Tag Archives: 2020

New Cases of Covid-19 in Victoria, as at June 27, 2020

The Dept of Health & Human Services [VIC] publishes Covid-19 case data, but it’s not wildly accessible. There are no graphs or charts, and the breakdown of infections – i.e. the source of the infections – is only available on the day of the media release. In other words, it’s buried.

I don’t know whether this is a deliberate attempt not to ‘worry’ people, or simply typical DHHS bureaucracy. Either way, the messaging is not getting out there, so I trawled through the data and created a simple Excel spreadsheet.

First up, the raw data for MAY, 2020:

Next, the raw data for JUNE, 2020:

As you can see, I wanted to show the source of the infections, but gave up when the data was too hard to find. Apologies, but I do have a life.

Now for some charts from that data. The first one is a line graph showing the ups and downs of infections [in Victoria] for all of May and June.

This chart gives a decent overview, but the data is squashed up because you can’t fit almost 60 days onto a small chart. Despite this, you can clearly see three things:

  1. Victoria only had two days on which we recorded zero new cases: June 6 and June 9.
  2. Victoria never really got rid of the virus. That was why Premier Dan Andrews resisted Scott Morrison’s push to reopen as quickly as possible. Sadly, he didn’t resist enough. Or Scott Morrison proved to be a bigger bully than expected.
  3. Apart from a few small dips, new cases in Victoria have been rising steadily since June 9. This is in stark contrast to May. In May, new cases fluctuated up and down, but the overall trajectory was down. In other words, the lockdown was working.

The next two graphs show this more clearly. The first is for May:

The second graph is for June:

What’s even more worrying than that upward trajectory for June is that the number of new cases has doubled in just four days – i.e from 20 on June 24 to 41 on June 27.

All up, we’ve had 10 consecutive days of double digit new cases. 10 days in a row. And in the latest news, a nurse working at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, one of the biggest in Melbourne, has tested positive for Covid-19.

Scott Morrison may believe that we can control this virus, but that is pure, arrogant bullshit. The numbers don’t lie. We can’t ‘control’ this virus any more than we could control the bushfires that devastated two states just a few months ago. Remember them? Remember how good Scomo was at ‘fixing’ the inferno? Yes, I thought so.

The truth is that nothing has really changed [for the better] since we originally went into lockdown:

  • Despite all the hype about the contact tracing app, I’ve heard nothing new about it since it was revealed that it doesn’t work that well with iPhones.
  • We have some more intensive care units, and more medical personnel trained to use them, but overseas data has shown that even the most sophisticated health care system can be overwhelmed when the virus surges out of control.
  • We have more PPE [personal protective equipment], but I don’t know whether we have enough for medical personnel in a surge. Pretty sure we don’t have enough for medical personnel and the general public if shit hits the fan.

So where exactly is Australia’s magic bullet supposed to come from?

One option that does work is the mandatory wearing of masks in public – to protect us from those who are infected but don’t know they are. Masks stop them from breathing on us.

South East Asian countries, like Thailand, that have mandated the wearing of masks have almost ridiculously low infection rates. Here is Oz, however, people still give you funny looks if you wear a mask in public, so I guess masks are a no-go.

So what else is there?

Well, there is testing. If there were random, compulsory testing [like in booze buses] we’d get a much better idea of how many asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spreaders there are, but it seems that testing is a) voluntary and b) mostly looking for people who are already sick. People who fear they may be forced into self-quarantine for 14 days are refusing to be tested. The irony is that they could well be the very people we most need to test.

When it comes to therapeutics, there are a couple of existing drugs that have an anti-inflammatory effect and may reduce the number of covid-19 deaths, but they’re still largely untested.

And that’s about it. Short of another draconian lockdown, we don’t really have any effective way of controlling the virus, which leads me to think that our success the first time around was due more to luck than good management. Sadly, I fear that our reopening won’t be as lucky because the ‘stages’ are based on the idea that all of us will ‘do the right thing’. Yeah, right. -facepalm-

The reality is that the messaging has been wrong from the start. People were told that they wouldn’t be badly affected by the virus, so now all they can see is that they’ve been made poor, bored and unhappy just to save a few oldies who were going to die anyway. ‘Eff that… Little wonder then that when the leash is loosened there’s a rush of me,me,me behaviour.

If our leaders really had wanted to reopen ‘safely’, they should have started with an education campaign that focused on the reality of the virus and what it does to people. Then they should have made any reopening, no matter how minor, contingent on the lack of new cases. Clear rules with clear targets.

Finally, they should have made it very clear that the instant people stop obeying the rules, the whole town/state/country will go back to lockdown. And when the inevitable happened [like toddlers pushing the boundaries], the consequences should have been followed through. Again, clear rules and clear consequences.

Instead, we’ve had a wishy-washy ‘plan’, mixed messages all over the place, and media showing how hard it is to live with the lockdown instead of how hard it is to die of the virus… And yes, ABC and Ita Buttrose, I’m looking at you. Since when did the people’s ABC pander to the likes of Scott Morrison?

To be honest, I think we should have had another Grim Reaper campaign:

The Grim Reaper advertisement

Right at the end, the voice over says ‘Prevention is the only cure we’ve got’. Sounds familiar, don’t you think?

There’s been a lot of controversy about the Grim Reaper strategy, but the truth is it worked. It made us aware of both the danger and what we had to do to stay alive.

Overkill? I don’t know. If we act like toddlers, shouldn’t we be treated like toddlers?

Sadly, none of the possibilities I’ve outlined have actually happened. We had a poorly organised, draconian lockdown that resulted in massive queues outside every Centrelink office in the country. And we’ve had big chunks of society thrown under the economic bus, but in terms of ‘management’, that’s about it. Now, I fear we’re having a reopening that’s being ‘managed’ as well as you’d expect.

We could have reopened safely, but Scott Morrison didn’t do a single thing to make a safe reopening possible. He just laid out his ‘plan’ and expected everyone to make it happen. Yeah, the smirk may be gone but #ScottyFromMarketing still knows bugger all about human nature.

Buckle up for stage two my fellow Victorians. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Meeks


The real face of Covid-19 – apology

Apologies everyone! The video /was/ available when I published this post but apparently it is now ‘private’. I’ve just tried a number of channels on Youtube and they’re all blocked. I have no idea what happened. Maybe Sky News waved the big copyright stick? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

This is the only still image I have:

I was trying to get a pic of the padded restraint.

Updated April 23, 2020, Australia

One image that will stay with me forever is that of a patient, a large man in his fifties perhaps, trying to take the plastic hood thing off his head. The staff had to tie down his hands. They did it to try and save his life, but I know what he was doing. The hood thing wasn’t enough. He felt like he was suffocating, and in his desperation he thought that he would breathe better if it came off…

I almost drowned when I was 21. How and why doesn’t matter. What matters is that I still remember what it felt like not to be able to breathe out. I remember the desperation. There is no logic at that point. It’s all animal instinct.

I hope that man survived, but I fear he didn’t. One of the scary statistics I’ve read since this pandemic began was that of all the people sick enough to be intubated [put on a ventilator], only about 50% survive.

50% – toss a coin. Heads or tails. Life or death.

Financial interests in Australia, the UK and the US are calling for the lockdowns to be eased. They think the danger is over because the curve is starting to flatten. But the people pushing for a return to ‘normal’ see human lives only as a statistic. I hope that at least some of them watch this video and realise that this thing can still get away from us. And if it does, we could all end up like Bergamo in Lombardy.

Meeks


Five Free Days on the Kindle

Starting Monday the 20th of April, the Innerscape Omnibus will be free on Amazon. The free period ends on April the 24th, so expect to be annoyed with constant reminders until them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Please share with anyone who’s stuck at home and likes sci-fi. And reading, of course! At almost 1000 pages, the Omnibus should keep all but the fastest readers occupied for quite a while.

At this point, I’m thinking of unpublishing the Omnibus once the 90 day KDP exclusive period is over, so please grab a free copy on Monday! Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday…

cheers
Meeks


The dreaded ‘blurb’…help!

Apologies, I know you’re all celebrating Easter however you can – waves- but I could really use your help. I’ve always found blurbs hard to write, but coming up with one blurb for three books is driving me insane. If you’ve got a sec could you tell me what you think of this?

Innerscape Omnibus blurb 1

‘Innerscape is marketed as a digital paradise where the terminally ill live out their lives in young, pain free bodies indistinguishable from the real thing. But Miira Tahn, last Lady of Dhurai, soon discovers that all is not well in paradise; an assassin is stalking the Burning Man, and nothing is what it seems. Together with friends, Kenneth Wu and Jaimie Watson, Miira becomes embroiled in a deadly game of cat and mouse where losing means death. Only by fighting back can she save herself, and those she loves.’

Is it too cheesy? Does it give too much away? Is there enough to interest a reader? Is it ‘sci-fi’ enough? -cringe- Is it just too boring?

Thank you, thank you!

Meeks


Portrait of the Writer

I love graphics and design, but I couldn’t do a drawing of a person to save my life. That’s why I am so impressed with this drawing created by my friend, YorgosKC :

He worries that it’s not good enough. I say it’s amazing! I see myself in every line.

Thank you my friend. Thank you.

Meeks


Covid-19 – some practical info.

As I’ve probably mentioned before, there are all sorts of autoimmune diseases in my extended family, so this novel corona virus is of huge concern. People I love are amongst those who are most likely to die from this virus, yet the message in the media seems to be ‘it’s okay, you probably don’t have anything to worry about’.

‘You’ personally? Maybe not, but what about those you may infect?

What about the frail elderly in nursing homes?

What about those over 65 in the community?

What about young people with diabetes? asthma? multiple sclerosis? lung conditions? heart conditions?

These people are not expendable. Grrrr….

Anyway, in order to protect people in my family, and ensure that I don’t bring Covid-19 home to them, I went searching for information. The best information I’ve found so far has come from an English gentleman by the name of Dr John Campbell. This is his Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Campbellteaching

John Campbell is not a medical doctor, but he has been a medical practitioner all his life. He also has a couple of medically related PhDs. That’s where the ‘Dr’ title comes from.

I say all this so that you understand that he is a teacher in the field and knows how to do research in the field. He is not at the front line of Covid-19 research, but he is very good at explaining what is known…to us.

John Campbell’s videos also include a host of practical info that I certainly didn’t know about – such as how to wash your hands properly. I know, sounds utterly basic doesn’t it? All I can say is, watch the video and learn how to protect yourself a little better.

Stay safe,
Meeks


Hail storm turns Warrandyte white

Warrandyte was hit by the mother of all hail storms yesterday afternoon [January 19th, 2020], and I have to admit, we were scared. The roof is corrugated iron, and the hail stones, some as big as golf balls, sounded like machine gun bullets trying to smash their way in. And that’s without the thunder and lightning adding their bit. And it just wouldn’t stop.

Mogi [dog] was shivering like a leaf and Golli [cat] was yowling in terror. The Offspring and I just stood in the kitchen, peering out at the devastation and muttering ‘I don’t believe this’.

These are some of the photos I took once the worst of the storm had eased:

Mist rising from the hail
Mist starting to roll up the hill

As odd as it may sound, the humidity after the hail storm was intense, and the temperature was actually warm, so the layer of icy hail stones created a mist that became heavier as it flowed up the hill towards the house. Very strange.

Hail piling up against a window
Hail piling up against the back door

Just realised that some of the hail was bigger than your average golf ball! Those are full sized bricks on the side of the last picture, yet look at the size of some of those hail stones by comparison!

The corner of the deck showing how much hail had piled up

We never get snow, but I found myself having to shovel hail stones off the deck as if they were snow. And this, in the middle of one of our hottest summers…wtf?

A very large terracotta pot, embedded in hail stones

We’ve since learned that Warrandyte was pretty much at the epicentre of yesterday’s storm and suffered quite a bit of damage. In low lying areas, some of the houses suffered broken windows and flooding. And every car left out in the open, is now pockmarked with dents.

Personally, we took very little damage. The Offspring’s car is dented, and one small tile broke on the small side deck, but other than that, we came through the storm surprisingly well. It’ll take me forever to rake up the carpet of shredded leaves and branches covering the ground, but my baby apples survived, and I’d harvested most of the apricots already, so I think we’ve been very lucky.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a pic of the apricot cake I made two days ago. It’s garnished with apricot compote, and all the apricots came from my own tree. Can’t complain. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bon appetit ๐Ÿ™‚

cheers

Meeks


Windows

Eyes may be the windows to the soul, but windows are the weakest link in our homes. Because they’re fragile. Because they break.

It seems like such an obvious thing now, but I remember how shocked I was when an expert pointed out that the inside of our homes is the driest place on earth. Once a window breaks, even one ember is enough to burn the house down from the inside out.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Yet how many of us have adequate protection for our windows?

When I built my house in Warrandyte, I had to put metal mesh screens over all the windows that could be opened. But my house has double barrel windows where the top pane opens but the bottom pane is fixed. The top pane is protected by the required metal screen [basically an ordinary fly wire screen but made of metal]. The bottom pane is not.

Now, imagine a bushfire scenario. The wind is howling, and the gums are dropping branches large and small. One of those branches is blown towards the house and slams into one of my windows. The top pane may remain intact, but what of the bottom pane?

Yes. Exactly.

I solved my window problem by investing in fire resistant shutters. These shutters cover the entire window area, top pane, bottom pane and the wooden frame. They look like this:

The shutters roll up and down inside the frame [like vertical sliding doors] and are rated to protect the windows for about 20 minutes. That’s the length of time it usually takes the fire front to pass.

The regulations have been tightened up a lot since Black Saturday, and I believe that new houses in fire prone areas must have toughened glass instead of ordinary glass. But what of existing houses? As far as I know, there are no regulations about retrofitting toughened glass to houses built before 2009.

Does that mean there is no danger to those houses? Of course not.

If you live in a bushfire prone area, please think hard about your windows, and what you can do to protect them.

Stay safe.

Meeks


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