Date published: 
1 July 2020
Media event date: 
30 June 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

MICHAEL KIDD:

Good afternoon everybody my name is Professor Michael Kidd, Deputy Chief Medical Officer here with the Department of Health in Canberra. First the update on the figures. As of midday today, 7834 people were reported as COVID-19 positive in Australia. Tragically, 104 people in Australia have lost their lives to COVID-19. 71 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours with no additional deaths. Five of those cases were in New South Wales, these were all overseas acquired and in hotel quarantine. Two cases reported in Western Australia, again both cases overseas acquired and in hotel quarantine. And 64 new cases reported in Victoria. Just a reminder that yesterday there were 75 cases reported in Victoria. We have 15 people in hospital across the country with COVID-19, one person in intensive care. To date, 7037 people are reported to have recovered from COVID-19. There've been over 2.45 million tests conducted across Australia and that includes over 17,000 tests which were carried out in Victoria yesterday. The level of testing that we've seen in Victoria is exceptional and unprecedented.

We all remain very concerned about the outbreak in Victoria and the continuing cases of community transmission. The Australian government supports the widespread testing that continues in Victoria and the extensive contact tracing to identify those who may have been exposed to people infected with COVID-19. The Commonwealth welcomes and supports the actions being taken by the Victorian government and just announced by the Victorian Premier. The stay-at-home restrictions have been put in place for people living in a number of postcodes in Melbourne. This is the northwest Tasmanian model being implemented in an urban setting in a large city. This will be more difficult, but the action being taken in Victoria is appropriate. This action is in line with the national approach of test, trace and respond. The actions being taken by the Victorian Government will save lives. The Commonwealth has invited and encouraged Victoria to seek more support. As you know, there are more than 200 members of the defence force assisting on the ground at this time, and more are available if needed.

Overnight, Victoria requested an additional 800 people to provide support. This includes 200 clinical staff to carry out testing, 100 people to assist with the on-ground coordination of community engagement and door knocking, and 500 people who will assist with further testing, contact tracing and public engagement. Support is also being provided by many of the states and territories. Getting on top of this outbreak is in the national interest, and I am heartened by the response that we've seen. I would like to finish by expressing the nation's thanks to everyone involved in the response in Victoria. We know that this is a very worrying and challenging time for the people of the state, and especially those who are living and working in the affected postcodes in Melbourne. Our thanks to all those involved in testing members of the community, and following up their contacts and supervising people in isolation and quarantine. Our thanks to all those providing continuing healthcare services in local hospitals, general practices, community pharmacies and other health services to the people in the affected postcodes in Melbourne. Our thanks to everybody working to ensure that we stop the spread of COVID-19, and our thanks to everybody doing their part, getting tested if you have symptoms no matter how mild, maintaining physical distancing and following the restrictions which have been put in place by the government in Victoria. Thank you.

I'm happy to take questions.

QUESTION:

Hi Professor Kidd. Steph Dalzell from ABC News. Victoria has just announced it's re-imposing the Stage 3 restrictions as you just outlined on 10 Melbourne postcodes. Is that the right decision?

MICHAEL KIDD:

This decision has been made by the Victorian Government based on the local epidemiology. Clearly, the community transmission that we've seen and the outbreaks have mainly been focused on those particular areas. So these are the areas which have been targeted with the restrictions.

QUESTION:

How difficult is it to impose restrictions on 10 areas and not others?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes. Well clearly, as I said, this is the northwest Tasmania model but instead of being imposed on a regional city, it's being imposed in the middle of a very large metropolis in Australia. This is not something that has been attempted before. But clearly, as the Premier outlined, the restrictions are being put in place. The Victorian police will be monitoring those restrictions. People will be expected to comply with the restrictions. This is obviously to protect the health and wellbeing of the people living in those postcodes, as well as to protect the health and wellbeing of everybody in the country.

QUESTION:

How concerned are you currently about asymptomatic cases?

MICHAEL KIDD:

We're very concerned about asymptomatic cases and obviously, this is one of the reasons behind the decision which has been made. Many people of course, are not asymptomatic but have very mild symptoms, which may indicate COVID-19, and this is why it's absolutely essential that anyone who has even the mildest symptoms of fever, cold, flu-like symptoms arrange to get tested and especially for those in the areas of community transmission in Melbourne, stay at home, waiting for the results.

QUESTION: 

In terms of the Federal Government's action, you outlined a little bit about what the Federal Government is doing. What are the other plans in terms of what the Federal Government plans to do to help Victoria?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes. So clearly, the new people who are on the ground or moving into Victoria to assist with the response is in response to discussions between the Federal Government and the government in Victoria. The Federal Government remains open to other requests coming from Victoria to assist the Victorian Government in the local response. Clearly, at the national level, there are many things which of course have been taken place right throughout the pandemic, including of course the active provision of PPE - over 50 million masks being provided across the country - the support and education of the workforce, many, many initiatives which you'll be well aware of.

QUESTION:

It sounds like you're waiting to see what Victoria needs. Is this a matter of simply just waiting for the request or is there a level of proactive offering that's involved here?

MICHAEL KIDD:

This is an active discussion. So, the Chief Health Officer for Victoria, Brett Sutton, sits on the AHPPC along with the chief health officers of the other states and territories, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Medical Officers and the Chief Nurse and others, and the discussions are being held every day and looking at how we can support each other. This is not just a Victorian issue that we're looking at today. This is a national issue. This is a national response.

QUESTION:

In terms of this three-stage plan, could we see other states reconsidering their progress along the three-stage plan in light of this spike in Victoria?

MICHAEL KIDD:

I think that everyone in the country will be watching what's happening in Victoria. We've said right from the outset that we expect to see outbreaks occurring, and when those outbreaks do occur, we move in, we test, we trace and we respond. And that's exactly what happened in Victoria in response to the community transmission that we've seen over the past week or so. It's exactly what happened in northwest Tasmania with the outbreaks in the hospitals in Burnie and we expect this will continue to happen.

As a world, we are living in a world with COVID-19 at the moment. We still have people coming into the country, especially Australians repatriated from abroad, and so we expect that there'll be continuing people coming into the country with COVID-19 and the risk that we will get further outbreaks occurring.

QUESTION:

Would states be right to reconsider changes on that three-stage plan in light of this spike?

MICHAEL KIDD:

I think that every state and territory needs to look at these three steps that they're moving through and make their decisions about which steps are appropriate, what restrictions can and can't be used at this time, in their own states, for their own populations. So, obviously, it's based on the local epidemiology but also the context of what's happening right across the country.

One more question, Steph.

QUESTION: 

Okay. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said some people in the hotspots are refusing to take a test. Do governments have the power to compel people to take tests?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Governments do have powers under the emergency acts which we've been living under over the last months in response to the pandemic. But my request to all the people in Victoria is if someone approaches you and asks you to please do a test, please comply. These tests are there to protect us all. They'll be protecting you and your health and wellbeing. They'll be protecting your family. They'll be protecting the wider community. Testing obviously is a fundamental tenet of the work that we're doing.

Thank you everybody and particularly, thank you to our interpreters. Thank you very much.

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