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

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Victoria has recorded its biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began; a staggering 317 new infections, with outbreaks now in aged care homes and hospitals.

And joining us now is Acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly. Professor, good morning to you. Now, Melbourne's been in lockdown for more than a week now - why haven't cases there dropped yet?

PAUL KELLY:

Well, there is always a lag time between whenever we do something different, like what's occurred in Melbourne, and to see the effect of that intervention. This is- because of the biology of the virus we can't change that. The good news is that, although that number is high, it hasn't been doubling over the last few days which is certainly better than it was. But we're certainly waiting and watching to see what happens. We looked at some modelling yesterday in our Australian Health Protection Committee [sic] meeting which demonstrated good- some good effects, people are really taking those messages in Melbourne about staying at home, moving less and keeping apart.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Yes, I think everyone's pretty scared at the moment. So what does your modelling show you? Do you think that cases in Victoria will rise higher before they start to fall?

PAUL KELLY:

I think this next week will show what will happen into the future and we are very hopeful because of the fact that people have taken those messages to heart. And this is really an important message, not only to Melburnians, but also in Sydney and the south-west of Sydney where we're seeing that outbreak from the Crossroads Hotel. Very important to consider those messages about how far you're moving, how many people are coming together at home and in other places, and that physical distance and hygiene messages, very important.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Yeah. In New South Wales there's evidence that at least one case became infectious within 24 hours of being exposed to the virus - at the beginning of all of this it was sort of within 2 weeks, 14 days. Does that make contact tracing even harder and how much do we still not know about this virus?

PAUL KELLY:

There's still a lot to learn about the virus, particularly around how well the immune system works and how long people can be immune to the virus; that's going to be crucial for our vaccine strategy. But in terms of the contact tracing and that short interval between people being exposed and becoming infectious themselves, that makes a big challenge for our contact tracers - but they're up to it. And real shout out to our New South Wales colleagues who're doing extraordinary jobs at really chasing down those chains of transmission.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Yes. And when you see the people out there queueing to be tested, there are so many people out there - healthcare professionals working so hard. Professor Paul Kelly, we thank you for your time today. We'll talk to you soon.

PAUL KELLY:

You're welcome, Sam. Thank you.

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