Date published: 
20 July 2022
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

James Glenday:

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly is among those advisors urging people to wear masks indoors, even if there is no mandate. And he joins us now from Canberra. Paul, good morning.

Paul Kelly:

Morning, James.

James Glenday:

300,000 cases have been officially recorded over the past seven days. The actual number is going to be much higher than that. How many do you expect to see in a month's time towards the end of winter?

Paul Kelly:

Well, firstly, on the on that mask message, I do have my mask here, but I had to take it off, so I put my earpiece in. But seriously, I have made that decision myself. There's no mandate where I am, but I am wearing a mask indoors where when other people are around. As part of that, slowing the spread message.  In terms of how high it might become, it's interesting, your previous speaker there talking about forecasting, economic forecasting, Bureau of Meteorology forecasting. We don't always exactly get it right, but the trends are there and we have got much better at those forecasts over the time of the of the pandemic. All I can say is that the for the next month, all of the forecasts are that we will continue to see more cases unless we all work together to slow that spread. And that's the key message that I put out yesterday in my statement, that we do have a part to play there. Vaccines themselves will not stop this stop this virus. Everything we do, though, right now will change those predictions into the future. And that was the key message yesterday. We do have our ability to work as a community on this.

James Glenday:

I can understand why you don't want to put an exact figure on things. You would have a lot of modelling though to hand at the moment. At what point do you switch over I'm just curious about this. Do you say, right, we're going from strongly urging to saying, no, you need to wear or are we going to advise different parts of the country that they should put mandates in place for masks?

Paul Kelly:

Well, for me, firstly, mandates is not my decision. I give the advice and I have my strong advice that I gave at National Cabinet on Saturday, I gave to the Health Ministers meeting on Sunday, we talked about at the press conference with Minister Butler yesterday, is that we need to increase mask use in places where people gather, particularly in indoor settings. So that's my advice. How that how that is achieved is really a matter for others. I'm very confident, James, that the various things we've put in place in the last couple of weeks will make a difference and will prove those predictions wrong. That's what we've done in the past. And strong community action right now, all of us working together because we know what can work is the important thing. Everything we do today will decrease that that that figure, we don't know exactly what the figure is, but we do know in the next month, the prediction is cases will continue to rise. And if you look at the hospitalisation rates of yesterday, we are rapidly approaching that very peak. The peak we had in in January, the highest hospitalisation rates throughout the pandemic. We're about 100 short.

James Glenday:

Yeah, the Australian Medical Association on that is saying that expects to surpass that peak and it is worried about the pressure on hospitals and also the medical staff in those hospitals, too. Are you confident that our institutions are going to cope in the coming weeks?

Paul Kelly:

So firstly, absolute shout out as I often do on these on these occasions to our frontline health workers. This is a difficult time for them and I think they're doing an incredible job as they have done before. We will cope. We've coped before. We will cope again. Very pleasingly, we haven't seen that rise in intensive care admissions that we've seen in the past. That's partly due, I believe, to the strong vaccine roll out, which is protecting our most vulnerable populations. And now the availability of our anti-viral treatments. I think those two things are very important. But crucially, is that stopping the spread now, which will assist with those numbers coming in to our frontline services, and that's important for all of us. We all need to have access to health services when we need them. And if they clogged up with COVID patients, that makes it difficult for all of us to get the help we need at the time we need it. So that's another strong message to the community. We're all in this together and we can make a difference.

James Glenday:

Alright, Professor Paul Kelly, thank you so much for your time this morning.

Paul Kelly:

You're welcome, James.

Contact

Departmental media enquiries

Contact for members of the media

news [at] health.gov.au (subject: Media%20enquiry%20-%20News%20item%20ID40803, body: URL - https%3A%2F%2Fwww.health.gov.au%2Fnews%2Fchief-medical-officer-professor-paul-kellys-interview-on-abc-news-breakfast-on-20-july-2022)

View contact