Media event date: 
3 April 2020
Date published: 
4 April 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

JASE:

Morning everyone. Twenty-nine to eight. Jase and PJ, Greg Hunt, our Health Minister joining us on the air. G’day Greg. Thanks for your time mate.

GREG HUNT:

And good morning to you guys.

PJ:

Been a little busy lately, Greg?

GREG HUNT:

Yeah a little busy is probably a good description.

JASE:

Just on that, because I know you guys are all pulling massive days at the moment.

PJ:

Yeah.

JASE:

How often are you guys seeing your families and are they all in Canberra with you?

GREG HUNT:

So I move between Canberra and my electorate on the Mornington Peninsula. And for me, probably you know, I can survive all of this if I get to see my wife and kids, 10 and 14 years of age, and get some exercise.

So sleep’s not an issue, work’s not an issue. It's around the clock thing, but so long as I get to see them, then that's what keeps me sane.

JASE:

We're definitely appreciating the small things at the moment, that's for sure. Hey, I wanted to ask because there's been a lot of questions about whether we should be wearing masks when leaving the house?

And I was reading something last night that the World Health Organization is now thinking about issuing a warning to everyone to wear them. Should we be?

GREG HUNT:

Yeah. So, at this stage, the Australian medical advice is in general, no. If you're engaged in close work, the medical work - yes.

And that's for- or if you've been, of course, diagnosed, you shouldn't be near other people, but if you have to have to go to a medical appointment or other things, then to protect people because during the non-infectious- during the non-symptomatic phase, coronavirus isn't regarded as being infectious.

So that's the best advice. But of course, if you've got a cold, if you've got some sort of cough, everybody's being encouraged to minimise their contact with others.

JASE:

Alright. Because, call me a conspiracist, but like- because I-

PJ:

Conspiracy theorist.

JASE:

Yeah, I know, I got there. Just in like, in New York and everywhere overseas, everyone's wearing them and then here we're told not to, because I know there's a shortage for our medical staff.

I’m like are we being told not to wear them so there's more for medical staff; are we going to come out in a week and say we should be wearing them - also gloves was the other thing you were going to question?

PJ:

Yeah. I was just going to say because a lot of people are starting to wear gloves to the supermarket and then I read another article and it’s like, you shouldn’t be. What would your advice with that be?

GREG HUNT:

Look, hand hygiene is immensely important and some people may choose to wear gloves, others would use hand sanitiser. It's about keeping your hands clean. We know that the virus can live on some surfaces for a modest amount of time.

That's where there's been somebody coughing directly onto it and so there are droplets. It's not what's called an airborne infection like measles where it can float around in the room.

But if somebody were to cough directly onto you or onto a surface and you then pick it up from that surface, that's where there can be a transmission risk.

JASE:

Right. So gloves could be a safe option.

PJ:

Greg, a lot of people in our team were talking this morning about how Scomo mentioned October last night and how we need to be prepared for this to be going on as long as October.

Do you think that’s just him sort of preparing us for the worst? And do you think it could be sooner? I know there’s so many variables and it’s probably quite a hard question to answer.

JASE:

But we- let's be honest, we all freaked out when we heard October.

PJ:

Yeah.

GREG HUNT:

Look, our honest advice right through has been that the course of the epidemic, the arc of the virus is likely to be six months in Australia. Now I know some others in other countries have been a little more optimistic.

We've taken the path of being completely honest with the Australian public, so as not to create a false expectation and in some cases there are some people who say, oh let's just hope that it all goes away in two or four weeks if we lock everything down.

We've now got people at home in isolation, minimising their transport and doing an unbelievable job in difficult circumstances. But this isn't something that goes away on that basis. Now having said that, I really want to use optimism here.

PJ:

Yes!

GREG HUNT:

We've got two big, big tasks. One is containment or reducing the rate of infection, that's flattening the curve.

JASE:

Yep, which we’re doing.

GREG HUNT:

Now that is beginning to happen. You know from 25 and 30 per cent daily rates, down to low teens and now over the last week, as I look each day up, we are now settling below 10 per cent and even that's trending further down.

So that's very, very, very important. The other side is boosting the capacity and that's what we've done with telehealth, to allow people to get their Medicare services from home, to keep them away from the doctors and to protect doctors, to protect them and the nurses.

And then massive expansion in hospital capacity, bringing the private hospitals in, bringing new nurses on, bringing new ventilators on. So those are the two things that are going to get us through and I really believe we will.

JASE:

With all that in play, and if we keep social distancing and stay on this path for the next six months, is there any way we could end up like Italy or New York?

GREG HUNT:

My belief is we are not on that path and I say that honestly.

JASE:

But we've got to stick to the social distancing rules. Alright. Well look, we’ll let you. Sorry, go ahead?

GREG HUNT:

I was going to say: we control our destiny. We put a ring of steel around the borders. We've got the highest testing rate in the world.

Some of the best tracing of cases, but the isolation measures, just the common sense of keeping your distance, of not putting yourself at risk or others at risk, are what then allows the rate of infection to drop, flattening of the curve and in turn, we boost the capacity.

And they’re the things that are actually going to-

JASE:

I agree, but we need to tell the backpackers that are on beaches and still doing house parties and stuff.

PJ:

To cut it out. Stop it.

JASE:

Mate, we'll let you go. I know you’re house partying with Scomo this morning. But thank you very much for jumping on.

GREG HUNT:

We’re skyping each other this morning actually.

JASE:

Good on you Greg, thanks for your time mate.

PJ:

Thank you Greg.

Ministers: