Date published: 
16 June 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

ALLISON LANGDON:

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Alison McMillan, joins us now from Canberra. Alison, thank you so much for your time. Have there been any new cases overnight?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

There has, yes. So, there's been 15 new cases over the last 24 hours - 12 in Victoria and three in New South Wales, none in any of the other states.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

What's the purpose of - where have they come from in Victoria? Twelve seems like a lot considering the last couple of weeks have been pretty low.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Yeah. We know one new was reported yesterday by Victoria - a second person associated with the protests from the Black Lives Matter, and also a cluster in a large family. So, we can see that those are associated with a family and they have parts of their family across the state, including a couple of kids.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Okay. So, yesterday we heard that - well, last night on the news we heard there were 12 cases in Victoria. Are these new numbers? Or are they the same cases?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

They're the same cases. So we have a reporting cycle that goes day-to-day.

ALLISON LANGDON:

Right, yeah. Sure thing. We've had, as you said, there are two cases now that are confirmed with those rallies in Melbourne. Are you expecting any more cases to appear from that?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Alli, the incubation period generally is between five to seven days, but we do know it can stretch out as far as 10-14. So, there is still the potential we will see more cases associated with the protests and so we're really keen to encourage anyone who went to those protests if they have any symptoms at all, please stay home and get tested. And recently we've added the loss of taste and smell to the diagnosis, because we can definitely see now in the evidence that some people do - that's the first thing they experience. So loss of taste and smell, please go and get tested.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Here is the thing, we have been told all the way along, as you would know, Alison, that schools are safe. Two primary schools have shut down after four students tested positive. Now, we've been told all the way along too that kids are unlikely to spread the virus. Has that changed given this cluster in this one family?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

No Karl, it's not changed. We know that of the more than 7000 cases we've seen in Australia, less than 2 per cent of those have been associated with school-age children. And we know that these two schools that have been closed and the children in them are associated with that family cluster. And so, that's the abundance of precautions that Victoria are taking just to make sure that they can clean those schools and they can check that there isn't any other spread. We are in the position where we can do this.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

[Talks over] What I guess I'm trying to say- I'm sorry. Sorry, Alison.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

No, it's alright.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

What I'm getting at is, if the kids have taken it home and the adults have got it or the grandparents have got it - I don't know what the circumstances of that family are - but, that's a real worry, if that's the case?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

I don't have any advice at the moment, Karl, to suggest that those kids got it at school. They more than likely, although we need to wait till all the contract tracing has been done, that they got it through their family contacts and they went to school.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

But, we need to wait to see that.

ALLISON LANGDON:

[Talks over] Is Victoria a bit of a concern for you at the moment?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

No, I think Victoria are doing a tremendous job. You know, obviously with a large family that's a lot of contact tracing - there is a lot of work going on there. We did always say, as we ease the restrictions, we would see small clusters or small outbreaks, but Victoria are demonstrating that they can get on that quickly.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay. Authorities in New South Wales are investigating too how a man in the Illawarra, south of Sydney, became infected. How concerning is it for you and your team - these mystery transmissions? How can they be explained?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Well, we do know it's evidence that there continues to be some community transmission out there. But, some cases were missing because people are not getting tested or they've got mild symptoms. So again, Karl, it's that same advice - if you've got any symptoms whatsoever please do go and get tested because that will help us find and identify any of these continued small outbreaks that we're seeing. The numbers are low and so we're identifying them easier, but we need to remain very vigilant and we need to keep getting tested.

ALLISON LANGDON:

And just very quickly, Alison, I mean you're saying there that we, you know, we were told to expect small clusters and small outbreaks. We keep talking about this potential second wave. What does a second wave actually look like?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Well, there are a lot of technical terminologies in epidemiology that you can talk about. But, a second wave is probably would be where we see large numbers increasing and where we couldn't quickly contain those outbreaks or those small clusters. Now, we're nowhere near that at the moment but that's because of the terrific work that everyone continues to do and we need to keep doing that. Stay home if you're sick; the physical distancing, the strict hand hygiene, that cough etiquette - all those things are going to help us prevent any resurgence or any second wave with the community. Just because we're seeing lower numbers doesn't mean we can stop doing those things - that's the really important message we want to push to everyone, keep doing the great work you've been doing.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Finally, and quickly, any further cases after that Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney 10 days ago?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Not that I'm aware of, no.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Okay, perfect. Alison, thank you so much for your time, as always. Appreciate it.

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