Date published: 
1 July 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

NATALIE BARR:

From midnight tonight, parts of Melbourne are returning to tough coronavirus restrictions we haven't seen since the height of the pandemic. The new lockdown covers 10 Melbourne postcodes. Police will establish border checkpoints to screen residents entering and leaving the 36 suburbs at the centre of the outbreak. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told Kochie this is the right response to take.

[Excerpt]

PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON:

That's what happens when you get an outbreak — you contain it in those areas and I thank the people of Melbourne in those postcodes who will have to show a lot of patience in the weeks ahead. But by doing so, they'll be saving lives and they'll be saving livelihoods.

[End of excerpt]

NATALIE BARR:

Residents who leave home without a valid reason face a potential fine. Acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly joins me now. Good morning to you. Do you think these lockdowns will be enough to stop the spread in hotspot suburbs?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

Well it's a very welcome response that was announced yesterday by the Victorian authorities. We've been very closely assisting and advising and talking about this matter. And we're hopeful this will be enough. Certainly, it is a very large and appropriate response.

NATALIE BARR:

Have they taken too long to act?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

No. We've been a lot of testing of the last week, over 100,000 tests, I believe, in those hotspot areas since last Thursday. And so it takes time to get that information and that information is now absolutely driving, as it has, from the beginning, the response that we're doing. And so now, we're going forward, the next month is going to be crucial. And I know the Victorian authorities are looking closely at the rest of Melbourne and indeed, the rest of Victoria to make sure that that response is appropriate in the right place.

NATALIE BARR:

Queensland and South Australia are keeping their borders closed to all Victorians, not just the people from these hotspots. Do Victorians from outside those affected suburbs pose any COVID-19 threat?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

Well, at the moment, the problem seems to be in those 36 suburbs and 10 postcodes. And so that's what the epidemiology is showing us and that's where the response is aimed. In terms of border controls across other states, that's a matter for them.

Let's look at the positives though, that Queensland made a very welcome decision yesterday to reopen the border to everyone else. And so that will warm the hearts and indeed, the bodies of people in southern Australia in this cold time.

NATALIE BARR:

Let's get your opinion on something else, a new strain of swine flu that has the potential to become a pandemic has been identified in China. Should we be concerned that this could be something very serious, the next COVID-19?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

Well, we always watch these things very closely. My understanding of the particular matter is that it has been developing since 2016. So it's not new news. And there's no indication, at the moment, indication that there is transmission to humans. But of course, we watch those developments very carefully over time, and we'll be doing that as well. We're not taking our eye off the ball in terms of flu just because we have COVID.

On that, in Australia, actually our flu season has failed to take off, which is a great news story in terms of our vaccination. But also that people are taking those social distancing measures very seriously, even in parts of Australia where we're not seeing a lot of COVID at the moment.

NATALIE BARR:

Okay. Professor Paul Kelly. Thanks for your time today.

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

You're welcome.

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