Former New South Wales Liberal premier, Mike Baird, has written in support of Victoria’s Daniel Andrews (who is Labor).
“The political badge you wear should mean very little during this moment,” he said in a blog post titled ‘Perspective’.
We are living through history, and there is no playbook they give you when you become PM, Premier or Minister on how to respond.
Leaders are making dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of big decisions every day. And not all of them will be correct in hindsight. Every leader around the world is learning on the run, and the stakes are impossibly high. Every leader is making mistakes, which is not surprising as they are human.”
The full post is here.
A projection on a building honouring the 100,000 victims who died of Covid-19 in Brazil reads “100,000 Victims of [Brazilian President Jair] Bolsonaro”, in Botafogo neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday.
The country is the second in the world to pass the grim milestone. Just a day after Latin America and the Caribbean became the hardest-hit region in the global pandemic, Brazil reported a total of 100,477 fatalities, joining the United States as the only two countries to surpass the six-digit death mark.
A projection on a building honouring the 100,000 victims who died of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 in Brazil reads “100,000 Victims of [Brazilian President Jair] Bolsonaro”. Photograph: Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images
AFP: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the distribution of aid to the border city of Kaesong after the area was locked down last month to fight the coronavirus, state media said Sunday.
Authorities raised the state of emergency to the maximum level for the city in July, saying they had discovered the country’s first suspected virus case.
A train carrying goods arrived in the “totally blocked” city of Kaesong on Friday, the official KCNA news agency reported.
“The Supreme Leader has made sure that emergency measures were taken for supplying food and medicines right after the city was totally blocked and this time he saw to it that lots of rice and subsidy were sent to the city,” it said.
Kim had been concerned “day and night” about people in Kaesong as they continue their “campaign for checking the spread of the malignant virus”, the report added.
Last month, Pyongyang said a defector who had left for South Korea three years ago returned on July 19 by “illegally crossing” the heavily fortified border dividing the two countries.
The man showed symptoms of coronavirus and was put under “strict quarantine”, authorities said, but the North has yet to confirm whether he tested positive.
If confirmed, it would be the first officially recognised case of Covid-19 in North Korea, where medical infrastructure is seen as woefully inadequate to deal with any epidemic.
The nuclear-armed North closed its borders in late January as the virus spread in neighbouring China.
It imposed tough restrictions that put thousands of people into isolation, but analysts say the country is unlikely to have avoided the contagion.
Some good news from New Zealand, which today marks 100 days of zero community transmission cases.
The Conversation has taken a look at how they’ve done it.
Ongoing border controls to stop Covid-19 from entering the country
A lockdown and physical distancing to stop community transmission
Case-based controls using testing, contact tracing and quarantine
“New Zealand is one of a small number of jurisdictions – including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia, Australia and Fiji – pursuing Covid-19 containment or elimination. Most have had new outbreaks. The exceptions are Taiwan, Mongolia, Fiji and New Zealand.
Australia adopted very similar responses to the pandemic and it is important to note that most states and territories are in the same position as New Zealand. But Victoria and, to a lesser extent, New South Wales are seeing a significant resurgence.
The key difference is that New Zealand committed relatively early to a clearly articulated elimination strategy and pursued it aggressively. An intense lockdown proved highly effective at rapidly extinguishing the virus.”
Mexico just days away from half a million cases
Mexico’s health ministry on Saturday reported 6,495 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 695 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 475,902 cases and 52,006 deaths.
Officials have said the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.
Mexico has the third highest coronavirus death tally globally, behind the US and Brazil, and last week saw daily case rises above 9,000.
As in Brazil and the US, wearing a mask has assumed cultural and political connotations in Mexico – where opinions on Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador are deeply polarised.
Speaking to reporters last month, the president, popularly known as Amlo, said: “You know when I’m going to put on a mask? When there is no corruption. Then I’ll put on a mask and I’ll stop talking.”
Like his populist counterparts Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump, Amlo, has appeared skeptical over masks since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
He has offered homespun advice for avoiding the virus: lose weight, eschew junk food and find spirituality, and the country has mystified experts with its lack of testing.
Last question in the Andrews press conference and a reporter has sought clarification on whether visiting someone because they were feeling pretty low or stressed is ok under the Melbourne lockdown.
Andrews says it’s about getting and giving care, which is a permitted reason to visit someone else but the threshold is higher than it was at stage three.
“So where you can put in place an alternative arrangement, you should. Urgency is what drives this. Otherwise, again without running a commentary on any group in the community or the community at large, we cannot have a situation where it is impossible for police to enforce this by virtue of a loose category that you can use to essentially get around these rules.
“If it is urgent, genuinely urgent, then that is different.”
Andrews is asked to respond to an “open letter” from the founder of Jim’s Mowing, Jim Penman, who wants gardeners and other outdoor work sole traders to be exempt from the restrictions. He accused Andrews of being a “tyrant” and suggested there was no identifiable case of someone being infected while working alone in someone’s garden.
Andrews says there’s an aggregate risk of people sharing services and moving around the community.
“I understand and appreciate these are very challenging choices for businesses and workforces, for families, for individuals to live with,” he says.
“But the simple fact of the matter is that if every single person came to me and argued passionately, eloquently, whether publicly or privately, that they’re low risk and that they should get a pass, they should be able to continue pretty much as normal, then we would finish up with more people at work and more people moving around the community in August than we had in July or June and that will just mean that we have zero chance, like no chance whatsoever, of driving these numbers down.”
Andrews suggests Victoria could increase at-home testing, when asked about people who have no means of transport other than public transport to get to a testing site.
If you have symptoms, you could be infectious and we want to see you staying away from as many people as possible. We know that’s challenging. That’s why we have done some home testing. If we have to do more of that, of course, we would. There is… I know one of the reasons I say I’ll come back to you is I think that ADF and authorised officers of the Health Department when doing the door knock, which now must be close to 6,000 or more, I think that they have facilitated some testing. I’m more than happy to get further detail on that.
Asked about Mikakos’s tweets, Andrews says it’s a big team and he’s proud of them all.
“No one who is dealing with a second wave of this wildly infectious virus is pleased to be there. No-one wants to be in a situation where we’ve got to make some of the heart breaking choices we have,” he says, and everyone is working as hard as they can.
”Even a team that is many thousands and thousands of people large cannot do this alone. We need every single Victorian to play their part.”
He says there’s a growing number of people doing the right thing.
“Some of our public health experts tell us that unless you start achieving compliance numbers that are in the 90s, not necessarily 99%, but certainly higher than 90%, then it takes longer to achieve what you might want to achieve. That’s why despite the fact that there have been some fines issued because of people breaching the curfew.”
Andrews says he hasn’t spoken to Mikakos this morning and has only been briefed on the tweets, not read them in full. He says Mikakos is “a very strong person”, as is the whole team, and they can’t afford to stop.
Asked about the penalties being handed out by police for breaching the restrictions, Andrews says each one was a choice.
“Each is the product of someone saying to themselves, I can do something that no one else is allowed to do.”
He said these sorts of choices will only mean that businesses are closed for longer, more people are unemployed, patients are in hospital for longer, and more families will be holding funerals.
He says there’s a growing number of people doing the right thing, but “these rules are binary now”.
“Stay at home means just that”.
He says it’s in people’s interests to work with the restrictions, even if it’s inconvenient or difficult.
“We do know for some people economic circumstances have driven some of these poorer choices” like needing to go to work, and that’s why the government’s brought in payments for insecure workers who need to stay home.
Andrews is hesitant to talk about any kind of trend in the lower numbers over the past few days.
“We’ve only had just a couple of days of the stage four settings, and some don’t kick in til midnight tonight. We’re seeing perhaps the tail end of the stabilisation that is the result of those stage three rules.”
He says the reinfection rate is still around one, which means every infected person is on average infecting one other person. That needs to be halved, and then “halved again and halved again”.
The government has already announced 144 new mental health beds, in answer to the royal commission into mental health services. Today they’re announcing the locations.
They’re also accelerating the rollout of a post hospital suicide prevention program into the last seven of 23 mental health regions.
The HOPE program, the whole of mental health package, of which this is the third component in the past week, is about telling people we value them, your existence, your role in the community, your life is important.
The pandemic is stressful. The pandemic is seeing anxiety and depression levels rise quite substantially, but there is help out there. There is support out there.
Foley finishes up: So if you need support, call Beyond Blue, call Lifeline, call any numbers of the specialist organisations out there and get the support that you need, because it is available.
In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org
The package will also focus on proactively reaching people in need and connecting them to community services so they can avoid traumatic emergency departments, will extend mental health support to carers and frontline health workers, “particularly through the Phoenix Trauma Centre for police and ambulance workers dealing with the trauma and the stress that they’re all under at the moment”.
“The program will also make sure that when we have three trained clinical professionals in the Ambulance Victoria referral centre to make sure that the mental health components of what goes through the 000 line is dealt with in a way that gets people the support, the information and the referrals that they need closer to them and in their community.”
$60m mental health boost in Victoria
Mental health minister Martin Foley is up now, announcing $59.7m in additional funding, focusing on the surge in demand for acute services. He’s given some devastating figures.
One in five Victorians sought help for a mental illness prior to the pandemic, says Foley.
Year on year, to the end of July, there’s been a 9.5% increase in emergency presentations for self harm, across all age groups. For young people there’s been a 33% increase.
23.3% increase of people presenting in acute settings with a mental illness.
Emergency departments are busy at the best of times, particularly now in the height of a pandemic. We want to make sure that we keep those people who need support for mental illness with the support that they need in the community.
Andrews says his minister for mental health is here with him to make “significant announcements” about additional acute care.
He draws attention to one element – $250,000 for a counselling service for nurses, midwives, personal careworkers, in addition to $350,000 announced a few months ago.
I want to thank the ANMF for their leadership and making sure that we understood that many, many in our health team, particularly nurses, midwives, personal careworkers, are doing it very tough. This is a very challenging set of circumstances. And particularly those nurses and personal careworkers who have gone into aged care settings in fundamental crisis. You can’t unsee what you’ve seen.
Since yesterday there have been an additional 174 cases with an unknown source, bringing that to a total of 2,758.
Even large numbers in known contained outbreaks are, to a certain extent, less significant than the smaller number of cases where we simply can’t find the circumstance or the point of origin. Where did that person get the virus from? They’re the ones that are incredibly challenging from a containment point of view, and that’s what’s made fundamentally necessary these really challenging settings, these really difficult decisions we’ve had to make to drive down movement, and therefore, drive down the number of cases.
There are 994 healthcare workers among the active cases, Andrews says.
394 cases, 17 deaths in Victoria
Dan Andrews is up now.
394 new cases in Victoria, and another 17 deaths including 10 linked to aged care homes.
The fatalities include two men in their 50s, four in their 70s, four women and two men in their 80s, and two men and three women in their 90s.
at 3.45am BST
Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, will be holding his daily press conference shortly. I’ll bring you those updates when he does.
Victoria’s had a few days of numbers around the 400s, much lower than the 6-700+ daily figures earlier. But the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton has said the stabilisation of numbers isn’t good enough but it is a positive.
“If we hadn’t stabilised these numbers we would have seen 1000s of cases a day. and there are estimates we averted 20,000 or more cases with the stage three restrictions, but that’s not enough.”
The Victorian health minister, Jenny Mikakos, has also posted a lengthy Twitter thread overnight defending her government’s response.
The Victorian government has been repeatedly questioned over failures in the hotel quarantine system which contributed to the state’s outbreak. Andrews had initially refused to answer detailed questions, saying it would be inappropriate while the current inquiry underway. However head of that inquiry, former family court judge Jennifer Coate, has since said there was no legal basis for that.
Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives
When we have to look back 100 years to the Spanish flu to find a pandemic of comparable global magnitude, it’s outside all of our collective experiences. It means there’s no detailed go-to manual of how to respond to these pandemics.
August 8, 2020
Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives
Since that fateful day on 25 January, when we had our first-ever case, I’ve worked every day to keep everyone safe. I have put every ounce of energy I’ve had into that effort. If it wasn’t enough, then I’m deeply sorry.
August 8, 2020
New South Wales reports 10 new cases
The state’s health authorities have released Saturday’s tally of new cases, with 10 people diagnosed in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
One is a returned international traveller
Seven were locally acquired, all close contacts of known cases
Two are under investigation with no link to other cases at this point
A healthcare worker who has tested positive for Covid-19 worked one shift while infectious at Hornsby Hospital’s emergency department, from 11am to midnight on Thursday 6 August.
Another of the 10 is a Tangara School for Girls student, bringing the number of cases associated with the Cherrybrook school to three.
“All students, staff and support staff at the secondary school have been advised to get tested for Covid-19 and self-isolate immediately until Friday 21 August, even if a negative test result is returned,” said the health department.
Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta, will be closed for on-site learning on Monday and cleaning and contact tracing is being undertaken, after a student tested positive for Covid-19.
Customers who attended Bunnings, Campbelltown, on Tuesday 4 August, Wednesday 5 August and Thursday 6 August should be alert for symptoms of Covid-19 and if even mild symptoms occur, to get tested and isolate themselves, after an employee at the store tested positive for Covid-19.
NSW has now recorded 3,672 cases, after conducting more than 1.76m tests. 52 people have died. There are 111 people currently being treated, eight in intensive care.
Click here for a list of locations associated with known cases and advice on testing and isolation.
at 2.18am BST