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

WALEED ALY:

For more on these latest developments, we’re checking in with Alison McMillan, who’s Australia’s Chief Nursing Officer. Allison, given Victoria had the tightest restrictions, the most conservative approach in the country, why is this happening there?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Well, I think we always knew that there was the potential for community outbreaks. We've been very successful with our suppression but here we have another example of that. I think that it's something we're going to continue to see until we've got a vaccine and this time it's in Victoria. Previously we've seen some outbreaks in New South Wales.

STEVE PRICE:

Alison, New South Wales has got a bigger population and has had more cases than Victoria. How come they’ve done a better job at keeping a lid on community transmission?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

To be fair, New South Wales did see some early community spread in Bondi. We saw that. We’ve seen a community spread in a number of places. It is about people potentially getting together in large groups and not following that social or physical distancing and not staying home when they're sick. They’re the sort of things we need to encourage people to continue to do.

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Alison, how many cases, or an increase in cases do you need before you start classifying it as a second wave?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

The actual pure numbers are not so relevant to what we’re actually seeing. So, here we’re seeing what we identify as a community transmission, predominantly amongst families. If we were to see this where we couldn't identify the source or we were seeing it increasing exponentially, that's the sort of area when we begin to get concerned. So, it is as much the nature of the spread as it is the pure numbers.

WALEED ALY:

So, Alison, what do you take from the fact that we had those Black Lives Matter protests here across the country, a couple of weeks ago. So far, we haven't seen any transmission from those protests show up, and health authorities in the United States are saying they haven't seen any, even from the protests over there. And yet, what we are seeing is transmission in family gatherings?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

You could suggest that the people at the protests had quite short and not necessarily sustained contact. They weren't hugging or kissing each other so frequently. We are continuing to learn about this virus and we should be pleased to see that there weren’t transmission amongst the protesters, because that's a really good thing, but it doesn't mean to say that we can all be complacent and now stop doing all of the things that we’ve been asked to do.

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Alison, it’s interesting, because I think when you’re out and about, you see crosses on the ground that constantly remind you about the 1.5 metres, and there’s sort of enforcements there, but when you’re in your own home it’s so easy to drop your guard and forget about this new world order, and you know, mum comes in, you kiss and hug, the grandkids are there. How important is it that we change our behaviour even when we’re with those that we love the most and we’re closing to?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

It’s really important. We know that the close contact is where spread occurs, and particularly with grandma perhaps or grandpa, that they are the most vulnerable. So, again, I know it's hard and I too, you know, you understand how difficult we've done these things all our lives to greet each other, the people we love, but right now we have to try and remember not to.

WALEED ALY:

I recall at the time when restrictions were being eased in Victoria, the Chief Medical Minister was asked whether specifically whether or not people who are visiting their parents, say, could give them a hug, and his response was he would prefer they didn’t, but he wasn’t going to tell them not to. Was that a mistake in hindsight, should he have said don’t do it?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

No, I don’t think that it was a mistake. Brendan was expressing an opinion that we’d prefer people not to do it. But it’s a very difficult thing to ask people not to do. So, in general terms, we would prefer you not to hug just right now and try to find new and different ways to greet each other.

WALEED ALY:

Alison, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

My pleasure. Thank you.

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