Date published: 
22 June 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

LISA MILLAR:

Well, the Federal Government's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth, joins us now. Good morning, Nick. Welcome to Breakfast.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Thank you Lisa. Good morning.

LISA MILLAR:

Look, can we kick off with the Victorian numbers? We all felt a bit glum on the weekend when we saw it come through. What’s your take on it?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, as you quite rightly point out, the numbers have certainly increased. They remain modest compared to the population of Victoria, of course - 6.4 million - but any increase of this sort is a source of concern. Those numbers are confined to largely four or five outbreaks, but it does demonstrate that there is ongoing community transmission in Victoria, hence, the restriction- the recommendations to defer travel within and without of those local government areas in Melbourne that we made yesterday.

LISA MILLAR:

Do you think there’s some worthiness in locking down those particular suburbs?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, I think that lock down has been frequently used during this pandemic. At this point in time, when there are still a fairly modest number of cases, the measures that the Victorian Government are taking at the moment are proportionate - recommending that those- that travel be deferred. But also reflecting that those cases have, in a large part, come from household clusters or outbreaks and that they now, in Victoria, we’re now restricting the number of people who can come to your household back down to the number of five.

LISA MILLAR:

And what does it mean, we talk a lot about masks? And whether it’s worthwhile, saying, people, come on, put them on? What are your thoughts?

NICK COATSWORTH:

So the masks are an ongoing point of review for the AHPPC because there has been some evidence around the world that masks can be effective in preventing the transmission of the virus. But in high- what we call high prevalence areas where there’s lots of community transmission, where you're likely to encounter someone with the virus, that’s where masks can be of value. But at the moment the most value is maintaining distance, washing hands, downloading the app and staying at home when you're sick and getting tested - that will give you much, much more protection in the Australian context than wearing a mask.

LISA MILLAR:

But you’re are leaving it open still, I guess, depending on what happens with those numbers? I mean, if people in these particular regions we’ve been talking about, should they be considering masks?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well we’re definitely leaving it open, Lisa. And for those people who find themselves in situations, for example, where it’s difficult to socially distance, for those people who consider themselves vulnerable to COVID-19, there is certainly the option to wear a mask. Keeping in mind that wearing a mask is also something that needs to be done properly and well. You can't sort of keep it on your face and then touch it and eat lunch with it, and I’m not making light of those things, I see docs and nurses do that sort of thing all the time. So you need- if you want to wear a mask, you need to do it in the right way as well.

LISA MILLAR:

How worried are you about school holidays starting? People on the road? What’s your advice?

NICK COATSWORTH:

So, the advice is pertinent to which state and territory you live in, and obviously there’s going to be different regulations or different advice depending on how many cases. But, if you're not in those local government areas, and you're not in Melbourne, and you’re not planning on going to them then we're not suggesting that travel be restricted. But what we are suggesting is that those great behaviours that we’ve come to know to stop the virus from spreading, you must continue those. As you're visiting families, as you're visiting friends keep in mind how the virus is transmitted and do the 3-Steps that you need to do to stop that - washing hands, keeping your distance, downloading the app.

LISA MILLAR:

And of course you’re right because every state is facing a different scenario. We’ve got Queensland opening up stadiums to 10,000 people. I mean, are we at risk there of sort of racing ahead of ourselves?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, it’s important to remember that each state will go at their own pace. Stadiums is an interesting example because whilst there are going to be a lot of people in a stadium, up to 10,000, you can determine where they’re sitting, you can distance people. And most importantly you get peoples' details, so if there is a case of COVID-19 you can easily contact trace. And those principles are in place from the Queensland Government. Getting in and out of the stadiums in a safe way is also an important consideration and all those considerations are being taken into account.

LISA MILLAR:

Dr Nick Coatsworth, thank you so much yet again.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Thanks Lisa.

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