Date published: 
25 January 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

MATT DORAN:

And for more, Australian Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy joins us live from Canberra. Professor, thank you for your time on a busy day. There are now four confirmed cases across the country. That is of course expected to rise. How are you going tracking down the other passengers on these particular flights?

PROFESSOR BRENDAN MURPHY:

Good morning. So, the passengers on those two flights, the lists have been provided and the contact information to the Victorian health authorities from the Victorian plane, and they’re [also] in the process of doing so with the New South Wales plane, and the state and territory health departments will be contacting people. It’s important to note that people in the plane generally probably have a pretty low risk. We tend to provide more detailed contact to those who were sitting in close proximity to those suspected cases. But both of them only really developed significant symptoms after arrival. So this is just being precautionary.

ANGELA COX:

China’s president has warned the spread of the virus is accelerating. There were some concerns earlier last week that China was downplaying the severity of this. What are your thoughts about how quickly it’s spreading? You’d obviously be looking very closely at how quickly this virus spreads.

PROFESSOR BRENDAN MURPHY:

So obviously we are concerned about what’s happening in China. As you say there has been a significant increase in reported numbers and an increase in the reported deaths, and as we know there are now over 40 cases that have been exported out of China to other countries including Australia. Given the traffic from that part of the Hubei province to Australia before China locked that area down last Thursday, as Dr Bowden in Victoria said, we have always expected that we would be seeing some cases who have travelled from China to here in the last few weeks. We are very well prepared as evidenced by the way both New South Wales and Victoria have dealt rapidly with those cases and isolated them.

MATT DORAN:

Professor, given the enormous area we’re talking about in China – you’re talking about trying to effectively quarantine maybe up to 60 million people – the question I guess for me becomes: When do authorities here consider limiting the intake of passengers from China more broadly, as opposed to this particular province?

PROFESSOR BRENDAN MURPHY:

It’s very, very difficult to close the borders to an infectious disease. As you have heard, those four cases were all well when they arrived. People can come to Australia from a variety of ports around the world and the World Health Organization is certainly not recommending any sort of border control measures of that nature.

MATT DORAN:

Is that something you’re considering, though, Professor?

PROFESSOR BRENDAN MURPHY:

No. At the moment our focus is on making sure that everyone who comes from China is provided information about this disease and told to contact medical authorities or their GP or an emergency department if they become unwell. I think it is important to note that the Chinese authorities have really stopped travel out of that major epicentre of the disease and that has significantly reduced the potential traffic. But we know that there are pockets in other parts of China. So that’s why every flight from China is now being met and information being provided.

ANGELA COX:

Okay. Thank you so much Professor Brendan Murphy for your time this morning.

PROFESSOR BRENDAN MURPHY:

Thank you.

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