Date published: 
14 September 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

NATALIE BARR:

Joining me now is Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth. Morning to you. Health Minister Greg Hunt has urged the Andrews Government to redo its roadmap after modellers from the University of Melbourne warned their research had actually been misrepresented. Does it need to be redone?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Nat, the modelling is but a big part of the - but, a small part of the whole policy, really, and the policy is obviously up to the Andrews Government and the Chief Health Officer. Professor Sutton, who did say that they were more than prepared to review, as necessary, the roadmap as the numbers came in. And those numbers, as you say, still heading in the right direction today, with 35 new cases. So, I think the important message is that we're there to help Professor Sutton review any roadmap or restrictions being lifted and we have those discussions constantly at the AHPPC. So, we make the right decisions, with the data available that's available to us.

NATALIE BARR:

But you've got people protesting in the street. You've got no city in the world, except for Wuhan, with worse lockdowns. People are suffering in all sorts of ways down there. From a medical perspective, do you think, as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, that this should be reassessed right now?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, 21 cases were unlinked yesterday, Nat, and that's still too high. New South Wales has never dealt with 21 unlinked community cases and while those mystery cases are still high, unfortunately, the restrictions still need to be in place. What I can assure you and assure your viewers and assure Victorians, is that as those numbers come in on a daily basis, Professor Sutton and his team look at them, interpret them and that will be feeding into their decision making. So, they are more than prepared to revise and review, based on new evidence and that's exactly what they would do. But the light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger by the day.

NATALIE BARR:

Okay. Let's go to Queensland. The Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, is facing mounting pressure over strict border measures, as more Aussies queue for permission to see their dying relatives, their loved ones here. Does she decide when they should reopen and why haven't they? There were zero cases in Queensland yesterday.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well Nat, it is the responsibility of the chief health officer in every state and territory to oversee these exemption policies, to make recommendations to the Cabinet and to the Premier. What I would say though is Dr Jeanette Young, is one of our most experienced Chief Health Officers. That whilst passions are high and we understandably need to show compassion to these families, who are having difficulty seeing their families. But the bullying and trolling of Dr Young is not constructive at all. We can have this debate in a constructive, mature way and that's what we do with Dr Young on a daily basis and we will get to the right outcome. The balance is COVID and compassion, if we do that.

NATALIE BARR:

Yeah. That's obviously terrible. But you've just said we are keeping the Melbourne ones in place, all the lockdowns, because there were still too many numbers. There were 23, there are 30 odd- 30, 40 cases each day. But there were 0 in Queensland. So shouldn't the borders be open?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, it's encouraging that there are 0 in Queensland. I think the most encouraging thing, Nat, is that their test, trace, isolate system is working just as well as it is in New South Wales. And now that that's been tested, I'm sure that that's going to be incorporated into their decision making about when and if it is safe to open the borders. But as we said, it is a matter for Dr Young and Premier Palaszczuk, to tell us when that's going to happen.

NATALIE BARR:

Dr Nick Coatsworth, thank you for your time this morning.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Thank you.

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