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

LISA MILLAR:

Let's return to our coronavirus coverage. Yesterday was the most deadliest day during the Australian response to the crisis. Let's bring in our Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth.

Good morning, Nick. Our hearts sank when we saw the numbers yesterday, 459 new cases. When are we going to start seeing some difference in Victoria from the restrictions?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, I can completely understand that reaction, Lisa, because we're now over 2 weeks into the Stage 3 restrictions. The reason this is taking longer is because the disease is now embedded within the Victorian community in Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, which means whilst we know the curve will flatten and will bend down the other side, it is going to take longer.

We know that people are mixing less. We know that they're mixing at about the same levels as when we got it under control in the first wave. So, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. But those day on day numbers now are still remain deeply concerning.

LISA MILLAR:

So, it's not out of the question when the government here is talking about extending the lockdown. That's something we've got to start preparing ourselves for?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, I think Premier Andrews has been very clear in the past few days that is– that those options, sort of options are on the table. But let's examine what we can do to make this happen as quick as possible. We can all, all Victorians in those areas, can support the process by wearing masks, by only going out for those requirements that allow them to go out to work, for health care, et cetera. If we're all in this together, then the light at the end of the tunnel arrives quicker. That is absolutely certain.

LISA MILLAR:

Look, you were probably 1 of thousands that witnessed the or saw the video on social media of the very professional effort by Bunnings staff to deal with the woman who did not want to wear a mask. What do you think when you see that kind of stuff?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

It was incredibly disturbing footage. And like the thousands– 10s of thousands of Australians, in fact, the vast majority of Australians will have been disturbed by that. I'm sure this is a small minority. I would like to commend the staff member and the staff in Bunnings, and I'm sorry that they had to deal with that.

There's no room for that sort of behaviour in Australian society. It might be better placed elsewhere in the world. We see it often happening in other countries, but not our own. We're in this fight together against coronavirus, and mandatory mask wearing is not an enormous ask. I don't view it as a human rights or civil liberties issue. It's something that we all need to do to help bend that curve and bring us down the other side.

LISA MILLAR:

Are we doing enough in regards to aged care facilities here, Nick? One of the newspapers today said we're in crisis in Victoria. Is that the case?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well the numbers are deeply concerning. I mean, we've got over 250 residents with COVID-19, over 250 staff members. This is reflective of the community transmission of COVID-19. There will be staff members, of course, that are pre-symptomatic and want to go to work and end up bringing COVID-19 into the facilities. And that's what makes this different from New South Wales – the broad range of community transmission.

In terms of are we doing enough, well, the Victorian aged care response centre is bringing some of our best managers of this sort of situation together from the Federal Government, the Department of Health, from Emergency Management Australia and from Emergency Management Victoria. Of course, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson has taken personal interest in making sure that quality and safety standards are upheld across Victorian aged care facilities.

LISA MILLAR:

Just finally, we were just talking a moment ago to Paddy Gibson, who's the organiser of the Black Lives Matter protest in Sydney. He is not happy at the suggestions that it's arrogant and dangerous to go ahead with the march. What do you think about it?

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, I don't think I'd use those terms. I think that people in a democratic society, for a cause like Black Lives Matter, do want to protest. And like many things, our activities have had to be put on hold for COVID-19. But what I would say to Paddy and others is that if it wasn't the time before, it's definitely not the time now. There are unlinked cases of community transmission in New South Wales, and gathering together, it's not our view that that can be done safely. When it can be done safely, I'll be out there with you, Paddy.

LISA MILLAR:

Nick Coatsworth, thank you for your time.

DR NICK COATSWORTH:

Thank you.

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