In this daily blog I explore our personal and collective responses to the transformation we are all experiencing as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic. I began writing in mid-March 2020, but only decided in April to create this blog and post it to my website. I’m posting all of March as a single entry and will follow up with posts either daily, weekly or every few days as events unfold. Stay safe.
Wednesday 11th March 2020
The World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic today in Geneva, Switzerland at 5.27pm CET.
Thursday 12th March 2020
I went to the butcher and bought a good stock of meat for the freezer. I popped into the supermarket but there’s no toilet paper available anywhere.
Friday 13th March 2020
I awoke very early to go to golf in Cranbourne. I’m part of our club’s pennant team. I lost badly. One of the women from our team was absent with a flu-like condition, but she’s not been tested for COVID-19. She’s been sick for about 10 days with a temperature, diarrhoea, aches and pains and very thick chest. Even so, she was denied a test for coronavirus as she has not travelled overseas recently. Whatever is it, she has passed it on to her daughter.
The news today said that Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for the virus and are in a Gold Coast hospital.
Saturday 14th March 2020
I put in my footy tips for round one which is meant to start this Thursday in front of empty stadiums. Despite being a mad keen Tigers fan, I hardly ever go to matches. I don’t like crowds, so I am happy to watch on TV. But now there is talk that the season may not even start. The comedy festival has been cancelled, the state library has closed and a range of other arts and sport events have been the cancelled.
I went to a fabulous art afternoon today and learned a lot about indigenous plants and grasses. Good to know if we ever get around to landscaping the front yard. I decided not to go to an exhibition opening tonight as I was feeling a bit tired. I wanted to rest to fend off the potential cold I have noticed with itchy ears and a few sneezes. I started dipping cotton wool buds in castor oil mixed with clove oil and thyme oil and swabbing my ear canals, and taking Sambucol immune support, I must get some more.
Sunday 15th March 2020
I played golf at Kooringal this morning. Denise wasn’t there so I called her to see how she was feeling. She’s still not eligible to be tested for the virus, but said she felt a bit better, though she sounded awful. Whatever Denise has had, she thinks she picked it up on the train two weeks ago when she went into the city. I told Neil that if he must go to the office this week he should drive in, not get public transport, he agreed.
Neil and I often play Chinese checkers. We play using three colours each. I won today.
Monday 16th March 2020
They are talking about closing schools now. The government hasn’t acted as yet, but some private schools have shut. Online classes are replacing face to face learning. Supermarkets are reserving early mornings for the elderly and disabled to shop. Our cleaner is coming this morning, but before she came I raced out to get some fruit and veges and some more Sambucol. I got the former, but not the latter. There’s still no loo paper anywhere. Why toilet paper was the first thing to disappear from the shelves in panic buying is beyond me.
I didn’t use a trolley today as I am convinced I picked up Salmonella from a shopping trolley five years ago. They are not disinfected, not even washed, or wiped over.
I did some work on my 2021 calendar, then I started writing this blog. I spoke to Mum, she is fine. Mum is in residential care. It’s a good facility. Normally they have meals in the dining room, but as a safeguard they are being confined to their rooms and no visitors are allowed.
I took Molly for a walk in the sunshine and made a vegetable curry for dinner. I heard on the news tonight that the football season has been cut back to 17 rounds, with each team playing one another once, but they are still not sure about round one on Thursday. Meanwhile my superannuation has taken a big hit.
Tuesday 17th March 2020
Some friends of mine are flying back from Egypt today and will have to isolate for 14 days upon arrival. The question is how do people get from the airport to home in isolation? I hope they arrive home safe and well. Neil is working from home today and tomorrow, but has to go to the office on Thursday, but by then who knows…every day the situation is changing. Trivia is still on tomorrow night we have heard, but we’re wondering whether we should go.
Today was Irish Fours at the golf club. No shaking hands. Everyone wore green for St Patrick’s Day. Our group played well and finished a creditable 4th place, just outside the prize group.
St Patrick’s Day parades and events everywhere have been cancelled, but so far golf events continue. I think we are pretty safe with minimal contact on a golf course. I hope.
Notice came through that our pennant golf season will continue for the time being, but additional measures need to put in place. Denise is still not well. Because of her symptoms she can’t get an appointment with her GP. I’m worried. I was really sick last year and the year before with a hideous sinus condition that lasted for months. I needed repeat antibiotics and it took ages to recover. How will I get a script if I get sick this winter?
Wednesday 18th March 2020
I heard that my friends who flew back from Egypt yesterday were on the last flight out before Egyptian borders were closed and international flights cancelled. How scary.
I have decided to pull the plug on trivia tonight until further notice as the venue is not the cleanest place on the planet.
Local libraries have closed now too, and the list of closures and cancellations grows by the hour. Scott Morrison has announced a total ban on overseas travel and non-essential indoor gatherings will be limited to 100 people. So why is Crown Casino still open? Schools are staying open too.
I used my recently acquired Seniors Card for the first time this morning. The IGA supermarket in Altona was the first supermarket to introduce early morning trading for the disabled, seniors and pensioners. Coles and Woollies followed suit nationally. Having just turned 60 six months ago, I went to IGA this morning at 6am and managed to buy four rolls of toilet paper, some bread and a few other items. All grocery items were limited to one per person.
Today the number of coronavirus cases in Victoria went up by 27 to 121. I am still wondering what the real total is, given that there are probably lot of people, like my friend Denise, who don’t fit the criteria to be tested.
Yesterday we were advised by Golf Australia that the 2020 Pennant season would continue, but this afternoon they have advised that it has been cancelled. A number of golf clubs have withdrawn from the competition and others have closed to visitors. The question now is what will happen at our club regarding usual daily competitions? So far they are continuing, so I’ve booked myself in for Friday.
I spent the afternoon working on my third entry for the 5×7 art prize. That’s five inches by seven inches. Artwork has to be delivered by Saturday. This third piece I am calling Microcosm. It consists of a series of faces with various expressions, graduating back into the distance, on a rainbow background. Seems somehow appropriate in these odd times.
Thursday 19th March
Worldwide infections 200,000+ Australian infections 500+ Deaths Australia 6
I have a morning appointment with my osteopath. Their receptionist called me yesterday.
‘Hi Michele, we are just ringing to confirm your appointment and ask if you have been overseas recently, or if you have any cold or flu symptoms?’
‘No and no,’ I replied truthfully as I had managed to fend off the approaching cold.
“How about any of you there?’ I asked.
‘No and no. We’re all good here, we’ll see you tomorrow.’
‘Great, see you then.’
Neil had a sleepless night last night. He told me this morning he’s decided to make arrangements to take sick leave. He’s not physically sick, but he’s under a lot of stress with his mum being ill in Adelaide and the stress of trying to meet targets at work in the midst of this worldwide pandemic has been worrying him. He has about two months of accumulated sick leave, so he is speaking to his boss today. He also wants to talk to management about reducing the level of expectations about meeting their clients’ requirements and prioritising the wellbeing of their staff.
Recently, he received a rating of 10/10 from one of his clients on every reporting measure, and he’s been with the firm for about 20 years, so I don’t imagine there will be any problem. He will still go to the office occasionally I imagine and still do some work from home, being the industrious Taurus that he is, but he wants to go to Adelaide to see him mum for a week or so. He worries about me being left alone, but I will be fine. I am happy in my own company, I always have been. The only trouble is if something goes wrong at home that requires his engineering skills.
I was thinking today about the positives that may come from this pandemic. Certainly less pollution, with no international flights anywhere, we are all going to focus more on our little patch of Earth, grow vegetables, drive less and use less resources.
Already there seems to be less political finger pointing and more bi-partisanship, and not before time. Our State Premier Daniel Andrews seem to be managing the situation very well, I am pleased to say. He has announced more funding for the health sector and that they have already ordered more medical equipment including ventilators. He said that we will also start to make necessary equipment here. Funny how money can be found when there is a crisis.
I guess in the future more people will be working from home permanently. Now that the Catholic Church has banned mass and religious services, maybe there will be no further need for organised religion; wouldn’t that be a great outcome! Hmmm, maybe there will even be more respect for the introverts of the world too, after all we’re the ones who intrinsically know how to cope with social isolation.
My osteopath appointment went well. I made another appointment for a maintenance visit in four weeks but they’re worried that people will start cancelling appointments, but so far they are getting new clients, those who couldn’t previously attend because of their work schedule, who can now get treatment for their bad backs and sore necks.
Round one, the first match Richmond v Carlton kicked off tonight, without any fans at the MCG. It was surreal watching and would have been so strange for the players. Half time score; Richmond 69, Carlton 23. Final Score Richmond 105, Carlton 81.
Friday 20th March 2020
Australian infections 700+ Victoria 150+
As pennant golf has now been cancelled and we are not travelling across to Sandhurst today, I decided to play in the normal competition at my home club, Kooringal. New restrictions have been emailed to members, no cash transactions, no removal of flag stick (just as well that rule came in when the rules of golf officially changed last year), plus a range of other measures to keep people at arm’s length.
I didn’t play that well. I had 31 stableford points with three wiped holes. I’m booked in to play on Sunday.
Neil worked from home today and I am very happy to report that he plans to spend more time at home from now on. He went to the supermarket to get a few items and saw first-hand how little is left on the shelves. No carrots, very little in the way of fresh vegetables, no mince, we grabbed the last tub of butter. Since I have my senior’s card, in future we’ll go early and get what we need first thing in the morning.
The news today is not good, not for humans anyway. Italy is in a bad way, with more deaths being recorded there than in China, but at least the dolphins are enjoying exploring the canals of Venice for the first time in 70 odd years now that the water there is clean. I really think that the Earth is trying to rid herself of the human parasite that has so devastated her oceans, land and atmosphere. Given Donald Trump’s slack response to this crisis, the US will probably feel the brunt of this pandemic.
Neil beat me at Chinese checkers.
Collingwood thrashed the Bulldogs.
Saturday 21st March
Global deaths 10,000+ Spanish cases up 2,800 in one day. Australian cases 1000+
Denise was back at golf yesterday and feeling much better, but she’ll never know if she has had Coronavirus, or not. I’m starting to think that golf will be a closed down too at some point. I hope the club survives. There are so many businesses, cafés, restaurants, cinemas, all affected by this crisis across the globe. People out of work, and lots of suffering to come. The whole financial system could come tumbling down.
Finally, Crown Casino has been told to close. Bondi Beach has been closed after people ignored social distancing advice. Schools will be closed early for the coming holidays in Victoria so teachers can prepare to run remote classes online should schools close long term.
Last night we had a man drop by to give us a quote on some double glazing. Given the current downturn, he gave us a good discount. We decided to go ahead. It will be July before they can install the windows. Hopefully, we will all still be here then. I hope their business survives. Who knows how long this crisis will last?
This morning I dropped off my artwork to the local gallery for the 5×7 exhibition. They are titled, food chain, microcosm and rebirth. For some reason a few months ago I started drawing circles everywhere, doodles and art pieces. Maybe it was some unconscious message I was picking up about Coronavirus with its circular form? Food chain is an image of fish swimming in a sea of bubbles, which could be interpreted as plastic, or water. Microcosm is a host of various circular faces with different expressions, on a rainbow background. Rebirth is an image of a pregnant woman standing in the foreground in profile with her belly full of colourful seeds and flowers that are also covering the landscape around her. The gallery will be closing next week, the opening has been cancelled, but they plan to display the exhibition on large boards facing the windows so it can be viewed from the street, plus they will photograph and place the images online.
We spent some time today in the garden doing a bit of work in the vege patch. We already have a few things growing, but I can’t bend down very well with my dodgy knees and back, so we’re going to invest in some raised beds. We bought a variety of seeds at Bunnings this morning.
If the virus keeps spreading at this rate, it won’t be long before people are quarantined to their homes regardless of their health or travel status. In a place in Italy called Vo, they tested everyone early for the virus, and found that quite a number of people tested positive without having any symptoms. They locked down the town immediately and consequently have had no further deaths reported, though the rest of Italy is badly infected.
Neil was planning to drive to Adelaide next week to see him Mum, but the way things are shaping up, I have suggested he arrange face time or Facebook hook up that family over there can arrange for her. I reckon it won’t be long before people are confined to their suburb, or their home, whatever their situation.
Neil’s mum will turn 95 this year and will probably outlive us all. One day about three years ago she found that she had locked herself in the backyard and left her keys inside the house. Her deaf husband Jack (who has since passed away) couldn’t hear her calling out, and nothing was going to stop her from going to bridge. Yvonne is a Grand Master and bridge is her passion. So, stuck in the backyard, without keys to the house, the car, or the side gate, she got a ladder, propped it up against the driveway gate, climbed up and onto the top of the gate, straddled it, then pulled the ladder up and put it down the other side and climbed down so she could get into the house, retrieve her keys and drive herself to bridge.
Recently, she has not been well, so Neil is keen to see her, which is understandable and part of the reason he has taken leave from work. We’ll see how things look next week. I’ve told him if he does drive over that he will have to take a packed lunch and plenty of water and petrol in case everything is closed. I am worried that he will get stuck there and not be able to get home. He may not even be able to hug his mother. She’s not in a nursing home, she still lives in her own home, with Neil’s sister Lisa who moved in when Jack died, but who knows? It’s possible that all physical contact may soon become taboo.
Sunday 23rd March
I decided not to play golf today. There’s a bit of drizzle about and my back is sore from bending over in the garden yesterday. Plus, with all that’s going on in the world I am not really in the mood for golf.
The weather is a bit cooler today so I started knitting again. Every year in the cooler months I knit a few things; throws, jumpers, cowls, jackets, beanies, scarves. One year I knitted a queen size bed quilt. My mum taught me to knit when I was about seven. Last year I started knitting a throw that ended up turning into a bathmat. It’s the best bathmat ever! Made of wool, it’s completely absorbent.
Things are changing so quickly. This afternoon state governments announced that each state of Australia is closing its borders on Tuesday so Neil won’t be travelling anywhere. The AFL announced it is suspending the football season until at least the end of May. School holidays in Victoria have been brought forward to start this week, but how long schools will stay closed is unknown.
Neil and I play a card game called Oh Hell. If you are looking for something to do at home here’s how. It’s a good game for two players, three or more. For two players deal 12 cards each (less cards for more players) and turn one up which is the trump suit. Non-dealer nominates how many tricks they will get. The last person to bid can’t say a number that adds up the exact number of available tricks. Non-dealer leads. As in bridge or 500, you must follow suit if you can, otherwise play a trump, or discard if you don’t have that suit. The winner of each trick leads to the next trick. If you get the exact number of tricks you nominated, you get 10 points plus one point for each trick. If you fail to make your contract, you only get a point for each trick, but no 10 point bonus. The second hand that is dealt is 11 cards, and then the next 10 and so on until one card is only dealt. The next hand you deal two cards, then three, and so on back up to 12 cards. If we are not playing Chinese checkers then this is our game of choice. If you play it with more than two players, it’s only the last person to bid that cannot bid a number that adds up to the exact number of available tricks. I thrashed Neil today. My biggest score ever, over 200 points.
Monday 23rd March
Global infections 300,000. Global fatalities 13,000. Victoria 350+ infections.
We went to a new supermarket this morning at 7am to restock the food supply. I wanted to get some chicken, but they didn’t have any. They did however have toilet paper. It’s good to be over 60 years old and able to access the supermarket early before the mad rush. I’m so glad I got my seniors card last year.
I heard from my production assistant who is in The Netherlands. I was concerned for her given the situation in Europe. It’s good to know she is well and working from home. Lola helps me produce my annual astrology calendar. She is very knowledgeable about In Design, in fact she’s very clever with many things, art and mechanical engineering among her talents. It must be hard for her being away from her family who are here in Australia.
I have not heard whether golf is on tomorrow or not. The Premier has said that it’s meant to be only essential services open, and while I understand he has a single figure handicap, I’m fairly certain golf will be cancelled for the foreseeable future. Frankly, the way things are going, I would rather not play. I’m happy to be a hermit. I’m spending today working on my 2021 calendar, finalising my April newsletter and writing this journal.
I have to say that our Premier is doing an exceptional job at managing this crisis. I am so glad I live here, in Victoria, in Australia and not somewhere like the USA. Sadly, I think there is going to be a lot of suffering there before this crisis is over. Without a universal health care system, and with a complete moron in charge of the country, people will be dropping in the streets before long. Today the states of New York, California and Washington declared emergency disasters and are seeking urgent supplies of medical equipment which is in short supply.
Meanwhile, back home there are massive queues of people at Centrelink seeking financial assistance. The government website MyGov crashed today and Centrelink offices across Australia are swamped. The share market has plummeted again today. There goes more of my superannuation. So far it’s dropped by about one third, but financially we are in a very good position compared to the vast majority. We will get through this, even if the shutdown lasts six months, which is the latest advice.
My property manager contacted me today as my tenant has lost her job. She worked in a travel agency and has been laid off. She and her husband have asked for a rent reduction. I have offered them a 25 percent discount for the next three months, and then we can reassess things. I can afford to do that much. They are good tenants.
Neil beat me at Chinese checkers tonight. He has won a few matches in succession. I will have to review my strategy.
Tuesday 24th March
Australia cases 1600+ NSW 800+ Victoria 400+
I’ve decided not to play golf for the foreseeable future. It’s not worth the risk. All the time I would be thinking about how to make sure I didn’t come into contact with coronavirus and so the whole experience wouldn’t be enjoyable. I may think again, and play on my own now and then, assuming the course remains open, but I really wasn’t in the mood today. They have brought in further measures at the club to avoid any kind of accidental contact, such as bringing your own sand bucket.
The IOC has finally made the decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. How were athletes even meant to even get there? Canada and Australia had already pulled out. The games will now be held in 2021, that’s assuming that life returns to some version of normality by then.
Yesterday when we went shopping, I bought a large pumpkin. I love making pumpkin soup and today I decided to make a big batch to freeze. It’s a lovely deep orange pumpkin, full of seeds that I will save for future planting. If the lockdown lasts, as least we can eat pumpkins. We already have two volunteer pumpkin vines that are spreading through the vege patch. I hope they produce some pumpkins, though it’s probably a bit late in the season.
Our next door neighbours are passionate gardeners. In their 80s, they’re very active and grow just about every type of fruit and vegetable you care to name. They often drop off goodies to us. We try to reciprocate, but I am not as green thumbed. Now that Neil is working from home, hopefully he’ll have more time to get involved in the garden too. The couple across the road also have a lot of fruit and veges growing, including persimmons, my favourite fruit. If you have never eaten one, and get the chance, you simply must! The firm non-astringent variety is the best. Every May they give us bags full of persimmons. I wonder if that will happen this year.
It’s been so quiet lately. The atmosphere is surreal. It’s such a beautiful autumn day today, the weather is perfect. It would have been lovely on the golf course. We live in a quiet street, but the ambient noise from traffic, the general movement of people and commerce has ceased. It’s silent. The local primary school, just around the corner has closed for the time being, so we can no longer hear the sound of children laughing in the playground.
There are some interesting possibilities that may emerge from this crisis. I was talking today with Neil who is an electrical engineer and does work for a number of industries including the major oil companies. Because people are no longer flying anywhere, there is no need for jet fuel, which means that the refineries will be stockpiling it. Aviation fuel is essentially kerosene with a few additives. It’s not used for anything else but aircraft. The thing is that the refineries only have so much room to hold the unsold jet fuel. Refineries produce the aviation fuel along with the petrol and diesel that drives our cars. At any given refinery a certain percentage of each fuel type is manufactured.
The question becomes an economic one for the refineries, as to whether they keep on producing a fuel they cannot sell, or stop producing other fuels as well. They can cut back on production, but to reconfigure a refinery to only make one, or two types of fuel is not viable, especially since people are no longer travelling around by car or by bus as they once did. If the refineries go to the wall like many other industries, there will be no petrol and diesel for our cars. Depending on how long this crisis lasts and its impact on refineries, we will soon have to develop hydrogen vehicles and other forms of transport that do not rely on oil. How incredible to think that this little virus could end up saving our planet!
Up to one million workers in Australia may have already lost their jobs. Today, the government in Canberra has passed its most significant stimulus package since WWII, offering financial support for everyone affected by the recent closures and job losses, with more support to come.
Wednesday 25th March
Global infections 400,000+ USA 50,000+ Australia 2000+
The World Health Organisation has warned that the US could become the global epicentre of this pandemic, and with good reason. The Mad Old PR Nut, (anagram) said today that he hopes for ‘packed churches’ for Easter. The only good thing that can come from this, is that all the morons who listen to him will go to church and then not be here to vote for him in November.
The thing that people don’t seem to understand is that the sooner we all isolate ourselves, the sooner this pandemic will be over. Everyone should just go home and stay there for a couple of weeks. Obviously, there are hospital staff and those on the front line who are providing essential services, but everyone else should just stay home.
We are listening to the advice of the Premier, Daniel Andrews who continues to manage this crisis exceptionally well, so we are staying home.
We do have a double glazing contractor coming here tomorrow morning to do window measurements, so we need to make sure that we keep our distance and not touch the doors, windows or curtains after he goes. I will spray Glen20 around afterwards. We have three toilets in this house, and if he needs to use one, we have decided in advance which bathroom he will visit. We will then avoid that room for a week. We’ll make sure we keep at a safe distance while he is here.
Late this afternoon our power went off. I’m very glad that Neil is an electrical engineer and understands these things. About a month ago we has a solar battery installed, so that kicked in and we have power. Neil managed to isolate the problem and it’s only one area of the house that’s affected, unfortunately it’s the kitchen, but Neil worked out it’s not an appliance causing the issue. When we had the battery installed the electrician put in a new switchboard and he had some difficulty as it kept on tripping. Neil is pretty sure that it’s the switchboard that’s the issue, so we’ve made a call to see if they can send the electrician around. We may have more than one tradesman here tomorrow.
Thursday 26th March
World fatalities 20,000+ Australia 13
After I beat him at Chinese checkers last night, Neil managed to get the power working again, but we aren’t sure what caused the problem, so it could go off again. For now I’m thankful that all the appliances and lights are working. We haven’t heard back from the electrician.
The double glazing contractor came to measure our windows this morning. He did use the bathroom, so we’ll avoid that area for a week. The plan is to install the new windows around July, but who knows what the world will look like by then? The company doing the work could go bankrupt, or we may all be dead.
New Zealand has the right idea. Jacinda Ardern has said that no one is going to work unless you work in an essential service. Stay at home, whether you are sick or not. New Zealand is in total lockdown. That should be the approach everywhere. I really hope they adopt that policy here soon.
Trying to decide what to eat each day is driving me nuts. Normally I ask Neil to decide what we have for dinner on weekends while I make choices about dinner during the week. But now we have lunch to think about as well, I think we should each just do our own thing for lunch. Less hassle that way.
We’re thinking about whether to wear masks and gloves when we go out to shopping. I got some masks in January because of the bushfire smoke, and they were hard to find then because everyone was rushing out to get them. They’re even more difficult to find now. There’s a video post on Facebook about how to make a face mask from a women’s bra which might be what we all have to do before soon. Everyone is sharing the video, which gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘going viral’. I’m not sure how effective they will be, but it’s probably better than nothing. We’ll park that idea for a while.
The news from the UK this morning is that Prince Charles has tested positive to Coronavirus. His wife, Camilla has apparently tested negative. The National Health Service there is in dire straits and has called for volunteers.
Here in Australia there are over 100,000 people who have been living, working and paying taxes in Australia who cannot access Centrelink benefits. What will happen to these poor souls who have no recourse to welfare payments? More questions…Why the hell are we still running horse racing? Why are hairdressing salons still open? How are homeless people meant to stay at home?
Friday 27th March
USA 85,000+ China 80,000+ Italy 80,000+ Australia 3000+ Victoria 500+
Note that all the COVID-19 data listed in this blog is sourced from https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus
It’s interesting to read comments that friends are putting up on Facebook about how they are coping at home. One friend asks, ‘Is anyone feeling an irresistible urge to bake?’ Another is looking for suggestions for activities as she is running out of ideas. Another wants to know the sun sign of those with whom we are sheltering indoors, and how that is going. All the extroverted social signs; especially Geminis, are finding it very tough and all the introverted signs, like, Cancer and Virgo are for the most part coping quite well, except if they happen to share living space with an extrovert who is driving them up the wall.
As suspected, the USA is now the epicentre of this pandemic, with over 85,000 confirmed cases. Although we cannot be entirely sure about the reliability of the figures from China, it’s clear that the US has totally mismanaged this crisis, and we all know who’s to blame for that. Modelling suggests that lifting restrictions in the US by Easter, as Trump has touted, would result in around 120 million Americans infected with coronavirus by October, with more than a million fatalities. Neil is scheduled to go to Chicago in October, but I’ve told him there is no way I will let him go, even if this virus is under control by then, which is highly doubtful.
In happier news for us personally, I saw a report yesterday that listed confirmed coronavirus cases according to council areas in Melbourne. According to the map we have just seven confirmed cases of the virus here, so I think we are fairly safe, at least for now. We drove past the golf course today which is still open with restrictions in place for players. I’m missing golf, but I just think it’s a far better plan to stay at home as much as possible.
We decided to pop out early this morning to get a couple of food items, dog food, chicken, bread. We ended up buying more than we needed and now that I look in the pantry cupboard, I think that we might be classified as hoarders. Enough!
The weather is so beautiful today it’s a surreal feeling to think that somewhere lurking out there is this hideous virus keeping us all at home. We go out walking with Molly most days. We live in a quiet area with lots of walking tracks and open spaces. Our miniature spoodle Molly is enjoying having us both at home, but at the same time I am sure she is aware that things are not normal. She looks a bit worried and pensive at times. Dogs understand so much. A friend of mine who recently came back from Egypt and is in isolation (without any signs of illness thankfully) has three large standard poodles who have not been out for a walk for almost two weeks now.
My osteopath has now closed for the foreseeable future. When I saw her last week, she was worried that they might have to close. When all this is over I hope they can reopen. Our cleaner who comes fortnightly has closed down and won’t be coming any more. So many businesses are affected, so many people out of work, but I have no doubt that the best thing is to shut down all but essential services as quickly as possible. Sadly, Queensland will probably have a spike in infections soon, as they have announced that their local government elections are going ahead tomorrow.
Saturday 28th March
World 600,000+ USA 100,000+ China 80,000+ UK 15,000+ New Zealand 450+
There is news this morning that UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has tested positive and is working from home. Their health secretary has also tested positive.
The horror continues. The latest news suggests that the situation in Indonesia is far worse than the reported number of infections, which is officially said to be 1,000. Modelling by Indonesian researches indicates that perhaps half the nation’s 275 million people could be infected within months and that over one million Indonesians could die. The rate of infection in the US is getting worse by the minute. While the global death toll is still around 25,000, once the health services of any country are unable to cope with the rate of infections, the death toll will quickly rise.
Health workers and the many others on the front line of this pandemic are heroes, working under incredible stress and risking their lives. Others have selflessly volunteered to help those who are sick, in isolation, or in need of food and essentials.
The Australian government announced yesterday that from tonight, all those returning home from overseas will be quarantined in hotels for two weeks. Hotels are empty, so this is a good move on a couple of fronts. This is to ensure that returning travellers are isolated from the rest of the community. The vast majority of infections here, something like 95 percent, are people who have been overseas, or those who have been in close contact with them since their return. When you arrive home after a trip away, normally you have to go out to get food and supplies. With this crisis, where possible, family and friends have been shopping for those in isolation and delivering food to them, but this is not always possible. Many people who are meant to be in isolation, for whatever reason, have not self-isolated. This move should halt the spread of the virus here in Australia and hopefully bring the rate of infection, the ‘curve’ down within weeks.
I can’t help thinking that despite the horror of this pandemic, the planet as a whole is healing. The Earth is starting to breathe a bit easier. Gaia is trying to remove the human parasite that has been feeding relentlessly on her resources, infecting her with disease and pollution and causing her so much pain and suffering.
Animals and plants are unaffected by this virus, it’s only humans who are getting sick and dying. In the aftermath of this nightmare, I hope that those of us who survive will alter our behaviour and develop a new respect for our home planet.
The weather forecast this weekend is the mid to high 20s, a warm weekend. With so many people now out of work, there is little difference between weekdays and weekends. The government is pleading with people to stay home and not congregate on beaches and in public spaces. Rain is forecast here Sunday night, with a possible storm.
Late today I had an email from Golf Australia that all golf courses will close tomorrow until at least 13 April.
Sunday 29th March
USA 120,000+ Italy 90,000+ Spain 70,000+ Australia 3,500+ Victoria 700+
World fatalities 30,000+ Australian fatalities 16
The lack of available tests for Coronavirus means that not everyone is being tested, so the number of actual cases across the globe is probably much higher than official figures. Australia has one of the highest rates for testing in the world, but even here not everyone who has symptoms is being screened.
Australia had its largest daily jump in cases yesterday. Apparently there is a dispute between the softly, softly approach of PM Scott Morrison and the go hard now preference of the Premiers of NSW and Victoria. Clearly, the sooner this is over the less pain long term, which means going hard. But hairdressers are still allowed to operate and the Queensland local elections went ahead yesterday.
New Zealand has the right approach. Everything is in lockdown. The army is patrolling the streets to make sure everyone is staying put. Despite taking these measures early, because this virus had a long incubation period, the rate of cases is still rising, but it should start to fall soon. New Zealand will probably be the first country in the world to eliminate coronavirus. Singapore is handling the crisis very well too. Victoria Police is now issuing fines for people who crowd together in public.
The situation in Italy is horrific. The health system there is in total collapse, with more than 90,000 cases and over 10,000 deaths. Coffins are being stored in churches. But the Italian town of Vo, has now completely eliminated the virus. They did this by locking down the town immediately and testing all 3,300 residents. About three percent of the population tested positive, with half of them having no symptoms. Those found to be positive were immediately put into quarantine. No new cases have been reported there since 13 March. The health systems in the USA and Spain will soon collapse and Indonesia has no way to manage what is coming.
There are people who think that this whole thing is a myth and going about their business as usual. There are religious types who are going to church crowded together to pray for salvation. There are people who are ignoring the advice of health experts to stay at home and are instead going out shopping to make sure they don’t miss out on the latest bargains. There are people in the US who are still listening to Donald Trump, who are in total denial of the reality they are facing. I hate to say it, but this behaviour will raise the collective intelligence level of earth’s inhabitants through natural selection. Sadly, a lot of people who are doing the right thing and staying away from others, will also perish.
Monday 30th March
World 700,000+ USA 140,000+ Germany 60,000+ Australia 4000+
NSW 1,900+ VIC 800+ QLD 650+ SA 300+ WA 300+ ACT 77+ TAS 62+ NT 14
Last night we noticed that Molly has a lesion on her bottom that she’s been chewing. It looks awful and we are taking her to the vet today. I squeezed bloody muck out of it last night and put some disinfectant on it, but that’s all we could do. It could be a grass seed that’s become infected. We had a collar in the cupboard so we put that on her last night to stop her chewing, but the lesion is still oozing this morning, though it looks a little less inflamed. Poor thing. What a time for this to happen. We managed to get a 9am appointment at the vet. They are only allowing one person to come to the vet with pets, and that person has to phone them on arrival and stay in the car outside while staff come out and collect sick or injured animals. Neil took her there while I stayed at home worrying and fretting.
It wasn’t long before Neil rang me from the vet with good news. I’m so relieved! It’s not a grass seed. Molly has an infected anal gland. The vet gave her an injection and she will be on antibiotics for three weeks. She’ll have to have the bucket on her head for at least two weeks and we will have to take her back to the vet twice more. Bathing the area with warm water with some salt was recommended. I’m so thankful that it’s not a grass seed. With her curly coat, she’s like Velcro and we have to be vigilant at getting them off her coat when she’s been out for a run. Like most dogs she hates having the bucket on her head, but it’s the only way to stop her licking it and making it worse.
The news today is just so awful. The infection rate in the US is skyrocketing, increasing by about 1,000 every hour. Forecasters are saying that there could eventually be up to 200,000 fatalities. At this rate, it could be far more. New York is the worst affected area, but there is still no kind of lockdown in force to stop the spread. Health workers and NYPD officers are contracting the virus in droves. The lack of medical supplies, such as masks and ventilators is not just in New York, but there are acute shortages across the whole of the US. Trump has once again changed his tune and has extended social distancing ‘guidelines’ until 30 April, but this is not backed up by any laws. He said today that the US will reach the peak of deaths from the virus in two weeks.
There are reports from Turkey that millions of Syrian refugees in the camps there are at risk from the virus which has now started to spread through the region. Turkey now has around 10,000 cases, but are refugees being tested? The alarming thing about the rate of infection in Turkey is that it is spreading faster there than in any other country.
Neil wants to go to the office for a meeting on Wednesday, but I have put my foot down. I’ve been upset all day about Molly, and I just don’t want to have to worry about him too, it’s too stressful. I told him if he goes to work on Wednesday I would not let him back in the house. It was an extreme statement to make, I know, but I suppose I am starting to feel anxious. Our health is far more important than having to delay a work project, when everything is being shut down or delayed anyway. It’s just not worth the risk. I’m so thankful that we are here at home and not stuck somewhere overseas, or on a cruise ship like so many others.
Tuesday 31st March
USA 160,000+ Italy 100,000+ China 80,000 France 45,000+
Molly is picky with her food at the best of times, so trying to make sure she eats something with her tablets is tricky. Because she has the bucket on her head, she can’t fit through her dog hatch, so we are taking her out for toileting every so often, but she just stands there on the grass, looking at you. As of this morning she has not been to the toilet at all, ones or twos, for around 36 hours, so if things don’t move soon, we’ll be on the phone to the vet.
A huge financial support plan was announced yesterday by the Australian government. Jobkeeper is a wage subsidy program where the government will pay businesses $1500 per employee per fortnight to keep their staff employed. Hopefully, there will be measures that ensures this money is actually paid to employees. The plan is designed to get people back to work quickly once this crisis is over. Vast sums of money are being outlaid by the government to get us through the economic impact of this pandemic. Similar schemes are being rolled out in the UK, Canada and New Zealand.
China’s infection rate has slowed dramatically and has remained at around 80,000 for a week or so. Assuming these figures are accurate, Spain has now overtaken China in the number of infected people. The virus has now entered Africa. At this stage numbers there are still low, but given the poor health systems in many African countries, the mortality rate will soon escalate. Small Pacific and Caribbean nations are also reporting cases now.
Meanwhile, my large computer monitor died this morning, which is a hassle as I normally use two screens which makes it much easier to manage what I am working on, viewing or researching. Clever Neil moved our old second television and hooked it up to my laptop. The TV is about 15 years old, so the resolution isn’t great, but it’s better than having only the one screen.
Neil is the computer technician in our home, plus a handy carpenter, welder and plumber. As an electrical engineer, he can deal with most issues that arise at home. His shed is full of tools and gadgets, most of which are a total mystery to me. My skills lie elsewhere. I write, cook and knit and do most of the gardening. Neil is good at maths, I am good at spelling. We’re a good team.