COVID-19 DIARY – THE PROMISED LAND

People gather in Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House as they celebrate after Democratic nominee Joe Biden was declared winner of the 2020 presidential election.

Over the next few days I watched the U.S. election coverage with great interest and a swirl of emotions.
You can’t have supporters show up in one state and insist the vote be counted and in another demand the count be stopped. It becomes very clear that your intentions then are not about ensuring the democratic process.

I don’t like to give into the hyperbole of the moment but it was with some concern that we watched the election coverage and were simply stunned by just how fair Ballbag was willing to undermine the election process and also how many people were happy to step in and support him.

I have worked in the past at elections here in Australia. I’ve stood in a warehouse on election night and counted votes and in the days after. People of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs worked with me. There was a lot of supervision, oversight and cross checking. I couldn’t imagine people chanting outside the building and the need for security at such places doing such work.

Democracy is a privilege and something fragile, I certainly thought so even more during these days.

You can hate on Ballbag if you like but he’s a symptom of something much larger and scarier than just his own misbehaviour and hubris.

I turned 40 that Saturday night. I went out and had dinner in the Valley with some friends at a Chinese restaurant. This was the first time I saw some of my closest friends in person all year. Some the second or fourth time. We certainly felt lucky to do this given what was happening around the world.

In fact walking around The Valley that night past lines outside nightclubs you could have been excused for not knowing there a pandemic was on but there was.

The Valley is on the perimeter of the Brisbane CBD, noted for its night life. I walked past the alleyway where a short film was shot by Kelly Chen. I realised there were 20 years of history with me and this part of the world. I could see clearly where a younger man had had adventures but I no longer was the man, I would much prefer to stick to the restaurants even then and I was eager to get home. It was good to see my friends though.

On the 7th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 49,219,511 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 615,945. There had been 1,242,899 deaths globally with a daily increase of 9,134.

In Australia there had been 27,645 confirmed counts with a daily increase of twelve. There had been 907 Australian deaths.

In Canada there had been 251,338 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,635. There had been 10,381 deaths with a daily increase of 50.

In India there had been 8,462,080 with a daily increase of 50,356. There had been 125,562 deaths with a daily increase of 577.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,146,488 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 23,287. There had been 48,475 deaths with a daily increase of 355.

In the United States of America there had been 9,504,758 with a daily increase of 116,780. There had been 233,292 deaths with a daily increase of 1,126.

November 08

The next day I awoke to find that former Vice President Joe Biden had become President-elect Joe Biden.

On the first day of the month there had been 8,952,086 confirmed cases with a new record daily increase of 99,356.

On the 6th of November there was a new record of the daily increase of confirmed cases – 106,050.

On the 7th of November a new daily record again with 116,780 confirmed cases.

On the 8th of November there was a new daily record of 131,821 confirmed cases.

On the 8th of November the United States of America had 9,636,579 confirmed cases with a new record daily increase of 131,821.

There had been 234,500 deaths with a daily increase of November.

Ballbag went out and played golf.

Donald Trump Goes Golfing As US Media Declares Victory For Joe Biden

In Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced the ring of steel around Melbourne would be gone come midnight along with many more easing of restrictions.

Victoria will be once again united as one single state,” Premier Andrews said.

This announcement came following nine days of no new cases or deaths in the state. What was referred to as Double Doughnut days. There were only four active known cases in the entire state.

From Monday restaurants and pubs could have up to 40 people inside and 70 outside depending on density. Gyms could have 20. Religious ceremonies 50. Cinemas and theatres – 20 people. Weddings remained ten plus the couple, celebrant and photographer.

Visitors to care facilities and hospitals were now allowed.

The Premier urged people to not become complacent and to get tested even for mild symptoms.

“Nine days of zero is not the same as a vaccine,” Mr Andrews said.

I have to admit I was concerned at the time that they were opening up way too fast but they did only have four active cases something I did not realise at the time.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – STAYING THE COURSE

Coronavirus Australia news: 'Now is the time to open up,' says Daniel  Andrews after Victoria records zero new cases - ABC News

 

October 26

Monday.

For the first time since June 9, the state of Victoria recorded no new daily cases of COVID-19. And no deaths from the virus.

The day before Premier Daniel Andrews had pumped the brakes on lowering restrictions following new cases in Melbourne’s north including seven mystery cases.

Once again Sky News commentators had a pink fit about the Labor Premier saying how could he do this. 

I don’t know… maybe because he didn’t want people to get sick and die and have to stay in lock-down any longer than they had to?

Maybe that. 

The Premier reported 14,024 tests including 3,196 in those communities had been carried out in the past 24 hours and 1,157 just that morning.  

The Federal Government had been agitating for Melbourne re-opening.

“We’ve seen Victoria have a process where they have reached the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer’s target of under 10 cases a day on a rolling average, they’ve reached their own target of under five cases a day. If they do believe in their contact tracing system, then there is no reason not to move to the next stage and to do so today,” Chief Health Minister Greg Hunt had said pointing out that the state government who had endured the longest lockdown in Australia had given themselves a higher target in hopes of stabilising the spread of the virus in the community, more so than the federal government. 

The 14 day rolling average of cases in Melbourne was 3.6 and in regional Victoria 0.2.

The tests had all come back negative.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation was quick to report the economics of it all. 

It told us the Commsec State of the States Report had cultural powerhouse Victoria from second to third in the economic ranking of states. 

That consumer spending was so low that Victoria had gone from second to fifth in the Retail Trade category.

Unemployment in the quarter was 6.7 per cent.

The Victorian Shadow Treasurer Louise Staley pointed out, “We’re behind Tasmania and the ACT and it’s driven by collapse in business investment and this unemployment.” 

Which you know is related to…. oh yeah – a pandemic!

Maybe Tasmania being the best performing economy in the country for the third month in a row had something to do with the fact they had not had one case of coronavirus for 75 days.  

Which I’m sure these pundits were aware of but they seemed to fail to make the connection that one leads to the other not the other way around. 

So Premier Daniel Andrews fronted the media for his daily press conference and presented different statistics that hold far more importance for him, for me for anyone who values human life.

There were 91 active cases across the state and there were zero new cases. It seemed his voice cracked a little as he advised it had been 139 days ago since that had happened. 

There were seven Victorians in hospital and he was pleased to say none of them were in intensive care. 

There had been over 3 million tests in Victoria and over 14,000 since yesterday.

Can you imagine, lockdown, testing, mandatory wearing of masks. In the UK I’m being told about people testing positive in schools and year levels going home. Has anybody actually ever been in a school? One positive case here and a whole school locks down.

There were six health care workers with active cases of COVID-19. The Premier wished them well and thanked them and their colleagues for their service.

There were now just four active cases in residential aged care and the vulnerability and loss of the elderly was highlighted by the Premier.

The Premier announced the following of lowering restrictions for Melbournians who had been in stage 3 lockdown since 09JUL2020 and Stage 4 since 02AUG2020 would lift come 11:59pm Tuesday 27OCT2020.

Covid-19 soars in Australia's Victoria despite second Melbourne lockdown

The four essentials reasons to leave home were gone. You could leave your house for any reason.

You could leave your house for any reason.

….

My how the world has changed. 

Retail businesses would re-open, hospitality venues could seat patrons subject to density quotas. 

More than two households could catch up outside but with a limit of 10 not including babies. 

From Wednesday beauty and tattoo parlours could re-open if masks were worn by all. 

Outdoor contact sports for 18 and under will start-up again as will non-contact sport for adults. PT, Fitness and Dance classes could be held outdoors with ten people. Outdoor pools could have 50 people depending on density. 

Libraries, community venues would be open for outdoor events as well as entertainment venues within limits.

Faith communities could hold outdoor ceremonies for up to 20 people plus the people running the service. Indoor could have ten people.

Weddings could have 10 people and funerals up to 20. 

Masks would remain mandatory and people will still be encouraged to work from home where possible.

Years 8 to 10 had returned to the classrooms that Monday with one student Turker Cakal noting, “They had enough of me, I’ve been home too long.

Now is the time to open up. Now is the time to congratulate every single Victorian for staying the course,” Andrews said.

There were reports of cars honking at school pick-up as the announcement was listened in car radios. People cried.

Premier Andrews advised he would provide clear instructions on how home visits would be conducted on Tuesday. 

He did warn, “We must understand, all of us — the most dangerous environment for the spread of this virus is in your home. When you have visitors, you let your guard down, and they go back to their house, they have visitors and all of a sudden there are chains of transmission that spread silently.

From the Premier’s prepared statement he advised further changed for November 8 as regional Victoria and Melbourne became whole. 

The “ring of steel” around Melbourne was on track to be removed 11:59pm Sunday the 8th of November.

“The state will be one again,” Mr Andrews said.

Australia has a contentious history of curfews — will one help Melbourne  beat coronavirus? - ABC News

The capacity of pubs and restaurants will increase, with up to 40 inside and 70 outside.

Religious gatherings will expand with up 20 people and a faith leader indoors, and 50 outside.

Gyms and indoor fitness will be able to reopen – with some strict safety precautions in place.

And because Melburnians will have well and truly earnt a holiday, accommodation will also reopen.

The border between the city and the rest of our state will also fall away.

I know personally – deeply – just how much this will mean for thousands of Victorians who haven’t been able to see loved ones for far too long. 

It will mean families are whole again. Our state is whole again.

In relation to the testing blitz and pumping the brakes Andrews said, “We took the time to wait to make sure we did not have widespread community transmission in the northern suburbs. It was worth waiting to be absolutely confident, to be sure that our team had their arms around those positive cases and fundamental control of the outbreak, and that is exactly what these numbers show us.

The Premier pointed out that the freedom and stability that had been reached was fragile and the responsibility of all Victorians to protect and accordingly he acknowledged it was the achievement of every Victorian and deflected any praise suggested for him as the leader of his state through this tremendous crisis.

Fundamentally this belongs to every Victorian.

But it is not over, this virus is not going away – it is going to continue to be a feature of our lives. It is going to be of our lives every day until a vaccine turns up.

These are big steps, we’ve all given a lot. I’m so proud and impressed and humbled by by the contribution that so many Victorian families have made, so many Victorian businesses have made. If this is to mean something then we have to take our COVID responsibilities to stay safe and to stay open, to stay safe and to stay connected – we have to take those responsibilities seriously.”

“There cannot be bending of rules, they cannot be people on an endless search for loopholes. We are all in this together and just as we have stayed the course and yes we have stayed apart but remain fundamentally connected as a strong and united state we have to be vigilant in the weeks and months to come. Until a vaccine comes – there’s no normal there’s only COVID normal.”

So much has been given to build this precious thing and all of us need to make sure we honour it and value it and protect it in all the chances that we make every single day.

I could not be prouder than I am today to lead a state that has shown the courage and compassion and the character to get this job done.

“But it not yet absolutely finished. Only a vaccine can give us the ultimate protection against this so we need to be proud today, we need to be optimistic, we need to be confident but we also need to be COVID safe and I’m very confident that is exactly what Victorians will do.” 

A zero case number today is not the same as a vaccine against this. We all need to keep our guard up. We all need to be very careful about how we safeguard this precious thing that we have built as a Victorian community because we have stayed the course.

“Because we haven’t been pushed by the loudest voices in our community into making irresponsible choices. The decisions we’ve made have given us the number that we have got today, all of us, the sacrifices we’ve made and now we just need to lock that in by making smart choices for the future.”

In March at the beginning of lockdown Premier Andrews had remarked that you can’t have mates around to get on the beers. 

A reporter asked him in the press conference, “Can I confirm you are saying we can finally on the beers?”.

Andrews wryly replied, “I might go a little higher up the shelf.”

This was a great day for all Victorians, they had endured, they had triumphed. However fleeting, this victory was hard earned and their own.

My condolences. My thanks. My admiration.

-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 – VICTORIA COMING OUT OF THE DARK

September 25

Friday.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had passed away this week and Planet America on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation covered the highlights of her career and the implications it meant for the U.S. Supreme Court. 

 

 

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 32,156,937 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 314,655.

Globally there had been 982,235 deaths with a daily increase of 6,393.

In Australia there had been 26,893 confirmed cases with a daily increase of ten. There had been 861 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Canada there had been 147,753 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,090. September was seeing a steady rise in case numbers in Canada which was only going to get worse in October and November.

There had been 9,243 deaths with a daily increase of nine. 

The highest daily loss of life in Canada recorded had been the 4th of May with 235 dead due to COVID-19. As case numbers increased over this time, the rate of death did not go back up to the numbers earlier in the year. 

In the United Kingdom there had been 416,367 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,634. There had been 41,902 deaths with a daily increase of 40.

In India there had been 5,818,570 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 86,052. There have been 92,290 deaths with a daily increase of 1,141.

In the United States of America there had been 6,868,828 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 40,043. There had been 200,725 deaths with a daily increase of 1,125.

Remember when Ballbag played golf on the eve of crossing 100,000 deaths?

Remember when he got asked by a reporter to reassure the American people and he responded with “I’d say that you a terrible reporter.”

That was the 20th of March and less than 200 Americans had died at that point and Ballbag didn’t have an answer.

He didn’t have an answer for 100,000 and he doesn’t have an answer now at 200,000.

Extraordinary.

People keep dying and he just makes it about him.

He’s out playing golf again while Americans die, he plays golf and tweets.

200,000.

Two hundred thousand.

 

September 27

In Melbourne on Sunday restrictions were due to stepped back a little as Premier Daniel Andrews reported five new cases and three new deaths in Victoria.

It was the lowest daily increase of cases since June 12 when there had been four reported.

As Reuters reported it was the first time single digits had been reported in months for daily cases down form 700 daily cases in early August. 

The nightly curfew for five million Melbournians in place since the 2nd of August was now lifted.

We are so close to being able to take a really big step, a big step towards that COVID-normal. What’s incredibly important, and I think every Victorian knows this… is that everyone keeps following the rules, keeps doing the right thing,” he said.

The Head of Coronavirus testing for the Department of Health and Human Services, Jeroen Weimar reported 164,000 Victorians had gotten tested in the past fortnight and he wanted them to keep up the good work. 

That’s the equivalent of one in 40… In order for us to sustain those numbers … in order to be confident that we’re beating this thing, we need to sustain our high testing levels. We need to ensure that at least one in 40 Victorians come forward to get tested and we carry on in that way,” Weimar said.

Weimar advised for every positive test in Melbourne there had been 387 tests come back negative in the past fortnight.

For regional Victoria the ratio had been one positive for every 2,500 negative test results. 

The numbers followed news that students would be able to go back to school on the 12th of October, permits were no longer required for childcare and up to five people from two households could gather outside.

It was also reported that further lifting of restrictions would be guided by case numbers and public health advice rather than scheduled dates. 

Rural Victoria had moved to Step 3 on the 16th of September, Melbourne was set to reach it on October 19th.

After a two week grace period to use scarves, now fitted face masks were mandatory but already there was talk about if this would be necessary as case numbers went down and the Premier said yes given the increase contact as people became more and more able to get out and about.

Compared to everyone being locked in their homes and people needing machines to breathe? I reckon I can deal with foggy glasses. I reckon you can too. I think they [masks] play a really important part. There will come a time when they’re not needed and when that time comes, then people won’t have to wear them,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.

Reuters reported, “Australia has so far reported just over 27,000 cases and 875 deaths, with Victoria accounting for about 75% of infections and nearly 90% of all deaths.

In Queensland the focus wasn’t in coming out of lockdown, we had been very lucky so far. The talk was more in lost revenue for the government due to the pandemic. 

The public transport network has seen a drop in patronage by almost 20 per cent over the past year costing $71 million in fare revenue. 

Before COVID-19 the expectation had been for 193 million trips to be taken but only 152 million had, down from the previous year which had been 189 million trips.

Speed camera revenue was also down from $191 million dollars to $172 million dollars. 

The annual report noted “The target/estimates for these measures will be reviewed in subsequent years to take into consideration the longer-term impact of COVID-19.

Speed camera revenue was also down from $191 million dollars to $172 million dollars. 

Interestingly while the report noted $71 million dollars in lost fare revenue the Department of Transport and Main Roads were still operating at a surplus of $126 million across the financial year.

 

September 28

In Melbourne all eyes were on the 14 day rolling average which it had been decided would prompt lowering of restrictions ahead of schedule. Melbourne had moved to step two and gotten rid of the nightly curfew ahead of schedule.

To move to step three, Victoria’s daily average had to be less than five for a fortnight as well as less than five cases overall for the same time that had come from an unknown source. 

Regional Victoria who had moved in steps out of restrictions and case numbers would not be able to move to the final stage until the numbers were down across Victoria.

0.6 was the daily average over the past 14 days for rural Victoria and 20.6 for Melbourne but Premier Daniel Andrews was encouraged.

We are well ahead of schedule. Today’s numbers are proof positive, beyond any doubt, that this strategy is working. This is the lowest daily case number for a very long time and it’s not so long ago that we were reporting not five cases, but 725 cases. We’ve come a long way. Victorians have given a lot. They have sacrificed a lot. And I am proud and deeply grateful for the work that every single Victorian is doing in partnership with me and a massive team of dedicated workers,” said the Premier. 

Whenever things start moving in the right direction there is a rush from some quarters to jump ahead of the science, thankfully Premier Andrews was holding firm.

We just have to see it through … as difficult as it is to live under these restrictions, albeit with modifications yesterday, for another three weeks. If we can do it, and I’m confident that we can, we will be able to take big steps in just three weeks,” he said with indications that a move to step 3 could take place by October 19.

Step Three would allow no restrictions on leaving home, public gatherings of up to ten people, up to five people visiting another household, more year levels back at schools, outdoor hospitality re-opened and all retail except for personal grooming.

-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 – ROADMAP FOR VICTORIA

 

September 05

A record number of patients — both with and without COVID-19 — are on life support in Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital.

The World Health Organisation reported the highest daily death total in Australia that day from COVID-19. Fifty-nine.

September 06

Sunday and as promised Premier Daniel Andrews gave a roadmap out of lockdown for Victoria, while it was gradual it gave hope for what could be in the days to come. 

First off come the 13th of September, the curfew would be eased to 9pm to 5am. Exercise increased to two hours per day, single social bubbles, public outdoor gatherings of two people or a household for up to two hours and playgrounds would be re-opened.

This was Melbourne, the plan would be different for rural Victoria.

If daily averages in Melbourne could remain between 30 – 50 over those two weeks then on the 28th of September there would be further lowering of restrictions.

Schools would see a staggered return, childcare centres would re-open and more workplaces, outdoor pools. People could gather in public in groups of up to five from two different households. Personal trains could train two people at a time and religious gatherings could have up to five people with their leader of faith.

Then on the 26th of October, 2020 subject to public health advice and the daily average of new cases across the state was five and if there were less than five cases from unknown sources over the previous 14 days state wide well then there would be even less restrictions. 

The curfew which began on the 2nd of August would be dropped all together. 

People would be able to leave their homes with no restrictions on travel in terms of distance or reasons why.

Public gatherings outdoors could be up to 10 people.

You could have up to five visitors to your home from another household.

Years 3 to 10 could start returning to school based on the staggered approach.

Retail shops and hairdressers could open. 

In hospitality in outdoors settings a group of ten could attend.

A staged return for non-contact outdoor sport for adults and for under 18s sport contact and non-contact could return. 

If you stop and think about these restrictions and think about what had been in place and how many weeks Victorians had endured them you start to appreciate all they had been through and how for the most part they had weathered it and you start to think about the way people have behaved for far less in other countries and you appreciate how proud Victorians should be. Even the ones from Brighton…mostly. 

Finally on the 23rd of November if there were no new cases for the previous 14 days there would be public gatherings of 50 people outdoors allowed. You could have up to 20 people visist your house. All of retail would be open. Hospitality, indoor limit of 20 and outdoors it would be 50. Real estate would start up again, contact sport for all ages. Weddings and funerals could have a maximum of 50 people attend and Church gatherings could resume subject to density limits. 

There was also the use of a term COVID Normal where if there were no new cases in 28 days, no active cases and no outbreaks interstate then most restrictions would be dropped due to safety conditions and a phased return for those who had been working from home. 

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 2,806,901 confirmed COVID-19 cases globally with a daily increase of 308,572.

There had been 878,682 deaths with a daily increase of 5,605.

In Australia there had been 26,207 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 71. There had been 748 deaths with a daily increase of eleven.

In Canada there had been 131,124 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 631. There had been 9,141 deaths and thankfully there were were no daily increases on that day.

In the United Kingdom there had been 344,168 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,813. There had been 41,549 deaths with a daily increase of twelve.

In India there had been 4,113,811 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 90,632.There had been 70,626 deaths with a daily increase of 1,065.

In the United States of America there had been 6,144,138 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 49,131. There had been 186,663 deaths with a daily increase of 976.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY -IT’S QUARANTIME!

The economic and social impact of Melbourne's second lockdown since the crisis began has been enormous.

September 04

Friday.

The European Union was urging member nations not to shorten quarantine periods as Germany made plans to follow Norway and the Netherlands in doing exactly that down to five days.

The head of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Andrea Ammon warned that at least 3-4 per cent of cases present themselves after the standard 14 day quarantine period. 

Ammon warned infection rates were on the rise in Europe with 46 cases per 100,000 people this last week. In March infections across the continent had been at 40 cases per 100,000 people and by the end of April they had reached 70 per 100,000 people. 

In Victoria there were 89 new COVID-19 cases and 59 deaths. 53 of them were newly reported but not from the previous day but from the previous few months and related to aged care facilities where there had been recent changes in reporting. 

Only earlier in the week Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton had reported a daily toll of 41 deaths most of them historical and advised a similar repeat was unlikely. It was the highest number of daily deaths reported in the country during the pandemic. 

The Australian death toll from COVID-19 now reached 737. 

650 of them from Victoria, the state that had suffered the most in the country.

“On a positive note, this is out of 25,000-odd tests processed yesterday, which represents about 0.3 per cent positivity,” Professor Sutton said.

The Premier was expected to announce a roadmap out of restrictions the coming Sunday.

We wouldn’t be happy opening up with 80 cases a day — we would need to have an ongoing downwards trajectory to be satisfied,” Professor Sutton advised.

Premier Daniel Andrews urged that rushing out of the lockdown was not a good idea.

I know there is commentary around in relation to many in the business community and I fully appreciate and understand the pain and the challenge those businesses are facing. What I would say is this is not a choice, this is not something that we are choosing to do. There is simply no alternative but to ease out of these restrictions in a safe and steady way,” Premier Andrews said.

The Treasurer Tim Pallas announced the moratorium on evictions in Victoria would be extended until 28MAR2021. Rental relief grants of $3,000 would be also be available until the same date. 

We have seen more people face housing and rental distress due to the coronavirus and the convergence of factors including their age and employment conditions. The one thing they shouldn’t have to feel is their home is at risk.” Mr Pallas said.

In some circles there was an ongoing discussion about how the virus really only killed people over 60 and in nursing homes. Perhaps in response to recent comments by a former Prime Minister of Australia who had only too recently risked his live to save others during the recent bushfires but had wondered what causes the greater loss of life, the economic disenfranchisement of so many or the virus.

Tony Abbott, wearing protective fire gear, stands with another firefighter. There is ash all over his uniform.

Professor Sutton said something in regards to this.

“I don’t know what people mean when they say ‘learn to live with this virus’. Of course we’ll learn to live with this virus, we’re all trying to learn to live with this virus,” he said.

“But if people mean let it run, let young people who are less at risk of severe illness go out and get infected, they are not thinking that these people in aged care are our parents, and our grandparents, are our aunts and uncles, are our great-grandparents. And are extremely vulnerable to dying from this virus.”

“But to see 20, 30, 35 deaths in an aged care facility — that is unprecedented. And it is entirely because coronavirus has a 15 per cent mortality rate for people above 85 years of age, it’s even higher the older that you get. So it’s a very significant illness,” Professor Sutton said.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS PART VI

Living on the edge: The Aussies left in no-man's land by border closures

 

August 28

With COVID-19 numbers down there was a renewed vested interest to see the Queensland borders open. Vested being the term.

The border closures were popular but public opinion can always be swayed by media buy in and Premier Anastacia Palazszuk was facing an upcoming state election.

As the danger receded and more and more people battled through debt and unemployment there would a change and politicians need to be two steps ahead of such things.

So Daniel Gschwind of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council advised “We need a road map that identifies triggers and indicators, which allows us a modicum of certainty. At the moment, there is no visibility and it’s taking its toll economically, it’s taking its toll on our state of mind. For our people.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland sent an open letter to all state Premiers and the Prime Minister the same week call for a national framework around future border closures. The CCIQ acknowledged border closures have been an important part of dealing with COVID-19 but asked for “a transparent and easily understood set of nationally consistent principles is urgently needed”.

The interesting thing is we had such shut down national borders and when there is an outbreak of a cluster we seek to shut down localities and suburbs and cities. Goods and people were still travelling across these “closed” borders too but state borders were becoming more and more a political issue.

It was a reality that border closures don’t ensure that people don’t cross interstate with the virus either but following people lying on their declarations, the policing of such people and stopping them at the border had proved much easier when borders were “closed”.

I can’t pretend the answers but Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young had proven prescient, cautious and dedicated to the safety of Queenslanders throughout the crisis. If she thought it was a good idea and the Premier was prepared to stand her ground I was of the opinion that they were doing something right. Quite frankly I was about sick of the hypocritical media coverage of it all.

But Premier Palasczsuk had chosen her words poorly.

The Premier had advised state hospitals were for “our people.” That was simply inaccurate and inept.

Days later a pregnant woman from northern New South Wales flew to Sydney and lost one of her twins in surgery rather than present in Queensland. 

When asked if she had regretted her earlier comment the Premier replied “No.”

Because these are really difficult decisions and … people deserve the best health care, and if they can get the health care, then that is good, if it is an emergency or if we have the expertise, of course we will do that. But we are living through a global pandemic at the moment.

You could understand if people observed wryly she was all heart.

A few things to warm your heart during COVID-19. 

 

August 31

Monday, the 31st of August and the World Health Organisation reported there had now been over 25 million cases of COVID-19. Globally there had now been 25,155,586 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 269,420. The number of dead 844,963 with a daily increase of 5,422.

In Australia there had been 25,670 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 123. There had been 611 deaths with a daily increase of eleven.

In Canada there had been 127,673 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 315. There had been 9,113 deaths with a daily increase of five.

In the United Kingdom there were 334,471 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,715. There had been 41,499 deaths with a daily increase of one.

In India there had been 3,621,245 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 78,512. There had been 64,469 deaths with a daily increase of 971.

In the United States of America there had been 5,899,504 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 43,983. There had been 181,689 deaths with a daily increase of 1,000.

Victoria recorded 73 new COVID-19 cases and 41 deaths. A record number of deaths recorded in one day but to be clear 33 were historical cases that could now be confirmed as due to COVID-19 and linked to aged care settings.

The previous daily high of deaths in Victoria was 25 on the 17th of August. 

Five hundred and sixty-five Victorians had died from COVID-19, about three quarters linked ot aged care settings.

Premier Daniel Andrews did announce that he provide a roadmap out of regional stage 3 lockdown and Melbourne’s stage 4 lockdowns which were scheduled to expire 13SEP2020.

There were 195 fines handed out in the state including to a woman who drove outside a 5km radius because as she advised there was no good coffee in her area. 

Seventy-three new daily cases were the lowest in a day since July. The number of active cases in the state dropped overnight from 2,830 to 2,620. 

Active rural cases dropped from 166 to 154. 

The number of health care workers with COVID–19 down from 406 to 378.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton urged Victorians to stay the course. 

The pain that is happening every day now, we are all fed up with it, absolutely fed up with it. But holding the course, even as we get down to these very low numbers, is absolutely critical to get that control that we can be confident that we will maintain,” he said.

New South Wales reported 10 new cases, 6 from hotel quarantine.

In Queensland there were 24 cases linked to the Wacol outbreak. Public places near where my parents and older sister lived continued to be listed in health alerts.

There were two new cases overnight in the state.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk commented there would be no changes to the borders for the month of September. 

There will be no changes for the month of September. Our Chief Health Officer Dr Young has made it very clear she doesn’t want to see community transmission, and there is community transmission at the moment in the southern states,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

A Victorian man who had tested positive some time ago in his home state but had been missing flew into Queensland and was caught by Queensland police. 

As a result of the cluster at the Youth Detention Centre, all prisoners across South-East Queensland were in stage 4 lockdown, confined to their cells. 

“It’s fundamental that we try to stop the spread of COVID in our prisons, that’s why these tough measures have had to be taken,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

In the past 24 hours there had been 7,489 tests carried out and there were 28 active cases in the state.

Twenty-eight active cases in Queensland and 2,620 in Victoria. All Queenslanders felt very lucky.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WACOL CLUSTER AND CLUSTERF***S

Young inmates locked in cells as authorities brace for a potential  coronavirus outbreak at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre - ABC News

August 21

On the 23rd of August, Planet America from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation covered the Democratic National Convention and showcasing President-Elect Joe Biden’s stutter as well as some interesting statistics about how COVID-19 has affected education in America.

August 22

Saturday and there were nine new cases in Queensland, six from the Wacol Youth Detention Centre cluster and three up in Townsville related to cargo ships. So far 56 tests from the Wacol cluster had come back negative.

Premier Palaszcsuk put in place restrictions  throughout Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, the Scenic Rim, Lockyer Valley, Somerset, Moreton and Redland Bay. Gatherings at home and outdoors would be limited to 10 people (that means a family of five could only have five guests around for example) and the rest of the state the limit was 30 people.  

August 23

On the 23rd of August 60 Minutes Australia was interviewed by Dr Anthony Fauci who remained interesting to listen to and diplomatic to a fault.

On Sunday the 23rd of August, the World Health Organisation reported there had been 23,079,883 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 255,857. There had been 801,313 COVID-19 deaths around the world with a daily increase of 5,968.

In Australia there had been 24,602 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 195. There had been 485 deaths with a daily increase of 13. The next day the number of deaths in Australia rose above 500 to 502.

In Canada there had been 124,372 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 499. There had been 9,064 Canadian deaths with a daily increase of ten.

In the United Kingdom there had been 324,605 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,288. There had been 41,423 deaths with a daily increase of 18.

In India there had been 3,044,940 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 69,239. There had been 56,706 deaths with a daily increase of 912. The day before on the 22nd of August has seen the largest daily increase of new cases in the country with 69,878.

In the United States of America there had been 5,567,217 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,960. There had been 174,246 deaths due to COVID-19 in America with a daily increase of 1,148.

August 25

On Monday I had returned to work and on Tuesday there were no new cases in Queensland following the break-out cluster at Wacol. The day before there had been one new case linked to the Youth Detention Centre Cluster and 8,000 tests had been carried out in Qld. There had been 1,106 cases of COVID-19 in Queensland and there were currently 18 active cases. We were being asked to wear masks where we went and I was about to receive from my kind sister-in-law some home made masks for such use.

20200826_153148
Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Having attended Indooroopilly Shopping Centre on the 20th of August to see Tenet. A Qld Health Alert who those who had been at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre on the 17th and 19th of August should go and get tested. A timely reminder if any that the situation could change at any time.

I also donated money to Medicins San Fronteres otherwise known as Doctors Without Borders who were involved in fighting COVID-19 around the world as well as responding to all kinds of varieties of disasters, emergencies and ongoing disease outbreaks.

August 26

In Victoria there were 133 new COVID-19 cases reported and 23 deaths – 22 linked to aged care.

It was the lowest daily increase of cases since 05JUL2020.

When the daily numbers got to double digits there could be a hope that planning for the lowering of restrictions would come. Premier Daniel Andrews indicated it was a positive step but also noted, “These numbers are coming down. Of course, that shouldn’t take away from the pain and the loss that those 23 families today are dealing with. And sadly, there will be more tomorrow. That’s the nature of this wildly infectious virus.

The Victorian government also announced more funding more help with domestic violence which had increased during the pandemic and even more so during such a lockdown as Victoria was experiencing.

Something to note, there were 391 healthcare workers with active cases, 198 active regional cases and 1,412 active case in aged care settings. Again these were active cases on the 26th of August.

The Republic National Convention was covered by Planet America. Ballbag used the White House for the RNC, an unprecedented move where previously campaigning Presidents had never used the White House to have the people’s house not be part of elections.

In Queensland due to the youth detention centre cluster a new Direction came from the government regarding disability accommodation service. It included non with COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days could enter a facility. Specialists who provide support would be able to enter at the discretion of supervising staff.

-Lloyd Marken

How to Watch the Democratic National Convention - The New York Times

COVID-19 DIARY – WAS ANY OF IT NECESSARILY AVOIDABLE?

Police at the head of a long line of traffic on a highway

August 13

There continued to be mounting pressure for state border closures to end.

In Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk tweeted there were no new cases of COVID-19 in the state. In New South Wales there were 12 new cases and in Victoria there were 278 new cases and eight deaths.

“The danger is still on our doorstep,” Ms Palaszczuk posted. “As of this morning, New South Wales had 297 active cases after an additional 96 cases in the past week.

“Queensland isn’t taking any chances … our borders will remain closed for as long as the risk remains.”

Earlier in the week South Australia had made the decision to not have residents from border towns be able to enter the state.

South Australia’s Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade defended the decision on ABC Breakfast.

“We have 500 cases in Victoria … We have 14 cases literally on the border,” he said.

“I see this as a bushfire that is producing spot fires in regional Victoria. We have a fire break in terms of border controls. We have no cases west of the border. Now is the time to act.”

“We are sympathetic to the disruption to people across Victoria and SA, in terms of these cross border restrictions. That is why we have left them as light as we could for as long as we could. Now that we have active cases right across the western border, we need to increase the restrictions. I find that (politically driven suggestion) offensive. These measures are fundamentally driven by our public health officers.”

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan were not ruling out border closures in place well into 2021 if active cases could not be brought down in other states.

Despite having entry through their own national borders from overseas restricted, Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham advised, “State border restrictions need to be proportionate to the health risk and shouldn’t remain in place for one more day than they need to. If a state or territory border were to remain closed to a jurisdiction that had successfully suppressed the spread of COVID-19, then that state or territory government will need to be accountable to their tourism industry and will ultimately need to provide additional support.

As he put it, “With our international borders expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future, our priority right now is getting Australians travelling to parts where we have successfully suppressed the spread of COVID-19.

Border closures didn’t ensure that the disease wouldn’t be brought in by residents returning who didn’t play by the rules. There are no guarantees but this thing spreads and fast. We learnt that the hard way in March and closed down our national and state borders as a result. When there is an outbreak we shut down localities with travel.

Lately the media has been feeding us stories of people who couldn’t get to hospitals or funerals. All tragic and maybe unnecessary but to be frank I smell a rat and I’m not buying. There’s too many lives at stake to worry about the almighty dollar and I suspect that is what this is really all about.

If the Chief Health Officer of Queensland Jeanette Young wanted to keep the borders shut she had my full support as she seemed to have our best interests at heart and if the state Premier was not wilting under intense political pressure to open the borders well then she could count on my vote in the upcoming state election too.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison posted a video message on Facebook acknowledging the high number of COVID deaths in aged care, about 68% of national COVID deaths.

I want to assure you that where there are shortcomings in these areas they will be acknowledged, and the lessons will be learnt, and we will seek to be as upfront, particularly with the families of those who are affected in these circumstances as much as possible,” Morrison said.

The Prime Minister also acknowledged that there would be further death.

We know that in the days and the weeks ahead there will be more difficult news as the impact of the COVID-19 spread, particularly in Victoria, will have further impacts. We need to continue to brace ourselves for that.

The fact that he had lost his own father earlier in 2020 seemed pertinent when he said, “Losing a loved one is never easy. We’re also terribly sorry these are the conditions you have to go through in terrible grief.

There had been leaks showing the offer of defence personnel to the Victorian government for hotel quarantine manpower made the subsequent fiasco more embarassing for the Victoria Premier but Daniel Andrews stood firm saying, “I don’t know the federal Defence Minister. I don’t deal with her. I deal with the Prime Minister. I’m glad that there’s other people who think that the best contribution they could make is to be playing politics. I haven’t got time for that and I’m not interested in it.

It was reported that for the month of July, a million Australians had been out of work. The unemployment rate was 7.5 per cent but was effectively as high as 9.9 per cent accounting for the Jobkeeper retention.

The good news was that figure was done by 1.3 per cent from June where was 11.2 per cent. CommSec chief economist economist Craig James said, “Jobs rose more than expected. But we know that there is a long way to go, especially incorporation of the effects of both stage four and stage three lockdown restrictions in Victoria. The quicker that the jobless rate peaks and starts falling, the less damage and scarring will be done to the longer-term health of the economy.” 

In New Zealand there were 13 active new COVID-19 cases bringing the number of total active cases to 36. Having been 100 days COVID free the government was considering how long and how far they would go with lockdown and if it had come through freight which it was indicated was a very low likelihood. When asked if the government was going hard enough with quarantining people the Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield advised “I don’t think we have been soft on this at all. We don’t round up people in New Zealand. We round up sheep; we don’t round up people.

August 14

Friday.

In Victoria there were 372 new cases and 14 deaths up from 287 cases and eight deaths the day before. The Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton advised these large numbers may well be the peak of what was occurring in the state. The death of a young man in his 20s from that days’ account became the youngest death in Australia during the pandemic so far. 

In Queensland thousands of people were still travelling to the state. 2,600 people on 65 flights on Thursday. Five were refused entry and 142 were quarantined. 

4,575 cars were stopped at the border, 253 were turned around and 54 were ordered to self-isolate. 

As the Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll put it, “There’s an extraordinary amount of people still coming into Queensland.

In Victoria there were 372 new cases and 14 deaths up from 287 cases and eight deaths the day before. The Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton advised these large numbers may well be the peak of what was occurring in the state. The death of a young man in his 20s from that days’ account became the youngest death in Australia during the pandemic so far. 

In Victoria there were 1,743 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed, more than any other state and territory combined. Their lack of previous utilisation in such large numbers had been a political football throughout the week.

During a parliamentary inquiry into the hotel quarantine outbreaks in Melbourne, Premier Daniel Andrews had made it a point that ADF troops were not on offer but this kicked off a back and forth all week. 

An outbreak at Rydges was part of the beginning of Victoria’s second wave. It was being investigated how the outbreak had occurred and whether the procurment and choice of particular private security firms had been poor and led to the outbreak happening. Private firms which can range in training and experience had been used in other states but ADF members had been used quite a bit a in NSW along with private security and no similar outbreak had occurred there. w

The mandatory hotel quarantine began Saturday, March 28. 100 personnel were put on standby for large states and 50 ADF personnel for small states. None were deployed to Victoria, such decisions were left to the individual states. Commissioner Crisp made this determination.

In April further communication with the ADF did not bring up using them for hotel quarantine as far as the state authorities were concerned as they already had a program in place. Albeit one that would prove disastrous. 

Defence Minister Senator Reynolds had a different story advising on the 12th of April that Victorian authorities were asked if they needed any assistance and reaffirmed they did not. A small distinction but perhaps an important one.

While Victoria did not use the ADF in this role it should be noted it was small numbers in other states. In March in New South Wales 30 ADF went to Sydney airport and another 40 to six hotels to support quarantine with police and security.

In Queensland it was a dozen ADF to Brisbane and Cairns airports and another dozen to a hotel in Cairns. 

Fifty went to Western Australia but in late July whistleblowers brought attention to quarantine breaches and the next day more ADF troops deployed to the West to assist contracted security guards. 

Rumours have swirled of Melbourne security guards and quarantine guests making the beast with the two backs but so far nothing has been substantiated. Confirmed and scary in itself is the subcontracting out to casual employees with Whatsapp and the providing of very little training at all. There has also been talk of errors that could have been avoided, carpooling, the sharing of a lighter, eating on breaks at the same place. 

On the 24th of June, Victoria a month after the case at Rydges, the ADF was requested by Victoria and the numbers were subsequently scaled back. 

On the 30th of June Victoria was out of the hotel quarantine business with flights diverted to other cities until at least October. With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing in Victoria more and more ADF troops have been brought to patrol streets with police and conduct doorknocks. 

The failure of the hotel quarantine has seen some circles regularly calling for Premier Andrews resignation but I’m not so sure. The whole second wave and resulting deaths in aged care could be linked back to a failure to better plan the hotel quarantine and the vendors. On the other hand was some of this the poor decision making through the fog of war. Andrews failed here but he has worked hard as the state went into higher lockdown under immense pressure from all many sides. 

Either way, in his own words, “Clearly there has been a failure in the operation of this program,” he said at the time.

On November 6, the Coate Inquiry is expected to be handed down with their findings on the matter.

-Lloyd Marken