Chronology of COVID-19 in Defence

Below is a chronology of COVID-19 infection in the Australian Defence Force, indicating when each new case was added to Defence’s running total of cases (to the best of our observations).

Initially, Defence seemed happy to give some reportable detail of the infections saying of the first two cases that,”having tested positive to COVID-19, the members have been isolated and efforts to trace any contacts the members had are focussed on the two officers travelling to a meeting at Defence Headquarters, Russell, ACT on 28 February 2020″.

In reporting the third case, Defence simply added ‘1’ to their running total and a dot on their map indicating where the case was geographically located, but gave no other details (not even the town name the dot represented, which became an issue of confusion as time went on).

Nil information was to become the new norm – leaving CONTACT to pull together what relevant other information we could, just to ‘pad out’ our reports – or add our own (mostly cranky or sometimes humorous) editorial postulating.


EDITOR’S NOTE: We felt compelled to report Defence COVID-19 ‘news’ to our military-focused audience – not just news of disease spread, but also of what Defence was contributing to the whole-of-government fight against the virus.

Initially, our audience proved to be very engaged and information-hungry. Almost every post we made about COVID-19 was read significantly more than most other everyday news stories on our web site – and one in particular went viral. But, as time went on, COVID-19 faded in popularity, and ‘normal’ stories regained popularity.

While CONTACT is a ‘Defence friendly’ media outlet, there are others who aren’t. And if CONTACT has to ‘pad out’ stories in an information vacuum, we dread to think what other media will write about Defence, either during the crisis (when information vacuums are counterproductive – PR101?) or in the wash-up.



Below is a chronology of when cases were added by Defence.

Because Defence simply added numbers to a running total on a daily basis, to the same web page, this chronology and extra detail was initially lost on the Defence web site – until they instigated a sort-of 5-day rolling changeover – which was eventually also removed.

We know from other experiences that our chronology will be useful for our own historical referencing one day. We hope it may be useful to others too.

Aside from these confirmed-infection case histories, other stories and information were also added. You can find all our COVID-19 coverage here.


28 September 2020: Defence adds one to ‘recovered’ list (total 89)

23 September 2020: Defence adds one to ‘recovered’ list (total 88)

18 September 2020: Defence adds 91st case – no idea where

15 September 2020: Defence adds one to ‘recovered’ list (total 87)

14 September 2020: Defence adds 90th case – locations map accurate for the first time in days (putting the 89th and 90th cases in Sydney and overseas – but we don’t know in which order)

12 September 2020: Defence adds one to ‘recovered’ list (total 86)

10 or 11 September 2020: Defence adds 89th case – and adds 2 to recovered list (total 85)

9 September 2020: Defence adds one to ‘recovered’ list (total 84)

7 September 2020: Defence adds 88th case – location not indicated

31 Aug or 1 Sept: Defence adds 87th case – Melbourne – and adds 5 to recovered list (total 83)

23 August 2020: Defence adds 84th, 85th and 86th cases – Melbourne, Brisbane and ‘overseas

20 August 2020: Defence adds 2 to recovered list (total 78)

19 August 2020: Defence added 83rd case – Melbourne (see note at foot of linked story for date discrepancy)

18 August 2020: Defence adds 82nd case – ‘overseas’

17 August 2020: Defence adds 1 to recovered list (total 76)

13 or 14 August 2020: Defence adds 81st case – Melbourne – and adds 3 to recovered (total 75)

10 August 2020: Defence adds 80th case – either Melbourne or overseas – and adds 2 to recovered (total 72)

8 August 2020: Defence adds 79th case – either Melbourne or overseas (see story above)

5 August 2020: Defence adds 77th and 78th cases – Melbourne

4 August 2020: Defence adds 3 to recovered list (total 70)

1 August 2020: Defence adds 1 to recovered list (total 67)

31 July 2020: Defence adds 1 to recovered list (total 66)

30 July 2020: Defence moves yesterday’s Sydney case to Melbourne

29 July 2020: Defence adds 76th case – Sydney* (*see above) – and adds 1 to recovered (total 65)

28 July 2020: Defence adds 75th case – Melbourne – and adds 4 to recovered (total 64)

27 July 2020: Defence adds 74th case – took one away from overseas and added 2 in Melbourne

26 July 2020: Defence adds 72nd and 73rd cases – 1 each in Melbourne and overseas

22 July 2020: Defence adds 2 to recovered tally (total 60)

21 July 2020: Defence adds 70th and 71st cases – no idea where (possibly overseas)

20 July 2020: Defence adds 69th case – Melbourne – and adds 1 to recovered (total 58)

16 July 2020: Defence adds 68th case – unknown location (either ‘overseas’ or Melbourne)

16 July 2020: Defence adds 67th case – unknown location (probably Melbourne – see above) – and adds 2 to recovered (total 57)

13 July 2020: Defence adds 65th and 66th cases – overseas

9 July 2020: Defence adds 64th case – overseas

8 July 2020: Defence adds 63rd case – overseas

3 July 2020: Defence adds 62nd case – overseas – and adds 1 to recovered tally (total 55)

2 July 2020: Defence adds 61st case – Melbourne

30 June 2020: Defence adds 56th, 57th, 58th, 59th and 60th cases – overseas – and adds 1 to recovered tally (total 54)

23 June 2020: Defence adds 5 to ‘recovered’ tally, bringing total to 53

22 June 2020: Defence adds 55th case – overseas

20 June 2020: Defence releases statement about a case confirmed in PNG on 18 June (at this stage, we are assuming this is in relation to case number 54 rather than a 55th case)

19 June 2020: Defence adds 54th case – ‘overseas’ (intimates the 5 from previous week also overseas)

9 June 2020: Defence adds 49th, 50th, 51st, 52nd and 53rd cases – no idea where

2 June 2020: Defence adds 46th, 47th and 48th cases – overseas

26 May 2020: Defence adds 45th case (again) and declares 45 ‘recovered’ – (miracle cure?)

25 May 2020: Defence removes the stats added on 22/23 May (but not from their map)(new figures 44 cases, 40 recovered)

22/23 May 2020: ‘Recovered’ rises to 42 – (see linked story re date)

22/23 May 2020: Defence adds 45th case – Melbourne (see linked story re date)

20 May 2020: ‘Recovered’ rises to 40

20 May 2020: Defence adds 42nd, 43rd and 44th cases – two ‘overseas’ and one somewhere north of Sydney, but not as far north as what we were assuming was Newcastle (please enlighten us if you know)

8 May 2020: ‘Recovered’ rises to 37

2 or 3 May 2020 (see link why doubt): Defence adds 41st case – overseas

1 or 2 May 2020 (see link above why doubt): Defence adds 40th case – overseas
Also, 34 now listed as recovered

1 May 2020 (time not listed): Defence adds 35th, 36th, 37th, 38th, 39th cases – contracted in Middle East, now being managed in Darwin. Also, we were informed today (but it happened some time earlier), the one other case ‘overseas’ announced on 17 April is now being managed in Brisbane.

29 April (noon): Defence mentions for the first time that 32 cases had recovered

21 April (7pm): Defence adds 34th case – Perth

21 April (7pm): Defence reinstates the 5 cases removed on the 17th

17 April (2pm): Defence removed 5 cases from its locations map (without removing them from its running total)

17 April (2pm): Defence added 33rd case – ‘overseas’

14 April (1.30pm): Defence adds 31st and 32nd cases – Sydney and somewhere north, but not as far north as what we were assuming was Newcastle (please enlighten us if you know)

4 April (1.30pm): Defence adds 30th case – ACT

4 April (9am): Defence adds 29th case – Melbourne

3 April (12.30pm): Defence adds 28th case – Adelaide

2 April (11am): Defence adds 27th case – 1st case in Darwin

1 April (1.30pm): Defence adds 26th case – Adelaide

31 March (9am): Defence adds 25th case – ACT

30 March (2pm): Defence adds 24th case – Brisbane (also, the Oakey(?) case was moved to Brisbane (our assumption, given that Oakey is gone and Brisbane went up by one))

30 March (11.30am): Defence adds 23rd case – Brisbane

29 March (5pm): Defence adds 22nd case – west of Brisbane (Oakey perhaps?)

28 March (noon): Defence adds 21st case – Melbourne

28 March (9am): Defence adds 20th case – Sydney

27 March (9pm): Defence adds 19th case – Sydney

27 March (5pm): Defence adds 17th and 18th cases – ACT

26 March (4pm): Defence adds 16th case – Newcastle (?)

26 March (2pm): Defence adds 15th case – Adelaide

25 March (4pm): Defence adds 13th and 14th cases – Adelaide and a new dot which is likely Newcastle.

25 March (11am): Defence adds 12th case – Sydney

24 March: Defence adds 10th and 11th cases Only at this stage did we realise the importance of the daily map. At this stage, the cases were spread – 5 in Sydney, 2 in Adelaide, and 1 each in Brisbane, ACT, Melbourne and what we now think was Jervis Bay.

23 March: Defence adds 8th and 9th cases

22 March: Defence adds 7th case

21 March: Defence adds 6th case

14 March: Defence adds 5th case

13 March: Australian Submarine Corporation reports first case, in detail

11 March: Defence adds 4th case

10 March: Defence adds 3rd case giving no details in what was to become their new norm. This third case was also indicated on Defence’s map as being in Sydney.

9 March: First two Defence cases reported with contact-tracing details. The pair had travelled to Sydney for meetings, but were managed in Sydney.





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Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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