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,
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