Date published: 
7 July 2020
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

NATALIE BARR:

Joining me now is Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth. Morning to you. The crisis in Victoria is worsening. Is this outbreak now beyond the state's capacity to control?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well Nat, certainly, the numbers are of concern. Anytime we see three-digit numbers, some of the highest that we've had, it's a substantial concern. But it is within the capacity of Victoria to control. It is certainly something that they are receiving assistance with from the Commonwealth, from other states.

We have some of our most experienced public health physicians in the country, now down in Victoria, assisting them with the outbreak. So this is a national problem; it is a national problem to solve and we're taking a national approach.

NATALIE BARR:

Yes. We've seen those two new suspected cases in the Albury region. Do you think closing the border will stop the virus spreading?

NICK COATSWORTH:

I think that that's the intent of the measure, Nat. And as Premier Berejiklian said, it was the case that there was still people crossing into the border and that option needed to be exercised. The important thing, of course, is that those two people in Albury got themselves tested. So people are obviously hearing the message, that if they've come from areas in Melbourne and they develop symptoms, they need to get themselves tested. That's how you find the virus early, that's how you shut down the virus early and work out who the contacts of that person were.

NATALIE BARR:

There've been cases outside those locked down suburbs in Melbourne. Is it time for the entire city to go into lockdown? Not just those hotspot suburbs?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Nat, this is something the Victorian Premier, the Chief Health Officer consider obviously on a daily basis. They have the latest public health intelligence on the ground in Melbourne. So they are looking at the postcodes and determining what further restrictions, if any, need to be place. But it is a day-by-day game.

We remember what this was like as Australians because we were living it in February and March, where we really have to look at the cases day by day and see how they trend over a couple of weeks as we make those decisions.

And that just exemplifies how difficult those decisions are because you need to anticipate what the virus is going to do.

NATALIE BARR:

How worried are you about the spread in Melbourne's public housing towers after the numbers there essentially doubled in a couple of days?

NICK COATSWORTH:

Well, you know, any numbers or any cases of coronavirus in very dense living conditions are of concern. So you know, whilst those measures to shut those towers down a drastic, they're not punitive, they're protective because we know that some of our most vulnerable members of the community live there. The importance of maintaining distance from households between each other in those towers is critical, which is why people can't leave their flats.

NATALIE BARR:

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

NICK COATSWORTH:

Thanks very much.

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