Well Australia has now passed a major milestone in the virus fight, and it's not a good one –10,000 cases, and the death toll rising overnight.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt joins us now. Minister, thank you so much for your time this morning.
Good morning, Ally.
Two more people passed away yesterday. Outbreaks in 24 aged care homes now.
Should we be bracing for a significant spike in deaths?
I think if we are honest, there will be more lives lost, and there will be more people admitted to ICU and more on ventilation.
As we speak, there are approximately 90 people in hospital, 27 in ICU and 21 on ventilation on the figures that the National Incident Centre has provided this morning.
We are getting better, as is the world, in treating people.
We’re seeing new treatments such as dexamethasone and remdesivir which are available in Australia, new means of actually helping patients that are in ICU, as simple as the positioning of the person and the way they are lying in the bed.
But above all else, the thing that will most protect us is helping to slow and stop the spread. That's our fundamental defence.
Twenty-four aged care homes now. We know that with Newmarch earlier in the year, they had 19 deaths. We just heard from Graeme who’s in Glendale Aged Care.
I mean, he’s scared, he’s lost a friend to the virus. He wants infected residents taken straight to hospital.
Do you agree?
So what we’ve done is made sure that every facility immediately has access to hospital, to removal to another facility, or to isolation.
Those medical decisions are being made on the ground, but this is something that the Prime Minister and myself, and Richard Colbeck, the Aged Care Minister, have been incredibly focused on.
Every morning, the Prime Minister is being briefed specifically on this (inaudible).
I'll be speaking with him later this morning.
And so we are making sure, with 4 million additional masks, with the standard of compulsory masks within the aged care facilities, and the review and immediate testing of all staff and all residents on any single case, that actions are taken and the federal authorities are working with the state to make sure that any institution where there is a case, has immediate oversight, immediate actions taken, and residents are the number 1 priority.
Minister, you said the other day the Casula pub was the perfect example of where the app would work. It hasn't. It's getting very hard to defend, isn't it?
Well, at this stage on the advice we had only yesterday, there have been over 200 cases identified through use of the app.
It does what it’s intended to do, and that is to find people who are within proximity of others for a period of 15 minutes, which was the medical advice within a distance of 1.5 metres.
And think of it this way, not to have it would be beyond question; to have it, over 200 cases identified is the advice that was provided by the states and territories to the medical expert panel only yesterday.
It adds to what the manual contact tracing does, which remains fundamental.
We are putting over 1,000 people into Victoria to assist with a variety of tasks, including senior military leadership at Victoria's request after our offer, to assist in the tasking and coordination of the contact tracing.
So all of these things are working together to give Australia one of the best outcomes in the world, but right now we’re focused on that contact tracing, is our number one federal priority, along with aged care in Victoria.
It is a critical time. Minister, thank you so much for joining us this morning.