COVID-19 DIARY – ONE PFIZER VACCINATION NOT A GREAT LOOK BUT FIVE MILLION NATIONAL VACCINATIONS LOOKS GOOD

Annastacia Palaszczuk et al. posing for the camera: (

June 07

Monday and Victoria recorded 11 new cases in the community bringing the total to 81 from this latest outbreak.

Three people were in hospital.

Three of the new cases wre linked to the Arcare aged care facility which took that cluster to nine cases.

A cluster in West Melbourne had grown to 14 cases with four new ones from the same household including three children.

Children do not need to be worried … kids overwhelmingly get mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. [It] doesn’t mean they can’t transmit, doesn’t mean that we don’t need to isolate them and quarantine them, but they overwhelmingly get mild illness,” Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.

Three of the new cases are linked to the City of Whittlesea outbreak, which now stands at 32 cases.

The day before 24,265 tests had been conducted in Victoria and in state-run sites there had been 17,719 vaccine doses administered.

That added to a total of 550,000 tests conducted in the state since the current outbreak had started two weeks earlier.

Two of the cases at Arcare were a 79 year old resident and an agency nurse who last worked a shift on Saturday. Everybody who worked a shift at Arcare on Saturday were being required to get tested and quarantine for 14 days.

It is critical for us that all these primary close contacts isolate effectively and safely and that the new staff coming in to do the vital work of looking after those residents do so in a very safe and controlled environment,” Victoria’s COVID Response Commander Jeroen Weimar.

Will Victoria's coronavirus lockdown be only seven days? - ABC News

Three of the new from the Whittlesea cluster had tested postive of day 13 of their quarantine.

In fact nine of the eleven new cases were already identified as close contacts and had isolated which was good news according to Professor Sutton.

A number of those won’t have had any symptoms during that entire period [in isolation] so they’ll be picked up on that day 13 test. If they were tested on day seven they might actually have tested positive earlier, but the fact that every single one of them needs to have a confirmed day 13 test before they’re released from quarantine is a standard precaution to be absolutely sure,” he said.

One of the new cases was a cleaner at a construction site which had been listed as a contact stie, he along with 200 others had gotten tested as a result with him the testing positive.

For the lockdown the Victorian government announced a $30 million pakcage. 4.5 million for emergency food relief, grants for food hubs, income support of $800 per person to be administered through the Red Cross and $12 million for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

It is very much about saying, there is a whole lot of people in our community whose voice is not particularly loud sometimes, but we need to make sure that we provide that support,” Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan said.

He said there were new people presenting at emergency food relief agencies who had never before accessed that service.

It’s not just about case numbers, if cases are already in quarantine then they’re not adding to any level of population risk but also they’re not creating more work for the health department by identifying additional exposure sites where we have to then try and screen people who have also been there. When you’ve got low numbers [of cases in an outbreak], it can look very bumpy, but the reality is that might be exactly what you’d expect if you’ve got so many people in quarantine who we know have been exposed directly to a case,” advised Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett.

Queensland to extend coronavirus restrictions in wake of Victoria cluster,  more vaccine hubs to open - ABC News

In Queensland 63,272 vaccine doses had been dispensed in the past week with 17,032 of those over the weekend.

The state’s Health Minister Yvette D’Ath advised Queensland was getting 50,000 Pfizer doses now per week from the federal government allowing certainty with supply and distribution amongst community vaccine hubs.

To get [a delivery], and sometimes it would arrive early and we’d be told ‘that’s all you’re getting for three weeks’ … now we’re getting consistency,” she said.

AstraZeneca was left to be delivered by GPs to those 50 and over.

After the media beat-up from the previous week Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk aged 50 years and over advised she had received the Pfizer vaccine.

She advised she would have gotten the AstraZeneca jab but they were recommended to be taken twelve weeks apart and the Pfizer jab three weeks.

Premier Palaszczuk advised with a possible trip to meet the Olympic committee in Tokyo along iwth the Lord Mayor of Brisbane and the Australian Prime Minister for a Brisbane bid to host the games in 2032.

There may be a requirement for the state to present to the whole Olympic committee about the Olympics, and I would have been unvaccinated and that’s why I had the Pfizer,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The Chief Health Officer got AstraZeneca, the Health Minister got AstraZeneca, so the Cabinet is following the guidelines,” she added.

COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins in Queensland, as nurses, police inspector  receive first jabs on the Gold Coast - ABC News

Dr Jeanette Young who was in late 50s but technically a health care worker had received AstraZeneca following health care workers getting Pfizer jabs as part of the 1A roll out.

So not only was Premier Palaszczuk getting the vaccine at a time that the popularity of the AstraZeneca vaccine was waning but she was doing it in order to be able to take an overseas trip as thousands of Australians struggled to travel internationally for work or seeing dying loved ones for example. It certainly was not a good look but a lot of that came down to timing.

Australian PM is vaccinated as rollout begins - BBC News

On February 21st, the 52 year old Prime Minister Scott Morrison got a Pfizer jab along with 84 year old Jane Malysiak and others as the first Australians to get vaccinated.

The Prime Minister taking the only vaccine available in the country at the time and as a leader showing a confidence in taking the vaccine.

Not long after the 50 year old New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian received her first AstraZeneca jab. 

Over-50s rebellion threatens to derail vaccination program

No biggie, other Premiers weren’t rushing out, perhaps to not be seen to be using the privilege of their position but Premier Berejiklian was again showing confidence in a vaccine and as a leader taking care of her health so she could do her job.

On the 9th of April the Australian goverment made the Pfizer the preferred vaccine for those under 50 heightening concerns in the community of the safety of AstraZeneca.

Premier Mark McGowan rolls up his sleeve for first dose of AstraZeneca  COVID-19 vaccine | PerthNow

53 year old Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan rolled up his sleeve for the AstraZeneca jab on the 3rd of May. As a leader over 50 Premier McGowan struck the right tone getting AstraZeneca and the 2A rollout having opened up to allow anyone over 50 to get vaccinated he seemed to not be jumping the queue but just taking up the opportunity that everyone in his age group could now take up.

Now a mere month later Premier Palaszczuk getting a Pfizer jab got some people’s knickers in a twist. I wasn’t one of them but once again timing is a delicate thing and simply put it wasn’t a good look.

As part of the 1B cohort the Premier and Chief Health Officer could have received their first dose in late March reported The Daily Mail.

In mid-April she got the flu jab and had to delay two weeks then got a tetanus shot after her dog bit her during a playfight.

Where she had previously selflessly wanted to wait her turn, whether her trip to Tokyo would ensure million of dollars in work and economic prosperity for the people of her state, if she did end up going. It didn’t matter. It just wasn’t a good look. Maybe two weeks earlier wouldn’t have mattered. But in politics timing is everything.

As one person commented on social media, “It took me over six months, seven cancelled flights and $10,000+ to fly back to Australia to hug my terminally ill mum one last time and you are talking about ‘needing’ to go to the Olympics? Absolute joke and a kick in the guts to stranded Aussies. Assuming home isolation on return too.

Some smart people over the weekend noted a lack of queues at a vaccine hub and got vaccinated as walk ins but the advice was still to make bookings.

More than 936,000 doses have been delivered in Queensland with about 92,500 people fully vaccinated.

The state was also the first to approve 50 pharmacies to dispense vaccinations in remote and regional areas.

It’s just beyond belief we are not using the thousands of pharmacies at our disposal to get millions of vaccines out of fridges and into people’s arms,” The Pharmacy Guild of Australia President Trent Twomey told The Australian.

They estimated the roll out would take another 408 days to complete and with pharmacies that could be slashed to 241 days.

“It’s not an issue of training, infrastructure, supply or consumer confidence – all this is, is bureaucratic red tape which is slowing down the process towards herd immunity.”

The battle of a purpose built quarantine facility continued after the federal government issued a set of criteria to be met.

The Premier’s response.

If the Commonwealth wants to set the criteria they can design the facility, they can construct the facility, they can pay for the facility, and they can run the facility. After all quarantine is a federal government responsibility,” she said.

The Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese was all for purpose built quarantine facilities in the country having included funding for it in last month’s budget reply speech.

There had been no breakouts from the Howard Springs Facility so far, there had been 21 or 22 from hotel quarantine in the past year.

Deputy opposition leader Richard Marles says there is just one purpose-built facility in Australia, Howard Springs in the Northern Territory, which unsurprisingly has no COVID-19 breakouts, while there has been 21 or 22 from hotels over the past year.

Fit-for-purpose facilities should be doing the bulk of the work,” Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles told the ABC’s Insiders program.

In good news Australia hit five million vaccine doses administered.

It had taken us 47 days to reach our first one million jabs, now 1 million had been dispensed in just the past nine days.

National Vaccine Operational Coordinator Commordore Eric Young advised 811,980 Pfizer doses would arrive onshore in the next couple of days and 230,000 AstraZeneca doses produced locally by CSL Limited would be batch released too.

Commodore Eric Young says extra 50,000 Pfizer doses distributed to NSW hubs  - ABC News

The Royal Australian Navy officer advised the biggest week yet of the vaccine rollout would take place with 1.1 million doses distributed across two and a half thousand locations in Australia including an additional 100,000 vaccine doses for Victoria where Melbourne remained in lockdown.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO SIP YOUR LATTE AGAIN

File:Lygon Street, Carlton.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

May 24

Monday and a new week.

As of 25 May 2021, the World Health Organisation reported a total of 1,545,967,545 vaccine doses have been administered around the world. The global population was 7.674 billion people.

The second repatriation out of India following the lifting of the travel ban of May 15 touched down in Darwin.

All 165 scheduled passengers had passed their tests and were able to fly back.

The testing company previously used by Qantas had been replaced after more than a dozen of the passengers from the previous flight who had tested positive had subsequently tested negative They were now being prirotised for getting a return flgiht.

There were eight repatriation flights scheduled for the following fortnight.

May 25

Tuesday and there is an increasing outbreak of cases in Melbourne who had suffered the most in 2020 with lockdowns, case numbers and aged care deaths.

There were five new daily cases and genomic testing linked it to the man who had done time in hotel quarantine in Adelaide and then become positive in Melbourne.

New restrictions or old restrictions returned to the Victorian capital.

Masks were to be worn inside, there was a limit of five people at home gatherings and public gatherings were restricted to 30 people.

New Zealand hit pause on the travel button with Victoria.

WA and Queensland advised anybody who had been in a hotspot needed to go into 14 day quarantine immediately. South Australia had the same measure for those who were already in the state but for Victorians who had not entered and had been in those hotspots were now banned from entering South Australia.

China released a video for their vaccine roll-out and announced an intention to administer up to 20 million doses a day.

A report from the ABC showed people were not going back to the office full time.

The ABC took stats from Australia Talks data that showed those working from home full time had shifted from four per cent to 25 per cent during the height of the pandemic here and was now currently at 12 per cent.

It appeared going forward a lot of people were keen to have a mix of working from home and in the office. Cutting out their commute saved them money and time and they found they were connected and present with their families.

Of course this was dependent on what your home life was, what your set-up at home was and what you did for a living.

I personally loved going into the office.

However I was certain the genie was out of the bottle and the stats reflected this.

Those who did 0 hours working from home had shifted from 49 per cent pre-pandemic to now 37 per cent.

May 26

Wednesday and the COVID cluster in Melbourne grew to 15 people with six new cases in the community.

It’s good that everyone is linked at this stage, but we are concerned about the number and the kind of exposure sites. I cannot rule out taking some further action but we will update people as soon as we know,” Victorian Acting Premier James Merlino said.

The next 24 hours were going to be crucial.

Three hundred known prmary close contacts had been tested and 80 results received so far with the rest expected in the next 24 hours.

The exposure sites that they then generate, how many close contacts they might have, and how long they have been in the community – they are all factors we need to consider,” Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said.

More than 26,000 COVID-19 tests were administered in the 24 hours to midnight Tuesday, and 15,858 vaccine doses were administered through the state.

As the cluster of cases grew to fifteen in Victoria, New South Wales residents were encouraged to postpone travel to Melbourne.

There also several locals who had visisted one of the contact sites, a shopping mall in Melbourne, who had gotten tested with two returning negative results. There were two that I was aware of, but there were a number of others that had gone to the shopping centre,” New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant explained.

‘And as you can imagine, a shopping centre could have captured a broader group of people.’

The government to the north of Victoria was falling over itself to not close to their neighbour but yeah but nah but yeah but nah but.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard apologises for calling Labor Leader Jodi  McKay 'quite stupid' in mask stoush

Those who had been in Greater Melbourne or Bendigo since May 12 were advised to not visit residential aged care or health care facilities unless it was to seek treatment or for compassionate reasons.

People who had been in Melbourne’s far north well limit your attendance at locations at pubs, and clubs, and gyms and

Yeah large family gatherings

But you know you can still see your family and

Look avoid crowded indoor settings

But you know we won’t make you quarantine at home like those mongrel Queenslanders!

But you know… speaking of your house… do you like your house yeah… houses are great!

I mean if you like your house so much that you spend the new few days there then that’s probably for the best.

And if you got out and you can go out but like when you’re out………………….

Don’t go anywhere where there’s like ooooohh…lots of people

Or old people

Or sick people

Or people with disabilities

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand if you do….

Like could you wear a mask?

Nobdoy else will be wearing a mask and we’re certainly not going to mandate you wear a mask

Just like we’re not going to make you quarantine

Because there is no need to do any of that and we wouldn’t do that to you!

But if you could kind of do all of that then that’s probably for the best but we’re not going to do that because we’re not like the Queensland and WA governments.

You know..

………………………………………..

Well you know………………………………….

Cause we’re fucking morons.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian faces biggest test of nerves yet over  Christmas coronavirus crisis - ABC News

Or as they put it.

If you don’t really need to go to Greater Melbourne it might be an idea just to leave it for a few days until we get some clarity from the Victorian government as to what’s going on,” New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard advised.

While the vaccine is our way out [of the pandemic], we know that there’s certain behaviours that we needed to embed on that journey, and one of those is if you have the most minimal symptoms, please get tested,” Dr Chant said.

On Tuesday there had been 16,698 tests carried out in the state.

The same day 13,200 vaccine doses were dispensed by New South Wales Health.

So far in NSW, 1,142,002 doses had been dispensed, 371,117 by NSW Health and 770,885 by GPs and the Commonwealth.

NSW Health was stepping ahead of the national rollout getting over 40s to regsiter interest getting Pfizer jabs at their Sydney Olympic Park clinic.

There was still work to be done in Phase 1A and 1B which included front line health care workers, those who worked in quarantine or border control and their household contacts, thsoe with underlying health conditions aor disability.

Then there were the over 50s to get AstraZeneca.

The 40-49s who had registered for Pfizer were starting to get contacted.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 23, 2020

Trump went and played golf on Saturday the 23rd, on the weekend that the United States of America neared 100,000 deaths.

94,011 of the 334,534 deaths reported in the world from COVID were American.

May 25, 2020

George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis.

I got tested for COVID-19 for the first time returning a negative result.

COVID-19 DIARY – HEAVILY WEIGHTED DECISIONS – PART II

India's COVID-19 deaths will rise sharply till mid-May—US study | Inquirer  News

May 06

A Sydney man and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 having visited 14 suburbs over five days where he unknowingly had the virus.

In a twist there was no explanation for how we caught it.

Genomic testing linked him an American man who quarantined at the Park Royal in late April. So there was a missing link.

New restrictions were put in place on the eve of Mother’s Day to run three days until midnight Sunday night.

Mask were to be worn indoors and on public transport, there was no singing or dance indoors with the exception of weddings where 20 could get up and boogy. No more than 20 visitors were allowed in households and no more than two visitors to aged care facilities.

If this was WA or Queensland they would have shut down the whole city. They would have said stay at home, they would have said don’t go about your business. We’re saying the opposite,” jabbed Premier Gladys Berejiklian

Which was a bit funny because recently the Queensland Premier had chosen not to go into lockdown when a case had been out in the communtiy for several days. That decison ultimately meant that two Queenslanders with COVID had travelled to Byron Bay leading to the Bryon Bay Bluesfest having to be cancelled in Berejiklian’s home state.

Additionally there was the missing link element here, somebody was out in the community potentially with COVID with no idea that they had it, maybe even more.

Yet the New South Wale Premier was urging people to go out about their business.

It also did eventuate in a lockdown in south east Queensland so Berejiklian’s comments needed to taken as seriously as her thoughts had been prior to making them.

In Victoria state run vaccination centres were averaging 8,000 jabs a day since phase 2A started earlier in the week.

The New Zealand government paused travel from Sydney for two days.

Six thousand people from New South Wales had travelled to New Zealand over the last 6 days would be contacted.

Those who had been to Sydney hotspots travelling into Western Australia were ordered to self quarantine for 14 days and those entering Queensland had to go into hotel quarantine.

Canada also approved Pfizer for use on teenagers aged 12-16 following trials. There was still a long way to go in vaccinating the adult population though.

Nationwide the same day 14,568,067 doses had been dispensed and 1,173,962 people or 3.1 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated out of a national population of 37 and a half million.

In Queensland a man was in Intensive Care following blood clotting after getting the AstraZeneca vaccination. He was one of five cases of clotting across the country in the past ten days as the government moved to deliver 270,000 doses of the vaccine next week.

There had been eleven cases of blood clotting after 1.4 million doses of AstraZeneca had been given in Australia including one dose to yours truly.

That is 11 / 1 400 000.

That is so far you had a 1 / 140 000 chance of getting a blood clot.

Out of those eleven cases though had been one fatality.

The threat of dying from COVID remained higher even in a country like Australia where case numbers and deaths had been so low.

Capacity at the Howard Springs facility was due to expand from 850 to 2,000 in preparation for repatriation flights from India as more aid from Australia landed in India.

An ABC News report said that these expansions would be complete by the end of the month, not May 15 but it did give the government time to have undertaken a lot of the work to expand capacity if repatriations did begin on May 15.

Two weeks is a long time in politics, Perth had been in lockdown at the end of April with talk about high numbers of COVID cases in hotel quarantine.

Back then the pressure was on for the Federal Government to act to protect the country from another outbreak in the community and certain sectors of the media were constantly bemoaning shutdowns as hurtful to the economy.

The plan to do something had been discussed at National Cabinet and signed off by health beaurecrats.

But now less than a week later and the focus was on the moral considerations of such an unprecedented decision and the government seemed anxious to peel back the law in another weeks’ time.

Phrasing it around lower number COVID cases in hotel quarantine and a shift to more repatriations through facilities like Howard Springs made sense.

Specialist staff at the Howard Springs facility wear heavy PPE gear.

It was understood the first repatriation flight from India would start as soon as the ban lifted May 15 with a flight that could bring home 200 passengers with priority given to 900 Australians stranded in the sub-continent that were classed as vulnerable.

It was expected that Howard Springs would be close to empty of travellers quarantining there at that point.

Anybody scheduled to board would have to return two negative results before stepping on the plane.

“This second wave is very bad, the logistics in India are very difficult, people are living in remote towns and villages and to get them safely to an airport is a very difficult undertaking. These are the real, practical consequences. There are thousands of people, many dying on the streets in India. So it’s going to be very complex,” Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

I imagine those Australians waiting to get on those flights were like, “Yeah no shit mate.”

There would only be one repatriation flight per week, previously to the travel ban there had been two a week from India.

But two weeeks was a long time for the virus to wreak havoc.

How many people would die waiting for a flight home in that time?

On May 6th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in India there had been 21,077,410 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 412,262.

A world record for daily new cases.

There had been 230,168 deaths with a daily increase of 3,980.

A new record of daily deaths in India too.

May 07

The next day the Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the ban would end on May 15.

The original decision to put in place that biosecurity order until the 15th of May has proved very effective and it will run its full course until that time without any change,” Morrison said.

The challenge we have had with arrivals from India is the higher incidence of infections and the stress that was placing on the quarantine system,” he explained.

Australia's Scott Morrison stands by 'one country' remark on China and  Taiwan | The Japan Times

At one point the infection rate at Howard Springs was 15 per cent, much higher than the goal of two per cent causing concern for the quarantine system and potentially Darwin’s hospital system.

However now those numbers had halved and there was an expectation they could be close to zero by next weekend.

No decision had been made yet about commercial flights coming in from India.

Meanwhile the situation in India remained dire.

Positive test results for COVID were averaging about 20 per cent and plenty of people were not getting tested and dying from COVID.

The percentage fo the population that had been fully vaccinated was 2.2%.

More than 46,000 Red Cross staff and volunteers were helping in India.

In the capital city Kathmandu of neighbouring Nepal positve test results for COVID were up to 47 per cent. The country was in lockdown and its hospitals were stretched.

On May 7th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported in India there had been 21,491,598 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 414,188.

The highest ever – 414,188.

The global total of new cases in the world that day was a little over double this with 853,895.

There had been 234,083 deaths with a daily increase of 3,915.

The next day would set a new record with 4,187 deaths. 

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 6, 2020

In Melbourne, there was an outbreak at the Cedar Meats abattoir leading to 62 confirmed cases.

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

Mass cremations begin as India's capital faces deluge of COVID-19 deaths |  Reuters

April 19

Monday.

At a National Cabinet meeting the and federal leaders agreed to opening up vaccinations to anyone over 50 in Australia.

Regardless of whether the older age groups had all been vaccinated.

The thinking was as more people got more vaccinated it might grow confidence for some to get vaccinated who were sitting on the fence.

Hence starting on 2A phase of those aged 50-69 before the rest of 1B had been completed.

There wasn’t a lot of coverage in the media at the moment but I can tell that not all those with disabilities or living in supported accomodation had received their vaccines yet.

We don’t want to see one vaccine that’s rolling off the line and going through the approval processes and the batch testing sitting in a fridge,” Morrison said.

Great…so how about getting it to those with disabilities?

The priority of the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy remains to vaccinate vulnerable populations under priority groups 1a and 1b,” the Prime Minister said.

The medical advice remains that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe and recommended for Australians over 50 years old and all states will continue to be prioritised AstraZeneca for Australians over 50 years old,” he added.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

“Scott Morrison promised aged care residents and disability facility residents, the most vulnerable members of our community, would be fully vaccinated by Easter, but still more than three-quarters of aged-care facilities have not had their residents fully vaccinated. This is simply not good enough; Australia needs to speed up this crucial vaccine rollout. I’d like to see a new plan with clear timelines and targets. The last one which had targets like 4 million Australians by end of March, the job done by October, is clearly in tatters, we need a new plan with revised timelines and targets,” said Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler before the meeting.

Six million Australians would come under the 2A phase.

The Department of Health reported on April 14th, 2.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been produced in country and 714,000 received from overseas.

Breakdowns of how many people have been given which vaccine are not provided by the government or health authorities.

The changes would be potentially approved at the next National Cabinet meeting scheduled to take place on Thursday but had agreed in-principle to the changes.

The Prime Minister said National Cabinet still planned for GPs to be the primary way of dispensing vaccines to the populace but state governments would look to assist with mass vaccination sites.

Mr Morrison said the Commonwealth will continue to finalise the vaccination of residential aged care facility (RACF) residents with Pfizer using an in-reach model.

Australia remained slow in getting its country vaccinated.

This had implications for opening borders back up going forward causing issues for trade and business but as the Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted, “The pandemic is raging. globally. It’s raging.

Also being discussed was mass vaccine centre hubs in particular to when Pfizer doses arrived later in the year for under 50s to get vaccinated with.

“There’s a lot of work to be done given that would be effectively, if we wished, a 12-week sprint. There’d need to be plenty of planning to achieve that,” said the Prime Minister.

There was also talk from the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt about looking to set up an MRNA capacity here in Australia but it could take up to a year.

Other countries, Germany for example, decided they wanted to manufacture their own mRNA vaccines in country, to be assured of supplies of these state of the art vaccines, and they built a factory in about six months. We’ve seen for months now, talk from the government and no action,” countered Butler.

India is running out of COVID-19 vaccines, as second wave accelerates

In India a surging new wave of cases and deaths continued in a country that was a major vaccine producer.

On April 19th, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 15,061,919 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 273,810. There had been 178,769 deaths with a daily increase of 1,619.

They had reported a million new cases in less than a week.

New restrictions and curfews were being put in place but the the wave was rising.

Sixty per cent of all vaccines were produced in India and the country was home to the Serum Institute of India which was the world’s largest vaccine producer.

They were a major player in the global vaccine sharing initiative COVAX.

Covax vaccine-sharing scheme delivers first doses to Ghana - BBC News

But now India was in short supply of vaccines themselves.
While vaccines could only do so much now given the spread was happening it did raise questions about the competing priorities of India’s delivery of vaccines to the rest of the world and to its own people.
SII had also previously slowed down exports in January to prioritise the most vulnerable in India with vaccines. Those decisions did have impacts abroad particularly in Africa.
The world has never looked to produce vaccines on this scale in these timeframes.
The United States of America with the most number of reported cases and deaths in the world had placed a temporary ban on raw materials used for vaccine production. The European Union had also tightened restrictions around vaccine exports.
Stage-3 Trials Given A Miss: Congress Leaders On Covid Vaccine Approval
The two main vaccines in India were the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine also known as Covishield, and the Indian vaccine Covaxin made by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Their roll out began in earnest in January with health care workers and those highest at risk. They wanted to vaccinate 300 million people by August in a country of 1.4 billion people.
Covaxin had been rushed into service before third trial efficacy data had been released but initial vaccine hesitancy had been overcome.
Still only 14.3 million Indians had been fully vaccinated and now the pandemic was raging.
The capacity to have vaccinated the whole country in such a short time would not have been possible.
In Punjab last week there had been 450,000 doses of Covishield and 30,000 doses of Covaxin in a state of 27 million.
Covishield: A timeline of the Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum  Institute of India | Hindustan Times
Other states had to suspend their vaccinations including the COVID ravaged Maharashtra which had also administered more than 11.1 million doses more than any other state.
Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with state governors had praised the success of India’s vaccination efforts.
India had become the fastest nation to reach 100 million jabs in 85 days. America had taken 89 and China 102.
The Indian government moved to receive more vaccines the same week by fast tracking approval of vaccines already approved for use in other countries.

India delivers COVID jabs for 'world's biggest vaccination drive' |  Coronavirus pandemic News | Al Jazeera

April 21

Wednesday and my Mum and Dad got their Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine.

This was a huge relief for me.

I am told that on the way to the centre they were a little nervous and decided to put on the radio for some music to distract themselves and a news bulletin about blood clotting came on and they promptly turned the radio off.

There were no side effects and they will get a second dose in three months time.

April 22

The Australian government announced a travel ban on all direct flights from India. That included Australians trying to return home.

312,731 new cases were reported in the country that day alone and there were now well over 2 million active cases in India at 2,291,428.

2,104 deaths had been recorded in a single day.

The death toll stood at 184,657.

One third of active cases in Australia have now orginated from returning flights from India.

The travel ban will started on April 27 and will last for two weeks until May 15 when a further decision will be made.

New South Wales was also going to have a major vaccination hub open by mid-May to delvier 30,000 doses a week.

April 23

Friday the week was coming to an end, a long weekend beckoned but perhaps appropriately on the eve of ANZAC Day the mood was sombre as Perth went into a three day lockdown, a boat with COVID cases docked in Australia and images out of India broke my heart. Just look at that masked woman at the end shaking as she cries.

Anzac driveway events set to stay: RSLWA | Liverpool City Champion |  Liverpool, NSW

A man in his 50s had flown into Melbourne on Wednesday and tested positive Friday morning. He had been in hotel quarantine for the required days then been out in the Perth Community for five days with a friend who had now tested positive.

Those 270 passengers on the flight into Melbourne would need to isolate for 14 days and were currently being contact by Victorian authorities.

Thirteen more people had tested positive in the Howard Springs quarantine facility in Darwin – all returned travellers from India in the past week. So they were deferring flights throughout May into June.

There were 18 more hotel quarantine cases in New South Wales, twelve of them returned travellers from India.

Channel Nine 9 News reported the Queensland Premier had written a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a two week freeze on any travel from India.

Sydney port workers await COVID-19 results after boarding ship with  positive crew members - ABC News

Thirteen out of fifteen Port Botany workers tested negative to COVID having boarded a tanker previously that had an outbreak of COVID on board.

The tanker Inge Kosan had travelled from Port Moresby and docked in Sydney on the 31st of March and then gone on to Vanuatu where it was detained with twelve cases on board and one death due to COVID.

But it was India that captured our attention. Well over a year into a virus that first impacted China in late 2019 had wrecked havoc but perhaps never on a scale like this.

It was heartbreaking.

Just when you think we might have seen the worst of this.

We were reminded the virus never sleeps.

It never rests.

We can’t afford too either.

-Lloyd Marken

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

Rare blood clots from AstraZeneca vaccine mostly affect younger people |  Financial Times

April 16

A New South Wales woman had died after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

There had been 79 clotting incidents following 20 million jabs of the vaccine in the UK.

Now there had been three in Australia.

As the federal government looked to ramp up their vaccine rollout the numbers were daunting.

Currently 100,000 Pfizer doses were arriving every week.

That needed to ramp up to 1,500,000 doses a week to meet to all 40 million doses arrive by year’s end. Close to 50 million doses would be needed to vaccinate the whole population.

THe 40 million Pfizer doses of course were only part of 170 million doses we had on order.

It was unlikely we would receive all doses by Christmas but the end goal had to be vaccinating people as quickly as possible. Novavax was still unapproved, delivery numbers of Pfizer was less than ideal and now the AstraZeneca was not the preferred choice for under 50s.

April 17

Forty eight year-old Genene Norris of the New South Wales Central Coast had passed away from blood clots having received the AstraZeneca vaccine. On saturday The Therapeutic Goods Administration advised her death was likely linked to the vaccine. She received her jab on the morning of the 8th of April hours before the government changed their policy. She did have underlying health conditions including diabetes.

Her family made a statement, “We cannot believe that this time last week she was with us and now she is gone.

There were three cases of rare blood clotting following over 900,000 vaccinations in Australia so far.

A woman from Western Australia and a man from Victoria, both in their 40s were now recovering.

We have seen some hesitancy … particularly in the state-run clinics,” the Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said in regards to shaken confidence in getting the vaccine.

One of the crucial components about vaccine hesitancy, or the opposite vaccine certainty, is about understanding and knowing that if there is bad news, it’s told. That there is openness from people like myself,” he explained.

A recent Oxford University study had pointed out that getting COVID led to an even higher risk of getting blood clotting which Professor Kelly referred.

The vast majority of our citizens know the benefits of taking a vaccine, they also know the risks, as slight as it is. I turned 50 last year and got the jab and am very excited to get the second one. The vast majority of our citizens want a vaccine, want to get ahead of it,” advised New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oZyVY0gE1c&list=PLsBzd5S5fFgFdYL2NUa6np-BQIis6Z8cX&index=21

April 18

There had been 330,000 vaccinations carried out in Australia in the past seven days but anecdotally a Sydney GP told of a halving of his vaccination bookings.

We need those vaccinations to be in people’s arms not in the fridges so I appeal to everyone to come in and get vaccinated because this vaccine is a safe vaccine,” Dr Rifi said.

National Cabinet meetings were scheduled to go every two weeks to work through vaccination roll out issues.

On the 18th of April, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 140,373,652 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 835,129.

We reached 3 million deaths worldwide from COVID the same day.

3,005,346 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 11,858.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 9,738 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 223. There had been 89 deaths with a daily increase of five.

April 15th had marked the highest number of new daily deaths in the country with eleven. 

In Australia there had been 29,505 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 21. There had been 910 deaths.

On the 29th of December the last COVID death in Australia had been reported. 

April 14th, 2021 marked the first new death from COVID in the country since then. 

In Canada there had been 1,106,062 confirmed cases 9,346. There had been 23,541 deaths with a daily increase of 41.

Cases were surging.

A record of new daily cases had been reached in the country on December 28, 2020 with 9,827 cases.

That record was broken on April 13th, 2021 with 9,936 new daily cases and it would be again on the 21st of April, 2021 with 10,275 new cases.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,385,942 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,206. There had been 127,260 deaths with a daily increase of 35.

In Brazil there had been 13,832,455 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 85,774. There had been 368,749 deaths with a daily increase of 3,305.

In India there had been 14,788,109 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 261,500. There had been 177,150 deaths with a daily increase of 1,501.

The next day there were 273,810 new daily confirmed cases.1,619 new reported daily deaths.

Every day was a grim new record.

A week later 349,691 new daily cases and 2,767 deaths. 

Every day in between a new record.

In the United States of America there had been 31,250,635 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 73,697. There had been 560858 deaths with a daily increase of 911.

ONE YEAR EARLIER: April 17, 2020

The World Health Organisation reported there had been 2,080,235 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 81,839.

139,507 people had died from COVID-19. The daily increase was 8,473.

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

Byron Bay Area - Accommodation, Maps, Attractions & Events

March 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A 20 year old man tested positive in Byron Bay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were now 20 active cases in the state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABC The Drum - @ABCthedrum Twitter Analytics - Trendsmap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know that I do not.

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

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

As we close it, here is a little update.

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

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

Region March 2021

WHO Continents end of March

WHO Continents 2 end of March21

Australia end of march 2021.jpg

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

China end of March21

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

Canada end of march 2021.jpg

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

Iran end of March21

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

6-12 end of march 2021.jpg

Poland end of March21

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

Colombia end of March 2021

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

Germany end of March 2021

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

Spain end of March 2021

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

Turkey end of March 2021

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

Italy end of March 2021

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

Top 6 end of march 2021.jpg

UK end of march 2021.jpg

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

Russia end of March 2021

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

France end of March 2021

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

India end of march 2021.jpg

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

Brazil end of March 2021

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

US end of march 2021.jpg

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

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

I hoped it would be promising news.

I hope the worst of this is behind us.

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

But we play on.

It is all we can do.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 31, 2020

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

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

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XIV

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

 

January 28

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was a hint of a sales pitch to proceedings.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

State Disaster Coordinator Steve Gollschewski.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – AV-A-LON-ELY CHRISTMAS – PART II

Image result for sydney christmas covid 19 December 22 While state border closures affected many Christmas plans, the majority of the Northern Beaches and Greater Sydney were more interested on what their fates would be in their own home town. Given the case numbers I would have probably gone with a wider lockdown. Look in the video below at the two minute mark where they note where all the venues contract tracing had covered. Testing was through the roof. 44,000 Sydneysiders got tested in 24 hours alone. Well done Sydney! Image result for sydney christmas covid 19

As I’ve said previously, we’ll be looking to make a decision tomorrow based on what we know and understand during the day,” confirmed Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

We’d consider mental health issues, we need to consider what people are going through as part of that decision as well as what it means for 8 million citizens across the state. If it wasn’t this time of the year, the decision would be much easier,” she said.

The UK strain was certainly making the news here and I worried about family and friends in Great Britain. They were facing a very different Christmas and given the rising numbers you couldn’t help but worry. You just couldn’t. Contract tracing revealed confirmed cases had travelled as far as 250 kilometres away in the town of Orange which could see the spread of cases further across the state.
December 23 Wednesday. With eight new confirmed cases in the region and now 97 linked to Avalon cluster. The day had come when Sydney learned how it would spend Christmas. For the 250,000 residents of the northern beaches who had been in lockdown since Saturday they were advised restrictions were going to be split into the north and south of the region itself. For those north of the Narrabeen Bridge you were still in lockdown. Image result for sydney christmas covid 19

You can’t accept anybody [from] outside your community and I apologise for that but we have to maintain a lockdown in that area — with one exception. On the 24th, 25th and 26th, you’re allowed to have five people into your home, but they must be people from within that region. If, you know, you have a neighbour and all their relatives live outside that area, please consider being a good neighbour and perhaps spending that time with them,” advised Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Those in the southern area of the northern beaches would be able to have over 10 people but could not leave the area either.

We don’t want people from the [southern part of the] northern beaches mingling in other parts of Sydney at this stage, but you can welcome people in,” Berejiklian explained.

Everything would be looked at again on the 27th of December, the day after Boxing Day. Residents of Greater Sydney could have 10 adults and an unlimited amount of children over Christmas. On December 24th, Christmas Eve, 2020 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 78,442,765 confirmed cases of COVID with a daily increase of 674,228 across the world. There had been 1,727,847 deaths globally with a daily increase of 13,310. In Australia there had been 28,238 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19. There had been 908 deaths. In Canada there had been 521,509 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 6,195. The second largest country in the world had reached over half a million confirmed cases just three days earlier with 501,594 on the 21st of December. On December 24th there had been 14,425 Canadian deaths with a daily increase of 93. In the United Kingdom there had been 2,149,555 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 39,237. There had been 69,051 deaths with a daily increase of 744. In India there had been 10,123,778 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 24,712. There had been 146,756 deaths with a daily increase of 312. In the United States of America there had been 18,090,260 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 195,151. There had been 320,180 with a daily increase of 3,148. -Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART XIII

Image result for qld nsw hard border closure 21dec2020

December 21

On 25MAR2020 Queensland had closed its borders.

On 10JUL2020 borders had opened with New South Wales.

08AUG2020 following a break-out the borders In were closed again.

03NOV2020 the border between QLD and NSW opened with the exception of the greater Sydney area.

01DEC2020 they were welcome too.

Now 21DEC2020 thirty-five New South Wales Local Government Areas centred around Sydney but going as far as Katoomba and Woollongong were on the list. If you came to Queensland through or from those 35 LGAs then you had quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at your own expense.

The next morning on the 22nd of December at 6am, the hard border went back up between New South Wales and Queensland.

Police checking a line of cars

That morning Assistant Police Commissioner Shane Chelepy told ABC Radio Brisbane, “We’ve had to turn around 115 cars yesterday and at the airports in the last 24 hours, we’ve denied another 38 people we’ve had to turn away on alternate flights. There are a number of people travelling through we still need to turn around.

With over 70 points of entry along the border with 17 alone on the Gold Coast there were timely reminders why such measures were put in place.

Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski advised that officers conduction random check on Monday the 21st had turned around 81 travellers trying to cross over in breach of the rules.

I have no doubt that a number of those people were deliberately trying to get into the state — they did not have passes … or they had the incorrect pass. We’ve tried to do a system where it relies on the integrity and honesty of the community coming in, and some people are not doing the right thing. We can’t give the community confidence that we are picking everyone up as they come across the border, hence the need to move to a hard-border closure,” Gollschewski said.

On Monday 658 vehicles came through Goondiwindi with 40 people sent to home quarantine.

Speaking of home quarantine, four people had been caught breaching the rules of that and been placed in government hotel facilities and fined $1,330 each. Home quarantine was for people who had visited a hotspot recently but had returned home to Queensland before the new restrictions.

Other states had already closed.

Western Australia from midnight Saturday night 19DEC2020 had closed its hard border with all of New South Wales.

I know these changes are going to be hard to take for many people. I know it will throw Christmas and reunion plans into disarray if it hasn’t already. These are now extraordinary circumstances. I wish I didn’t have to be making this announcement but as Premier I have a responsibility for every Western Australian and I need to do what is right to keep our state safe and strong,” the WA Premier Mark McGown had said.

We hope it’s only for a short period and we can reassess our border controls when the health advice says it’s ok to do so.

Image result for albury wondonga border december 2020

Victoria had already closed to Sydney and the Central Coast on Sunday announcing any Victorians returning from Sydney could self isolate for 14 days but from midnight from Monday night people had to go into hotel quarantine. Everybody else coming from Sydney had to go into hotel quarantine from Sunday.

Everybody coming into Victoria from New South Wales had to go into quarantine.

On Sunday Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton had advised, “These are proportionate measures, because what we see today in Sydney is not what the situation will be like a week from now. We do have to hang onto this precious COVID-free situation in Victoria. And even though we haven’t got community transmission, we have flagged now, Victoria really is or should be on high alert.

Thirteen vehicle checkpoints were put in place on the New South Wales and Victoria border. Albury/Wodonga residents were likely in for a fun time again.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had been clear too that the measures made in Victoria regarding the Sydney cluster would not be reviewed at the same time that New South Wales Premier would consider changing the restrictions in her capital city on Wednesday.

“These arrangements will not be lifted on midnight Wednesday night. They will apply for as long as they need to,” he said.

Image result for south australia nsw covid border

South Australia had also set up border checkpoints from Sunday and anybody coming from Greater Sydney they could not enter the state. Those who had come back since December 10 had to self quarantine.

There’s always a risk when you have this nasty virus in your state, but I truly believe that we have gone above and beyond to make this as safe as possible for South Australia because I can tell you, I personally do not want to go through another Parafield cluster,” South Australia Chief Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier said.

South Australia moved to a hard border closure with New South Wales from New Years Day.

The Australian Capital Territory had also made a decision on Sunday.

Anybody travelling to Canberra from one of the affected areas will have to fill out a form declaring they are entering the ACT.

They will then be required to privately quarantine, not leaving their home for any reason for 14 days.

In Sydney itself New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard was not happy. You could use QR codes at venues to register your details and attendance on your mobile phone. But there were also old fashioned clipboards and sheets to sign in on. But a change was in the wind and in a few days I would find myself having to master using my phone to log in using QR codes up in Brisbane.

Why?

What we are finding is that some of the visitors to various venues still think that it is funny to be caught putting in there that you’re Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse or a false phone number. That must stop. This is a worldwide COVID pandemic and thinking it’s smart to call yourself Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse is about as stupid as it gets. So that must cease,” I wholeheartedly agree but had to admit that when dear Mr Hazzard said so in the news it did make me snigger.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – AV-A-LON-ELY CHRISTMAS – PART I

Covid restrictions tightened across Sydney as northern beaches cluster  grows to 68 | Coronavirus | The Guardian

December 20

New South Premier Gladys Berejiklian put in place restrictions for the Greater Sydney area in the wake of locking down the Northern Beaches where there were now 68 cases linked to that cluster with 30 new inflections overnight.

The new restrictions for Sydney, the Central Coast and the Blue Mountains were to start at midnight and run until midnight Wednesday.

They included only having 10 visitors around to your place.

The Premier advised this was, “a precaution, because we know that indoor settings and small areas are actually exacerbating the spread.

Hospitality venues and churches could not have more than 300 people and dancing was out.

Although a bridal part as large as 20 people could dance at weddings.

People in the larger area were urged to stay home as much as possible and to also not to visit aged care facilities unless needed.

The Blue Mountains, NSW – Find Accommodation, Restaurants & Walks

Residents of the Northern Beaches were already living under stricter restrictions since 5pm Saturday due to run until midnight Wednesday.

You could only leave your home there for essential shopping, exercise, medical needs, providing care, getting to childcare or compassionate reasons.

People could only enter the Northern Beaches for the same reasons.

Public gatherings of more than two people were out unless it was say for work or with your own family.

Breaking the rules could see you face up to a maximum penalty of $11,000 and police could issue on spot fines of $1,000.

With the exception of takeaway, hospitality, gyms and take-aways were shut down.

Anybody who had left the area before the 10th of December still needed to comply with same restrictions where they currently were.

Sydney Northern Beaches lockdown: the four reasons residents will be  allowed to leave home

While masks were not mandatory the government advised people to wear them in public indoor spaces like shops and at work and on public transport.

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard advised, “It may well be wise to wear those masks going through Christmas, New Year in the Greater Sydney area.

It appeared Premier Berejiklian was hedging her bets, giving herself until the last minute to completely cancel Christmas or to grant a reprieve if the numbers didn’t rise.

She ran the risk of snookering herself though, if the numbers present and the medical advice is to retain or increase restrictions it would be a tough sell. If the measures were effective but there was a stalemate she was leaving it until the last minute to give the bad news. For some pundits her compromised approach probably meant she’d made the right call, for others it might she’d failed to commit.

Time would tell.

In full candour I looked at all the listed places where contract tracing was occurring and just thought it’s out there, they need to lock it down.

But it wasn’t my Christmas being ruined was it.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant warned, “If we end up seeing greater seeding events outside the Northern Beaches, that would be of concern. If we see an increase in unlinked cases and, particularly, a spread outside the Northern Beaches, that is of concern to me.

On the 20th of December the World Health Organisation reported in Australia there had been 28,128 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 34.

There had been 908 deaths.

P.S. I wrote up a draft of this post but the whole thing got lost so I had to do another draft.

-Lloyd Marken