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Interview with Michael Usher and Melissa Doyle on Channel 7 about coronavirus (COVID-19)

Read the transcript of Minister Hunt's interview with Michael Usher and Melissa Doyle on Channel 7 about coronavirus (COVID-19).

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

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For more on the modelling and our social restrictions we're joined by the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, in Canberra.

GREG HUNT:         

Good evening.


Greg, thanks so much for joining The Latest again. Now, first up, a few short yes, no questions.

And I know these may vary in some states, but generally so we're clear about Easter -first one, can we put the kids in the car and go for a day trip to visit friends and family?

GREG HUNT:         

No, we do not want that to happen. Right around the country that's the very clear view and I'm sorry about that.

Easter’s a time where we want people to get together - ring them on the telephone, call them on FaceTime, contact them over the internet, be kind to them, but not a family visiting time, I'm sorry.


What about going to a holiday home, say staying with grandma, grandpa for example that might be up the coast or in the country?

GREG HUNT:         

Well, if it's visiting other members of the family or staying with other people, the answer remains no.

On travel - we're discouraging travel, but different states have different rules and so there may be no legal prohibition.


Alright. Can we have a barbecue at our home with anyone who doesn't already live in that home?

GREG HUNT:         

No. So, that's a one-word answer. Again, I'm sorry about that.

These are the things, though, that are keeping Australians safe and that's the reason, all the different measures have helped us to bring the infection rate down so as now we can begin to see a way through this.

There's a lot more to go, but all of these difficult things that Australians are doing magnificently are literally saving lives.


So, then can I ask you the modelling that we were seeing today is showing that we're seeing today is showing that we're suppressing the outbreak better than a lot of other countries.

How long will these measures need to stay in place? Are we looking at any time soon to be able to relax them?

GREG HUNT:         

So, our best guidance is that we're looking at a six-month course for the virus. So the arc of the virus is, we believe, six months in Australia - that remains the case, it might be a little bit less, it might be a little bit more.

We are going to have to settle in and be patient; do things in a way we've never done. I've seen businesses adapting, schools, families, so many people being really creative. But so long as we continue to support each other then that will mean the human side of this virus isn't neglected.

It's difficult but people are rising magnificently and that's what's setting us apart from other countries in Europe, and North America, and Asia where we've seen such agony and heartbreak. And what that modelling showed is we've avoided what could have seen between three and 20 million Australians contract the virus.

Now we're at a very different phase, and we have a very different future, and I'm feeling more optimistic, and I've been cautious on statements like that, but we're making progress but only if we stay the course - not just over Easter, but over the coming weeks and months.


Okay. More optimistic is good, we'll take that. But, Minister, just a small area of concern and briefly, the figure that jumped out today - the more than 500 incidents of community transition across the country.

Are you worried about that? This is where we don't know where it's come from and how it’s spread.

GREG HUNT:         

Yes, this is our largest worry. So, community transmission is where we don't know the original source of somebody's infection. And so, those are the cases that most worry us because it means that somewhere within a community there's somebody who doesn't even realise they have the virus.

They may think they've got a runny nose or a cold, and they're the cases which we have to succeed in mopping up, in chasing down, in tracing. They're the things which are really going to get us through.

And that's why we have to keep our distance because there are cases out there which are unknown to the person who has it, and if they keep their distance then they won't transmit it.

Literally, each of us can save a life by distancing, or make a decision which could lead to tragic outcomes.


Alright. Health Minister, Greg Hunt, thank you.

GREG HUNT:         

Thank you.

You know I just want to say to Australians: you're doing a great job, we've got a very different future to other countries and if we keep at it, as hard as it is, we're going to get through this.

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