Apostolos ‘Jack’ Moulos lived to 97. He died of COVID-19 in Sydney in January.
His last wish was to have his family with him in his last moments.
But that wasn’t to be.
“We couldn’t be with him,” Mr Moulos’ daughter Carolyn Cox told australiabusinessblog News.
“When we asked him what he wanted for end-of-life procedures, he said, ‘All I want is someone to hold my hand.’ And that’s what we were hoping for.”
The nursing home where Jack Moulos resided was locked up – and so was Carolyn Cox’s household, as family members had sent back positive coronavirus results.
Visits to the nursing home had been limited since March 2020 due to the pandemic lockdowns – and Carolyn Cox and her sister, Michelle Moulos, were determined to fulfill their father’s dying wish.
Jack Moulos with his wife and daughters. Source: Delivered † Caroline Cox
His health deteriorated rapidly and when the call came in at 6:30 am, Michelle Moulos began the four-hour journey to be with him.
But that time was too long and he died while she was still on the way.
When she arrived at the nursing home, she donned the full PPE as she watched his body be taken away, separated from him by a glass window.
“I cried. And I said goodbye to him.
“Because we’ve all been through COVID, there’s this sadness and also this acceptance that there’s nothing you can do.
“I also knew that if I had been there in time I would not have been able to touch him. I would be in full PPE and it would have been strange anyway [to say goodbye in this way]†
Jack lived a full life – he made a career switch at age 45. He made the transition from a café work to a law librarian.
A lifelong photographer, after retirement he focused more on spending time with the family.
Ms. Cox said she learned a lot from his generosity.
“He was very good at accepting everyone without judgment – and he was very nice.”
Looking back on the third calendar year of the pandemic in Australia, Ms Cox said her advocacy for Australians is not to forget the lives lost and the highly significant impact of the continued increase in COVID-19 cases.
“People are still dying – and I don’t think we should forget that,” she said.
“I think [right] now people are a bit slack about basic protections like social distancing and wearing masks. Those things are not difficult to do. And if the killing occurs, I think it’s really worth it.”
COVID-19 leading cause of death in Australia
The official national death toll from COVID-19 crossed 10,000 on Sunday and now stands at 10,015.
Most deaths occurred in the past six months, following a rapid increase in numbers since Christmas 2021.
In the first 21 months of the pandemic, there were 2,006 cumulative deaths in Australia by the end of 2021.
Within a month, in January 2022, that number reached more than 3,500 (3,716).
And in the six months since, it has nearly tripled to 10,000 and more.
Virologist Nigel McMillan of Griffith University said that if the current trend in deaths from COVID-19 continues, Australia will be on track to reach 14,000 COVID-19 deaths by the end of the year.
“We have 8,000 [COVID-19] deaths this year alone. And at our current pace, we will reach 14,000 deaths by the end of the year,” Professor McMillan told australiabusinessblog News.
“That puts COVID at number two, in terms of the [for Australians] behind coronary heart disease.”
Calls to improve booster recording
He said the death toll could be halted by improving uptake of the third and fourth COVID-19 vaccines, wearing masks and using antivirals.
The uptake of the third and fourth dose has lagged behind the coverage of the first and second dose.
“In terms of the world, we [Australia] lags behind – in terms of booster doses [third and fourth jab]† Most of us have had two doses – but that was almost six months ago, so it’s [the protection] is wearing out.”
More than 95 percent of Australians aged 16 and over have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The three-dose nationwide coverage is 70.5 percent, with a lower intake among Indigenous Australians of 53.9 percent.
Coverage is inconsistent across states, with Queensland posting the lowest third dose vaccine rate of 63.5 percent.
The fourth dose coverage among Australians aged 16 is about 12 percent – or 2,389,473 people. The majority of that group is 65 years and older (2,105,705).
Australia to lift COVID-19 border borders
Border restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19 will be lifted in the coming week, with arriving passengers no longer required to declare their vaccination status or obtain a travel waiver.
Changes to the Biosecurity Act that went into effect Wednesday were made following the advice from Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly that it was no longer necessary for travelers to declare their vaccination status.
Home Secretary Clare O’Neil said the changes will make it easier for traveling Australians to return home and allow more international tourists and workers to come. It will also reduce delays that have plagued airports since travel resumed, Ms O’Neil said.
The Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) required people entering Australia to provide their contact details, their vaccination status, where they had been in the past 14 days, and to undertake to follow quarantine and testing requirements.
The DPD ends on Wednesday, but is expected to return in the future. “While it will replace the paper incoming passenger card over time, much more work is needed to make it user-friendly,” Ms O’Neil said Sunday.
Worldwide, there are more than 6 million deaths (6,334,728) and the COVID-19 cases exceed 545 million (545,226,550).
Based on the COVID-19 death rate per capita, Australia ranks 115 globally, which collects the reported data from health authorities.
Australia has 39.21 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people in the population.
That number for New Zealand is 31.00, for Canada it is 109.82, for the UK it is 266.76 and for the US it is 308.93.
A chart ranking countries by COVID-19 death rates per capita places Australia in the bottom quarter of the table. Credit: John Hopkins University
Epidemiologist Catherine Bennett of Deakin University said Australia is rising globally in the daily death rate, but lower in the per capita ranking.
“If you look at our total deaths, the deaths per capita compared to other parts of the world, we’re still among the lowest in the world,” she said.
Professor Bennett said Australia’s strong growth in deaths has been influenced by the winter flu season environment and reopening policy settings, which continue to increase the number of infections.
“Now we are in this pattern where we will continue to see deaths. While we will have high infection rates, especially in winter, we will have death rates that are higher than in other parts of the world.”
She said the death rates provide useful insights into what strategies can be put in place to reduce and prevent the number of preventable deaths.
Professor Bennett said the strategies should focus on reducing the overall infection rate through measures such as mask use, physical distancing, hand hygiene – and most importantly, up-to-date booster shots.
“We still have some young adults who haven’t had the booster yet. And while that won’t give you long-term protection against infection from Omicron, it cuts your risk by half in the first two months.
“So if a third of our population were to go out in the next few weeks and get their booster dose, that would make a difference and help us get through the rest of the winter safer.”
A — released on June 28 — showed that the third COVID-19 shot provided 65 percent more protection against hospitalization or death from Omicron than two doses of vaccine.
The study, led by the National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), followed more than two million adults aged 40 and over living in Greater Sydney during the peak of Australia’s Omicron wave in January and February 2022.
Professor Bennett said there is also more research being done on the risk of repeated infections and the implications for long-term COVID-19 and increased risk of death.
“There is a possibility that multiple infections give you a greater chance of those consequences in the longer term. So we have to take this virus seriously, this reminds us.”
Federal Health Secretary Mark Butler said no hard decision had been made to: during the Friday meeting between the ministers and officials of the state and the field of health.
“There is no advice for health ministers to introduce or reintroduce new mask mandates,” he told reporters on Sunday.
He said ministers have been briefed by federal deputy medical director Professor Michael Kidd.
“It is quite clear that the number of cases is expected to rise in the coming months. There is pressure on our hospitals with more than 3,000 people hospitalized today with COVID-19.
“And we’re still seeing about 300 or more deaths every week with COVID-19. So we’re not over this virus yet.”
He urged the six million Australians who have yet to receive their third shot to remedy that.
He said he informed his department of an urgent push to roll out the fourth dose in retirement homes.
“Their fourth dose has risen significantly in the last 10 days since I first made that call. I want to see it rise even higher, even faster.”
The fourth dose coverage among elderly care residents is 65.7 percent.
There are 3,415 COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
In the past 24 hours, 30,355 COVID-19 infections were recorded – bringing the cumulative number of cases recorded in Australia during the pandemic to more than 8 million (8,225,124).