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 – 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 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

COVID-19 DIARY – COVID PAYMENTS SET TO REDUCE AS CASES CONTINUE TO RISE

Almost 600 COVID-19 cases at Victoria aged care homes - HealthTimes

 

July 20

Monday and another week began in earnest. I was very busy and stressed about my secondment but was enjoying the work.

In the news there was some talk about a proposal that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaczszuk put forward for the border processing to move south into northern NSW to alleviate wait times and to help those who lived in the border communities such as Coolangatta. She claimed she had suggested this back in March.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian had a straight forward response.

I’m happy to consider all options except I do not believe at any stage we should move the border. If anything, the border should be moved north. There is zero infection in northern NSW at this stage,” she said.

So that was that.

There were a couple of a cluster of cases in New South Wales.

 

In Victoria there were 275 confirmed cases overnight and it was announced that masks were going to become mandatory come Thursday. Students across the state were going back to learning from home.

 

 

Federally there were announcements made about changes to welfare.

There are 3.5 million people on Jobkeeper which is a $1,500 payment for workers who are employed but who are not getting any hours from their employer due to the economic shutdown.

After September, Jobkeeper which worked out to $1,500 a fortnight would go down to $1,200 and then on the 4th of January, 2021 $1,000 a fortnight. It would also switch to a two tier system.

Then there are 1.3 million on Jobseeker which was the old Newstart allowance for people looking for work. When COVID and a sharp rise in unemployment occurred there was $550 supplement added to the Jobseeker allowance. That would be reduced to $250 per fortnight in October and continue until March 2021.

The government was hoping that as time went on more and more would be at work as these payments decreased. The debt was increasing and there was certainly reform needed around Jobkeeper.

Yet for those who would struggle to survive with less money this gave them some certainty about what was coming and increased uncertainty about how they would get by.

 

 

July 21

A woman out and about garnered a little bit of media interest when she was found walking outside of her local area. But she had a very simple explanation.

KAREN FROM BRIGHTON ‘CALLS IN’:

Don’t miss a moment of Kennedy Molloy and subscribe to the Catch Up podcast on the Triple M app! Download it on iTunes or Google Play.

 

July 22

In Queensland on Wednesday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk did not rule out further border restrictions even as she called on people to visit the state if they were not coming from one of the declared hotspots.

I am absolutely determined to keep Queenslanders safe,” she said.

If we have to declare further hotspots we will declare further hotspots and if there is an outbreak of community transmission in NSW like we have seen in Victoria we will not hesitate to take quick and swift action.

Facing an election in October, businesses particularly tourism ones were hurting and she wanted to show her support including scrapping of fees for those who run whale watching tours. This would equate to about $6,000 for each operator.

In Victoria there was a growing need to be considered.

40 aged care homes in the state had at least one positive COVID-19 case and over 200 cases were linked to aged care facilities.

Anybody familiar with what had happened at Newmarch House in New South Wales knew this was of particular concern.

The lessons from Newmarch were clear to some.

Professor Marylouise McLaws, an infection control expert at the University of New South Wales and an adviser to the World Health Organisation noted in an article published by The Guardian that infection control was very difficult in aged care homes.

“Unless you have dedicated bathrooms – and not every aged care facility does – and unless you have highly trained staff in infection control, which you don’t have in aged care, then it is very difficult to ensure that any shared area is kept clean all the time,” she said.

This bore out with the fact that residents at Newmarch were isolated in their rooms and COVID free for weeks before becoming ill with it.

Newmarch sent 16% of infected patients to hospital and 19 residents died. 

Also in New South Wales the Dorothy Henderson Lodge sent 80% of patients to hospital and six of their residents died.

Professor McLaws and Professor Joseph Ibrahim (Head of the Health, Law and Ageing Research Unit at the Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University believed generally speaking patients should be moved to hospitals to avoid infecting residents. Aged care staff just are not trained in infection control the same ways. McLaws pointed out they don’t have pressured rooms, Hepa filters and designated areas to store PPE. Ibrahim also said their capacity for waste is not the same.

How much would their advice be heeded.

How many people were at risk if they were not listened to.

In Victoria there were 484 new cases, the largest in a single day since the pandemic began.

 

July 23

In Victoria 403 cases were reported overnight with five deaths taking the state’s death toll to 49.

There were 201 Victorians in hospital with COVID and 40 in Intensive Care Unit including four children. Victoria Health Minister Jenny Mikakos advised 20% of Victoria’s COVID patients were under 50.

A man in his 50s was also one of the ones who had passed away.

Premier Daniel Andrews as a result said, “One of the terrible tragedies today is a man in his 50s — this is not just something that affects people that are frail-aged. That would be reason enough to do what we’re doing, but it would be wrong to assume that young people are somehow immune to this.

Premier Andrews advised there 3,630 active cases in Victoria.

Premier Andrews also advised that 9/10 people who were confirmed cases were continuing to move around the community after developing symptoms. Over half of people who got tested did not immediately self-isolate after waiting to get their results.

He also announced a $300 payment that could be claimed by casuals or those with insecure work who needed to self-isolate.

Minister Mikakos said the data showed a quarter of infections from the start of July are young people in their 20s and people over 60 only represented 6%.

Premier Andrews said “If you want this to be over, if you want to get to the other side of it and find that COVID normal — and be able to go and have a beer, or go and have a meal with a friend and be able to move around the community much more freely than you can now — you’ve got to follow the rules.

On the 23rd of July the World Health Organisation reported globally there had been 15,019,293 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 248,393.

There had been 614,311 deaths with a daily increase of 7,035.

In Australia there had been 12,896 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 468. There had been 128 deaths with a daily increase of two.

In Canada there had been 111,697 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 573. There had been 8,862 with a daily increase of four.

In United Kingdom there had been 297,663 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 751. There had been 41,047 deaths with a daily increase of 17.

Having reached over one million cases on July 17, in India on the 23rd of July there had been 1,238,635 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 45,720. There had been 29,861 Indians die with a daily increase of 1,129.

In the United States of America there had been 3,868,453 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 62,929. There had been 141,479 deaths with a daily increase of 1,042.

-Lloyd Marken

 

 

COVID-19 DIARY – WE STAND AT A CROSSROADS

Coronavirus Australia: Crossroads Hotel pub cluster revealed as ...

 

July 12

The Curve on the ABC highlighted how quickly case numbers shot up in Victoria and highlighted the concern that it could repeat in NSW with recent case outbreaks in that state.

In America there was a record number of new daily cases.

On the 3rd of July daily cases broke 50,000 in a day. The number was 54,271.

On July 6 the daily record was broken again with 57,186.

Then on July 10 the record broke 60,000 in a day. The number was 64,630.

On July 12 there 66,542 confirmed new cases in the United States of America.

 

July 13

A dozen ADF members went into isolation at RAAF Base Wagga Wagga after it was reported there was an outbreak of cases from the Crossroads pub located in Sydney. The base is where recruits receive training to become serving members and move on to employment training and careers in the RAAF. The dozen members had been in the pub between 03JUL2020 to 10JUL2020.

July 14

In the United States of America there was no good news.

Deaths related to COVID-19 had increased by 46% in one week according to Reuters. 5,000 people mostly from Texas, Arizona and Missippi. California and Florida were also seeing an increase in deaths.

There was also 21 per cent increase in case numbers with over 400,000 reported the same week.

Case numbers were only falling on a weekly basis in the States of New York, Tennessee, New Jersey and Delaware.

In Texas and Arizona the call was put out for refrigerated trucks as morgues reached capacity. In the latter, intensive care units at hospitals were at 90% capacity. 100,000 people were treated in hospital on Monday in Texas.

Some experts were saying that the death toll may not be as bad as when the pandemic first hit because testing was extremely limited early on and people were behaving differently.

Let’s hope.

 

Soldier standing on the ground hands box of supplies to civilians in the back of a truck.

 

Testing in America also rose by 7.4 per cent the same week with 823,000 tests performed on July 10 alone.

Thankfully America had a leader in charge focussed on doing everything he could for his citizens.

Coming off the small numbers at his rally in Tulsa and criticism for the clearing of Lafayette park Trump came across like a deranged old man muttering into the sky, lost and alone hoping whatever he said would stick with some voter out there.

Essentially a rally without a crowd and any back-up.

Sadly the left in the media appeared very smug which I knew would just feed into his base.

Still doesn’t anyone see how desperate Trump is to feed on fears?

Referencing Biden he said he’ll defund the police, the military, they’ll get rid of the suburbs.

Get rid of the suburbs? There’s 130,000 dead Americans you fuck!

 

 

In Australia I finally made it to my gym tuesday night. Using the dumbbells at home were a distant memory and sadly I have found the secondment has zapped me of a lot of strength. All excuses I know but on Tuesday I went my gym and thursday night I went back for a session on the treadmill. How long gyms would remain open 24/7 nobody knew.

There had been breakouts in New South Wales at The Soldiers Club in Batemans Bay and the Crossroads Hotel linked to 30 cases.

 

Batemans Bay Soldiers Club COVID-19 cluster prompts business ...

 

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian commented that she was not looking to follow Victoria into lockdown.

We need to accept children need to be educated, that people need to go to work. IT would be unrealistic for us to assume we are going to see any situation where there’s zero cases. This is the nature of the pandemic – until we have a cure, we have to live with it.” she said.

She later said of Victoria’s experience, “Lockdown doesn’t guarantee… that you’re not going to have people dying.

Queensland shuts it borders to Campbelltown and Liverpool cities in Sydney. Deputy Premier Steven Miles advised that 18 Queenslanders had visited the Crossroads hotel and were in quarantine getting tested with 11 already getting a negative result. 

There were moves as well to pass legislation that anyone making a false declaration could face up to six months imprisonment, currently the maximum penalty was a $4,003 fine.

Queensland Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk told Parliament, “We are entering the most dangerous weeks of the battle so far. Our enemy is complacency.

 

Coronavirus Melbourne: Victoria records 300 new COVID-19 cases ...

 

In Victoria there was an announcement that 800 more Australian Defence Force personnel would be sent to Victoria to join the 500 already there. They would be helping in the State Control Centre and assisting Victoria police with contract tracing and enforcing public health orders.

Incidents like the breakout of cases at the Crossroads pub within the wake of Queensland opening its borders just made us feel more resigned that we were about to see a break-out here in Queensland.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART IV

Gladys Berejiklian says closure of NSW-Victorian border because of ...

 

July 06

Monday I started my secondment and was back in the office.

The biggest news was the announcement that New South Wales and Victoria were going to close their borders from 11:59pm Tuesday night.

There were 127 cases reported in Victoria that day, the largest daily increase since the pandemic began and following 74 cases from Sunday. There were also two deaths in Victoria.

The Victorian Chief Health Office Brett Sutton summed it up well when he said, “It’s essentially a doubling of the numbers since yesterday.”

There were 645 active cases in the state.

The border closure between New South Wales and Victoria was the first time since 1919 during the Spanish Flu pandemic. High initial case numbers in both states during this pandemic had not prompted them to close the border again until now.

It was to be a serious undertaking with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller advising there are at least 55 border crossings between the two states. There were four main arterial roads, 33 bridge crossings, two waterway crossings and many other smaller roads. Aerial drones were also to be employed. Penalties would unlawful border crossings would be $11,000 fines and 6 months jail time.

 

Coronavirus: Queues, chaos as NSW-Victoria border is locked

 

The largest border town is Albury/Wodonga which is also a major Australian army town. The Army Logistics Training Centre is Headquartered in various barracks there mostly at Bandiana, a suburb of Wodonga.

Mayor of Wodonga Anna Speedie advised “We share a health system. We share so many different things.”

Premier Daniel Andrews said there would be the ability for those who lived there to travel to and from both for the purposes of work or essential health services.

Two days later on the first day of the borders being closed a gentlemen slinging a VB let a Channel 9 correspondent know he was not happy about the border closure.

“You try to lock me out of bloody Wodonga and Albury, how the hell am I supposed to get to Centrelink?” he asked. 

His demeanour a good source for our amusement but a legitimate concern. The centrelink office was located in Wodonga and he did live in Albury.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian in her initial press interview looked visibly upset to convey the decision.

Premier Andrews and her are of different political parties but have shouldered the highest case numbers, worked together to push for schools to shut down earlier. endured scandals and criticisms in regards to hotel quarantines for him and the Ruby Princess disembarkation for her.

The storyteller in me would like to read more into this but I humbly submit that she is working long and hard through this crisis and some days like it was for Prime Minister Scott Morrison a few weeks back, it shows a little.

Yet she remained resolute.

“We wouldn’t have taken this step unless we absolutely had to,” she said.

“Please know this is not a decision we take lightly, but during the pandemic I have always said New South Wales will have a no-regrets policy.”

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS

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

 

21 May

Thursday.

Australia reached 100 deaths due to COVID-19.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

22 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – THE NEW NORMAL

Nightingale field hospitals were not built in error to tackle ...

 

03 April 

I had concluded my first week working from home completely. We were in the new normal. On Saturday several national parks were closed down, one more setback for people wanting to stay in shape. Also we were told we were limited to our own suburbs.

Also I became aware that we were not supposed to leave our suburbs without good reason. Midnight drives to get out and about may see you pulled over by the cops. This apparently started back on March 22.

As a southside boy I drove across town to get Thai nervously. Others I knew grew concerned as they passed police cars on the freeway pulling people over as they went to get fish outside their local area. When the lockdown had started police had used a common sense approach rather than handing out fines. As time went on and people broke police barricades to go to the beach or had to shepherded from public parks like in Sydney on the 31st of March – fines started to get handed out. There was also mass confusion for people who didn’t see the restrictions from a play it safe perspective. Instead of if in doubt, don’t do it! They wanted clarity on the maximum allowance.

I was staying in an apartment with wifi and my income remained the same as my job was not in danger. There were no children to take care of. No concerns about food, toilet paper was starting to fill the shelves again. I didn’t miss movies or exercise, I was happy to finally being saving money.

This was not the comfort millions of Australians found themselves in and I started to think more and more about what could I do to really help them. I remained worried about the third world that was also more vulnerable to COVID-19 if an outbreak occurred.

As NSW Premier Gladsy Berejiklian put it on the 1st of April, “I’m pleased to say today that people think we’re going too far because I don’t want to people to say we’re not doing enough.

 

In the United Kingdom the first Nightingale hospital opened in London’s Excel Centre.

Built in just nine days at ExCel Exhibition Centre with help of 160 contractors and 200 British Army engineers the 4,000 bed capacity hospital is designed to take in transfer of Intensive Care unit patients from other hospitals on ventilators.

Several others sites were well on their way at Belfast, Glasgow, Cardiff, Birmingham, Harrogate, Bristol and Manchester to build a surge capacity of up to 14,480 beds.

Thousands of airline staff from Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic have been approached to change beds, help doctors and nurses in non-clinical tasks.

Sounds like being a Wardie.

Airline staff were desired due to the security clearance, first aid training and likely would need the work.

A recovering Prince Charles opened up the hospital via videolink.

Prince Charles opened London's new coronavirus hospital by video ...

In America Jarred Kushner son-in-law to Trump and working as a Senior Advisor on the Coronavirus Taskforce advised “The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states stockpiles that they then use.

He elaborated “”When you have governors saying that the federal government hasn’t given them what they need, I would encourage you to ask them, have you looked within your state to make sure you haven’t been able to find the resources?”.

04 April

Watching Planet America on the ABC I found out the number of Americans who had applied for welfare was 6.6million. A number that shrank all statistics from the previous four decades including during the Global Financial Crisis and the recession of the late 1980s.

Jobless

On the fourth of April the World Health Organisation reported the number of cases in the world had crossed one million.

There were 1,056,157 cases with a daily increase of 79,908.

The death toll stood at 57,130 with a daily increase of 6,716.

In Fiji there had been seven confirmed cases with no daily increase and even now, no reported deaths and rampant increase in number of cases reported.

In Cambodia there were 114 cases with a daily increase of four. There were no deaths reported in Cambodia nor since.

In Morocco there were 858 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 123. The number of dead 50 with a daily increase of three.

In Peru there were 1,414 cases with a  daily increase of  91. There were 51 dead with a daily increase of ten.

In Mexico there 1,510 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 132. The number of dead 50 with a daily increase of 13.

In Thailand there were 2,067 cases reported with a  daily increase of 89. The number of dead 20 with a daily increase of one. Thailand and Cambodia’s numbers have remained steady according to the WHO since.

In India there were 2,902 cases with a  daily increase of 601. There were 68 dead with a daily increase of twelve.

In Russia there were 4,149 cases with a daily increase of 601. There were 34 dead reported with a daily increase of four.

Three days earlier Russia loaded an air force AN-124 cargo plane with PPE equipment and other medical equipment flying from Moscow to New York. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he hopes the US will reciprocate as it increases its production capacity should Russia need help.

It followed a similar shipment to Italy from Russia some of which had been reported to be mostly useless. It came under criticism for how it made America look taking aid from Russia, was seen as collusion, a preliminary move to relax sanctions that had been enforced following Russia’s actions in Crimea.

This was following a week where New York Governor Cuomo had pointed out he was bidding for ventilators online against other states.

When asked in a press briefing if he would he accept more help from Russia President Trump said “If they send things that we need, I’d take it. Sure.

In Norway there were 5,208 cases with a daily increase of 273. There were 44 dead with a daily increase of two.

In Australia there were 5,454 cases with a daily increase of 104. There were 28 dead with a daily increase of two.

In Sweden there 6,078 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 612. The number of dead 333 with a daily increase of 51.

In Brazil there were 7,910 confirmed cases with a daily increase 1,074. The number of dead 299 with a daily increase of 58.

In Canada there were 11,732 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,618. The number of dead 152 with a daily increase of 25.

There were 38,172 confirmed cases in the United Kingdom with a daily increase of 4,450. There were 3,605 deaths with a daily increase of 684.

In Iran there were 55,743 cases with a daily increase of 2,560. The number of dead were 3,452 with a daily increase of 158.

In France there were 63,356 cases with a daily increase of 5,209, The number of dead were 6,493 with a daily increase of almost a third at 2,003!

In China the WHO reported 82,875 cases with a daily increase of 73. The number of dead 3,335 with a daily increase of four.

In Germany there were 85,778 with a daily increase of 6,082. The number of dead were 1,158 with a daily increase of 141.

In Spain there were 117,710 confirmed cases! with a daily increase of  7,472. The death toll climbed to 10,935 with a daily increase of 932.

In Italy there were 119,827 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,585. 14,681 Italians had died with a daily increase of 764.

In the United States of America there were now 241,703 confirmed cases with a daily increase alone of 28,103! The death toll in total 5,854 with a daily increase of 1,061.

-Lloyd Marken

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

 

As we entered the third week of March more restrictions were to come but the new normal would be firmly established by the end of the week. My hope was that people can deal with having to make changes a great deal more than the uncertainty that comes with not knowing what is going to transpire. Yet for many people around the world uncertainty was coming regardless.

We started to hear about those who were losing loved ones and unable to see them in their last moments or attend the funeral. The spectre of far ranging unemployment also began to descend.

23 March

Monday at my work which involves answering phones we switched to make as many of our processes as digital as possible and shifted the phones to being manned for only a little more than half of the day.

This was a somewhat busy period for us so we held our breath and wondered what would happen. We managed, we did our best, we supported each other, we came through.

I took the time to tell my leadership team that “A calm Captain steadies the ship through storms.”

I had many calm Captains.

As of midday as per the announcement the day before, cinemas, pubs, clubs, casinos and gyms are all shut down. I hadn’t gone to the gym in months but I had just been thinking maybe working from home would help me start up again… yes I know that’s not true.

 

 

In Sydney NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced schools would remain open and safe but urged parents to keep their kids home for online learning if they could. School Easter holidays aren’t due to begin until 13APR2020.

In some schools attendance is down to a third.

Discussion is also turning to how to provide solid distance education to all children including those with limited digital tools and internet wifi. Old school methods of booklets and mail outs are utilised too.

One of the guys I have water cooler conversations (there are no water coolers in our officer but GenX and Boomers will know what I’m talking about) at work advised me that he had pulled his kids from school.

I said “Good on him.”

I wanted all of us to be working from home and keeping our kids home as soon as we could.

 

Australian unemployment rate to double as coronavirus hammers ...

Around the country lines snaked around Centrelink offices as the myGov website crashed due to a surge in applications. The newly unemployed went to apply in local offices instead.

I worked twelve long years as a temp and on contracts finding myself looking for work at least a dozen times over that same period.

Sometimes I was unemployed for two weeks – other times five months.

Once I worked across two organisations, in 4 different roles, having received six extensions on two different contracts and gone up two pay scales over the course of 24 months.

I never took a holiday and through most of those twelve years I worked a second job as well.

I never managed to save up anything – only to pay unexpected bills. I will admit I did recklessly pay for a trip to attend my sister’s wedding. That was an indulgence on my part.

Registering for and being on the dole is a painful process.

I once sat in a public park to get internet access to apply for a job on an old laptop before driving to a local library in the middle of the application because my battery power started to run out.

Yet I am here and so my hope is all of these talented and hard working people who are victims of circumstance will come out the other side.

 

Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison addresses the scaled-back parliament session

The Prime Minister was also thinking of them.

In Canberra there was a sitting of Parliament to pass life saving legislation.

Across Australia today many thousands of Australians will lose their jobs. They are lining up at Centrelink offices as we speak. Something unimaginable at this scale only weeks ago.”

“Life is changing in Australia for every Australian and life is going to continue to change.

“Meeting this challenge is bigger than any Australian … In the months ahead we will face more issues that none of us even now can imagine.

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – SHUT IT DOWN!

Hundreds defied warnings for social isolation at Bondi yesterday.

 

We entered the weekend of March 21-22 still with a lot of questions of how life was changing. International travel was curtailed and it was clear that trading was down and there would be huge economic consequences but how far the restrictions would increase and whether the number of cases increasing would slow down were all up in the air.

A friend of mine had a house party on Friday night. I had a very quiet weekend but our way of life was still mostly in tact even if some of shop shelves were bare and there was a growing concern for our health care workers.

We knew things were escalating but we did not know what the new normal was going to be. I was hoping the next week would define it.

 

March 21

I saw a couple of videos on youtube including an interview with the former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who had steered us through the Global Financial Crisis. His comments about stronger actions being taken by Singapore or Germany led to me taking on board more information over the weekend.

 

 

The Northern Territory announced it would close its borders 4pm on March 24.

The NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said “I’ve seen what’s happening overseas, I’ve seen what’s happening down south and I’m not going to let that happen here,” he said.

“The Territory comes first.”

 

March 22

Seeing how people react to a crisis reveals a lot about their personalities and the things they prioritise. Amongst my friends and peers I saw people who chart their own path in terms of choosing to take their kids out of school or put in place precautions.

One friend drove out of Sydney early on and is now growing a vegetable garden on Moreton Island with a raft of supplies.

Some of us had parties and went out to comedy festivals seizing the day.

Some have questioned all the information provided by the “mainstream media” and wondered if every action is justified.

I admire in some ways all of these people and all of these traits.

For me, I learnt that I do follow instructions from my leadership and institutions. I follow their lead even when I disagree possibly and I look to help others rather than take care of myself. I do ask questions to see if we are doing everything we should but I rarely rebel.

In that way I am like a soldier.

On Sunday I texted my leadership team I was ready to work from home and the next day I advised that I believed we should have as many people at home as soon as possible. Which was of course what we all had been working on for the past fortnight and more but I guess I was communicating a change in my wish to not be treated differently.

Yet I was in the office for most of that week.

 

On the same Sunday, South Australia and Western Australia announced they would close their borders that Tuesday.

On Sunday the National Cabinet was to meet having moved a head a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

Before it the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a comprehensive breakdown of new lockdown measures.

The Australian Capital Territory advised pupils will be told to stay home from Tuesday onwards and that teachers needed to prepare to transition from face to face teaching.

In Victoria Term 1 was scheduled to end that Friday and was moved up to Tuesday. In New South Wales they were scheduled until April 13. 

This was not in keeping with the views of the Prime Minister who had previously advised 4 days earlier, ““The health advice is that schools should remain open. That is the health advice. Interestingly, this is also what Singapore has done. Singapore has been one of the more successful countries. In Singapore, the schools are open.”

“The health advice here, supported by all the premiers, all the chief ministers and my Government is that schools should remain open.

 

The National Cabinet met and afterwards on Sunday evening the Prime Minister announced a new range of measures.

Jobseeker payments, effectively our welfare payments were people out of work, looking for work and unable to work was to be almost doubled from $565.70 a fortnight with an additional $550. The decision came with a price tag of $14.1 billion dollars. There were also one off $750 payments that some would be eligible for. There was also to be a moratorium on tenant evictions.

The government was working to keep everybody with the means to feed and house themselves and support small businesses through the downturn as they worked to shut down major parts of the economy in order to save lives. They were very clear that this was the first of many such measures that were already costing 10% of the economy.

Interestingly the Prime Minister also mentioned “I’d be careful at comparing Australia’s data to other jurisdictions. Australia’s testing, for example, shows that we have the lowest, one of the lowest, if not the lowest test positivity in the world. We’re at 0.7 per cent compared to USA at 13, UK at 5, and Korea at 3.

There was a press conference before the National Cabinet met and one after they had met.

In the press conference earlier in the day his bull doggish manner was still on display, after pictures of crowds flocking to Bondi Beach the day before have travelled around the world.

 

“What happened at Bondi Beach yesterday was not OK and served as a message to federal and state leaders that too many Australians are not taking these issues seriously enough,” Mr Morrison said.

“The more Australians themselves assist us in this fight against the virus to protect lives and to protect livelihoods, the more and the better able we are to ensure that Australia comes out stronger on the other side.”

“So it’s a simple plea.” 

“We need you, we need you to do your bit when it comes to social distancing, to keeping that healthy distance, to respecting and following the rules that we’re setting down.”

Late on Sunday night the Prime Minister went before cameras to provide further answers, to provide information and to assure the Australian people that the National Cabinet were working together although clearly they had pushed back hard for what they deemed were the right decisions for their state.

In line with what the Premiers had already announced, the Prime Minister advised indoor entertainment, sporting and religious venues were to be shut from midday Monday. This included pubs, clubs and restaurants and cinemas.

I have not seen a movie at the cinemas since 07MAR2020 when I saw Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears.  It was the third 2020 release I saw after the The Gentlemen and Birds of Prey….well you can’t win them all.

I appreciate some of the kind words from people knowing that I am such a huge film buff and film critic. Yet I want you to know I have streaming, plenty of films I have not gotten around to seeing and… well there are other things to worry about right now.

I have a job, an ability to work from home, the weather is pleasant and everyone I care about is safe although financially many have been impacted.

My thoughts have not been about whether Wonder Woman 1984 is delayed but more what the hell can I do to help those who are experiencing hardship because like I said… I feel truly blessed.

In this briefing there was a small moment that gave birth to a bit of an internet craze of the ensuring days. From my perspective a storm in a teacup but a fun one nonetheless.

 

One thing that stood out to me then and still resonates with me now is when the Prime Minister voiced a real concern for the business sector in the evening briefing.

This was at a time when real fear was working through the populace who had secure jobs about the spread of the virus.  There were grave concerns that we had moved too slowly and it was certainly my thoughts in that moment.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported “The country’s rate of new confirmed coronavirus cases is now growing at 20-25 per cent a day, with some projections showing between 1 or 2 million Australians could be infected by the end of April. If those numbers were reached, tens of thousands of people would be dead based on the mortality rate recorded by China earlier this year.

The World Health Organisation reported on March 22 that Australia had 1,098 cases with a daily increase of 17. We had reached four figures the day before. The death toll was seven.

Yet the Conservative leader more than spared a thought for the very real pain that would occur to millions of Australians losing their jobs it spilled out of him genuinely.

“I am deeply regretful that those workers and those business owners who will be impacted by this decision will suffer the economic hardship that undoubtedly they will now have to face.

That is a very, very regretful decision, but a necessary one in the view of the premiers and chief ministers and myself to ensure that we can control the spread of this virus.

This should highlight to all Australians how serious this is and how hard we all have to work together to get this right”.

 

9/11 dust cloud may have caused widespread pregnancy issues ...

I remember the fear and uncertainty that came in the wake of September 11, 2001.

I remember the two speed economy that Australia became following the Global Financial Crisis.

I remember helping during the Queensland floods of 2011. Driving halfway across town against my mother’s pleas to be with my girlfriend Karen as the river rose and cut off roads.

I sat and watched my TV in the first weekend of this year as my country burned and pushed myself to help arrange a fundraiser barbeque at work. So chastened I was by my ability to not be more directly involved as I had been during the floods of 2011.

I now found myself old enough to remember more than a crisis or two.

Yet I’ve never seen anything like this.

None of us have.

The people who did are all dead.

 

Are we ready for a flu pandemic? - The Boston Globe

My grandfather was born in 1918, the same year there Spanish Flu Pandemic began and he has been gone for a long time. That pandemic which has many parallels to this one is out of living memory.

So interestingly enough people have been taking comfort and inspiration in the parrallels of the Great Depression and World War II.

Both were endured in harsher conditions and with a higher death toll and went on for a lot longer than a few weeks.

As new restrictions finally started to take effect and change the way we lived our lives the Prime Minister Scott Morrison found the words to galvanise us calling on those memories of times gone by in the press conference held earlier that day.

He opened with.

We’re a strong nation, we’re a strong people, and in the months ahead, we’re going to find out just how strong we are. We have the example and inspiration of generations that have dealt with challenges like this before. And we have the advantage of the lessons that they have passed on to us about how we can stick together to stick this through, to build a bridge to the recovery on the other side.

We cannot prevent all the many hardships, all the many sacrifices. That we will face in the months ahead. And while these hardships and these sacrifices may break our hearts on occasion, we must not let them break our spirit. And we must not let them break our resolve as Australians.”

He closing words were “So look, while Australians may be self-isolating in many cases and keeping their distance from each other. I want to assure all Australians of this, that together we will get through this. We will not want to see anyone go through this alone at the end of the day, through the support that we’re providing. But we need to support each other. We need to care for each other and together Australia we will get through this, and we will emerge stronger. Thank you.

-Lloyd Marken