Date published: 
31 August 2020
Media event date: 
29 August 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Today we can report that now in Australia since the outbreak of this pandemic we've seen 25,547 cases - that's an increase 112 in the last 24 hours. I think we're all really heartened to see that in Victoria we've seen the new cases drop to less than 100 for the first time since July and it is important to recognise the amazing work that all Victorian's are doing to contribute to these numbers and the great work we see. And they are- they should be heartened by this today to see now the numbers drop below 100, but it is not yet- not time to be complacent.

Sadly, we've now seen 600 deaths in Australia associated with COVID-19 - 18 more today, sadly, and I again pass on my condolences to all family and friends of those who've lost loved ones during this terrible pandemic.

We have 510 people in hospital and that number over the last seven days has continued to decline significantly, and that is extremely positive to see - 32 people still of course critically ill in intensive care, but again, we are seeing those number come down.

We have now done more than six million tests in Australia for COVID-19, and it's a salient reminder as today we are, many of us across the Eastern Seaboard particularly, are seeing much nicer weather - we're seeing perhaps the first signs of Spring. So I need to ask everyone to remember that now is not the time to be complacent as we see the sun come out. It's still really important, please, to 1.5 metres of physical distancing, hygiene your hands with soap and water or hand-sanitiser, those cough etiquettes - sneezes as we've learned to become so used to.

And also remember now we are seeing some signs of community transmission in both New South Wales and Queensland, and we've got additional restrictions in place today from 8am from the Chief Health Officer in Queensland for the Gold Coast. So we all need to remain extremely vigilant and make sure that we're all doing the right thing. So whatever, however minor those symptoms are, I do please ask you to get tested immediately. We are seeing some signs where people are waiting for a few days before they get tested - please don't wait, please. The tests are free and they're easily accessible. Any signs of a cold or a flu, please do get tested and stay home, and that's how we'll continue to keep this community transmission to a minimum so we can go about our business the best that we can. So, thank you Jade do you have a question for me?

QUESTION:

Yes, thank you. I'm just wondering if you're concerned about the cases growing, seem to be growing in New South Wales? And that growing cluster which started in the Sydney CBD?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

I think, Jade, we're all concerned but we know that we're likely to continue to see community transmission whilst this disease is with us and while we don't have a vaccine. Yes, the transmission in the Sydney CBD is of concern, and the Chief Health Officer of New South Wales is reminding everyone of the importance of getting tested and staying home if you're at all unwell - please don't go out to venues, or don't go anywhere if you at all unwell. And she's also recommending that you may choose to wear a mask, particularly in the Sydney CBD, if you're unable to maintain 1.5 metres physical distancing, or if you're in places such as public transport. But I remind you if you do wear a mask, do remember it's important also to hygiene your hands before you put on the mask and as you remove it so that you don't transmit COVID from the mask to yourself. Thanks, Jade. Any other questions?

QUESTION:

In its response to the Independent Inquiry into the Newmarch House outbreak New South Wales Health criticised the lack of preparedness in the aged care sector. Was the Federal Government prepared for COVID-19 in aged care?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

I think, Jade, we put a huge amount of work into preparing our aged care facilities which included training on PPE, additional work with guidance and guidelines around how to prepare, how to respond to an outbreak in a residential aged care facility. I think what we saw, certainly in Victoria when we commenced our work with the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, that many of the lessons we had learned from Newmarch were the things that we were doing there to prevent further spread, and particularly around training and education of staff in what is very complex, the use of PPE and a very difficult thing to do over a long period of time. So we were prepared, but we've been able to learn further, and we'll continue to learn about this disease over time, and we'll apply those lessons learned into the future. Thanks, Jade. Any more? Okay, thank you very much.

QUESTION:

Sorry, just one more. Just on the advice to people from Greater Sydney and the Central Coast not to visit aged care homes.

ALISON MCMILLAN:

Yeah.

QUESTION:

Is that appropriate in your view? And should that be extended to any other areas around the country?

ALISON MCMILLAN:

I think, Jade, the first principles are that, please, if you are considering visiting a residential aged care facility - wherever you are across the country - please check with what the current guidelines or recommendations are. Very importantly, if you have any symptoms at all please do not visit an aged care facility, please get tested and remain at home. The recommendation is, at the moment in New South Wales in the CBD and on the Coast, not to attend. There may be some occasions where this may be considered - particularly in the circumstances for instance of palliative care, where visitation may be allowed but it would be done under a particularly controlled circumstances and with the cooperation of the facility and the family of the individual. But I think that we know that in these situations, preventing visitation is an important part of preventing the COVID-19 getting into our aged care facilities at all, Jade. Thank you.

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