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

NATALIE BARR:

Well Australia's National Cabinet has met overnight by video link to discuss the increasing coronavirus crisis. We’re joined now by Health Minister Greg Hunt. Morning to you.  
 
GREG HUNT:

Good morning Nat.  
 
NATALIE BARR:

Are gatherings at pubs, cafes and cinemas being limited to 100 people? 
 
GREG HUNT:

The Prime Minister will make an announcement on increasing restrictions for indoor events.  
 
It will still allow activity to continue. It’s based on the medical advice.  
 
The State and Commonwealth chief health officers have met for two days, they provided a series of advice, protocols to the National Cabinet and overnight- they’ve met late into the night and the Prime Minister’s just finalising that.  
 
But there will be increased restrictions.  
 
The other thing that of course has happened is that in terms of testing, we’ve just completed 81,000 tests, 450 positives so far, about half a percent, and we have secured and had the first half delivered of 97,000 additional pathology tests into the country, which means that we can continue going forward and give the Australians the testing and the security of advice that they need. 
 
NATALIE BARR:

So when will the Prime Minister announce those new restrictions?  
 
GREG HUNT:

I understand the Prime Minister will be standing up early this morning.  
 
He’s just been finalising with the Premier all of those details and our goal here is very, very clear - to protect the vulnerable, to make sure that we are reducing the spread.  
 
These are the types of decisions which have not been taken in living memory and they’re being done because Australia, just like the rest the world - faces a challenge - but they’re based on the best medical advice in Australia. 
 
And I think probably the best medical advice in the world with our communicable disease experts, our chief health officers and they’ve spent two days working through what they think will best flatten the curve or reduce the numbers in Australia. 
 
And protect in particular, our elderly, those with respiratory conditions and those that are at risk.  
 
NATALIE BARR:

Well we’ll await that. You’ve got 2,500 doctors, Minister, who’ve signed a petition to you urging you to do this immediately, to close bars, gyms, cinemas, churches, saying you should have done this earlier.  
 
What do you say to that? 
 
GREG HUNT:

We have some differing views in the medical community.  
 
The overwhelming view of the finest virologists, epidemiologists, communicable disease experts in Australia, the chief health officers, is that we take significant restrictions.  
 
The ban on mass gatherings of more than 500 outdoor, the increase to very significant restrictions on indoor, they are the actions that they believe are the most appropriate.  
 
One of the things that’s exceptionally important is to keep our health workforce in the workforce.  
 
There are some proposals which would slash by 30 per cent, the number of health workers, which would be precisely the outcome which is the opposite of what everybody would want, which could put food supply at risk. We actually have strong, clear, food supply lines.  
 
We are probably one of, if not the best provided nations in the world with regards to food, which is why we don't need to have people rushing out and stocking up.  
 
These are the measures that are going to protect Australians and they’re based on the best medical advice in the world. 
 
NATALIE BARR:

Yes. Look, we know it’s hard. We thank you for your time, Greg Hunt.  
 
GREG HUNT:

Take care, we’ll get through this.  

Ministers: