Date published: 
27 March 2020
Media event date: 
27 March 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

NATALIE BARR:

New South Wales and Victoria could go it alone in locking down entire suburbs unless they can convince the PM to move nationally during this morning's meeting of the National Cabinet.

Joining me now is Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd. Good morning to you.

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Good morning Natalie.

NATALIE BARR:

So with more than 2,800 cases of COVID-19 right across the country, are we at the point we need a national lockdown?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Natalie, I'm not going to pre-empt the discussions which are being held between the leaders and our government. But what we've seen over the last few days, of course, is the unprecedented lockdown of many industries, many services, many outlets right across the country.

I think one of the important things to note though is that this epidemic is moving in different ways in parts of the country, so it's not surprising that we're seeing different responses occurring. I know this is maybe confusing for people, but it's no surprise or what is happening is that we're looking at ways of how do we maximise what we're doing to protect the most vulnerable people in each part of the country.

NATALIE BARR:

You've got a lot of people with a lot of opinions across this country and you're the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. How do you counter people saying we're too late, we should've been following other countries and we should have looked it down earlier?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

I think that what we're seeing happening in Australia, of course, is that we're getting together — we have got together our Chief Medical Officer working with the Chief Health Officers in all states and territories, meeting every day, talking about what's happening around the world, what is the best evidence of what's occurring, what's happening across Australia. And what is... providing advice on what is believed to be the best response to this epidemic as it rolls across our country.

NATALIE BARR:

We saw those pictures last night, all day yesterday, of people crammed in at Sydney Airport, obviously not social distancing. We know most of Australia's cases so far have stemmed from people coming in from overseas. Whose responsibility is that to not make that happen? We were shocked by that yesterday.

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Absolutely, and the responsibility, of course, Natalie, rests with all of us. There are three things which everybody in Australia should be doing and be doing now in order to protect everybody, but especially our most vulnerable.

Number one, we all need to be absolutely scrupulous in washing our hands, in ensuring the hygiene, in being very careful about what we touch and making sure we're washing, sanitising our hands afterwards.

Number two, we need to maintain that physical distance, that 1.5 metres between ourselves and other people. Many people are adhering to this and have got the message, many others haven't. This is something we all need to be doing.

Number three and most importantly, if you have symptoms, if you have a fever or respiratory symptoms and you're feeling unwell, stay at home. Don't go out, don't mix with other people. Contact your GP, contact your other health provider or the Government's healthdirect line and stay-at-home. And if you have been put in quarantine, if you've been told that you're at risk of having contracted COVID-19 or you've been diagnosed with COVID-19, you go straight home, you stay-at-home, you don't go out and you remain there until you're told you're clear.

We have to do this, Natalie, in order to protect everybody in our community, but especially the most vulnerable. If you have symptoms and you go out, you may infect someone else, that may be someone else's grandma or grandpa or someone with immune compromised health system, that person may die. We have to all do our part.

NATALIE BARR:

Yeah. But what we are going to do to the airport — to the people who run that airport who let that happen yesterday?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Clearly, there needs to be further education right across our sectors so that everybody knows, here are the guidelines which are in place, here's what needs to happen. So absolutely, people in the airports, people in all settings across the country need to be getting the message and we need to be enforcing that. People arriving in our country, of course, may not have received many of the messages, the health messages which have been coming across through the Australian media. You're doing a fantastic job sharing these messages with our community, and so we're having to educate people as they arrive.

NATALIE BARR:

Yeah. It is a tough job. Professor Kidd, thanks for your time today.

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