Media event date: 
18 March 2020
Date published: 
19 March 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

MICK MOLLOY:

That’s probably the most important hit-out we’ve had from the Prime Minister so far, pretty much a laying down the law address, and to talk through that and other issues we have Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, on the line now.

I should just, foreclose; that I actually know Greg and we grew up to school together.

ANTHONY LEHMANN:

Really?

MICK MOLLOY:

Greg was part of my old alma mater the Peninsula School. How are you troubling Greg?

ANTHONY LEHMANN:

No kidding.

GREG HUNT:

I’m pretty well. And I have to say, and I bet your audience doesn’t know this, Mick was actually a fantastic schoolboy cricketer who made one of the best schoolboy hundreds I ever saw.

MICK MOLLOY:

Stop it.

ANTHONY LEHMANN:

Greg, come on.

GREG HUNT:

It’s true, he had a Greg Chappell sort of cover drive and safe drive.

MICK MOLLOY:

Well thank you very much, I’ll be using that bit of audio, quite liberally.

ANTHONY LEHMANN:

I’ll be fact checking that comment by the way.

MICK MOLLOY:

Now listen Minister, Australians have shown in recent times what a great bunch they can be. So through bushfires, through floods, through drought, you know what I love? We all get together, you get your shirt off your own back, we look after each other.

This virus has brought out some pretty despicable behaviour from an element in Australia. We've gone from all that great outpouring to punching on in aisle seven over toilet paper.

How can we ease the panic? How can we get out in front of this? Can you give us a taste or a feel for where we are right now?

GREG HUNT:

Sure. So the first thing is we have strong supplies in Australia. What people worry about is: if I don’t get in now, will I miss out? We actually have strong supplies.

In terms of food, we are one of the best equipped, if not the best equipped nations in the world. We have multiple items where we are incredibly well stocked in Australia. So that's the first thing. That we're in this for the long haul.

We believe about six months, could be less, could be more but that's our honest guidance. And so therefore it's about managing through it. Now, there's been good and bad. What's happened in some of the shopping aisles from a very small minority of Australians has been the bad.

MICK MOLLOY:

Agreed.

GREG HUNT:

The good, I spoke to the mayor of Mornington Peninsula Shire this morning, Sam Hearn, they are getting their excess workers, people who would have been in libraries or sporting facilities and they are setting them up to help deliver care packages to people who are in isolation, care packages to the elderly.

MICK MOLLOY:

Yeah.

GREG HUNT:

That’s what Sarah Henderson is doing. That’s what people like Tim Wilson and communities around the country are doing.

So it’s- to change this, it’s about how do we take that bushfire spirit of supporting each other? The packages, the deliveries, the shopping for others, and if there's somebody you see in an aisle that's more needy than you make that decision to step back.

MICK MOLLOY:

Yeah, good call.

GREG HUNT:

That’s who we can be and that’s who we are.

MICK MOLLOY:

What’s our current situation? How many cases have been confirmed? And I know that this is fairly fluid, but can you tell us what it is?

GREG HUNT:

Well the latest advice I have from what's called the National Incident Centre is 454 cases. That will be updated later today. And we’ve interestingly had 81,000 tests, and that means that 99.5 per cent of people have tested negative, and so only a half per cent of those that have been tested have been found to be positive.

And so, we're doing nearly as much testing as anybody in the world, we're right in the top group and we'll continue to do that. And we've just had 97,000 new testing kits ordered and half of those arrived overnight and the other half are coming in the next couple of days.

ANTHONY LEHMANN:

So if people feel as though they're exhibiting symptoms, where do they- you don't just turn up to your GP or a hospital do you?

GREG HUNT:

No, two steps here. Have you been overseas and returned? Or have you been in contact with somebody and you feel symptoms?

So you know, if you fit one of those first two, overseas or been in contact with somebody who's been diagnosed and you feel symptoms, that's when you should seek a test. However, call ahead to your GP.

Call the telehealth lines that we've set up which can go to your ordinary GP and you can either get a phone consultation, or you can arrange a visit. Or if you are genuinely sick, such as you have a significant fever or wheezing, you can call ahead to your emergency department.

We now have over 100 pop-up clinics around Australia that have been established, specifically for what are called fever or respiratory clinics. So four ways in: telephone, GP, emergency department, pop-up clinic.

MICK MOLLOY:

A couple more questions, I know you're a busy man. Are we seeing growth in local transmission as opposed to people who had come bringing it in from overseas?

GREG HUNT:

So the vast majority of cases are traced to overseas. We have some local transmission, primarily in North Sydney, in the Ryde and Eastwood area.

We have very few cases of local transmission but we expect that that will continue to grow. But wherever we see it we are contact tracing, which means we’re working out who have you been close to?

MICK MOLLOY:

Yeah.

GREG HUNT:

We're putting those people into isolation. Everybody who's coming from overseas, everybody that comes from overseas – Australian or non-Australian – now has to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

So these are all the things we're doing and that you can do to help slow the spread, to stop the spread and then help out your fellow Australians, particularly the elderly who are the most vulnerable.

MICK MOLLOY:

Yeah. Quickly, I want to say and I want to ask you, it’s been a quite controversial ruling. I personally agree with the Government on this one but, can you tell me why kids should continue going to school?

GREG HUNT:

Sure. So the medical experts looked at this, they’ve looked around the world and these are our communicable disease experts and then what are called the chief health and medical officers of every State and the Commonwealth.

And their view was very clear; low transmission to students, low impact on kids, but if you put them with grandparents or you take 30 per cent of the health workforce out of work - which is likely to happen on their best estimates - if you pull all the kids out of school then you risk the vulnerable and you reduce the health capacity and you're not making young kids safer.

MICK MOLLOY:

Yeah. Alright.

GREG HUNT:

That’s their reasoning.

MICK MOLLOY:

Thank you very much. As I said, we the situation is pretty fluid. The big one of course which has just dropped, Bunnings have cancelled their sausages sizzles, so I know there will be a cabinet meeting arranged shortly to thrash through that one.

GREG HUNT:

I’ll take that up at the highest level.

ANTHONY LEHMANN:

Please do.

MICK MOLLOY:

Thank you, Minister for tidying all that up. Our phones are open for any updates, please feel free to give us a hoy.

ANTHONY LEHMANN:

Yeah. Federal Minister, Greg Hunt.

Ministers: