Monday, 10 January 2022

A graph showing the world what happens to an economy when a nation allows fundamentalist ideologues to run its pandemic public health response


ANZ graph Week to January 2020 to Week to January 2022
via Laura Tingle, @latingle 7 January 2022

Consumer spending in Sydney, New South Wales is the lowest it has 
ever been over the entire course of the COVID-19 pandemic to date and, 
there is no prize for guessing that what caused this was Australian Prime 
Minister & Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison's favourite three-word 
slogan, 'living with COVID'.

Which he so disastrously urged fellow Liberal & NSW Premier Dominic 
Perrottet to put into high-gear action by further reducing key protective 
elements of the public health response in NSW while at the same time 
opening up the state, then doubling down on dismantling what remained 
in place after the Omicron Variant entered Sydney and began to spread.



ABC News, 6 January 2022:

Escalating COVID-19 cases in New South Wales have not reduced appetite for travel, with tourist hotspots across the state still buzzing with activity.

However, many regional hospitality businesses are missing out on the potential windfall because staff shortages are preventing them from operating at full capacity…..

It's a similar scenario on the state's north coast.

Ballina RSL chief executive Bill Coulter said they had to reduce trading hours due to a lack of staff.

"It's challenging in terms of rostering. We're down about 20 per cent in staffing numbers and have been for quite some time now," Mr Coulter said.

"I think there is ongoing uncertainty about hospitality. When there's a COVID outbreak or issue, then it gets knocked out pretty quickly. And I think people's uncertainty in that space has heightened their anxiousness and they've sought alternative employment."

He said it was a problem across the region.

"We've had visitors in the club in the last week … and they say they just can't get into any business in town because nothing's open."….

Jane Laverty, regional manager of the NSW Business Chamber, said the latest surge in COVID cases had been a huge challenge for regional businesses.

"Our hospitality businesses … did see this as the time that they would be able to claw back some of the losses that they had previously, and they've been looking forward to this holiday period."

She called for government support to be reinstated for businesses across the state.

"We're certainly not back to any level of normal … we're still very much in the grips of COVID pain.

"That support will give the businesses and their employees some level of hope and support and dollars in their accounts during the period of time where we've still got such instability."

Sunday, 9 January 2022

COVID-19 State of Play Northern NSW 2022: what a difference three months make


Excerpt from a Statement from Lynne Weir, Acting Chief Executive Northern NSW Local Health District, 23 September 2021:

In our District, there are currently sufficient Intensive Care beds across our three major hospitals in Grafton, Lismore and Tweed, with plans in place to surge staffing and intensive care capacity, if and when required, our networked hospital system ensures patients can be transferred or redirected to other hospitals where necessary, including private hospitals.

Throughout the early stages of the pandemic, we sourced additional equipment, including ventilators, and we regularly review our stocks and supply chains of resources, including PPE and pharmacy items, to ensure adequate supplies.

From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Northern NSW Local Health District has been actively increasing its staffing and upskilling its workforce in readiness to care for COVID-19 patients in our region.

Additional training programs were developed for nurses, midwives, and allied health staff, with more than 265 staff attending surge training in Intensive Care, Emergency and Immunisation specialties to provide additional capacity to care for patients.

Lismore Base Hospital is the primary receiving hospital for COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalisation in the District, having recently undergone significant redevelopment to provide a new Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit, as well as other general hospital wards. These refurbishments have also delivered more single room capacity across the facility. Our other major hospitals in the District also have trained staff and the necessary equipment to cater for COVID patients if required as the pandemic evolves.

Between mid-2012 and mid-2021, NNSWLHD increased its workforce by an additional 1,219 FTE staff - an increase of 32.3 per cent including 211 more doctors 461 more nurses and midwives and 141 more allied health staff.

Message received by a registered nurse in NSW on 13 December 2021:

via @vintage_nurse

Northern NSW Local Health District, media release excerpt, 16 October 2021:

Visiting restrictions at hospitals across Northern NSW Local Health District are being eased slightly to allow visitors back into health facilities in a staged approach.

A patient may have one visitor once a day for one hour, between the hours of 1pm and 6pm.

Visitors must be at least 12 years of age, and must have be fully vaccinated with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Visitors will need to carry evidence of their vaccination status on entry to the health facility, and must wear a surgical mask while on site.

Acting Chief Executive, Northern NSW Local Health District, Lynne Weir said people should continue to keep up to date with contact tracing alerts, and be vigilant against any symptoms of COVID-19 so they do not attend a health facility if they feel unwell.

People must not visit if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, are a close contact of a confirmed case (or are within their isolation period), live in a household with a person who is currently isolating, or if they are waiting for a COVID-19 test result,” Ms Weir said.

People also must not visit if they have been to case locations in NSW, interstate affected areas or New Zealand in the past 14 days.”


The Guardian, 7 January 2022:

One of New South Wales’ major regional hospitals had to source its own triage tent, is sending Covid tests six hours away due to a lack of space for its own diagnosis machine, and has had positive patients wait 30 hours to be transferred to a designated hospital for those with the virus.

Doctors at the Tweed hospital, which is 1km from the Queensland border in northern NSW and serves a hinterland that includes Byron Bay, are even donning personal protective equipment to drive home, in their own cars, asymptomatic Covid-positive patients because taxis won’t take them.

Kristin Ryan-Agnew, president of the local branch of the Nurses and Midwives Association and a senior nurse at the hospital, said local Covid cases were tripling daily, much faster than the 5o% growth in new cases reported for NSW as a whole on Wednesday.

As a result of increased presentations to Tweed’s emergency department, nurses were doing “double shifts every day” with one day off before resuming the toil. “They’re going to fall over in a screaming heap,” she said. “They will not be able to manage.”

Eighteen staff, many of them senior, have resigned since December out of a roster of about 150, citing burnout and the better conditions offered over the border.

Queensland offers $1,800 a year for nurses’ education, a Covid bonus – both absent in NSW – and higher wages, Ryan-Agnew said.

“They were really top-notch, really good quality staff, and they can walk up to the Gold Coast and they’ll just completely snaffle them.”

As Guardian Australia reported on Wednesday, nurses at Lismore Base hospital – the destination for Tweed’s Covid patients needing treatment – are also struggling to cope with a surge in medical needs.

The Tweed hospital is buckling under spiking demand for care and a lack of trained staff and appropriate equipment. A senior manager, for instance, had to phone around themselves and then purchase the triage tent prior to Christmas after months of pleading to the health department, Ryan-Agnew said.

The tent, though, remains far from adequate, with no toilet, forcing potentially Covid-positive patients – and anyone waiting for PCR testing to cross the border – to traipse through the main hospital lobby.

You can have people with heart conditions, sick kids, elderly, frail, all sitting there waiting to be seen, and you’ve got a potential Covid patient walking through the waiting room,” Ryan-Agnew said.

Patients with chest and severe abdominal pain, septic children and adults should be in beds not a tent without nursing care, staff said. Earlier this week, one Covid patient had to wait 17 hours before being transferred to Lismore, while another patient had to wait 30 hours before being moved on Wednesday.

The nurse manager shares office space and air-conditioning with two beds set aside for Covid patients with no air-locked space for changing PPE.

We have bottles of hand sanitiser sitting on top of overflowing bins, flapping Covid tent flaps compromising PPE,” another staff member, who requested anonymity, said.

We also continue to struggle getting adequate PPE and supplies, certain masks run out, no hair coverings and no disposable blood pressure cuffs.”

The triage tent sourced by a senior manager at Tweed hospital.
Photograph: Supplied

Read the full story here.

The Guardian, 8 January 2022:

Staff at the hospital serving tourist mecca Byron Bay in northern New South Wales say the facility is under “extreme strain”, with Covid-positive patients left in bays behind curtains and one patient waiting 45 hours to be transported to the region’s designated Covid hospital.

As many as 100 people a day are arriving at the Byron Central hospital, stretching staff already depleted by Covid-forced absences. The Byron area had a double-vaccination rate of about 85% as of 20 December, one of the lowest in NSW.

Healthcare workers collecting information from the public at a Covid testing site in Sydney

The hospital’s single isolation room was taken up by one Covid patient for almost two days earlier this week before being transported. “We are constantly being crippled by a lack of transfer options” with ambulances often unavailable because of their own shortages, a senior staffer who requested anonymity said.

We have a positive pressure room also that is being used as an isolation room and another room which we can close an actual door on,” the hospital worker said. “These are often all taken up, so we have Covid-positive patients in bays behind curtains because we can’t get people to where they need to be in a timely manner.”

As reported this week by Guardian Australia, northern NSW hospitals are under increasing strain at the designated Covid hospital at Lismore and at the bigger Tweed hospital near the border with Queensland.

Byron’s challenges are made worse by the loss of medical staff who have refused the government’s Covid vaccination mandate, and its proximity to communities with relatively large anti-vaccination support.

The region also has a relatively high number of cases per 1,000 people, with another 1,154 Covid cases in northern NSW in the latest 24-hour reporting period.

Northern NSW Local Health District website:

Hospital Visitors: Changes and Restrictions

Visitor restrictions are in place to protect patients, staff and visitors at our hospitals and health facilities.

Visitors are now restricted at all hospitals and health facilities in Northern NSW.

Exemptions will be considered on a case by case basis for compassionate or extenuating circumstances, for example in the case of palliative care.

Women accessing birthing services can continue to nominate one support person (participant in care) during her labour, birth and post-birth.

For outpatient appointments and community services, telehealth appointments are being utilised where possible.

All patients and visitors are required to wear a mask when entering a health facility.

As a precautionary measure ALL visitors will be screened on entry and will be required to check in using the QR code and provide evidence of their COVID-19 vaccination.

You will also be asked:

Do you have any COVID-19 symptoms?

Have you been identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case in the past 14 days?

Have you returned from overseas in the past 14 days?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you will not be permitted to enter the facility.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Out-of-control COVID-19 surge in NSW causing supply problems right across the country

The text of an email being sent by the Woolworths Group on Friday, 7 January 2022:

Dear [redacted],

On behalf of the whole team at Woolworths, I’d like to wish you a very Happy New Year and hope that you were able to enjoy the festive period.

As we welcome in 2022, it’s clear that we are entering a very different phase of COVID, not least because of the high levels of community transmission associated with Omicron.

When you’re shopping with us at the moment, you might unfortunately have noticed gaps on shelf, or substitutions in your online order. Unlike the surge buying of early 2020 (who could forget the toilet paper), this is because of the number of people in our supply chain in isolation – from suppliers to truck drivers and distribution centre team members – which in turn is causing material delays to store deliveries. To give you a sense of the magnitude of the challenge, we are experiencing COVID-driven absences of 20%+ in our distribution centres and 10%+ in our stores. [my yellow highlighting]

NSW is currently the most affected, although we are seeing impacts across the whole country, and it’s not yet clear how soon the system will come back into balance as we move through the Omicron wave.

We understand how frustrating it is when you can’t find the product you’re looking for and, together with our suppliers and supply chain partners, we’re working hard to get all products back on shelf as quickly as we can (including Rapid Antigen Tests).

In the meantime, we have more than enough stock in the system and plenty more coming. We also have good supply within each ‘category’ of product (even if your favourite isn’t available, a good alternative hopefully should be), so it really helps if you can be flexible with the choices you make. We would of course also ask you to keep shopping as you normally would and to continue to show kindness to our teams.

If you’re shopping online, as a temporary measure we are automatically activating substitutions on all orders. We know this isn’t ideal, but it does mean there’s less chance of missing out on something you really need. We’ll revert to your preference as soon as possible.

As we transition to living with COVID in 2022, we’ll need to keep learning and adapting. We’ll communicate any changes to our settings as they arise so that we can keep providing the safest possible way for you to enjoy everything you’d expect from Today’s Fresh Food People.

Thank you again for your support and understanding as we go over the Omicron hump.

Brad Banducci

CEO Woolworths Group 

Meme of the Week

via @ElfinsongCP

Headline of the Week


"Dr Nick Talley: Protect yourself from Omicron, because the PM's plan won't" [Inverell Times, 3 January 2022]


Friday, 7 January 2022

Overflowing with arrogant certainty and drunk with power NSW Premier & Liberal MP for Epping Dominic Perrottet threw open the door wide to 'living with COVID' on 15 December 2021 - 23 days later he is trying desperately to close it again


Perrottet attempting to pretend all is going to plan......

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 2022:

The NSW government is preparing to announce a major reversal of COVID-19 restrictions by shutting nightclubs, banning singing and dancing in pubs, and pausing major events and some elective surgery in response to the state’s surging Omicron caseload.

The changes were expected to be finalised on Friday after NSW recorded 70,000 coronavirus cases in two days and a significant increase in the number of hospitalised patients, government sources not authorised to speak publicly said on Thursday night.

Venues would also be discouraged from allowing “vertical consumption”, or standing up while drinking at bars, under the proposed changes, the sources said.

Major events would be risk-assessed by NSW Health and postponed where necessary. Restrictions will be branded as “minor” safety measures that will allow the state to “continue to live with COVID and manage the pandemic in a measured and considered way”.

The measures are to be signed off by the government’s COVID economic recovery committee on Friday morning. The decisions were made following a meeting of the committee on Thursday morning…..

Meanwhile, elective surgery restrictions are also expected to be re-introduced on Friday, after the Premier flagged the state government was “looking at” limiting procedures as well as mobilising private hospitals to deal with what health authorities have said will likely be a rapid, but short, case surge.

The Premier’s office was contacted for comment but did not reply before deadline.

And the long journey through the global COVD-19 pandemic continues for New South Wales & Northern NSW

# NSW recorded 35,054 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Tuesday, 4 January 2022 and 8 deaths.

The NSW death toll now stands at 685 men, women and children since the pademic first began in January 2020.

Currently there are 1,491 COVID-19 cases admitted across 63 hospitals, with 119 people in intensive care, 32 of whom require ventilation.

There are currently 186,552 confirmed COVID-19 cases under self-management outside of a hospital setting. Note: this does not include those infected people who have been denied access to PCR testing since late December 2021 and are therefore invisible in all official state datasets.

Of the 35,054 cases reported to 8pm last night, 6,542 are from South Western Sydney Local Health District (LHD), 5,989 are from Western Sydney LHD, 5,710 are from South Eastern Sydney LHD, 3,827 are from Sydney LHD, 3,667 are from Northern Sydney LHD, 2,961 are from Hunter New England LHD, 1,502 are from Nepean Blue Mountains LHD, 1,496 are from Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD, 588 are from Central Coast LHD, 576 are from Northern NSW LHD, 501 are from Western NSW LHD, 392 are from Mid North Coast LHD, 379 are from Murrumbidgee LHD, 345 are from Southern NSW LHD, 24 are from Far West LHD, eight are in correctional settings and 547 are yet to be assigned to an LHD.

There were 108,844 COVID-19 tests reported to 8pm on 4 January revealing a test positivity rate of 32.2%.

NSW Health reports that on 4 January there were 184,413 active COVID-19 cases state-wide.

As at 8m on Tuesday, 4 January there were 576 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the 7 local government areas in the Northern NSW Local Health District.

Tweed Shire – 240 cases across postcodes 2483, 2484, 2485, 2486, 2487, 2488, 2489;

Ballina Shire – 102 cases across postcodes 2477, 2478;

Byron Shire – 96 cases across postcodes 2479, 2481, 2482, 2483;

Clarence Valley – 67 cases across postcodes 2460, 2462, 2463, 2464;

Lismore City – 43 cases across postcodes 2472, 2480;

Richmond Valley – 25 cases across postcodes 2469, 2470, 2471, 2473,

Kyogle Shire – 3 cases in postcode 2474.


There are currently 26 COVID-19 positive patients in hospital in Northern NSW, with 4 of these in ICU.

# NSW recorded 34,994 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm Wednesday, 5 January 2022 and 6 deaths.

The NSW death toll now stands at 691 men, women and children since the pademic first began in January 2020.

There are currently 1,609 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 131 people in intensive care, 38 of whom require ventilation.

Of the 34,994 cases reported to 8pm last night, 5,556 are from South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (LHD), 5,456 are from Western Sydney LHD, 5,364 are from South Western Sydney LHD, 4,226 are from Sydney LHD, 3,538 are from Northern Sydney LHD, 3,424 are from Hunter New England LHD, 1,633 are from Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD, 1,452 are from Nepean Blue Mountains LHD, 1,116 are from Central Coast LHD, 686 are from Northern NSW LHD, 637 are from Mid North Coast LHD, 524 are from Western NSW LHD, 419 are from Murrumbidgee LHD, 322 are from Southern NSW LHD, 30 are from Far West LHD, 11 are in correctional settings two are in hotel quarantine and 598 are yet to be assigned to an LHD.

There were 111,231 COVID-19 tests reported to 8pm 5 January, with an as yet unconfirmed test positivity rate. However, a number of journalists are reporting 35% of all tests on 5 January were positive for COVID-19.

As at 8m on Wednesday, 5 January there were 686 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the 7 local government areas in the Northern NSW Local Health District and 1 death in Ballina LGA.

Byron Shire – 236 cases across postcodes 2479, 2481, 2482, 2483;

Tweed Shire – 224 cases across postcodes 2483, 2484, 2485, 2486, 2487, 2488, 2489, 2490;

Ballina Shire – 92 cases across postcodes 2477, 2478;

Lismore City – 81 cases across postcodes 2472, 2480;

Richmond Valley – 21 cases across postcodes 2469, 2470, 2471, 2473;

Clarence Valley – 20 cases across postcodes 2460, 2462, 2463, 2464; 2466;

Kyogle Shire – 9 cases across postcodes 2474, 2476;

Tenterfield Shire – 3 cases across postcodes 2372, 2476.

Note: Tenterfield is in the Hunter-New England Local Health District, but postcodes put cases in NNSWLHD


There are currently 25 COVID-19 positive patients in hospital in Northern NSW, with 4 of these in ICU.