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

ALLISON LANGDON:

More than 300,000 Melbourne residents are being quarantined from the rest of the city in a desperate attempt to regain control of a virus crisis spiralling this morning.

DAVID CAMPBELL:

So, how will these stay-at-home orders work and what impact will they have on families and businesses? Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly joins us now from Canberra. Paul, good morning to you. Just how worried should the rest of Australia be about what we're seeing unfold in Victoria at the moment?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

Well, we were— we have been very worried about that situation, but I'm much less worried this morning, I must say. Very strong and proportionate response being made by the Victorian Government which will get on top of this situation in north Melbourne and protect us all.

ALLISON LANGDON:

How did we not get on top of this quicker, though?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

Well, look, it's an evolving situation. Those numbers have escalated over the last few days, partly that's driven by the very extensive testing that's happening in those suburbs and throughout Melbourne right now, well over 100,000 tests I think since Thursday. So, that's a major escalation. We're going to find more cases when that happens. And the decisions were made yesterday, they are strong, they're proportionate to the situation, and I'm confident that that will get on top of the situation in Melbourne.

DAVID CAMPBELL:

Are we more likely to see more suburbs locked down if these numbers continue to go up?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

Well, we're looking very closely, and that is always a possibility. But, at the moment, they've looked to where those cases are really coming from, mainly in clusters of families, but there are also in the wider community. And so, that's why those 3 elements that we've had from the beginning of chasing down this virus, testing, tracing their contacts, isolating people that are infectious or have been potentially infected, looking at those social isolation measures that have been in Melbourne up until recently and have been relaxed over time. And essentially, creating a border within a state, which is what is happening in relation to those 10 postcodes.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Paul, when were the issues with hotel quarantine raised with you, and also the fact that returned travellers were refusing COVID tests?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

So, the issue with the hotel quarantine has been known for some time — 2 of the hotels in Melbourne that have been hosting returned Australians coming back to Australia. We know there had been an issue there. And it appears that that's been the major driver of this issue in the wider community. So it just demonstrates how infectious this virus is and how important infection control procedures are. And that's why there's going to be a judicial inquiry into that element in Melbourne. And your second question, sorry, what was that?

ALLISON LANGDON:

And when you were made alert that these returned travellers were refusing to be tested?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

So, yeah, the refusals, that's something that the Victorians are working on. It's an issue, I think, of explaining to people why it's important, and so that matter's in hand now.

DAVID CAMPBELL:

You know restrictions are being lifted further in New South Wales today. I mean, could we see something like this happen, this suburban lockdown, is this the new normal?

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

So, it was a good news, bad news day yesterday, really, wasn't it yesterday. So, very good news that New South Wales is increasing gathering sizes and so forth and relaxing some of those measures, and also of course, the border in Queensland announcement. Those are very good news, and really a demonstration that if we work hard together and keep our eye on the ball in relation to this, we can get on top of this virus.

But the situation in Melbourne demonstrates the opposite, which is that it's so infectious and can rapidly get out of control — at least in a localised situation like that — and sometimes those drastic measures that we've had to do before, may have to be reimposed. We've said that all along, in the suppression strategy that we have, there will be likely, outbreaks, hopefully of small size. So, this is a bit larger than we would have liked in Melbourne, but we are taking those responses absolutely appropriately right now.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Well, incredibly strict steps are going to be taken now. Let's see how things play out over the coming weeks and month. You've got to say, you'd feel for all of those people being forced back into quarantine now. But Paul Kelly, thank you so much for joining us this morning, we appreciate it.

PROFESSOR PAUL KELLY:

You're welcome, Ally.

Contact

Departmental media enquiries

Contact for members of the media

news [at] health.gov.au (subject: Media%20enquiry%20-%20News%20item%20ID12980, body: URL - https%3A%2F%2Fwww.health.gov.au%2Fnews%2Facting-chief-medical-officer-interview-on-channel-9-today-on-1-july-2020)

View contact