COVID-19 DIARY – SEEING IT THROUGH

March 29

The lockdown on Monday Night threw a spanner in the works of my plan to reach 100 kilometres by walking on the treadmill at my gym.

So I asked Karen if she would walk with me around our local neighbourhood. I was concerned about recording the distance accurately and covering a lot of distance.

As we walked along I would decide we would go just one more street over, we won’t go here we change direction down there. We won’t stop here, we’ll go up to the petrol station.

I was concerned we were only covering five kilometres the first night but when I went back and went step by step on Google Maps we had covered much more. Karen of course already knew that.

Karen walked with me as I limped along over those two nights. I’m not sure I could have done it without her.

The first night we covered 7.6 kilometres walking for two hours and twenty minutes.

The first night we reached the end of the Kokoda Track.

March 30

Tuesday we did the first proper day of the second snap lockdown. I worked from home.

There were eight new locally acquired cases in Brisbane.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital it was announced would go into lockdown.

“In light of recent cases of COVID-19 that have been linked to the ward 5D at Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital, a decision has been made for PA hospital to go into lockdown today,” Queensland’s Metro South Hospital and Health Service confirmed in a statement.

“As a precautionary measure, we are continuing to test all staff that have worked in ward 5D at PA Hospital between midday Friday, March 19 and 4:00pm Sunday, March 28.”

Ward 5D is the PA Hospital’s infectious diseases ward. 

Two clusters of cases involved PA staff.

One linking back to the Doctor from the PA from March 12 that led to a landscaper testing positive on on March 25th and now a nurse who possibly got it from a returned traveller from India but had not had direct contact with the patient. The nurse from the PA and her sister had recently been in Bryon Bay for a Hen’s Party.

The Health Minister advised at the time of these cases not enough health workers had received their full vaccinations.

14,589 peole got tested.

For the first time masks were mandatory across the state.

Mater Mother’s hospital sent home staff, one of the new cases had been to the maternity ward recently.

With cases having travelled as far as Bryon Bay and Gladstone and with a few new daily cases it remained to be seen if the snap lockdown would end on Thursday night on the eve of the Easter weekend.

In Toowoomba one school had shut down since many of its teachers had recently been to Brisbane and were in lockdown. There was one case of COVID in Toowoomba hospital.

This virus has not gone away, it is circulating we know in the Brisbane area, at least, so people should be taking those precautions of the COVID-safe behaviours that we’ve been saying all along — keep your physical distance, remember your cough etiquette, wash your hands often, all of these things remain important,” said Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly.

On Tuesday night Karen and I walked together again to complete my March On Campaign for the charity Soldier On which helps veterans.

I promised the walk would be shorter than the previous night but it was still 4.4 kilometres covered in 1 hour and twenty five minutes.

I got past my intended goal of 100 killometres with 103 kilometres covered during the month of March.

I would now rest up my hammy and wait for the gyms to re-open.

As we closed out the month, I absolutely couldn’t believe it but $270 had been raised by my donors which was very humbling and good news for our veterans who needed and deserved our help.

Defence Annual Report 2003-04 :: Chapter One :: Year in Review :: Operation  Anode :: Photograph 4

There were 6,268 participants in the March On campaign.

They raised $1,549,576 dollars for veterans and covered 483,060 kilometres.

Amongst them was Soldier On patron 102 year old World War II veteran Sgt Bert who walked 159 kilometres himself during the March On campaign.

Soldier On, was a not for profit charity founded in 2012 to support veterans by John Bale, Cavin Wilson and Danielle Clout. Bale had been close friends with Lieutenant Michael Fussell who was killed in Afghanistan. Three thousand veterans and their families are supported by the charity with a holistic approach to their physical and mental wounds with employment programs, health and wellbeing services, learning and participation activities.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 30, 2020

Jobkeeper is introduced in Australia and hospital ship UNSN Comfort enters New York City harbour. A field hospital is built in Central Park.

COVID-19 DIARY – SECOND SNAP LOCKDOWN IN BRISBANE

Greater Brisbane lockdown announced, masks mandatory across Queensland  after 10 new COVID-19 cases, four locally acquired - ABC News

March 29

When I arrived at work Monday morning there was a rumour going around a lockdown was about to be announced.

Sure enough that is exactly what happened, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the Greater Brisbane region (this included Ipswich, Logan, Redlands and Moreton Bay) would enter a three day lockdown starting from 5pm.

Masks were mandatory except in private residencies and vehicles.

You could only leave home for food, work, medical reasons or exercise.

Schools were closed again for children of essential workers.

Cafes and restaurants were shut but could provide take-away.

Two visitors could be allowed in a house.

I had been wondering what the trigger would be and it turned out it was very simple – numbers. Not big numbers but just enough to take action.

In January one new case out in the community had trigged the lockdown.

Now it was four following three previous ones. The PA Doctor from the 12th of March.

Not the landscaper from the 26th of March or his friend on the 27th.

But on the 29th there 10 new cases and four of them – count’em four not one! – were from community transmission.

Two were of an unknown origin and the other two were directly linked to the PA cluster including a brother of one of the earlier cases.

In her own words the Queensland Premier said, “Now what this says to us is the fact that there are now more community transmission and these people have been out and about in the community. And that is of now concern to Queensland Health and of course concern to me.

One of the cases was a man who had been in Gladstone from March 25 to March 27.

Auckland House - Gladstone Central QLD 4680, Australia

Two of the others was a nurse who worked at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and her sister. They had been in Byron Bay from March 26 to 28.

The Premier’s tone was softer in announcing this lockdown almost like she was trying to rally us for another go of it.

“I know this will mean some disruption to people’s lives but we’ve done this before and we’ve got through it over those three days in the past and if everyone does the right thing, I’m sure that we will be able to get through it again,” she said.

There seemed to be less panic buying but there was certainly evidence of it and plenty of things staples running dry on the shelves.

Eleven thousand, six hundred and twentry four tests had been carried out in the past 24 hours.

“I know in is a really big call, I know it is really tough,” said Premier Palaszczuk.

“We have Easter coming up, we have school holidays coming up but let’s do it now and let’s do it right, and let’s see if we can come through it at the other end.”

I didn’t sleep last night – so I think I am very worried,” the Premier candidly shared.

There were now 73 active cases in Queensland. 

When the first lockdown was announced on the 8th of January there had been 23 active cases in the state.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: March 29, 2020. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a late night briefing on a Sunday following a meeting of the National Cabinet. I remember being moved. He looked tired but resolute, numbers were climbing, in New York the amount of death was relentless. And I just thought we have something ahead of us, all of us and we have to do what we can.

COVID-19 DIARY – CAREFUL ICARUS

Princess Alexandra Hospital | Our Digital Health Service

March 12

There tend to be moments during this pandemic when hope overtakes us.

Particularly here in Australia because case numbers have been very low.

There are these moments where the disease just does appear to be out there in the community.

At these moments governments make restrictions that seem to inspire a feeling of monumental change and hope.

In June 2020 case numbes were low as we came out of the first wave and restrictions were lowering across the board.

Sure on some level people know there have to be subsequent waves but when the threat is not present…

Calls to nominate departing CMO Brendan Murphy for Australian of ...

Then there was an outbreak in Victoria following a case coming out of hotel quarantine and the number of dead from aged care residents skyrocketed.

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

In early December all the state borders were open.

This had not happened in seven months and Christmas was days away and case numbers were low.

RACGP - Vaccine policy identifies priority groups – but order proves  'contentious'

Were we going to have Christmas like normal in Australia?

Sadly no.

The Avalon cluster took off in Sydney causing border restrictions to return in time for Christmas.

Image result for sydney christmas covid 19

With the vaccine rolling out in UK and US and others to come people looked to 2021 to be radically different from 2020.

Covid-19: First vaccine patient has her second jab - BBC News

But within the first week of the new year there was the attack on the U.S. Capitol, my home town went into lockdown and the death toll in the UK, US and places like Brazil and others was truly horrifying.

Viewpoint: What the Capitol riot means for US foreign policy - BBC News

Grim start to 2021 for Brazil with 200,000 Covid deaths

So standing in a full crowd without masks to go see Triple X as if everything was back to normal sent alarm bells ringing.

We’re never out of this.

Not until everybody has been vacinnated and then how are we are going to get booster jabs to the necessary people in time.

There are many challenges ahead of us but also hope to be taken from the possible – POSSIBLE! – slowing down of the virus’s evolution and what appears to be less hospitalisations and deaths than can be obtained from even our first batch vaccines against new strains even if if eradicating the disease remains a long shot.

Until then.

This thing comes in cycles and when people are ready to let their hair that kind of is when the cycle comes back around.

So it should come as no surprise that comes Friday the 12th of March this was a small scare to come out of the Princess Alexandra hospital.

A doctor working at the PA caught COVID wednesday and was out and about Thursday before testing positive Friday morning. 

This ended Queensland’s run of 59 days of no community transmission.

The PA went into a form of lockdown, only essential visitors were allowed, all staff, patients and those coming to the hospital must wear masks.

While the Emergency Department remained open, the public were encouraged to seek help elsewhere.

Non urgent outpatient booking and elective surgery was to be postponed.

I think this may serve as a timely reminder that the virus hasn’t gone away despite our excellent control in this state and this country, and that’s why we need to really get on with that vaccination program to further reduce the risks of events like this happening,” Director of Infectious Diseases at the Mater Hospital, Paul Griffin, said.

There were 40 active cases in Queensland.

Biden announces national vaccine finder website, May 1 eligibility for all  adults | Healthcare IT News

In the United States of America it was one year on from when the World Health Organisation announced a global pandemic, the NBA suspended its season and the US stockmarket plunged.

“We’ve lost family and friends, we’ve lost businesses and dreams. We’ve lost time.” President Joe Biden solemly noted.

All adult Americans would be elligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1 he promised.

The American President set a goal to have the country be in a different place by the 4th of July.

“Where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus,” he said.

I hope it comes to be so but the new variants will need to dealt with too.

Reassuringly here was a President who would not set dates for a re-opening with no scientific basis but would make goals based on real ground made.

March 13

It was reported that the PA doctor had seen two COVID patients on Wednesday with the UK strain of COVID.

That the doctor had not yet received a vaccine jab as part of the 1A rollout.

The doctor had limited interaction with the community on Thursday but five sites were named.

The Morning After Cafe at West End, Corporate Box gym at Greenslopes, Stones Corner Hotel at Stones Corner and the two low risk venues of McDonalds at Coorparoo and the after 7pm on the Thursay at the Corporate Box gym after the Doctor had left that site.

Throughout the Greater Brisbane area all aged care and disability homes and hospitals were closed to visitors

All inside those places had to wear masks – there was no mask mandate for the greater community.

In January one case of COVID-19 in the community had sparked a three day lockdown.

That case had been out in the community for more than one day and had caught public transport.

This was maybe why there was a different reaction for the moment from the state government.

Maybe there were larger considerations.

THe political capital that is expended from lockdowns, there were parts of the community that believe such actions are showboating and devastate small business. Since January, Jobkeeper was due to end March 28th and Jobseeker payments would be significantly reduced.

I do not know but as time wore on the PA case would remain relevant.

In the United States of America the COVID Relief Bill was signed into law and 100 million vaccine doses had been delivered after 52 days in office.

The Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci was interviewed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert who spoke of the increasing vaccine rollout and more collaboration between state governments and the federal one.

As Colbert noted there was a sense of hope in the air and Dr Anthony Fauci told him that hope was not misplaced – the main point was when.

Dr Fauci noted cases were plateuing in their decrease and he warned that the plateau was at too high a point. Public health measures he said were still required.

He also spoke about the likelihood of eradicating the virus but he hoped to strike a balance between controlling it and eliminating it.

It was an interesting interview to have with Dr Fauci a year on from the outbreak in the U.S.

He spoke of how the virus spreads in maybe half of cases from people asymptomatic or presyptomatic and that he wished had they known that a year earlier as they would have moved more agressively in shutting things down.

-Lloyd Marken