Date published: 
28 June 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

Right now the whole country is grappling with this coast-to-coast outbreak. The Prime Minister is today holding a crisis meeting of the National Security Committee.

 

ALLISON LANGDON:      

So let's bring in Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Professor Alison McMillan, in Canberra. Professor, thanks for your time this morning. How confident are you feeling that this outbreak can be contained, and quickly?

 

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

[Talks over] Good morning. Look, I think we've, you know, we've been at this now for 18 months, and then we've seen these outbreaks come and go. I'm very confident that, again, if everyone does the right thing, that we will get on top of them. It's just a matter of doing the right thing, as I say.

 

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

What's your biggest concern?

 

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

I think that, obviously, we're seeing this Delta virus is extremely easily transmitted between people. So right now, what we're really looking for and asking everyone in Australia is to follow the instructions and the requirements in the state and territory you're in. I'm in Canberra this morning, we've introduced mask wearing indoors and in public transport. Wherever you are across the country, make sure you know what you're asked to do, and follow those things, Karl, that we've become so familiar with - stay home if you're sick, get tested if you're sick, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, those sort of things. They're the things that have kept us safe and they'll do it again, Karl.

 

ALLISON LANGDON:      

[Talks over] Okay. Well, just look, just looking then, specifically, at Sydney and say people do the right thing, do you think two weeks will be long enough of a lockdown?

 

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Well, let's wait and see what we'll see today, Ally. We know that most of the cases we've seen in recent days have been linked, thats really promising - that means that the contact tracers are getting to these cases. So I'm very hopeful that we'll see this contained within this time period. I think, though, it's really- I heard you talking earlier about people in Sydney and the impact it's having. Do remember, there are a lot of services you can access and reach out if you're finding this difficult to deal with. And now is the time when we need to look after each other and reach out to each other to check we're all okay.

 

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

This feels like this is slightly different in so far as the reach of these outbreaks going across a number of different states. Does that not worry you at all?

 

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Yes, it- of course, yes, Karl, it does worry us. We- But we know that, as I've said before, we know we can get on top of these things, and we've learned a lot over the last 18 months. Again, doing the right thing, following the instructions. This is the consequence of people moving around in our country, which of course, we value so much. So, yeah, we've outbreaks [audio skips] number of places today, but it is also of course winter where we tend to see a greater transmission of, of viruses anyway.

 

ALLISON LANGDON:      

This Virgin flight attendant who's tested positive, do you know why air crew are not considered essential frontline services? And are, are not all vaccinated yet?

 

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Well, if, if the air crew fall within the age category that are eligible for the vaccine they can get vaccinated. We do put a lot of protections in place for air crew, and make sure that they are following all of the instructions. The important thing is that this was identified and now all of those people on those flights have been- are being contacted to make sure that we can contain any potential spread.

 

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

Last time I was on a Virgin flight, I think in fact the last 20 times I've been on Virgin flights, I think, I can't recall a flight attendant being over the age of 40. Is- you know, if they're not required to get it - I would've thought that service is important?

 

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Well, when ATAGI considered the prioritisation, this was not part of that - I can't, I can't speak to that actual- what the decision that was made. But remember when we fly, when you flew with Virgin, you are required to wear a mask, and they do encourage all of those things such as physical distancing.

 

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

[Talks over] Does that then-

 

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

There are measures in place…

 

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

Yeah.

 

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

… to protect us.

 

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

Does that protect you from getting COVID? The mask on a plane?

 

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Yes, it does - that's why we, we look to wear masks. Masks both protect someone who might have COVID from transmitting it to others, and also, if you wear it properly and appropriately, can protect you from spread as well. It has twofold impact.

 

ALLISON LANGDON:      

So, are you pretty confident then? Because this flight attendant was on, I think it was five different flights over that period - in, from Sydney into Queensland, and into Victoria. Are you quietly confident that we won't see any other cases linked to that flight attendant?

 

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

I can't say whether we'll see any more cases. But what we do know is that because we are able to access very quickly all of those flight manifests, all of those people on those flights who are now considered contacts are- have been contacted through SMS and are being followed up by all of the different states and territories to make sure that they get tested and do the right thing. So even if they have been infected, hopefully, it doesn't spread beyond the initial contact.

 

ALLISON LANGDON:      

Alright, Alison, we really appreciate your time this morning. We appreciate it.

 

KARL STEFANOVIC:      

Thanks, Alison. Appreciate it.

Contact

Departmental media enquiries

Contact for members of the media

news [at] health.gov.au (subject: Media%20enquiry%20-%20News%20item%20ID24093, body: URL - https%3A%2F%2Fwww.health.gov.au%2Fnews%2Fchief-nurse-and-midwifery-officer-professor-alison-mcmillans-interview-on-the-today-show-on-28-june-2021)

View contact