Corona Chronicles time … but before you read on, please note that I am not a medical professional and have no medical expertise. This post is written through the eyes of a middle aged citizen of Brisbane, Australia. If you want expert advice in relation to Covid-19 in any way at all, please seek it from appropriate qualified health professionals.
Most Australians would already know the state of play for Coronavirus here in Australia, so these posts are not so much to ‘inform’, though they might do that for some, particularly people from other countries that read this who may otherwise have not been aware of how things are in Australia. These Corona Chronicles post are purely to capture moments of time during this pandemic through the eyes of a middle-aged Aussie woman (me), for the future.
BRISBANE LOCKDOWN #3
So much has happened since my last post of this series – Corona Chronicles #5 – Double Donuts that it’s impossible to cover every detail. However, I can say that at the time of typing this Brisbane is at the tail end of its 3rd lockdown. The first Brisbane lockdown was March/April/May 2020 and there was a much shorter second 3 day lockdown in January 2021. With this third lockdown, originally it was to be 3 days from 5pm Monday 29 March until 5pm Thursday 1 April but in a press conference at 9am this morning (Thursday 1 April) it was announced the lockdown would end at midday today with some restrictions remaining in place for a further 14 days (details below or you can view this document here).
This third lockdown is due to two developing clusters, both of which began at the Princess Alexandra (PA) Hospital. The first cluster links to a doctor who tested positive in early March. He contracted the virus from a patient – a Covid positive returned traveller. The second cluster is linked to a nurse who also works at the PA Hospital. Genome testing shows that her strain of the virus matches that of a patient at the PA hospital too but it is unknown if she actually had any contact with that patient or how she might have contracted the virus from him. Both clusters are the highly infectious UK strain. There have been several new cases each day since as these two people were out in the community for several days before knowing they were Covid positive. At the time of typing this the two clusters total around 16 cases. The good thing is that they are all linked. It’s when you get an unlinked case that there is more cause for concern. The contact tracing around these clusters has been fantastic and the list continually grows. Here’s the current Queensland contract tracing alerts list. As you’ll see it extends beyond Greater Brisbane to the Gold Coast, Caboolture, Burpengary, Gladstone, etc. The second cluster (starting with the nurse) grew from a hens party that was held at Byron Bay and there has been an additional locally acquired case detected from that event which is a now a NSW case. This has led to the cancellation of the Byron Bay Bluesfest – an Australian musical festival.
There’s also been several other outbreaks and lockdowns across Australia since the last post but generally things have been pretty good here in Australia as compared to other parts of the world. Because of this, people have become somewhat complacent and social distancing and regular hand hygiene practices have lapsed. It’s understandable as people are suffering ‘pandemic fatigue’ but the vaccination rollout provides a sense of there being ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ so hopefully the positive from these latest clusters will be a bit of shake up and reminder to people to get back into the habit of safe practices, knowing that hopefully things will be better soon.
AUSTRALIA’ S VACCINATION ROLLOUT HAS BEGUN
Positive news is that vaccinations are finally starting to roll out here in Australia. Here’s where you can see Australia’s COVID-19 National Vaccine Rollout Strategy.
- Phase 1a. Frontline health care workers, Quarantine & Border staff, and Residential aged care and disability residents and staff – have been first cab off the rank and are being given the Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine. This is still ongoing but hopefully will be completed soon!
- Phase 1b. The rest of us will be given the Oxford/Astrazenica Vaccine. Phase 1b has started and is still ongoing. It is mostly for over 70’s, critical workers, and people with underlying conditions (and more – refer to the strategy link above). I fit into this category due to my immune deficiency and I am booked for my first shot in early May. My mother is also booked in for her first shot in May (about 8 days after mine).
- Phase 2a. This phase has not commenced yet. It is for adults over 50, indigenous Australians, and other high risk workers.
- Phase 2b. This phase has not yet commenced and will be for the balance of the adult population.
- Phase 3. This phase has not yet commenced and will be for any Australians that are under the age of 18 – if it is recommended.
Everyone is going to need a second vaccination to be covered. I believe that with the Pfizer shots the second one is to be 21 days after the first. With the Astrazenica Vaccine the second shot has to be 12 weeks after the first one. One week after your second shot you are then meant to be covered.
So – if I have my first shot on 5 May and my second shot on 28 July – I will finally be covered by 4 August. This goes to show that as I’m in the 1B group which has only just started and there are 3 more groups after that one, it’s going to take quite a while before the bulk of Australians are fully vaccinated.
The original target by the Australian Government was to start vaccinations in late February with a target of vaccinating all Australian adults by October. Vaccinating some 20 million adult Australians with two doses each in around eight months is an immense logistical challenge and as it turns out is not going to be possible. Australia needs to vaccinate 200,000 people every day to reach the goal of all adult Australians being able to get their FIRST vaccine dose by the end of October. So far the daily target of 200,000 vaccinations has proved to be a challenge but we will remain optimistic. Now that Australia is producing the Astrazenica vaccine on our own shores and some confusions and logistical challenges have started to be identified and ironed out things should look up!
It turns out that the nurse at the beginning of Brisbane’s second outbreak cluster was unvaccinated. She’d only recently returned from leave and hadn’t yet had her vaccination. This has led to a new rule that only medical staff that have had at least their first vaccination can treat Covid patients. It has been pointed out though that this rule couldn’t have been in place earlier as not enough staff had been vaccinated for it to be practical. Let’s just say though that I think this outbreak has prompted a lot more effort into ramping up and completing the 1a group vaccinations!
Have you had a Covid-19 Vaccine yet? Booked for one? If you’ve had it – how did you go?
Ciao for now,