Saturday 25 December 2021

*Season's Greetings From North Coast Voices, December 2021*




      
      As is the usual practice North Coast Voices will not be posting                 comment between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

We hope to see you all in 2022!

Stay Safe Stay Well


*Scarlet Robin photograph by Flock Wildlife found at Difficult Bird Research Group


Friday 24 December 2021

SARS-CoV-2 Delta & Omicron Variants in NSW and Northern NSW, December 2021- Part Five

 

Following on from:

SARS-CoV-2 Delta and Omicron Variants in NSW and Northern NSW, 1-11 December 2021,

SARS-CoV-2 Delta & Omicron Variants in NSW and Northern NSW, December 2021 - Part Two

SARS-CoV-2 Delta & Omicron Variants in NSW and Northern NSW, December 2021 - Part Three and

SARS-CoV-2 Delta & Omicron Variants in NSW and Northern NSW, December 2021 - Part Four.


NSW Health, Northern NSW Local Health District & Critical Intelligence Unit, media release excerpts and datasets, COVID-19 data for Monday 20 December to Tuesday 22 December 2021:


# NSW recorded 3,057 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday 20 December 2021, including 2 deaths.


There are currently 284 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 39 people in intensive care, 11 of whom require ventilation. The NSW public hospital system official stress level remains at RED.


  • Of the 3,057 cases reported to 8pm last night, 820 are from Hunter New England Local Health District (LHD), 525 are from South Eastern Sydney LHD, 386 are from Western Sydney LHD, 378 are from Sydney LHD, 346 are from South Western Sydney LHD, 268 are from Northern Sydney LHD, 85 are from Central Coast LHD, 82 are from Nepean Blue Mountains LHD, 48 are from Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD, 26 are from Northern NSW LHD, 24 are from Mid North Coast LHD, 17 are from Western NSW LHD, six are from Southern NSW LHD, two are from Murrumbidgee LHD, and 44 are yet to be assigned to an LHD. [my yellow highlighting]


To 8pm 20 December, 34 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in 3 of the 7 local government areas of Northern NSW:

The following postcode list may be incomplete

Byron Shire17 cases across postcodes 2479, 2481, 2482, 2483,

Ballina Shire5 cases across postcodes 2478,

Lismore City4 cases across postcodes 2480,

Tweed Shire0 cases across

Clarence Valley0 case

Kyogle Shire – 0 cases

Richmond Valley – 0 cases

TOTAL 26


On 20 December there were 5 COVID-19 positive patients in hospital in Northern NSW, with none in an Intensive Care Unit.


To place growing numbers being reported into a local perspective as to degree COVID-19 has begun to penetrate Northern NSW: the total confirmed COVID-19 cases for every 10,000 people in the population of our 7 local government areas as 18 December 2021, according to https://www.covid19data.com.au/nsw-lgas-cases:


  • Byron Shire 85.8
  • Kyogle Shire – 27.3
  • Ballina Shire – 19.9
  • Lismore City18.5
  • Clarence Valley 14.5
  • Richmond Valley 13.6
  • Tweed Shire – 6.2


The New South Wales count on 20 December 2021 brings the cumulative total of COVID-19 infections in the state since the January 2020 start of the pandemic to 102,884 men, women and children.


Of these confirmed infections, est. 95 % or 97,447 cases were contracted since the SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant entered New South Wales. The COVID-19 related death toll stands at 647 individuals, with 91% of those deaths occurring since 16 June 2021.


According to the Australian Dept. of Health’s frequently tardy Epidemiology Reports, during 2021 there has been an increase in the number of cases infected with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern in Australia. By 5 December a total of 24,153 samples of Delta (B.1.617.2); 515 samples of Alpha (B.1.1.7); 84 samples of Beta (B.1.351); 12 samples of Omicron (B.1.1.529) and six samples of Gamma (P.1) had been recorded.


An est. 290 cases of COVID-19 with the Omicron variant of concern had been identified in New South Wales in federal data, by 20 December 2021.


As yet there is no firm percentage of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant infections in NSW since that variant entered the state on or about 27 November 2021and, NSW Health stated that it had ceased initial genomic sequencing tests for Omicron as of 17 December 2021 and would assume that all future positive COVID-19 tests were the result of Omicron Variant infections. 


As of 20 December 2021 the Dept. of Health, States and Territories Report stated that there were currently 30,155 COVID-19 active cases Australia-wide and 16,225 active cases in NSW. To date the majority of confirmed COVID-19 cases across Australia are due to community transmission.





Between Friday night 17 December to Monday 20 December 2021 at both public and private testing facilities across NSW more than 426,000 people have queued to be tested, with more than 8,000 new positive cases recorded in the past three days.

# NSW recorded 3,763 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Tuesday 21 December 2021, including 2 deaths.

There are currently 302 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 40 people in intensive care, 12 of whom require ventilation.

Currently there are 8,356 COVID-19 cases being cared for outside a hospital setting.


The viral reproduction factor stood at 1.24 on 21 December and total active cases had reached 21, 991 persons. If that factor stands it is possible total daily cases numbers will double every 3.2 days.


  • Of the 3,763 cases reported to 8pm last night, 834 are from South Eastern Sydney LHD, 623 are from Hunter New England Local Health District (LHD), 554 are from Sydney LHD, 456 are from Western Sydney LHD, 423 are from Northern Sydney LHD, 420 are from South Western Sydney LHD, 110 are from Nepean Blue Mountains LHD, 99 are from Central Coast LHD, 71 are from Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD, 48 are from Northern NSW LHD, 40 are from Mid North Coast LHD, 39 are from Western NSW LHD, 17 are from Murrumbidgee LHD, six are from Southern NSW LHD, one is from Far West LHD and 22 are yet to be assigned to an LHD. [my yellow highlighting]


To 8pm 21 December, 48 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in 5 of the 7 local government areas of Northern NSW:


  • Byron Shire27 cases across postcodes 2481, 2482, 2483;

  • Lismore City8 cases across postcode 2480;

  • Ballina Shire6 cases across postcodes 2477, 2478, 2479;

  • Tweed Shire6 cases across postcodes 2484, 2486, 2487;

  • Clarence Valley1 case in postcode 2460;

  • Kyogle Shire – 0 cases;

  • Richmond Valley – 0 cases.

TOTAL 48


There are 5 COVID-19 positive patients in hospital in Northern NSW, with 1 of these in ICU.

 

A total of 1,364 healthcare workers are currently furloughed due to COVID-19 infection or exposure to the virus and, there is also some indication that NSW public health employees are taking leave of absence/terminating their employment at a higher than normal rate this month.


On 22 December 2021 the federal chief medical officer stated; more than 500 cases of Omicron had been confirmed in Australia so far though genomic testing…..one person was in intensive care with the Omicron variant”.




# NSW recorded 5,715 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Wednesday 22 December 2021, including 1 death.

There are currently 347 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 45 people in intensive care, 13 of whom require ventilation.


  • Of the 5,715 cases reported to 8pm last night, 1,186 are from South Eastern Sydney LHD, 976 are from Hunter New England Local Health District (LHD), 841 are from Sydney LHD, 703 are from South Western Sydney LHD, 691 are from Western Sydney LHD, 514 are from Northern Sydney LHD, 199 are from Central Coast LHD, 136 are from Nepean Blue Mountains LHD, 123 are from Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD, 102 are from Northern NSW LHD, 65 are from Western NSW LHD, 60 are from Mid North Coast LHD, 23 are from Murrumbidgee LHD, 15 are from Southern NSW LHD, five are from Far West LHD, one is from a correctional setting and 75 are yet to be assigned to an LHD. [my yellow highlighting]


This week to date there have been 21,503 reported new cases of COVID-19 in New South Wales. That is an increase of 14,914 cases on last week's total.


The total number of actives cases within the state is est. 27,093 persons as of 22 December and Australia-wide active cases are currently estimated at over 37,206 persons.


To 8pm 22 December, 102 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in 6 of the 7 local government areas of Northern NSW:


  • Byron Shire59 cases across postcodes 2479, 2481, 2482, 2483;

  • Lismore City15 cases across postcode 2480;

  • Ballina Shire9 cases across postcode 2478;

  • Tweed Shire10 cases across postcodes 2483, 2484, 2486, 2487, 2488, 2489;

  • Clarence Valley8 case across postcodes 2460, 2464;

  • Richmond Valley1 case possibly in postcode 2470;

  • Kyogle Shire – 0 cases.

TOTAL 102


There are 6 COVID-19 positive patients in hospital in Northern NSW, with 1 of these in an intensive care unit.


ABC News, 23 December 2021:


Masking wearing indoors will become mandatory in NSW from midnight tonight as the state government reintroduces restrictions to curb the Omicron wave.


Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced density limits of one person per 2 square metres for hospitality venues would also be reinstated from December 27, while QR code measures will be "back in a limited way".


The mask and density rules will be in place until January 27.


The wearing of masks indoors and the use of QR code check-ins were largely scrapped on December 15 but the state has seen a big increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.


Mr Perrottet said QR codes would be reintroduced in hospitality and retail settings.


He said the changes were "modest" and would relieve the strain on a health system decimated by the loss of 1,500 staff members who were unwell or isolating…..


Mr Perrottet also said the government was looking to roll out a program to distribute free rapid antigen tests as part of a plan to move away from PCR tests.


He said the health and finance ministers had been tasked to devise a model similar to the one used in the UK, which he hoped would begin in early 2022.


"It would make sense from our end that those rapid antigen tests could be made available at our vaccination centres, pharmacists and GPs, so making it as easy as possible," he said…..


Official acknowledgement that NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and his senior ministers blundered when they continued down the path of discounting or ignoring medical advice won't be forthcoming. This is the nearest the people of New South Wales will come to such an acknowledgement...... 


NSW Health, 23 December 2021:


The following adjustments will come into effect:


  • Masks will be compulsory in all indoor non-residential settings, including for hospitality staff and in offices, unless eating or drinking from 12.01am Friday, 24 December


  • QR code check-ins will be compulsory, including for hospitality and retail from 12.01am Monday, 27 December 2021


  • Hospitality venues, including pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes will move to 1 person per 2 sqm rule indoors, with no density limit for outdoor settings from 12.01am Monday, 27 December 2021


  • All settings will remain in place until Wednesday, 27 January 2022. QR check-in requirements are a reminder that if you receive a notification you should get tested if you feel unwell. You should also get tested if directed by NSW Health or if you have symptoms.


  • Reduce mingling where you can including when eating and drinking, work from home where possible and hold events outside.


  • Rapid-Antigen Test kits will soon be made available for free across the State as an additional testing option and to allow those who need to get a PCR test to do so.


UPDATE


# NSW recorded 5,612 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Thursday 23 December 2021, including 1 death.


There are currently 382 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 53 people in intensive care, 12 of whom require ventilation.


There were 32,174 active COVID-19 cases in New South Wales as of 23 December 2021 and 43,964 active cases Australia-wide. This time last year Australia only had a total of 146 confirmed COVID-19 active cases. Under the Morrison Government Australia has spent the last twelve months going backwards in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic.


  • Of the 5,612 cases reported to 8pm last night, 1,218 are from South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (LHD), 862 are from Sydney LHD, 780 are from Western Sydney LHD, 641 are from Northern Sydney LHD, 605 are from South Western Sydney LHD, 592 are from Hunter New England LHD, 175 are from Central Coast LHD, 170 are from Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD, 133 are from Nepean Blue Mountains LHD, 112 are from Northern NSW LHD, 88 are from Mid North Coast LHD, 45 are from Murrumbidgee LHD, 37 are from Western NSW LHD, 17 are from Southern NSW LHD, seven are from Far West NSW LHD, one is in a correctional setting and 129 are yet to be assigned to an LHD. [my yellow highlighting]


To 8pm 23 December, 112 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in all 7 of the local government areas of Northern NSW:


  • Byron Shire68 cases across postcodes 2479, 2481, 2482, 2483;

  • Tweed Shire – 17 cases in postcodes 2483, 2484, 2485, 2486, 2487, 2489;

  • Ballina Shire12 cases across postcode 2477, 2478, 2479;

  • Clarence Valley – 7 cases across postcodes 2460, 2464, 2466;

  • Lismore City6 cases across postcode 2480;

  • Richmond Valley1 case in postcode 2469;

  • Kyogle Shire1 case in postcode 2474.

TOTAL 112


In Northern NSW a total of 7 COVID-19 cases are being treated in hospital, with 1 of them in an intensive care unit.


Thursday 23 December 2021

Chance of above average rainfall across much of northern and eastern Australia continues during Summer


Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), 21 December 2021:


The ENSO Outlook is at LA NIÑA.


Key atmospheric and oceanic indicators of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) show an established La Niña. Tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are at La Niña thresholds, with models indicating further cooling is likely in January. Atmospheric indicators including the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), trade wind strength, and equatorial cloudiness have responded to this oceanic cooling and are typical of La Niña conditions.


The current model outlooks suggest this La Niña will persist until the late southern hemisphere summer or early autumn 2022. All but one of the models surveyed by the Bureau indicate SSTs will meet La Niña thresholds until at least February 2022.


Bureau climatologists will continue to closely monitor conditions in the tropical Pacific as well as model outlooks for further changes to this La Niña event.

~~~~~~~~~~


La Niña continues as Indian Ocean Dipole returns to neutral


La Niña conditions continue in the tropical Pacific. Climate models suggest this La Niña will persist until the late southern hemisphere summer or early autumn 2022. La Niña events increase the chance of above average rainfall across much of northern and eastern Australia during summer.


Most indicators of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) show clear La Niña patterns. Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the tropical Pacific remain at, or exceed, La Niña thresholds, with cooler water beneath the surface to support further cooling. In the atmosphere, cloud, wind, and pressure patterns are typical of La Niña, indicating the atmosphere is responding to the ocean changes below. These atmospheric changes also reinforce the changes observed in the ocean. This feedback process is known as 'coupling' and allows La Niña conditions to be sustained for an extended period.


The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is neutral. Cloud and wind patterns, as well as SSTs, have now eased back from a negative IOD-like state and become more clearly neutral. Climate models predict the IOD will remain neutral for the coming months, consistent with its typical seasonal cycle. A neutral IOD has little influence on Australian climate.


The Madden–Julian Oscillation (MJO) remains in the western Pacific. The MJO is forecast to progress eastwards across the western Pacific over the coming fortnight, which would typically increase cloudiness and rainfall across northern Australia and the western Pacific. It also increases the chances that the monsoon will develop in the Australian region by encouraging westerly winds over the area. However, as these westerly winds get further into the western Pacific, they could act to temporarily weaken the La Niña.


The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) continues to be positive. It is forecast to remain at positive levels until the end of the year before returning to neutral. A positive SAM during summer typically brings wetter weather to eastern parts of Australia, but drier than average conditions for western Tasmania.


Climate change continues to influence Australian and global climate. Australia's climate has warmed by around 1.44°C for the 1910–2019 period. Rainfall across northern Australia during its wet season (October–April) has increased since the late 1990s. In recent decades there has been a trend towards a greater proportion of rainfall from high-intensity short-duration rainfall events, especially across northern Australia.


Federal Liberal MP for Bowman Andrew Laming is in the news again for all the wrong reasons

 

The Guardian, 21 December 2021:





The Australian Electoral Commission has launched legal action against Liberal MP Andrew Laming for allegedly failing to disclose his political links on a Facebook page which appeared to be operating under the guise of a grassroots community group.


The federal court proceedings come after Guardian Australia revealed in April that the Queensland MP was operating 35 Facebook groups – with at least one for each suburb in his electorate.


The AEC is launching action based on just one of the 35 sites, which was called “Redland Hospital: Let’s fight for fair funding,” set up by Laming ahead of the last federal election to campaign against Labor.


It is the first time the AEC’s authorisation requirements for social media will be tested in court after disclosure laws were updated following the 2016 election to explicitly include social media posts.


According to the AEC website the penalty for a breach by an individual can be a fine of up to $26,640.


In a statement, the AEC said it had instituted federal court proceedings against Laming “alleging he failed to authorise Facebook posts leading up to the 2019 Federal Election”.


The AEC alleges that Dr Laming published unauthorised electoral matter in the form of a Facebook page, ‘Redland Hospital: Lets fight for fair funding’ and that this contravened the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 requirement that material promoting one candidate or political party over another comply with the authorisation requirements of the Act.”


The AEC will not be making any further comment as this matter is now before the Court.”…..


Wednesday 22 December 2021

COVID-19 testing system in NSW buckles under strain after increase in infection numbers along with federal & state policy shifts place public health response burden on the individual not government


 

ABC News, 21 December 2021:


NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard concedes the state's COVID-19 testing system is under "massive pressure" as clinics turn people away and wait times blow out.


Before the arrival of Omicron variant in late November, when NSW's daily case numbers hovered at the 250 mark, testing rates sat at about 60,000 per day.


Since Friday night, more than 426,000 people have braved queues to be tested across the state, with more than 8,000 new positive cases recorded in the past three days.


Mr Hazzard said testing sites, as well as the public and private laboratories that analysed the swabs, were under pressure.


"Obviously they're trying to access the various products that are required to do the testing, but that's not the sole issue," he said.


"The issue is also that the staffing from not only doing the actual pathology testing, but also the administration — making sure people are advised of their results — is currently under massive pressure."…..


For the sites that are open, queues have stretched around the block, forcing people to line up for hours at some clinics.


Wait times for results have blown out to 72 hours in some cases.


NSW Labor Health Spokesman Ryan Park said the state government needed to "fulfil their end of the bargain" after the Premier asked people to take personal responsibility and get tested in light of the spike in cases.


He said more clinics, staff and equipment were needed to meet the surging demand and to cut wait times.


"It simply doesn't make sense," he said.


"They (the government) need to listen to the message that's coming from the community."


The demand for testing in the lead-up to Christmas has also seen pharmacies run out of rapid antigen test kits.


Health officials convened for several hours on Tuesday morning to consider the stresses faced by the testing system…..


Read the full article here.


New Clarence Valley councillors have been declared, December 2021


After 14 counts of all ballots cast in the Saturday 4 December 2021 Clarence Valley local government election, the final count was posted on 20 December.



Candidate(s) marked with an asterisk were elected without reaching quota.
 
Candidates elected at the same count are displayed in the order they appear on the ballot paper.


The margin between the last elected candidate TOMS Karen and the last un-
elected/excluded candidate ELLEM Peter is 137.


Voter enrollment at this December 2021 election was 38,544. A total of 33,019 ballot papers were received of which 30,661 were counted a formal votes.


Jeff Smith and Debrah Novak were elected on first preference and the other seven councillors after the distribution of preferences.


SEE: 

https://vtr.elections.nsw.gov.au/LG2101/clarence-valley/councillor/report/candidates-in-sequence


Tuesday 21 December 2021

Months after multiple Public Health Order breaches Local Court imposes expensive consequences for one the three people involved


 

7News, 20 December 2021:


A teenager [sic] who sparked a seven-day lockdown in Byron Bay after travelling to the area with his father who had COVID-19 has been fined $35,000….


Kristian Radovanovic, 19, did not appear for his sentence as he has travelled to Serbia with his father to care for his grandmother, the Waverley Local Court was told on Monday.


He pleaded guilty to four charges after the Rose Bay family travelled to NSW’s northern rivers region to purchase a farm in late July and failed to abide by public health orders.


For not using a QR code and failing to wear a mask in a general store Kristian Radovanovic was fined $5000 and $7500 respectively, and for not wearing a mask nor using a QR code in a taxi he was fined $12,500 and $10,000 respectively.


The former gyprocker was already serving a community corrections order following a police pursuit while drink driving, and a conditional release order for affray after joining a brawl.


Kristian Radovanovic has been hit with a huge fine for travelling to Byron Bay while infected. 
Credit: 7NEWS

Magistrate Paul Mulroney said all offences involved a disregard for public health and safety.


He did not care at all about the rest of the community,” he said.


What he did was not just irresponsible, not just criminal, but had the real potential to put the lives and the wellbeing of the community at serious risk.


I am imposing substantial fines to drive home to other people who don’t think this is serious ... there should be significant consequences.”…..


Zoran Radovanovic’s case was also up for mention at Lismore Local Court on Monday 20 December 2021.