Why I started the Corona Chronicles series?
I started the Corona Chronicles series in April 2020 in order to create a bit of a written time capsule of this very strange time we are experiencing and here I am 15 months later with #8 in the series and still Covid-19 is very much affecting our lives and the way that we live.
Before I get into an update of how things are right now, I want to just pause and mention that on the day of typing this (Friday & Saturday 9 & 10 July) the number of deaths globally from Coronavirus has hit 4 million. Those are the ‘officially recorded’ deaths but I’ve no doubt there are many more. The amount of ‘officially recorded’ cases of Covid-19 has reached 185 million.
We’ve been pretty lucky here in Australia in that we’ve managed so far to contain the virus pretty well. I do believe though that this made us become quite complacent. That combined with a very sluggish vaccine rollout, a flawed hotel quarantine system, the new Delta variant, and it being winter right now has left us in quite a vulnerable situation.
At the time of typing this there are 550 active cases (known of) across Australia with 104 of those people hospitalised. There have sadly been 910 deaths. There have been 30,955 total cases (many of which have been returned OS travellers).
The Delta variant
The Delta variant is a big problem right now. Delta has multiple mutations that appear to give it an advantage over other strains. The most important apparent advantage is that the mutations may make the strain more transmissible than any other variant, which would also make it the most dangerous variant yet. In other words, it is much more contagious and easily spread. The Delta variant was declared a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation in May. Delta is 55% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which was itself around 50% more transmissible than the original Wuhan virus.
Queensland & Brisbane
There was a short and sharp three day lockdown for South East Queensland, Townsville city, Magnetic Island & Palm Island from 6pm on 29 June. It ended at 3 days for all those areas except Brisbane & Moreton where it was extended to 4 days. It was because of a few outbreaks, some Alpha but more worringly, some Delta. We’re very fortunate in that contact tracers got on top of it and apart from it spreading to close contacts of those originally infected, there’s been no further spread. We are though, still under strict instructions to continue wearing masks when we leave our homes and to socially distance and check in wherever we go – including hairdressers, supermarkets, chemists, cafes etc etc.
In Queensland we currently have 45 Active Cases.
NSW & Sydney
The biggest area of concern in Australia right now is Sydney. The Delta variant is in the community and spreading. The Greater Sydney area went into a 2 week lockdown which has been extended to 3 weeks and could be extended even further. At the time of typing this (Saturday 10 July) there are 450 active cases in NSW and there were 52 new infections. Only 2 of those were acquired overseas, the rest were acquired locally and have been walking around infectious in the community for a large portion of their infectious period.
There’s been debate in the media over the expediency (or lack of) of going into lockdown and the lightness/harshness and enforcement of the lockdown. There’s also been a bit of a divide created between the eastern suburbs and the south western suburbs as police presence was ramped up in the south western suburbs to enforce adherance to the rules which apparently wasn’t done during the previous lockdown in the northern suburbs. I’m certainly not going to share my thoughts here as that’s not important and these posts are not for political disputes – just for info sharing.
I can share however that the Prime Minister has arranged for some additional support for Sydney and New South Wales as they go into their third week of lockdown. The $10,000 liquid assets test to access support payments have been dissolved for the third week of lockdown, meaning more people will be eligible for the money. This means the eligibility for the payment will not depend on asset levels. People can access the payment by phoning 180 22 66. In addition to this, 300,0000 doses of coronavirus vaccines will be sent to Sydney with a focus on administering these in hot spot areas in the south-west. Half of these are AstraZeneca and the other half are Pfizer.
As large numbers of new infections are being recorded every day, it’s looking like the Greater Sydney lockdown will be further extended. I really hope things improve in Sydney soon! Thinking of you all!
Victoria & Melbourne
Melbourne is enjoying ‘double donuts‘ right now and I am so very happy for them. They so need a break and deserve it! Victoria currently has 23 active cases.
ACT, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia
I haven’t seen too much about these states on the news lately but here are their current Active Cases.
ACT – 0 Active Cases
WA – 11 Active Cases
Tasmania – 0 Active Cases
SA – 18 Active Cases
The greater Darwin area and Alice Springs were recently in lockdown after a miner at the Granites Gold Mine in Central Australia tested positive for Covid-19 and a man in Palmerston subsequently returned a positive result. Lockdown has now ended and though some restrictions remained after lockdown lifted, they too have been eased now I believe.
The Northern Territory currently has 11 Active Cases.
Australian Vaccine Rollout
It’s been a bit of a shambles to say the least. AstraZenica was to be the hero vaccine, manufactured here locally and that hasn’t turned out so great. Messaging around this vaccine has not been the best and there is a lot of fear surrounding it. Currently it is only recommended for those 60 years or older. Previously it was recommended for those 50 years or older (which is when I got my first jab – in early May). Originally it was for one and all (adults) though Pfizer had been secured to vaccinate frontline workers. Now the need for Pfizer is much higher and not enough supply had been secured. In fact, here in Queensland we are about to run out only to have no more coming until October.
However, today (Friday 9 July) came some good news! The federal government plans to offer every Australian a Coronavirus vaccine by Christmas with a major ramp up in supply of the Pfizer vaccine to come from 19 July. Australia will soon be getting up to one million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine a week. The increased supply will mean Australia will go from 1.7 million doses in June to 2.8 million in July and then 4.5 million in August.
At the time of typing this there have been about 8.5% of Australians fully vaccinated. We need to dramatically get that number higher!
I won’t say too much about this but as one of the politicians said (can’t remember who) “hotels are for tourists not for containing a deadly virus” … or something to that affect!
There have been several leaks in hotel quarantine and especially since the introduction of the Delta variant. There has been great success however with the Northern Territory’s Howard Springs Quarantine facility. It’s a disused workers camp about 25 kilometres south of the Darwin CBD. Here’s an ABC news story that shows you inside the facility.
I know that our Premier here in Queensland and Victoria’s Premier (and likely more) are keen to see purpose built facilities built in their states so that we can remove the risk of the virus leaking into our highly populated CBD’s and hopefully remove the risk of leaks at all. As you can see with the Howard Springs facility they are also more bearable for those in 2 week quarantine as you can get fresh air and spend time outdoors which cannot be done in hotel quarantine. There is some talk of still using hotel quarantine for those returning from low risk countries and using the purpose built facilities for those from countries of higher risk. It’s a watch this space situation!
My next jab
I’m due my second Astra Zeneca jab on 28 July so at the time of this post publishing it will be in 16 more days. The 12 week wait between jabs seems so extraordinarily long but that is the recommended health advice. However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently has urged Australians to get their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine after two months (8 weeks) instead of three because of the Delta variant that is currently on the loose. I will be sticking to the 12 weeks and my pre-booked appointment but will be very glad when the second jab is done so that I have improved protection.
That’s it for update #8. Let’s hope we have more promising news in the next one and I hope that you are safe wherever you are in the world.
Ciao for now,
Linked up with Denyse Whelan Blogs for #LifeThisWeek
These chronicles are a good record. I was about to book my jab when they changed the health advice for A-Z and under 60s. Now I’ve registered with Queensland Health but who knows how long it will take.
I hope you get your vac soon Jo! At least with Pfizer the 2 jabs are only 3 weeks apart and you’re fully vaccinated a lot sooner than with AZ!
Continue to stay safe and well, Min. I’m glad to hear your 2nd dose of covid-19 vaccine is coming up soon. #lifethisweek
Thank you Natalie. Same to you! xo
Now they are saying 6 weeks. I’m really concerned about that for lower efficacy and potentially not covered because the booster won’t be ready by the time I need it. I’m not entirely sure what to do.
And whenever I see them prepping us for Lamda, i want to scream ‘Shut up! Can we deal with this sh*tshow first??!!’
Yes I’ve seen the 6 week advice. I think if I were in Sydney and particularly in one of the hot spot areas I’d get my 2nd shot if it’d been over 6 weeks since the last one. It may mean lower efficacy than if taken at 12 weeks but it will be higher efficacy than just the one jab. There will be a booster to follow next year to ramp up the protection more. I hadn’t heard of Lamda so had to Google. OMG – can’t go there! Sigh!
A good update Min and also a good record of these times as others have said. I’ve had my first A-Z shot and now just have to wait the next one. You’ll feel better once you’ve had your second one I’m sure. #lifethisweek
Thanks Deb! I’m glad you’ve had your first AZ shot. Yes I will be relieved to get my 2nd shot done as you will be too I’m sure.
Lots of information Min – I’m tending to steer away from the stats and all the doom and gloom as much as possible. I’ve been told that 3,000 people per year die from flu in Australia, so I think we’re doing really well to keep covid deaths under 1,000 so far. WA is very quick (almost too quick at times) to go into full lockdown – but so far it’s working. I feel very sorry for those who’ve lost their businesses through the lockdowns etc – but I don’t think there’s any other way to keep on top of it if we want the low numbers to continue. Meanwhile I’m beyond thankful I live outside a city, that I don’t need to travel anywhere, and I have a fairly small life – it makes it a lot easier to stay virus free!
I steer away from stats and doom and gloom too Leanne. I watch the press conferences so I’m aware of what’s going on but then I switch it all off to protect my mental health basically. I’ve got to delve a bit into stats though for these Corona Chronicles posts. I wish I didn’t have a need for this series but this is major global history we’re living right now and the series is to capture glimpses of it from the perspective of middle aged Brisbane based me, so I’ll keep doing it till life starts to resemble some kind of normal again. I love that Brisbane is quick to go into a short and sharp lockdown if there is reason to. It has saved us time and time again and no doubt it has saved WA too. Australia has done well but things can change and it’s not the time for complacency. What’s happening in Sydney at the moment is scary. You’re lucky to live rurally. I wish I did too to be honest but I live in a suburb of a capital city with two sons and a husband going back and forth from the city to home working so my risk is much higher even though I live a pretty small life too and am home a lot. I just hope things improve in Sydney soon.
I feel incredibly lucky that I’ve been able (with correct eligibility) to get both vaccinations as approved for my age group. I nearly gave up as the booking system was so convoluted but did push through and got them. I must say, mask wearing was only a challenge for me in the past in the middle of summer but I got fairly sick with bronchitis recently and mask wearing, while possible, is challenging right now. I hope Sydney can get it under control soon but to be honest, I don’t feel that positive about it right now.
Good to hear you’ve had both vaccinations! The booking system sure is convoluted, I know! I wear the mask if I go out but I limit going out because of it. I get claustrophobic so don’t cope well wearing it for long periods. I’ve cancelled out of pilates for the duration of while mask wearing is mandated because there’s no way I could exercise wearing one. Just walking I could put up with it but pilates is more vigorous. I think from 6am on Friday, here in Brisbane we won’t have to wear masks everywhere … but I probably still would if in crowded areas.
Lots of covid info here Min. It will be a great record for the future. I agree with you that we became complacent. I don’t get my second vacc until September so I’m still lying low.
I’m lying pretty low too Jennifer till I get that second shot. It’s such a long wait between shots with AZ … though they’re saying you can have it anytime after 6 weeks if you’re at high risk (e.g. if you’re in a Sydney hot spot).
This was a great summary of the current pandemic situation here in Australia. It is so frustrating that there are not more quarantine centres like Howard Springs in Australia. Having hotel quarantine hotels in busy and heavily populated cities is a recipe for disaster – which we are witnessing now in Sydney. To hear about young people in ICU and dying is such a tragedy. We really need to get our act together here in Australia
Thanks Christina and yes i agree it is frustrating that they haven’t yet arranged further quarantine centres around Australia outside of our capital cities. It doesn’t take rocket science to know it would be far more effective than the current situation. I agree that it is heartbreaking hearing of young people (and the older) in ICU and on ventilators and those that die from this hideous disease. I hope this situation is improved for us all very soon.
Well-done Min on such a thorough report and yes you will be glad to have done this. The woman of courage on my blog this week is Juliette O’Brien and she has been data gathering and sharing the Covid news via an Australian site and she updates on twitter. It’s a labour of love for her as her occupation is a journalist.
Thank you for linking up for LifeThisWeek. It’s always good to see you link up a post. Next week, the optional prompt is 29/51 Please. 19 July. I will be sharing a post about Head and Neck Cancer in the lead up to World Head & Neck Cancer Day 27.7.2021. Gotta keep the awareness happening! Take care, Denyse.
Hi Denyse, I’m sure Juliette does a much more thorough job of capturing Covid news and stats than me as she is a proper journalist and mine is not intended to be thorough but more a snapshot. It’s so easy to forget details and happenings and feeling as time goes on so I hope my posts will be useful in the future to paint a picture of what life was like during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hope you’re having a great weekend! xo
I must admit I’m not a fan of snap lockdowns because I think while it might keep people physically safe, the mental health toll of it is going to continue long into the future. The hypervigilance and trauma associated with this will be seen for generations. I am not a fan of your premier and I really disliked how she pushed for cuts on international caps while still, hypocritically is going to attend the Olympics. I also really disliked them naming a person coming to and from Indonesia into Qld – while they may be a white businessperson, at the end of the day, all a statement like that is going to do is perpetuate the racism that already exists. If we have to blame someone for the current situation, it’s definitely our federal government for the botched vaccine roll-out, the media for the beat-up around AZ, but also, individuals themselves who were eligible for vaccinations but complacent to not get it (the unvaccinated 65-yo limo driver here in Sydney who started it all for instance). I think the complacency here overall resulted in this current situation. We cannot live like a fortress forever.
I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on some of your points Sanch however I do agree the federal govt has botched the vaccination rollout and the messaging around AZ has been a shocker as well as too much complacency around vaccinations particularly for those at greater risk (eg the limo driver and some health care workers). The new ad showing a young woman gasping for breath and wording tell us to get vaccinated is wrong timing I feel because it’s pretty darn difficult for young people to access the vaccine so why scare them to death when they can’t even get the bloody thing! We can’t live like a fortress forever – I agree – but until we get a much higher % of our population vaccinated we really don’t have any choice when there are highly contagious virus breakouts, or else we will have overwhelmed hospitals, thousands hospitalised (including much needed health care & other frontline workers) and countless (I hate to think how many) deaths. Better days ahead soon I hope. xo
Once I was fully vaccinated and those in my family were, too, I felt like we could breathe a sigh of relief. But now the Delta variant is worrisome. I have heard that the vaccine is effective toward it and have heard the opposite, too. With the new school year beginning in just a few days here in El Paso, I am a little concerned for the students and the teachers. Waiting to hear if masks will be required. Just seems this thing won’t go away!!
Three of my immediate family are now fully vaccinated. One not at all yet (long story). I’ll get my second on the 28th of this month so in 5 days. It will be a relief but I know it doesn’t mean we’re bulletproof. Hopefully if we got it though – it would save us from hopsitalisation and/or death! Now there is another new variant. I’m too scared to read about it. It’s all such a worry isn’t it. It’s surreal – like living in a horrible movie! Stay safe Leslie xo