Date published: 
15 June 2020
Media event date: 
14 June 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

RICHARD WILKINS:

We're joined by Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan. Thank you for joining us. The turn out much smaller than last week and we did some attempts at social distancing. Should we still be concerned about community transmission?

ALISON McMILLAN:

Yes, we should still be concerned. I think we were really clear in our advice and our pleas to people not to protest. I think now, as we're at this crucial time we need to be vigilant. So please, if anyone was to choose to go to protests please we're asking them to monitor their health closely and any signs and symptoms please get tested straightaway so that if there is any transmission we can manage those outbreaks quickly.

REBECCA MADDERN:

Alison, were you perplexed by the fact not this weekend but last weekend, that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic — we, Australia, are probably the envy of the world we've done so well — that people were perhaps prepared to throw that all away? Throw all the hard work away to protest, albeit an important cause, I understand that, but as I said, we're still in the middle of a pandemic.

ALISON McMILLAN:

I do understand, really. We all understand these are really important matters and we understand that people are passionate about this. But we were really trying to ask them just right now, please don't do this because it has the potential to put us back. But people make their choices and that's their right.

RICHARD WILKINS:

We know that there's one case of a Melbourne protester who has been diagnosed with coronavirus after…

ALISON McMILLAN:

That's right.

RICHARD WILKINS:

… last week's protest. Have any more confirmed cases surfaced?

ALISON McMILLAN:

Not that I'm aware of, Richard, from any of the protests. There are some— there were 12 positive cases in the last 24 hours and, as we've seen over the recent weeks, the majority of those are from people returning from overseas. But, we need to stay vigilant, as I've said, because there is still some community transmission out there and so it's not gone away completely. And we need to keep doing the things we have been doing so we can prevent any further spread.

REBECCA MADDERN:

I do worry if anybody did go to the protest and they are starting to feel poorly they won't go and get tested they don't want the authorities breathing down their neck, for want of a better word, because they're going to have to say, yes I was at the protest. Is that a concern?

ALISON McMILLAN:

My advice is that the health system doesn't judge anyone — that's part of being a professional. The test is free in all of the government-funded clinics. Please do go. You won't be judged and the most important thing is that if you feel unwell you get tested so we can contain it — that's the most important thing now. We're not worried about whether you went to the protest or not — that's your choice.

REBECCA MADDERN:

Good message.

RICHARD WILKINS:

Okay. Things are kind of slowly getting back to normal — footy's going back, venues are allowing more customers in restaurants, et cetera. What are the fears of second wave that we talk about?

ALISON McMILLAN:

Richard, we're not so much — it's not a second wave, it's more a resurgence. That we'll see a continued — and we know we'll see continued community outbreaks as this goes on — we obviously will need to wait for a vaccine, which we're hopeful about. My concern is that, as we are relaxing the restrictions, people may become a little complacent. So we've got the relaxation of these restrictions because of what everyone has done but we need to keep doing it.

So, keep doing the three, as my colleague Nick will say, and stay home if you are sick. None of these things change and we have to keep doing these. And to some extent this is the new normal, we're going to have to follow these hygiene things for a very long time. Keep doing it.

REBECCA MADDERN:

Yeah Alison, great advice there but we are going to have to get back to normal there. There is going to be a time where businesses will say I want employees back, back in the office. Is that concerning for health authorities? That we do it too soon and then we go backwards?

ALISON McMILLAN:

Well, I think we're being very cautious and doing it in stages. And I know industry is getting huge amounts of advice how to maintain a COVIDSafe industry as people return to work.

Where I work we have massive, now, increasing cleaning, we're looking at social distancing and, we are managing the times when people arrive and leave from work so we don't have that crowding in the elevators. Those are the things that we'll see across the workplace as the restrictions ease and people do return to work, and obviously get back to work which is so important for our economy.

REBECCA MADDERN:

It is indeed. Alison McMillan, thank you for joining us on Weekend Today.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Thank you.

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