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

NATALIE BARR:

Victoria has recorded its lowest daily increase in COVID cases in more than three months. For more Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth, joins me from Canberra. Morning to you. So, there were 11 new COVID cases and, tragically, two deaths in the last 24 hours. But the low number of new cases, obviously a positive sign. Could this lead to a revised road map?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Nat, 11 cases in the past 24 hours is a great result for Victorians, especially those in Melbourne and its surrounds. And the Victorian Public Health Unit, Professor Sutton has been very clear from the start that they will revise the road map if it is safe to do so - and I think that that's the important caveat on that, that safety is the most important priority. But we know that they're prepared to revise the road map.

NATALIE BARR:

Are the testing figures high enough? There was some conjecture about them in the last couple of week- couple of weeks. Are the testing figures high enough to make these accurate?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, the testing figures need to be as high as possible and it is the case that. not just in Victoria but nationwide, we've seen a dip in the number of tests being conducted. So, it's a timely reminder for all Australians, but particularly those in Victoria, to get themselves tested with the mildest of symptoms. We know the Victorian Public Health Unit is focusing its testing around the Casey area which is very important because we need to find any undetected people with COVID-19 and make sure that they get the care that they need, and are isolated from the rest of the community for 14 days.

NATALIE BARR:

Okay. The Federal Government has pledged $6 million towards the development of a COVID vaccine in Australia. How will this funding benefit everyday Australians?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, of course this is in addition to the $5 million already going to the University of Queensland. And it just emphasises that it won't be the- necessarily the first or the second vaccine that gets over the line, there will need to be continued vaccine development for the coronavirus disease over the next few years. And so, we're investing in new research technologies; we're investing in our own, what we call mRNA technology, which is currently only being developed in the United States and that's how it will benefit ordinary Australians; by providing more options for vaccines into the future for COVID-19.

NATALIE BARR:

Let's move onto this taxi driver who's sparked a COVID scare in Sydney, they're trying to trace everyone who was in his taxi over a nine days where he was positive. Can you give us an update on that case?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well I can, Nat, and the most important thing, of course is that the taxi driver came forward to get tested for COVID-19, and had the COVIDSafe app on their phone - both of which is assisting in making sure this does not develop into a significant cluster of cases. But the New South Wales Health Department have very detailed guidance on exactly which venues on the South Coast of New South Wales and South West Sydney. People need to consider themselves close contacts if they've been at those venues, and casual contacts in a broader geographic area. I've read that information this morning, it's very detailed, I would encourage New South Wales residents to go to the New South Wales Health website today and make sure that they- to determine whether they were or were not at any of those venues.

NATALIE BARR:

Okay. We're seeing a lot of fines issued to Sydney venues last week for COVID breaches. Do you think people are caring less about COVID and they're getting complacent?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, the reality is that venues have a responsibility to their patrons, and patrons have a responsibility to not gather in large numbers at venues - we've always said this is a duel possibility. But people - venues and proprietors - will get fined if they're in breach of COVID regulations. We have to have this as the new normal. we know that indoor venues are of the most risk. We're going into summer, people are going to be getting out of their homes, but in those sort of summer party venues, as I've said before, if it's heaving people should be leaving, because that's not a COVID safe environment.

NATALIE BARR:

Okay. That's something to remember for summer. Dr Nick, thank you very much for your time today.

NICK COATSWORTH:

Thanks, Nat.

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