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Interview with Alan Jones on 2GB about COVID-19

Read the transcript of Minister Hunt's interview with Alan Jones on 2GB about coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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One other thing I’ll just say, and I don’t care if I embarrass Greg Hunt, we all got to bear in mind here these people are worn out too - they’re human beings.

I mentioned about Gladys Berejiklian; she’d been on that bushfire front since God knows when - way back in September - and I’m not sure she’s had a decent sleep in four months.

And from everyone from Scott Morrison, particularly Greg Hunt, tremendous pressure on these people and they’ve worked their backsides off to try and get the right response in place.

And they’re always available to share that with us, and the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, is on the line. Firstly, thank you for what you're doing.


Morning Alan.


How many- are we increasing the testing?


Yes, we are. As you mentioned a figure that has increased overnight, we're now at 143,000 tests. To put that in context, on the latest figures I have in front of me we’re- that means that 557 out of every 100,000 - which is more than Korea, more than the UK by about five fold, more than America by more than 40 fold, more than Austria and France.

I think only Singapore and Korea are comparable with Australia of what I'm aware. So in terms of our testing we're at the global forefront. And the other interesting thing is that the percentage of positive cases amongst those tests is the lowest of any of the countries for which I have figures.

We're at about 1.2 per cent positive tests, about 99- just under 99 per cent negative. What that means is that we are picking up a very large proportion of those people that have it.

And so whilst cases continue to spread - this is, as you say, an epidemic, it's happening around the world at this moment - over 190 countries, so essentially pretty much the whole of the world - but our testing is probably the broadest and widest of anybody in the world alongside Singapore and Korea.


Fantastic. And in Taiwan of course they’ve done a fabulous job - I haven't alluded to Taiwan yet, they've been terrific from day one. Way, way back they said no one from China is coming in here and they've got some good results.

Just the other thing in the note that you’ve issued overnight, and I'll quote your words: Australia is fortunate enough to not yet have a very large number of cases requiring hospitalisation.


That's correct. So again, we have had very, very sadly the seven deaths. And the total number of people I'm advised, and this could change during the day of course as new figures come in from each state, that have been admitted to intensive care is under 20, including those that have lost their lives.

That may change literally by the hour. But what that again says is that our pick up of cases is - now, new cases because we are testing so widely are being found every day - but our pick up rate, our accuracy rate is - on all the medical advice, as been backed up by the lives lost and as backed up by the number of intensive care - very representative.

So that's important.

ALAN JONES:        

Can I just speak- can I say to our listeners over and above what the Minister is saying? You hear what he's saying? So that reduces the sense of panic and alarm.

They are on top of this as best they can be. And as you heard Greg Hunt say he's not talking Greg Hunt figures or Scott Morrison figures, these are world figures. We are ahead of the rest of the world both in the testing per 100,000 and in the benefit that we're getting from the test via those results.

So we need people to stay calm here. The key thing here, Greg, is the resources going into the elderly, those most at risk and you're doing that as well.


Correct. So obviously if you asked me what is my greatest worry it would be major breakouts in our nursing homes, because these are our most vulnerable. And what we have seen is obviously one tragedy in the Dorothy Henderson Lodge where three lives have been lost.

But, a remarkable set of actions by our nursing homes, their amazing nursing staff and care staff and operators around the country where they have put in place what they do with influenza.

Our actions to protect the population; to limit those who are coming in; we put in place strong new rules which are very difficult for families and I understand this - but that is about protecting our nursing homes and ultimately both the nursing staff, the caring staff and of course, above all else, the residents.

What’s the big picture for everybody here? On the one hand, all of us coming together to say this is us; it's governments, it's firms, it's families and individuals to help isolate and slow the spread - to do everything we can to help stop the spread and then to provide those services in terms of telehealth and tests.

And then we're in a national ‘Team Australia’ - work on masks and ventilators and other things that back up the health system. So in that combination-


Talking about backing up the health system, they're all writing to me saying if you've got the Minister on, tell- ask him surely he's not going to allow the increase in private health insurance premiums on April 1?


So one of the things that we are discussing with the private health insurers today is the capacity to waive those changes.

They have approached me in the last 24 hours and they will- we will be giving them the power to make those discretionary changes. And that's something which is part of my work list. And so there is work being done on that.

ALAN JONES:        

Good on you. Good to talk to you. Let's keep talking, you're doing a wonderful job, we're very, very grateful. After all you're a human being with a family along with everybody else.

GREG HUNT:         

We’re all in this together and I just want to provide this final reassurance. It is an uncertain time - whether it's economically or otherwise. It's a period of time, a period of history that none of us will ever live through again, I hope, but we will get through this.

But each of us has our part to play. But, believe that we will get through it because that is the truth. It will be hard. It will be difficult. But as a country we can get there together.

ALAN JONES:        

Good on you. Wonderful stuff wonderful stuff. We thank you for your time and your effort and your energy. There he is the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

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