Date published: 
3 August 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Michael Kidd, joins us now from Canberra. Michael Kidd, good morning to you. Is 6 weeks going to be long enough with this hard lockdown to quash the virus in Melbourne?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, I think we have got to wait and see what happens with the figures, Michael, over the coming days and weeks. So clearly, what we have seen over the last few weeks was a continuing upward trend, despite the Stage 3 restrictions, despite the requirements that people were wearing masks whenever they were outside of their homes. These are additional measures, which obviously are aimed at dramatically reducing the possibility of people coming into contact with other people, reduce the movement around the city and also around the rest of the state is what is needed if we're going to bring this outbreak under control.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Just on masks, we were told at the very start of the mandatory mask wearing in Melbourne that it would roughly take about a week before we saw a significant impact of that. Clearly that didn't work, we've got figures going between 400, 500, 700. What does that say to you about mandatory mask wearing?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, what we didn't see was the numbers rising exponentially which is what has happened in many other countries around the world. So yes, we did have an upward trend but not as sharply upward that may have occurred otherwise. We do know that masks are an effective way of preventing transmission from person to person when you have significant community transmission taking place. So, the masks are one of the important measures, but all the other measures which people are doing – adhering to the new restrictions, making sure that they are maintaining the physical distancing with other people, staying in their homes if they are unwell, and of course most importantly if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 you must stay at home in isolation.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Yeah. Very important advice. Just picking up your words there on mask wearing, in New South Wales is the government being, I guess, too cautious by upgrading its advice but still making advisory only, not mandatory, for mask wearing at least in confined, closed spaces?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, I think in New South Wales we have a different situation. We do have community transmission, but it is at a much lower level – over the last couple of weeks we've seen between 10 and 20 people. Thanks to the response of the people of New South Wales and the extraordinary public health response with the testing and the contact tracing we're not seeing a dramatic rise. But we do need to keep a close eye on those figures in New South Wales. The wearing of masks in areas of community transmission is recommended, particularly if people are going into a situation where they may not be able to maintain physical distancing – for example at the supermarket or on public transport – and also really important, the people who themselves are vulnerable if they were to get COVID-19 would be very well-advised to wear a mask when they are outside the home, again, in those areas of community transmission in New South Wales.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Did the Victorian government perhaps pull the trigger on Stage 4 a bit too late? The reason I ask that, it's been pointed out that in New Zealand there were only roughly 40 cases before the New Zealand government went to hard lockdown. Of course, we are in the high 5600, 700s here in Victoria. So was that decision perhaps just a little bit too late?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Look, these are balanced decisions which need to be made. Clearly, the more rigorous the restrictions the more of an impact it has on the entire community. And we're concerned about the mental health, as well as the physical health and wellbeing of everyone who finds themselves in prolonged isolation, or living under these restrictions. So, my messages to all your viewers in Melbourne is, please look after each other, please look after your mental health. If you are feeling particularly depressed or anxious as a result of the restrictions which are in place, please reach out to Lifeline, Beyond Blue, the other resources.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

I mean, I wanted to ask you that anyway. I mean, it strikes me as being sadly pretty obvious that- I mean, this has strained mental health across the country already so far this year, but for Victorians, for Melburnians, in particular; looking at this 6 weeks of hard lockdown – teenagers not being able to see their mates or play sport, to go to school, that surely is going to have a tremendously bad impact on mental health.

MICHAEL KIDD:

Look, it does have that potential but the important thing is we have lived through this before. We all, as a nation, were in lockdown for the 6-week period before, we all developed ways to deal with the lockdown, we all have our own ways of maintaining some control over our life; of doing something which you enjoy even if you are at home; of reaching out to family and friends using video calls or using the telephone; of making sure that if you have family or friends who are in isolation, on their own, that they are not, they don't feel that they are on their own, that you are reaching out to them daily as well. So, we can do our part in looking after each other's mental health and wellbeing.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

And of course, other states and territories that haven't been impacted as badly are keen to keep those borders up. So, it is time now for the Federal Government to back off from pressuring other states and territories to bring down their borders?

MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, certainly the decision around the border restrictions between New South Wales and Victoria was a decision of the 2 states with the full support of the Prime Minister. So, keeping that border safe and limiting the movement of people and goods across the boundary is a very important part of keeping this under control.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Okay. Michael Kidd, I really appreciate your time in joining us this morning on News Breakfast. Thank you.

MICHAEL KIDD:

Thank you, Michael.

Contact

Departmental media enquiries

Contact for members of the media

news [at] health.gov.au (subject: Media%20enquiry%20-%20News%20item%20ID13745, body: URL - https%3A%2F%2Fwww.health.gov.au%2Fnews%2Fdeputy-chief-medical-officer-interview-on-abc-news-breakfast-on-3-august-2020)

View contact