Date published: 
16 April 2020
Media event date: 
31 March 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Well, to help us unpack the importance of self-isolation, we're joined now by Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael Kidd. Michael, we've just seen the difference self-isolation can make to containing COVID-19. How critical would you say this policy is to stopping the spread of the virus?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Carrie, it's absolutely critical. I thought the program was terrific and I particularly liked when he said it's not about you, it's about everyone else. And so, we're all making the sacrifices that we're making at the moment to protect each other, to protect especially the most vulnerable people in our society, to flatten that curve, to take the pressure off our hospitals and our intensive care units and hopefully, to dramatically reduce the number of people in Australia who are infected and who get very unwell.

WALEED ALY:

So Michael, we are still clearly learning more and more about this virus - that's part of the problem is we don't know much about it. We're starting to hear out of the UK, there are growing reports that young people lose their taste and smell before they get other symptoms. So they're asymptomatic but that's something that they notice. And the UK is now talking about people who notice that they don't have taste or smell anymore beginning to self-isolate. What can you tell us about that? Is that a kind of policy that we would be implementing here at some point?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, it's an interesting symptom and actually, losing your sense of smell can occur with a number of different upper respiratory tract infections, including the common cold. And when you lose your sense of smell through damage of the little, very sensitive nerve endings inside your nose, your sense of taste changes as well. So, it's not a new symptom but it's interesting. And I know a number of chat rooms with doctors all around the world - some who are reporting similar cases - and there was a report from the Harvard Medical School about this as well. So I think it may be one of these symptoms which can indicate that people maybe have infection with the coronavirus but are currently asymptomatic but maybe going to go on to develop symptoms, and I think it's really important. So if you wake up tomorrow morning and you notice you've lost yourself this sense of smell, first thing, don't panic because it's probably not the coronavirus - it's probably some other cause. But ring the healthdirect line, ring your GP, say: I've woken up with this unusual symptom. I was listening to Professor Michael Kidd on The Project last night. What should I do?

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Michael, back home we've heard today that perhaps the curve has flattened ever so slightly, but I was also reading it could be rates of a testing has dropped, there could be a whole lot of other factors. How much should we be focusing on those daily numbers that are coming out?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well the daily numbers that we're seeing today really reflect rates of transmission that happened days ago and what we probably should be looking at is what is going to happen two weeks from now, when we're seeing the impact of the social isolation that's been put in place, where we've seen the impact of keeping people at home and keeping people safe. So, yes, we have seen a reduction in numbers over the last couple of days but that does not mean we can take our foot off the brake. It's really important that everybody takes this incredibly seriously. And Carrie, I've just been really impressed by my fellow Australians and how people are really taking this seriously. We are all working together, especially to protect the elderly people, people with chronic disease, the people who are most vulnerable in our society.

PETER HELLIAR:

There does seem to be a team Australia mentality, doctor, which is great. But the question everybody wants to know - and this might be an unfair question -but how long? Do you have any estimations or feeling of how long this might last?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD: 

It's a great question and I know your viewers sitting at home will be saying how long, and I love that reference to having an escape room in your house or apartment to just get away from the rest of the family for a little bit each day. But…

PETER HELLIAR:

It used to be called the man cave actually, Doc.

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Yeah. The great American infectious disease specialist, Tony Fauci, said five days ago we don't set the timeline, the virus sets the timeline. And I think that's really important for us to remember because we don't know the timeline with this particular virus, we don't know what's going to happen in the future. But what we do know is that we can modify that timeline and that's exactly what we're doing through social isolation, through the measures which have been put in place and through all making sure we do our bit to flatten the curve, keep everyone as well stopping the spread.

CARRIE BICKMORE:

Well, thanks for all the hard work you're doing, Michael. I'm sure it's a very, very busy time so thank you.

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Thanks Carrie. Thank you.

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