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 – MELBOURNE LOCKDOWN EXTENDED

Meet the Sikhs who keep coming to the rescue for vulnerable Victorians

June 02

Wednesday and six new confirmed cases in Melbourne led the lockdown to be extended in the Victorian capital for another seven days while some restrictions were lowered in regional Victoria.

This was the first time a snap lockdown in Australia had been extended.

If we let this thing run its course – it will explode,” warned Acting Premier James Merlino.

We have to run it down to the ground. There are a dozen countries that had no community transmission going into 2021 that have now lost control. That had community transmission and will probably not bring it back to a point where they have not got community transmission again,” advised Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton.

There were some changes, from Friday people could travel up to 10 kilometres (up from five) from home and senior (Year 11 and 12) students were to return to school to learn too.

Certain labour jobs like landscaping or painting were also allowed.

There would be no ring of steel around the capital but restrictions would be different outside of Melbourne. To ensure people were staying put there would be roving mobile patrols from police and in open regional businesses would have to check ids of people entering. Hmmmm.

Pedestrians cross the road at Flinders Street Station on the first day of eased coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions for the state of Victoria following an extended lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, June 11, 2021.  REUTERS/Sandra Sanders

Across the state it would now be mandatory to sign in when entering any business using a QR Code including supermarktets which until recently had been a recommendation.

Regionally all students could return to school, there was no limit on where or why you could go except for travel to Melbourne – you need a permitted reason for that and restrictions applied to you while you were there.

Still outside of Melbourne you could have no visitors to your home beyond intimate partner or single bubble exceptions.

Regionally face masks wre not required outdoors but were indoors. 

Outdoors gatherings could number ten, beauty and tattoo parlous could resume with mask on and religious gatherings could have up to people as could funerals. Weddings were limited to 10 people.

Outdoor pools, drive-ins, outdoor entertainment venues were capped at a certain capacity or no more than 50 people.

209 million dollars was going to support Victorian businesses.

June 03

Thursday and Dr Norman Swan on the ABC’s 730 program advised, “Be under no illusion, this is the way it’s going to go from now on. More and more high risk variants from low income countries which don’t have access to vaccines. Our protection this year is mass vaccination as fast as possible. We can’t remain a fortress forever.

I believe that when the vaccine roll-out is complete and we drive the number of infections around the world we will see a lower rate of these variants emerging,” Professor Kanta Subbarao of the Doherty Institute advised in the program.

Great we know where we’re headed. Getting there as quickly as possible remains the challenge.

June 04

Friday and Queensland had put in place 18 vaccination hubs in an effort to get 15,000 vaccinations done over the weekend.

The plan was to give priority to aged care and disability care workers and while Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath had advised, “I want to be clear; these sites are not for the general public, they are not open for walk-ins,” but regional authorities like Darling Downs’ Annette Scott did say, “We’ll certainly prioritise the people who’ve registered for a vaccine. You’re more assured of being in and out of the clinic much more quickly. So yes to the walk-ins, but we can’t guarantee you won’t have a wait.

Ms Scott was happy for 16-39 year olds to attend but advised they would not have priority.

“I’m over having the COVID test.  It would be nice to actually have the needle done and not have to be panicky every time we cough or something. I was only actually unwell just last week …  and it made me worried because I’m with people who don’t have very good immunity. Someone’s got to take my shift and the families of the people we’re caring for, they get worried that we’ve been around their loved one and they haven’t been done… It’s hard,” said disability support worker Gabrielle Bright.

They lost all their freedom last year. The clients don’t understand completely and so it’s really scary for them. Last year it was like it was bedlam and now we just want to get it over and done with, we just want to be immunized. We want to be safe,” she told.

Amen.

Two blue signs advertising the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Toowoomba

Australian Medical Association Queensland President Chris Perry warned, “We’re supporting the hubs, but most people should go to their GP where it’s going to be so much easier — the line-ups at hubs could be a bit uncomfortable. They’re trying not to turn people away, but they don’t want everybody turning up. It would just be awful.”

Two cases of the new Delta strain B1617.2 which had been discovered in India and was also now making its presence known in northern England were announced in the cluster of Melbourne cases.

The fact that it is a variant different to other cases it means it is not related, in terms of transmission, with these cases. It has not been linked to any sequence cases across Australia from hotel quarantine or anywhere else that it is not linked in Victoria or any other jurisdiction,” advised Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton.

The cases were amongst a family who had travelled to Jervis Bay so authorities were working with their NSW and ACT counterparts.

It is a concern that it is not linked to other cases but we are chasing down all those primary case contacts for that family and looking into where it might have been acquired,” Sutton. said.

It spread extremely rapidly across India to become the predominant variant, almost the exclusive variant there. It does appear to be the most significant in terms of transmissibility. There isn’t much information about severity of illness with this variant, although there are some anecdotal reports of greater illness in children as well as greater increase transmissibility in children. We have concerns for that reason,” he said.

The Chief Health Officer was buoyed by testing numbers advising, “The fact we’re getting 50,000 tests per day, that is five per cent of Victoria has been tested in the last week. It is a huge part of being able to get on top of this.

Covid Victoria: Melbourne lockdown extended another week, 6 new cases |  Herald Sun

June 06

On Sunday, June 6, 2021 Sunday the World Health Organisation reported there had been 172,677,879 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 394,544.

There had been 3,721,209 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 9,483.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 16,374 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 47. There had been 164 deaths. As of the 6th of June, 2021 there had been 38,176 vaccine doses administered in the country.

In Australia there had been 30,158 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eight. There had been 910 deaths. As of the 6th of June, 2021 there had been 5,931,245 vaccine doses administered in the country of 25.36 million people.

Malta takes strict measures as COVID-19 cases surge - Xinhua |  English.news.cn

In Malta there had been 30,568 confirmed cases with a daily increase of nine. There had been 419 deaths. By the 12th of June, 2021 there had been 557,758 vaccine doses administered in the island nation that has a population 441,543 people.

The EU member nation’s vaccine rollout has used shots made by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer-BionTech.

In Venezuela there had been 239,252 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,239. There had been 2,698 deaths with a daily increase of nine. By the 17th of June, 2021 there will have been 1,302,992 vaccine doses administered in the country of 28.52 million people.

Tunisia imposes 7-day lockdown to contain COVID-19 - CGTN

In Tunisia there had been 353,782 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 1,479. There had been 12,948 deaths with a daily increase of 46. By the 19th of June, 2021 there wil have been 1,554,145 vaccine doses administered in the African country of 11.69 milion people.

In Malaysia there had been 610,574 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,452. There had been 3,291 deaths with a daily increase of 109.
As of the 6th of June, 2021 there had been 3,330,436 vaccine doses administered in the country with a population of 31.95 million people.
Canada extends COVID border closures with US until July 21 | United States  News | Al Jazeera

In Canada there had been 1,389,508 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 2,063. There had been 25,679 deaths with a daily increase of 35.

By the 17th of June there will have been 30,885,092 vaccine doses administered in a country of 37.59 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,511,673 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 5,651. There had been 127,836 deaths with a daily increase of 13.

June 2nd no new deaths had been recorded in the country.

July 31, 2020 had been the last day no new daily deaths had been recorded in the country.

On the 17th of June, 2021 there had been 71,672,208 vaccine doses administered in the country of 66.65 million people.

Indian state sharply raises COVID-19 death toll prompting call for wide  review | Reuters

In India there had been 28,809,339 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 114,460.

There had been 346,759 deaths with a daily increase of 2,677.

By the 14th of June, 2021 there would have been 261,740,273 vaccine doses administered in the country.

In the United States of America there had been 33,015,604 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 17,729. There had been 591,276 deaths with a daily increase of 583. New daily cases were getting back to the same level as May 2020.

By the 17th of June, 2021 there will have been 317,983,185 vaccine doses administered in the country of 328.2 million people.

Now for a good news story, ABC News interviewed President of the Sikh Volunteers Australia, Jaswinder Singh, whose organisation helped out during the terrible bushfires of 2019-20 and the Melbourne lockdown last year. They were back providing food to people during this lockdown.

“I have lost my father in India. [I] was not able to attend the funeral because of the lockdown restriction. A lot of other community members I have seen in the same boat. Times are hard but only by giving in to others the support and encouragement gives hope for everyone.”

These are the tough times and very hard ones on everyone. But the better we stay together, the better we put our trust into each other the better and the more and more we help each other can only put hope into society and that is the only way to cross this type of crisis.

God bless Jaswinder Singh, God Bless the Sikh Volunteers Australia. WIth people like them we will get through this.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: June 4, 2020

A disgruntled home owner asks the Prime Minister and a press pack to get off his lawn while decked out trackdaks. The Prime Minister happily accomodates him in the wake of President Trump clearing Lafayette Park by force so he can take a photo of him being absolutley useless. 

June 6, 2020

Black Lives Matter protests are held in capital cities across Australia with 30,000 people marching in Brisbane when public gatherings are limited to 20 people.

COVID-19 DIARY – FOUR MILLION AUSTRALIANS – A FEW OF THEM WITH DISABILITIES VACCINATED

Coronavirus Victoria update: Victorians wait up to six hours in vaccination  queues as demand spikes

May 28

Friday and the Federal government was copping heat for what was happening in Victoria.

There were four new cases in Melbourne taking the current Whittlesea cluster and 15,000 close contacts identified. It was also pointed out that some of these venues had more people reported at them then QR code recording had indicated. Sadly this meant people were either failing or choosing not to log in when they arrived at the venues and this complicated contract tracing now.

Wage subsidies were being looked at for affected businesses but nothing definitive was offerred yet.

Some of these cases had been symptomatic for days before getting tested in what cold and flu season.

You have to work on the assumption that it’s COVID, get that negative test,” urged Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton.

People were definitely getting tested now, a new record of 47,462 tests had been carried out in one day as well as a new state record 17,223 vaccinations in one day.

We do not want to see people randomly queing outside of buildings in order to try and get a vaccine,” warned Victoria’s COVID Response Commander Jeroen Weimar.

While the federal government had sent 160 Australian Defence Force members to Victoria to assist they were copping heat for their primary responsibility in the vacccine roll out.

As Australia reached 4,031,539 vaccine doses administered (close to two months after we initially planned to hit that number), half a million Australians having been fully vaccinated and a record 124,000 jabs in a day the media reported on the fact that those in aged care and disability were not yet all vaccinated.

Ten million doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer had been delivered in the country.

A quarter of those were being held in reserve for second doses and the rest had been distrubuted to the states according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Yet only 6,000 out of 26,000 Australians who lived in disability care had received a vaccine.

As Pfizer was made available to more people in Australia there was also going to be less than 200,000 doses of the vaccine in June than there had been in May.

True story.

Meanwhile my older sister who lived in disability care and was under 50 well she wasn’t vaccinated. Her story one of thousands in this country.

Then there was the fact that there were aged care homes staff and residents yet to receive one jab.

At the five minute mark of the below report you will see a little bit covered about Sikh Volunteers Australia who are delivering food to the needy during lockdown when demand increases. Good people doing good deeds. Legends!

The lockdown in Victoria prompted more people to get vaccinated in Queensland with the daily dose up by 7,000 in the past 24 hours including Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath.

So what was the total, well that was hard to get from official sources but COVIDLIVE.COM.AU reported 771,016 vaccine doses had been administered in the state with 88,774 Queenslanders apparently fully vaccinated. The population of Queensland was 5,185 million.

And as Channel 7 News reported only 25 Queenslanders who lived in disability residential care had been vaccinated.

Twenty five.

That wasn’t even one a day for how long we had been vaccinating in the state.

That wasn’t…

That was…

That…

Th..

….

That wasn’t good enough. Not one little bit.

Not now.

Not ever.

May 29

Saturday and there were five new cases in lockdown Victoria.

There was also protest against the lockdown in Melbourne but the police were ready for them.

Fourteen people were arrested and 55 were fined.

May 30

On the 30th of May, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 169,631,767 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 480,388.

There had been 3,646,501 deaths worldwide with a daily increase of 11,838.

In Papua New Guinea there had been 15,901 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 53. There had been 162 deaths.

By June 6, 2021 there will have been 38,176 vaccine doses administered in the country.

A small drop in the ocean for a country with a population of 8.776 million people.

News in Australia had switched to the crisis in India, then the Victorian lockdown but the country of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels still needed us.

In Australia there had been 30,083 confirmed cases with a daily increase of ten. There had been 910 deaths.

By the 6th of June, 2021 there will have been 5,203,977 vaccine doses dispensed in the country.

Kenya's COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Has Got Off to a Slow Start - Australian  Institute of International Affairs - Australian Institute of International  Affairs

in Kenya there had been 170,485 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 444. There had been 3,141 deaths with a daily increase of 17. The country was coming down from a recent wave.

By the 9th of June, 2021 there will have been 1,030,445 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. Kenya had a population of 52.57 million people.

A view of deserted roads during a lockdown in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 13, 2021.

In Malaysia there had been 558,534 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,020. The highest daily increase of cases in the country ever. There had been 2,650 deaths with a daily increase of 98.

On June the 3rd, 126 deaths reported in one day would set a new daily record for that statistic.

By the 6th of June, 2021 there will have been 3,330,436 vaccine doses dispensed in the country. Malaysia had a population of 31.95 million people.

In Canada there had been 1,374,275 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,202. There had been 25,440 deaths with a daily increase of 29.

By the 3rd of June there will have been 25,226,671 vaccine doses dispensed in Canada which had a population of 37.59 million people.

In the United Kingdom there had been 4,480,949 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 3,240. There had been 127,775 deaths with a daily increase of seven. On June 2nd no deaths from COVID would be recorded for that day.

By the 7th of June, 2021 there will have been 68,381,870 vaccine doses dispensed in the country with a population 66.65 milion people.

Russia records highest daily COVID cases since February | Reuters

In Russia there had been 5,063,442 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 9,694. There had been 121,162 deaths with a daily increase of 355.

By the 8th of June, 2021 there will have been 30,708,050 vaccine doses administered in the country with a population of 144.4 million people.

Turkey's daily Covid-19 cases hit all-time high – latest updates

In Turkey there had been 5,235,978 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 7,656. There had been 47,271 deaths with a daily increase of 137.

By the 8th of June, 2021 there will have been 30,857,320 vaccine doses administered in the country of over 84 million people.

In India there had been 27,894,800 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 165,553!

There had been 325,972 deaths recorded with a daily increase of 3,460.

By the 7th of June, 2021 there will have been 238,840,635 vaccine doses administered in the country.

Student-organized COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Colorado high school gives out  over 800 shots - ABC News

In the United States of America there had been 32,916,501 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 25,091. The kind of daily increases that had been seen during a downturn of COVID in May 2020.

There had been 588,292 deaths with a daily increase of 743.

By the 3rd of June, 2021 there will have been 301,161,088 vaccine doses administered in the country of 328.2 million people.

-Lloyd Marken

ONE YEAR EARLIER: May 29, 2020

The World Health Organisation reported in America there were 1,694,864 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19,606.

There had been 100,304 DEATHS with a daily increase of 1,415.

COVID-19 DIARY – VICTORIAN LOCKDOWN SPURS ON VACCINATIONS

Barricades block the entrance to Flinders St station on the first day of a five-day lockdown implemented in the state of Victoria in response to a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Melbourne, Australia, February 13, 2021.  REUTERS/Sandra Sanders

May 27

Still Thursday.

There were 11 new cases overnight in Victoria prompted the state to go into a seven day lockdown.

A cluster linked to the Wollett man who had quaratined in South Australia and then tested postive now stood at 26 cases out of 34 active ones in Victoria.

There were five reasons why people could leave home during the lockdown.

Shopping for food, travel to work, medical care and caregiving, exercise around your local area for two hours AND… getting vaccinated.

At the same time the state government announced from tomorrow anyone over 40 would be elligble to get vaccinated leading the VIctorian vaccine hotline to crash due to the flurry of calls. 77,000 calls were received in a 15 minute window.

With 40-49s able to apply to get vaccinated, half the population of Victoria could arrange to get vaccinted.

Meanwhile those with disabilities and some in aged care remained unvaccinated.

Our most vulnerable people.

We also know that our nation’s vaccine rollout has been slower than we’d hoped. And if more people were vaccinated, we might be facing a different set of circumstances. Sadly, we’re not,” Acting Premier James Merlino said.

Maybe a cheap shot at the federal government as he as state leader carried out what would be an unpopular action.

People lined up at the Convention Centre.

On Tuesday the Victorian government at state facilities had dispensed 16,000 vaccinations and on Wednesday they had carried out 12,677. Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton advised Victoria could do 30,000 a day and with proper supply they could reach 100,000 a day.

We have delivered 666.000 doses to the Victorian government and over 853,000 doses to primary care in Victoria,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

Channel 9 News reported that 9 aged care facilities in the state had yet to receive one single dose in the fourth month of the vaccine roll-out in Australia. Dr Norman Swan speaking on the ABC’s 7:30 program said it was 29 aged care facilities.

Schools would switch to remote learning while childcare and kindergartens remained open.

Restaurants and cafes were back to only take-away.

Public gatherings were out as were private gatherings but intimate partners could see each other and singles could have one visitor. Shopping and exercise should be within a five kilometre radius of home.

Only 10 people were permitted at funerals and weddings were only allowed under exception circumstances.

Masks were mandatory.

The lockdwon was scheduled to end 11:59pm June 3.

Melbourne COVID-19 exposure site list grows as authorities scramble to  contain cluster - ABC News

If we make the wrong choice now, if we wait too long, if we hesitate too much, this thing will get away from us. And lives will be at risk,” Merlino explained in making the decision to go into lockdown. The fifth carried out in Victoria.

We know where transmission occurred. There’s the workplace that’s been identified and all of the others are the related households and casual links for the City of Whittlesea outbreak. So that’s very reassuring, that’s great work again of contact tracing, but it’s also about people giving very detailed information about where they’ve been so that we can make those links appropriately,” said Professor Sutton.

One of the cases was an elderley man who had come out of ICU but was on a ventilator.

We send our best wishes to that family and we send our prayers for a quick recovery,” Health Minister Martin Foley said.

“My understanding is that just in recent days we’ve passed over 50 per cent of over-70-year-olds being vaccinated. Sadly this was not one of those 50 per cent.”

40,411 tests had been carried out in the past 24 hours and there were 21 new testing sites set up with over 200 operating across the state as queues backed up into the night and people had to be turned away.

Victoria enters COVID-19 lockdown as cases from Melbourne outbreak grow -  ABC News

The Acting Premier advised there were 150 exposure sites to be listed and there had been 10,000 close contacts following contract tracing.

From 1am tomorrow Queensland would be shut to Victorians.

Only Queensland residents returning to the state will be allowed entry and they must enter 14-days of hotel quarantine.

Those who had entered before the borders closed and been in Victoria in the past 14 days needed to observe Victoria’s lockdown rules.

If you’ve filled out a declaration pass, you’ve been in Victoria in the last 14 days, you will need to follow exactly the same process as if you were still in Victoria. That means you must stay wherever you are for the next seven days, when it will be reviewed by Victoria and you can only leave for those essential reasons,” advised Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young.

Stay at home order lifted for Victorian travellers in NSW

From 4pm today anybody entering New South Wales from Victoria had to observe the same lockdown rules while staying in New South Wales.

South Australia had closed the border to their Eastern neighbour at 6pm Wednesday night.

The only people allowed into SA from the affected area from that point on are essential travellers and returning South Australians, who will need to quarantine for 14 days.

People are unable to enter Tasmania if they have been in Victoria in the past 14 days.

Western Australia had closed the border to Victoria too.

From midnight Thursday travellers from Victoria will be banned from entering the Australian Capital Territory unless they have an exemption.

ACT residents who leave Victoria to come home after that time can enter but must follow stay at home requirements until the 3rd of June when the lockdown was scheduled to end in Victoria.

The Northern Territory has declared Greater Melbourne and Bendigo COVID-19 hospots, meaning anyone arriving from those areas will undergo mandatory quarantine. 

Anybody who had been in those areas since May 12, needed to get a COVID test and isolate until they returned a negative test.

New Zealand hit pause on the travel bubble between them and Victoria.

This outbreak is inevitable, we will see more until hotel quarantine is tightened up so its a weakness in our system that needn’t be and let’s hope this is the wake-up call to fix it.” Professor Brendan Crabb from the Burnett Institute said.

WIth a bit of luck and good management this Melbourne outbreak will be the warning shot we need to get vaccinated.

-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 – ON TENTERHOOKS

February 07

On Sunday the 7th of February, 2021 the World Health Organisation reported there had been 105,505,344 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 467,316.

Worldwide there had been 2,310,121 deaths with a daily increase of 12,416.

In Australia there had been 28,848 confirmed cases with a daily increase of six. There had been 909 deaths.

In Canada there had been 797,756 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,022. There had been 20,609 deaths with a daily increase of 96.

In the United Kingdom there had been 3,929,839 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18,262. There had been 112,092 deaths with a daily increase of 828.

In India there had been 10,826,363 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 12,059. There had been 154,996 deaths with a daily increase of 78.

In the United States of America there had been 26,547,977 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 129,961. There had been 455,735 deaths with a daily increase of 3,549.

Thai Households Struggle With Record Debt, COVID-19 Increases Burden |  Investing News | US News

February 08

I was back in the office the following week on tenderhooks beginning a weekly countdown.

My best friend, a Canberra resident, was getting married in Sydney on Sunday.

I had taken leave, reserved a hotel room with no cancellation fees, gotten a crack in my windscreen repaired and bought a wedding present.

Yet if the Queensland border shut with Sydney again I would not go. The 14 day quarantine required in a hotel at your own expense upon returning to the Sunshine state was something I would not do.

So after months of believing in a strong border posture by state governments I now was at the mercy of such decisions.

That was fair enough, I still believed what they were doing was right.

On Monday Queensland remained closed to certain areas of WA that had been invovled in the recent lockdown there.

For anyone who had been in New South Wales since the 2nd of February the Queensland Health advice was,

“If you have been in New South Wales since 2 February please check the list of venues attended by the latest case and follow the health advice.

If you have been in New South Wales since 2 February and are currently in Queensland please monitor your health, get tested if you have any symptoms then isolate until you receive a result.

There is no decision at this time to close the border. We are monitoring this situation closely and awaiting more information from New South Wales health authorities.

I had called the previous week to get a border pass and told that one was not necessary and to monitor the government website for updates.

In Wollongong a returned overseas traveller from South America tested positive for COVID leading to locals to get out and get tested.

The individual had completed 14 days in hotel quarantine. A week ago it was decided by NSW Health for people to test on Day 16 after they have left hotel quarantine.

In Melbourne, Victoria another hotel quarantine worker tested positive. This time the individual had tested negative following their last shfit on Thursday. They had returned to work on Sunday and tested postiive.

This followed another hotel quarantine worker having tested positive in Melbourne last week at the Grand Hyatt.

The Grand Hyatt was one of three hotels quarantining Australian Open players and staff. Five hundred people were classed as casual contacts, tested and told to isolate until returning a negative.

A hotel quarantine worker at the Grand Hyatt had finished his shift 29JAN2021, tested negative. Then later developed symptoms and tested positve while having been out in the community. The young man is also a volunteer firefighter with the CFA.

It prompted new restrictions from Premier Daniel Andrews on the 3rd of February including masks being mandatory again and private gatherings were limited to 15 people.

Following these latest cases, the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt was full of praise for the quick actions taken by the state governments.

The case in Woolongong gave me concern about the upcoming wedding in Sydney but we would just see how things transpired.

February 11

Thursday was the last day I was at work before getting ready for the trip. The border between Queensland and New South Wales remained open.

I was fairly confident that if there was no change by Friday that I would be going.

It seemed that even if there was a dramatic change or a new community transmission in New South Wales changes to the border was unlikely to take effect before I returned home on Monday.

There were now eleven cases linked to a Holiday Inn outbreak from hotel quarantine in Melbourne which would have no bearing on a possible trip to New South Wales but was of course of concern in the wider picture of people’s health and safety.

February 12

Following the recent outbreaks in Melbourne Premier Daniel Andrews announced a five day lockdown for Victoria.

His state had endured a 111 day lockdown last year, he didn’t want to risk that again.

There might be more cases than we know about — if we wait for that to be proven correct, it will be too late. Then we will face the prospect of being locked down until a vaccination is rolled out … to a very large number of Victorians, a significant percentage of the Victorian community. That’s months. That’s not days or weeks, that’s months,” Premier Andrews said.

With that the Premier put the state into Stage 4 lockdown. You could only leave your home for caregiving, essential work, shopping or medical reasons. You could exercise for two hours per day with another person from your household.

One hour at a time': Daniel Andrews tight-lipped on a lockdown extension in  Victoria

Victorians are well acquainted with this. We’ve done this before,” Mr Andrews said.

I am confident that this short, sharp circuit-breaker will be effective. We will be able to smother this,” he said.

Victoria Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton shared similar concerns about the UK variant of the virus.

It became the predominant strain in England, now the predominant strain in the UK, and [is] fast becoming the predominant strain across Europe and potentially globally. That’s because it is significantly more infectious than any other virus that we’ve seen previously. Nobody wants all the consequences of a circuit-breaker, but the alternative is potentially devastating. I do not want to be here either, come Wednesday, not having done this and talking about 10, 15, 20, 30 new cases a day, including mystery cases, or including cases that we can’t chase down,” Professor Sutton said.

The Victorian Premier advsied that the Australian Open tennis tournament was going ahead just not with crowds.

Victoria was heading for lockdown and quickly the Queensland Government advised people returning from Melbourne from 1am the next day would require to hotel quaraninte for 14 days.

I was heading for my first interstate trip in three years.

If it wasn’t my friend I wouldn’t have taken this trip but he’s that kind of friend.

-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 -IT’S QUARANTIME!

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

September 04

Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Sutton said something in regards to this.

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – BORDER WARS – PART VI

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

August 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Premier Palasczsuk had chosen her words poorly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Active rural cases dropped from 166 to 154. 

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

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

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

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

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

There were two new cases overnight in the state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken

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

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

August 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 14

Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Lloyd Marken