Date published: 
16 July 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

PAUL KENNEDY:

Joining us now from Canberra is Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd. Professor Kidd, thanks for joining us. Before I ask you about those particular matters, I am not sure how much you heard of Kathryn Diss's explanation of going through coronavirus, but perhaps it is timely for people to remember that it can affect younger people as well?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes, thank you, Paul, and thank you for having Kathryn tell her story. I think it's important we get the stories of people who have been infected with COVID-19 so that we're all aware that this is not always a mild disease in people - including in young people - and some people can have very severe symptoms. We obviously have people in the hospital at the moment who are young people in Melbourne, and some people of course are going to have long-term consequences from having been infected with COVID-19.

PAUL KENNEDY:

Let's go to that cluster at the hotel in Sydney. What's the latest on the spread? I know this might be releasing numbers, but what can you tell is broadly about that situation? And most interestingly, finding that patient zero?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes. So, clearly the work of the contact tracers is working and incredibly effectively. We have been able to identify the initial individual who travelled up from Melbourne, as you say, at the beginning of last month - and the other cases have come from the contacts that that person had. The authorities in New South Wales are responding very vigorously as we've seen - very extensive testing, particularly of all the people who attended the Crossroads Hotel between 3 and 10 July. And we've seen the queues of people; very responsibly waiting to be tested and going home in two weeks in isolation to ensure we don't get community spread from that outbreak.

PAUL KENNEDY:

From that particular patient on 3 July being at that hotel, would you have expected this to be an even larger cluster than it actually is?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well look, it depends on a individual's behaviour; it depends on the number of people that an infected person has come into close contact with; it depends on whether people have been maintaining the physical distancing which we continue to recommend for everybody and the hand hygiene and the other measures. Most importantly, though, anybody who was at that hotel - the slightest symptoms, they must arrange to be tested.

PAUL KENNEDY:

The contact tracing you were talking about - has the app been beneficial here? Tell us about this excellent contact tracing that has gone on.

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes. I don't have oversight over what happens with the use of the app in the individual states and territories. Under the legislation that- those details are with the individual health authorities. We do know in Victoria that there have been many contacts who have been identified through the app.

PAUL KENNEDY:

Okay and thanks for the clarification there. Let's go to Melbourne and the Royal Children's Hospital. What do you know about that particular cluster, if we can call it a cluster yet?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes. Again, we are waiting to hear further details about the staff members at the hospital who have been infected with COVID-19. At this time, I don't know whether the source of infection has been out in the community or related to the hospital.

PAUL KENNEDY:

Okay. And what are you looking at with the numbers in Victoria every day? Which particular statistic are you looking at to see some sort of hope and improvement through lockdown?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes. Look, there are a number of figures that we are looking at. Clearly, we are looking at the number of new cases identified each day and we are now getting to a week in the lockdown - we are in that first 14-day incubation period still. What we are seeing is that the number of new infections is not rising dramatically - it's still a very significant number of people being diagnosed each day, but it's not rising dramatically. We hope that we don't see dramatic rises occurring - that we see over the coming week that the numbers start to decline. We're also looking at the number of people who have been admitted to hospital, and particularly the number of people who are in intensive care units, indicating the severity of this disease. And of course, we are gravely concerned about the number of residential aged care facilities where we have seen cases of COVID-19.

PAUL KENNEDY:

Michael Kidd, just finally. There's been discussion around how Australia is handling the coronavirus and how different governments are approaching it and the rest of it? But I don't expect you to comment on that, but I want to take you back to Sydney. You've mentioned the excellent contact tracing, and we know the figures. Is this a good model for how to best handle an outbreak in Australia from now?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes, absolutely. So from the outset we've said we do expect to see further outbreaks occurring. And whenever those outbreaks occur we move in; we do extensive testing; we do a very rigorous contact tracing; we isolate people who have been in contact with someone with COVID-19; and, where necessary, we bring in the additional physical measures and restrictions. So, this is the method which we know works.

PAUL KENNEDY:

Well, well done to everyone involved and thanks again. We appreciate you coming onto News Breakfast and giving us those updates.

MICHAEL KIDD:

Thanks, Paul.

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