Date published: 
7 July 2020
Media event date: 
6 July 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

Professor, thanks for talking to us today. You said today that the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee doesn't provide advice on border closures, but given that decision has now been made between Victoria and New South Wales, in your medical view, is this an effective measure against the Victorian spike spreading?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, certainly this decision has been made, I understand, in consultation with the premiers and also with the Prime Minister as a way of preventing further transmission from occurring. So this is, yes, an important measure as part of our natural response to what's happening in Victoria with the current situation.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

Should Victoria bite the bullet and put the whole state or at least the whole city of Melbourne back into full lockdown?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, again, that is a decision for the Premier and the advice that he's receiving. The AHPPC, of course, is meeting every day and is hearing the reports from our colleagues. My view is that the response that we're seeing in Victoria is very strong and is appropriate, and is following the advice which did come from the AHPPC around test, and trace, and isolate, and do this in a very vigorous way whenever we see outbreaks occurring.

So, it is the response which we saw in north-west Tasmania and over time, of course, that came under control and we've now got no cases occurring in Tasmania. We hope exactly the same thing is going to happen in response to this outbreak in Victoria.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

Victoria now has 31 people in hospital and 5 e in intensive care – that's according to the Premier – can our hospitals cope with the trajectory of these increases right now?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, certainly, what we saw right at the start of the pandemic is that we increased our capacity within our hospitals and especially in our intensive care units, and with the number of ventilators which we have available. We now have thousands of ventilators available to support patients.

So, yes, we do have the capacity to look after all the people who do need to be looked after as part of this outbreak. And as long as we continue with the measures which are under way, we won't get into a position where we overwhelm our hospital systems.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

The Acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly described Melbourne's public housing towers as vertical cruise ships. Does this then raise concerns about all densely-packed high-rise towers across the country, where there are shared facilities, where there aren't very many elevators?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

So, we have to be very careful in – you're right – in all settings where we have increased risk of people not being able to maintain physical distancing. And the tower blocks with very small elevators are one– a good example – people living in close proximity, in whatever circumstances. If COVID-19 gets into those settings then we have the risk of further outbreaks occurring.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

So, we may see a similar response even to those residential towers in other cities around the country, and in Melbourne in particular?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, we do expect to see other outbreaks occurring as the pandemic continues. I think the really important thing is that we all continue to do our part and make sure that we're not inadvertently spreading the virus.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

Was it an error of judgement that the first official response to the potential problem in those towers was a police response, not a medical one, not a welfare one, no nurses or social workers, but police instead? Was that an error of judgement in your view?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

I think that's an issue for the Victorian Government. The issue about pandemics, Virginia, is that things do happen very, very quickly and responses need to take place very quickly in order to save lives. And that's what we've seen happen in Victoria over the last few days.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

Do you suspect that other states should prepare for a resurgence of COVID-19 cases just like we're seeing in Victoria now?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Other states, of course, are prepared, and that's been part of the work which has been under way over the last 6 months while we've been living with COVID-19. So, each state is ready. It has the public health services available, the testing capacity available, the contact tracing available, and the hospitals if we should need them as well.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

Professor Kidd, you're pretty worried about the situation in Victoria right now, aren't you?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

I'm very worried about what's happening in Melbourne but I'm also heartened by the strength of the response we've seen from the Victorian authorities but also the great support which is being provided by other states and territories and the Commonwealth to make sure that we protect the people of Melbourne.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:

Professor Michael Kidd, thanks for joining 7.30 tonight.

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Thanks Virginia.

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