

In Rwanda there had been 4,843 confirmed cases with a daily increase of three. There had been 29 deaths in the country. 

In Malaysia there had been 11,484 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 260. Malaysia was about to see a sharp rise in case numbers. There had been 136 deaths in the country.

In Norway there had been 14,027 with a daily increase of 113. There had been 274 Norwegians die from COVID-19.  

In Australia there had been 27,096 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 888 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Ireland there had been 36,597 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 442. There had been 1,806 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Singapore there had been 57,784 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 27 deaths. Singapore who were noted for managing COVID-19 better than most during the dark days of March eventually saw case numbers rise in April and continue to be of significance through to July. Their highest daily increase in cases numbers was 1,426 on the 21st of April. There had been a daily spike of 908 cases on the 6th of August but throughout September there had been no daily briefings that reported more than double digits. They had never reported more than two deaths in a daily brief. 

In Japan there had been 84,215 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 652. There had been 1,578 deaths with a daily increase of seven.

In Oman there had 98,585 confirmed cases with no daily increase. There had been 935 deaths with no daily increase.

Morocco has confirmed 20,278 cases and a relatively low 313 deaths from COVID-19 [File: Anadolu]

In Morocco there had been 126,044 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,391. There had been 2,229 deaths with a daily increase of 35.

In Canada there had been 158,758 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,797. There had been 9,297 with a daily increase of six.

In Israel there had been 247,411 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,078. There had been 1,605 deaths with a daily increase of 37.

In Indonesia there had been 291,182 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,174. There had been 10,856 with a daily increase of 116. 

Pakistan: COVID-19 response | ICRC

In Pakistan there had been 313,431 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 625. There had been 6,499 with a daily increase of 15. 

In Italy there had been 317,409 confirmed cases with a daily increase 2,548. There had been 35,918 deaths with a daily increase of 24.

In Turkey there had been 320,070 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,407. There had been 8,262 deaths with a daily increase of 67. Throughout October, Turkey would see a steady rise in numbers before experiencing an even sharper increase. 

In the United Kingdom there had been 460,182 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,914. There had been 42,202 deaths with a daily increase of 59.

Spraying disinfectant at Tajrish bazaar in Tehran, Iran, during the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images.

In Iran there had been 461,044 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,825. There had been 26,380 deaths with a daily increase of 211.

In Chile there had been 464,750 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,759. There had been 12,822 deaths with a daily increase of 81. 

In France there had been 552,249 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 13,959. There had been 31,808 deaths with a daily increase of 62.

In South Africa there had been 676,084 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,745. There had been 16,866 deaths with a daily increase of 132. South Africa suffered worst in the middle of the year when a lot of countries were in between their first and subsequent waves. Their highest daily increase of cases was 13,944 on the 25th of July. Their highest daily amount of reported deaths was 572 on the 23rd of July.

Covid-19 restrictions are shattering Argentina's short-lived political  truce | Argentina | The Guardian

In Argentina there had been 751,001 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 14,392. There had been 16,937 deaths with a daily increase of 418. On the 3rd of October there had been 3,351 deaths reported in the daily report.

In Spain there had been 810,703 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 11,124. There had been 34,225 deaths with a daily increase of 145.

In Russia there had been 1,194,643 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,412. There had been 21,077 deaths with a daily increase of 186.

In Brazil there had been 4,810,935 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 33,413. There had been 143,952 deaths with a daily increase of 1,031.

Gujarat Covid-19 surge: 1,281 new cases, highest single-day tally in a  month | India News,The Indian Express

In India there had been 6,394,068 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 81,484. Numbers were going down in India but they had been severely high. 97,894 had been their highest daily case increase on the 17th of September. There had been 99,773 deaths with a daily increase of 1,095. The next day on the 3rd of October, India would surpass 100,000 deaths due to COVID-19 with 100,842. 

In the United States of America there had been 7,160,476 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 44,985. There had been 205,666 deaths with a daily increase of 1,024.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART VIII

September 10

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

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

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

Apparently there wasn’t. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GO RICHARD!

September 13

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

There were also five new deaths.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART VII

Satellite Images Show Australia's Devastating Wildfires From Space –  Spaceflight Journal

September 04

Following a National Cabinet Meeting the Prime Minister was advising he was trying to get the states to agree to having their borders open by Christmas. To manage travel around the country there was discussion around “hot spots” and how to define them so as to identify when and what to shut down. Only Western Australia with its Premier riding high in the polls had declined. However that didn’t mean some of the other states were varying in their conditions to going ahead with such a plan.

Economic pain aside, the virus didn’t care if it was Christmas and so setting a deadline around that and not where we were with the virus seemed ill advised at best.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in ongoing talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in setting up a travel bubble with that country to aid both their economies with tourism dollars. Given New Zealand’s hyge success in containing the virus this seemed like it posed more risk for them than for us.

As Reuters reported, “Australia’s early international border closures, lockdowns and social distancing restrictions has seen it record far fewer coronavirus infections and deaths than other nations. Nationally there have been around 26,100 infections and 737 deaths.

Yet remarkably the same principle didn’t seem to apply to state borders in some media commentary.

While it was stupefying that some couldn’t handle a trip to Port Macquarie or Dubbo instead of the Gold Coast or that people couldn’t consider a trip to Hervey Bay over Byron Bay or Ballarat over Adelaide or Gumeracha over Mildura or Fremantle over Darwin or Alice Springs over Bali or Cairns over Sydney. It took me six years to get to Newcastle for a long weekend trip and I survived for example.

The Big Rocking Horse & The Toy Factory

I would point out that jobs were lost all around with this slowdown in international tourism.

The Chief Executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum, Margy Osmond was reported as saying, “Our industry remains on its knees in the fight of its life and has each month been losing thousands of jobs and $6 billion in activity from the forced shutdown of domestic travel alone.

Job loss led to debt, domestic violence, family breakdown, poverty and suicide. All from the type of people we rely upon to give us our holidays, that keep towns afloat, that build communities. That’s why where we could we needed to reach out and support each other.

After the National Cabinet Meeting on Friday, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on the Queensland Premier to show compassion in her remarks to border closures.

I urge the Queensland Premier to consider carefully the impact border closures are having on our communities, on our citizens on either side of the border. You have to look at the issues from a compassionate perspective, a human perspective and appreciate that people with medical challenges, with compassionate reasons, or just to get to work, need to be considered. I urge the Queensland Premier to consider all of those issues moving forward, especially given where NSW is in the pandemic and what we have demonstrated,” Premier Berejiklian said.

The remarks did bring to mind recent events like one pregnant mother in Northern New South Wales choosing to seek treatment in Sydney rather than continue through the bureaucracy to get into Queensland. She had subsequently lost one of her twins.

These words had impact, they referenced lives lost not just inconvenienced. They failed to acknowledge the proposal to move the border closures into New South Wales which the Queensland Premier had suggested and the New South Wales Premier had rejected but they did hold to account the idea that things could be done better particularly by the Queensland government to support the people of Northern New South Wales who they share close ties to.

For Premier Berejikian despite the subsequent waves that had occurred in New South Wales and break-out clusters around the country not to mention the devastating second and third waves seen around the world she saw no reason not to have the country opened up again.

“If the trends continue the way they are I don’t think any state border should exist by Christmas. There shouldn’t really be a reason for any state to have their borders up, we only closed the border with Victoria because we had and it was a really hard decision,” she said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Gladys Berejiklian can certainly hold their heads high for their consistency. The PM has consistently not wanted to have schools close nor borders. Not just for the education of our children but also because of the economic impact. When New South Wales closed its borders to Victoria months after other states had at the initial height of the pandemic, the New South Wales Premier looked genuinely sad.

But I’m optimistic, I really am, I’m hopeful that by Christmas, even though some states might not be as comfortable as others, Australia will be a different place,” the NSW Premier said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, September 4, 2020. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

For his part the Prime Minister advised going forward total consensus would not be a requirement for National Cabinet outcomes.

“We’ve decided that this notion of 100%, absolute consensus on any issue is not a way that the National Cabinet can indeed work. And so what we will do is we will set out areas where we can come together, and get as many states and territories as possible to come around that agreement,” Morrison said.

Not everyone has to get on the bus for the bus to leave the station. But it is important the bus leaves the station.

Western Australia were going their own way and that was fine.

I’m not going to hold Australia back when one or two jurisdictions, at this point in time because of their own circumstances, don’t wish to go along with the path that the country is seeking to go in. So, they are not standing completely separate for that process. They will continue to work with us. But, for them, they have got their path set, and we respect that,” the PM said.

As popular as border closures have been politically they do cause enormous pain to the economy and when we say that we mean business and when we say that we mean people. Not international corporations who still have people buy online, not mining companies who still have their ships of steel or oil or coal or whatever sailing across oceans. Not banks who are advertising low interest rates but still collecting debt and still having customers deposit their doll cheque as much as one from an employer. No we’re talking about people who get hired when somebody builds or renovates a house, or takes a trip down the road and buys a meal or ticket with their disposable income. Those people are as flesh and blood as any life we are trying to save from a pandemic and right now they’re under the kind of pressure that could sink them for good.

The acknowledgement and concern for these people will stand Berejiklian and Morrison in good stead in the months ahead. Looking at the reports coming out of Newmarch will stand Palaszczuk in just a good a stead on the border closures.

Coronavirus: 100th COVID-19 death in Australia Alice Bacon whose family  spoke to A Current Affair about ordeal

Coincidentally the Queensland Premier referenced such circumstances in her press briefing on the same day.

I think it’s a bit disingenuous for this heightened criticism that is coming from a whole lot of levels when our fundamental concern is to look after Queenslanders and to make sure that they are safe during this time. I do not want to see what has happened in our aged care sector in NSW and in Victoria happen here in Queensland. That would be a nightmare,” the Queensland Premier said.

But where the majority lies can change in an instant as the fear of the virus switches to despair over the economy and the support offered by the Federal government will have an impact on how people are dealing with the economic impact of State border closures.

What I saw though was a concerted push in the media and other governments to bring pressure for the Queensland government to end its current policies despite the fact that they were popular. I smelt bullshit, I smelt coercion from big money and I admired my Premier for holding firm.

Throughout the week the narrative was now around instances where border control had gone wrong, predominantly the mother who had tragically lost a twin.

Coronavirus: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says 'cruel and confused  implications' from strict COVID-19 border closures

Treasurer Josh Frydenburg had weighed in on Wednesday on the television program A Current Affair.

I think the Queensland Premier has got some questions to answer here. How can it be okay for people to go up to prepare for a footy game, and its not okay to go to hospital for treatment? How can it be okay that a young woman loses an unborn child because of border confusion – that a four year old boy with cancer can be separated from his mother? These are cruel and confused implication from these strict border approaches. I think everyone needs to get a grip here and remember that we’re first and last Australians,” he said.

Which was fair enough, these were heartbreaking stories that did make you wonder if we could do things better around the borders maybe even open them up. As heartbreaking as any one of the stories of deaths in nursing home and people being unable to see their parents in their last days and the complete lack of dignity those last days had for them.

Restrictions whether you like them or not having saving far more lives than they are taking.

Getting them right to avoid any death is the end goal but I had a sneaky feeling that’s not what this was about.

This was about getting those borders down to make some money and not the battling small business owner but the kind of money that donates to political parties and runs rag sheets and major television networks.

I don’t mean this as a conspiracy force and this is all conjecture.

See the source image

What I’m talking about about is how media in cycles and how certain narratives get pushed, certain things get coverage and certain things fade to the background. Right now the story was about why Palaszczuk was keeping the border and if it was necessary and I’m saying yes she should keep it shut and yes it is necessary and yes all these stories were about changing that and I call bullshit and I’m not falling for it.

And next week the story would be different and maybe even support border closures and that is you have got to wonder about these things.

By the way plenty of celebrities have been allowed into New South Wales and other states for film and tv productions and other valuable trade activity as well as Queensland. The Australian Football League has never held its Grand Final outside Victoria in 124 years until now and you can bet your ass after this pandemic is over they will be fighting hard to have it back there forever again just like the National Rugby League grand final is held in Sydney and Joshy boy won’t be heard saying then that we’re Australians first and last then.

Coal hunt at Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban's Australian retreat

The Daily Mail wrote “But increasing movement between other states is essential to save the nation’s dying tourism industry, which employs one million workers and is set to lose a staggering $54.6billion this year due to lockdowns and border restrictions. Greater freedom will also help farmers, residents in border towns, and hundreds of thousands of Aussie families who are trapped apart in different states.

Of course that didn’t take into account that success over COVID allowed restrictions to lower faster and have greater economic freedom. The prosperity that had come for Queensland from hosting the AFL grand final, from having people travel to the Far North from the South East and vice versa for holidays while there was ring of steel around Melbourne and stage 3 restrictions in regional Victoria.

Instead Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was quoted, “When the premier of Queensland can allow 400 AFL executives to swan around a resort in the Gold Coast, but won’t allow teenage boarding school children to go home to see their parents into remote New South Wales, that is abhorrent. It’s wrong. Australians don’t do that to other Australians.

Queensland and NSW boarding school students caught in state border closure  crossfire - ABC News

Of course the fact that boarding schools in Queensland had been to re-open so quickly was no cause for celebration, the education of our children weirdly was not of concern here. Minister Littleproud probably knew all too well how desperate farmers were for their boarding children to come home in their breaks and help, how much they were struggling, how difficult it was proving to find workers due to the lack of international students. That was true and was painful but what that had to do with a footy grand final that other states had bid to host seemed a convenient stretch.

But hey maybe that was just me.

For her part Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk was holding firm.

It is relentless and intimidating, but I will not be intimidated. Let me make it very clear, I will not be changing that course anytime soon. If we, as a nation, can focus on Victoria and New South Wales and get everything under control there, then the whole country can open up,” she said.

In Queensland there had been 1,190 confirmed cases of which there were currently 25 active all linked to the Wacol cluster.

There had been six deaths and 1,318,805 tests.

For comparison in New South Wales there had been 3,910 cases and which there were 87 currently being treated by NSW Health including seven in ICU – four of which were on ventilators. 

There had been 54 deaths and 2,259,161 tests.

Which is not to say that New South Wales would always been more likely to end up with more cases due to its proximity as the business and cultural centre of the nation, nor that they have not been doing a good job of handling the virus as best they can nor that border closures will stop an outbreak occurring in Queensland and that we won’t need the support then of these states that require our support now.

Just to say that this virus is hard to mitigate and anything that you can do beat it you should and maybe just maybe when our political leaders they deserve our support. But where would the news story be in that? That was last week, we need a new angle this week.

And the story of a baby that maybe didn’t have to die is an important story, to tell and to hear and if it means we take a harder look at these border policies then good.

When I trained as a wardsman they took us into a room and they showed us a little box on a trolley. They told us about how it might be a job to collect a baby who had died and take it to the morgue. That little box got us all thinking and it broke our hearts.

I feel very grateful that I never had to push that box down that long corridor.

Seeing babies on life support in the intensive care nursery was enough to make your eyes glisten.

So that is what we’re talking about here but it’s not only what we’re talking about here.

Following this press coverage a new specialist care unit began to operate to help with border crossings due to health reasons. The unit consisted of eight people including doctors, paramedics, nurses and social workers. It was part of a larger ongoing team of 80 working on cross-border travel exemptions. In the week where these tragic individual instances were in the news, 900 New South Wales residents had received treatment in Queensland hospitals.

We understand this is a very, very difficult time for families. I know that, my government knows that. We are here to help people during this critical time,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

In a spot of good for boarding students the Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young also said the town of Moree in northern New South Wales could be added to the travel bubble allowing boarding students to return home for the school holidays.

This could change, but at this point in time New South Wales does have control of their outbreak. They have been able to limit it to other parts of New South Wales. The risk of course is that people from other parts can come up to northern New South Wales. I discuss that risk every day with my New South Wales counterpart.” Dr Young said.

Overnight Queensland had reported no new cases and Dr Young advised it was still too early to open up borders.

“We know unfortunately that one case can lead to a lot of cases,” she said.

She advised a state would need to have recorded 28 days with no community transmission before the border with that territory could be opened up.

The federal tourism minister Simon Birmingham believed that was a “very, very high benchmark to set.

The New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejikian said, “I don’t know if we’ll ever get to that number. They’re putting on a pretty big ask during a pandemic.

-Lloyd Marken