Date published: 
23 June 2020
Media event date: 
22 June 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

LINDA MOTTRAM:

Well, a short time ago I asked the Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Alison McMillan, about her concerns about Victoria’s situation.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

No, I think we’ve- all along we’ve said that we knew that we would see community outbreaks, and this is one of those. What we’re seeing is very definitive and decisive action in Victoria to prevent further community transmission, and we’ve got confused that they’re getting on top of this. So, we are concerned but we knew these things would happen, and they’re going to continue to happen while we don’t have a vaccine.

LINDA MOTTRAM:

But why has it happened in Victoria at this time, do you think? Was it irresponsible community behaviour basically?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Perhaps not irresponsible, but I think what we need to remind everyone is that there might be a sense that perhaps the pandemic kind of is over, and it certainly isn’t. And we need everyone to continue to do all of the things. So stay home and get tested if you’re sick, don’t go to work. Continue to do those physical social distancing things we’ve asked. You know, not large gatherings in family groups, particularly if someone’s unwell. Doing all of the hygiene – not shaking hands, not kissing on the cheek, those sorts of things. So, I think it’s timely for us to remind everybody that those are the things we all need to be doing every time, every day to prevent the spread.

LINDA MOTTRAM:

So, residents in six shires around Melbourne have been requested to restrict their movements, but given that community spread has been facilitated by, it seems, family gatherings, wouldn’t it be better to enforce compliance rather than request compliance?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Ultimately that’s a decision for Victoria about how they administer this. At the moment, the request and the recommendations have come through from AHPPC with the endorsement of the Chief Health Officer, and then those arrangements are being administered through the Victorian Chief Health Officer, Victoria Police and other services. So, they will be checking on people, I’m sure of that, and asking people very strongly to comply with what they’ve been asked to do.

LINDA MOTTRAM:

Victorian authorities are putting more resources into testing and they’re going door to door to ramp up messaging. The Minister said today, particularly for linguistically diverse communities, has that been one of the difficult areas around the public health messaging, for communities whose first language is not English?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

It is, and it’s something that we struggle with continuously about being able to get the message to those diverse communities in a way that they understand, and a part of their cultural groups. So, we know how important it is to use local people, local leaders in order to help reach into those communities in the best way that we can.

LINDA MOTTRAM:

Now, what about travel to Victoria? The New South Wales Premier says best not to go to Melbourne, although she’s not closing her border. Is it advised that people should not travel to Victoria for the next couple of weeks?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

I AHPPC’s been really clear. The advice that we’ve given that was released yesterday is that for those local government areas, so please, don’t travel to those local government areas. And if you are in those local government areas, please minimise your travel out. So, it’s not a global message about Melbourne, it’s about those local government areas where we know the outbreaks are.

LINDA MOTTRAM:

Is there any sense here- had a lot of talk of course about a second wave. Is there any sense here that Victoria is potentially the leading edge of a second wave of COVID for Australia?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

The second wave… it’s a challenging concept. We know that Victoria is putting a lot of work now, right now, this afternoon into those control measures. Increasing testing, doing a lot of contact tracing, reaching into those communities. And it is at the moment a community outbreak, it’s not a second wave. But obviously, we’re going to be watching this very closely in coming days to see how it evolves. It’s too early to call where we’re going with this, but again, importantly, we’re asking everyone to take responsibility for their own actions to prevent any further spread.

LINDA MOTTRAM:

So, what would be the signal to you that Victoria has stamped out these outbreaks?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Well, I think what we would see is that we’re not seeing ongoing further community transmission, that we’re seeing people following the instructions as we’ve requested. But that’s something we’ll- as I say, we’ll need to monitor in the next few days to see how the numbers progress.

LINDA MOTTRAM:

And can I ask you about the global situation? The WHO says there’s been another record increase in cases – 180,000 in a single day across the world, nearly nine million known infections. At the current rate of increase, we could be at 10 million within a week. How would you categorise where the world is at in the arc of this pandemic?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

I think we’re still seeing it growing. I can’t- I think that we’re seeing new hotspots, particularly in Brazil, in India, [indistinct] the Americas as well. So, it is still- we’re certainly- although we’ve had enormous success in Australia, we shouldn’t forget that the pandemic still rages out there across the world, and we’re very cognisant of that and watch it very closely.

LINDA MOTTRAM:

Alison McMillan, thank you very much for your time today.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Thanks.

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