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

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Today, Victoria saw 127 new cases of coronavirus infection, the highest since the pandemic started. Is this a second wave yet?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

What we're certainly seeing in Victoria is a secondary significant surge in infections. Whether you use the term second wave, I am not sure the term is being bandied around very widely to describe lots of things, but certainly we are seeing a second resurgence occurring in Victoria and it is very concerning.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

A second wave is what terrifies people, to be honest. We don't want to terrify people, but at the same time, people need to know what is coming to they can better prepare if they know what's coming. What would have to happen for this to be any worse? For this to qualify as a second wave? What more would need to happen?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

When we talk about the second wave, and often it is used in the context of the Spanish flu pandemic, what happened then was the infection spread right across the country and resulted in even greater numbers of cases and greater numbers of fatalities than occurred in the first wave. That is not what we are seeing at the moment in Melbourne. What we're seeing is an outbreak that is at the moment confined to the city of Melbourne, particularly in those lockdown areas, and we have a very rigorous response under way.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Are you confident that the lock down measures currently under way will get this under control? Because Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton said that they have already been if you like, spotfires, that was his word, his expression, outside of the current postcodes that are hotspots?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

This is why we have the very extensive testing under way right across Melbourne and why we are encouraging anybody with symptoms, no matter how mild, to arrange to get tested, whether you are in 1 of the lockdown postcodes or not.

It is really important that we are picking up every case of COVID-19, that we follow up with those people and test them as well and that everybody was positive with COVID-19 is in isolation so that we can get a handle on it and control this search that we're seeing at the moment.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

This is day 3 and a hard lockdown for those 3,000 people in the 2 housing commission towers– well the several housing commission towers, I should say, how likely is it that this will end in another 2 days?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Well, at the moment, my understanding is that the people, the 3,000 people in those towers are all being tested, and results are coming through. My understanding is that 53 people, we have been advised, have been testing positive among the residents of the towers. There may well be more people. Very important that everybody in the towers is tested, and that, again, any contacts of those people are able to be followed up. The people obviously who test positive need to be in isolation to prevent any further transmission from occurring.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Are the 53 people who have tested positive all being isolated from their family members or their flatmates, for example, in the units which they live? Or is it being accepted that if there are 3 people living in a unit and 1 is infected, the other 2 are going to get it? Because they are very small units, it is hard to physically distance.

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Yes, I don't know the exact details of what is happening in each of the units where people are being diagnosed. The advice that we have normally is when someone in a household is diagnosed with COVID-19, that they isolate themselves from the other members of the families, ideally using separate bathrooms. And of course, as you point out, in very small apartments, especially if they are crowded, this may not be possible.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Just going back to that question, how likely is it? Because these people were told that the hard lockdown would be for 5 days. There is now, as I'm sure you're aware, that there is speculation it will soon be announced that it won't be 5 days, it might be significantly longer. One of the things that I heard was maybe 2 weeks. How likely is it that it won't be just 5 days?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Again, I think it is an issue for the Victorian authorities. It depends on, I imagine, what happens in each of those tower blocks. I think there are 9 which have been locked down so far. So we really have to wait and hear what the advice is that comes through from our colleagues in Victoria.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Is 5 days realistic given the virus has a 2-week cycle, doesn't it?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Five days is certainly enough for us to be able to go through and test everybody in those apartment complexes. And 5 days is usually enough time, if someone has been infected with COVID-19, for them to have a positive result. So that is why the 5-day period comes in.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

And then will those people be pulled out of the building? Once you figure out who's got it and who hasn't got it, then do they all start to be pulled out and isolated somewhere else?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Again, I am sorry, but that is an issue for the Victorian authorities. We will have to see with the Victorian authorities decide to do with the people in those circumstances. There are a number of possible scenarios, but I don't want to speculate as to what will happen.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Professor Kidd, Victorians have been on school holidays and many have gone to New South Wales for their school holidays, because largely the borders have been closed to them anyway, do we need to now brace ourselves for the over the next 5 to 10 days or 14 days to see if those people have perhaps caused a spike in New South Wales?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

We don't know what will happen, we don't know if there may have been any risk of transmission of people who have been holidaying in New South Wales from Victoria. We have certainly seen, over the last few days, some people who travelled from Victoria from lockdown areas into New South Wales and of course, now we have the lockdown coming into place tomorrow night. But again, that message, it only takes 1 person with the infection to spread to many other people. Please, if you have symptoms, stay at home and arrange to get tested.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Just one final question, what percentage of the new cases in Victoria in this outbreak, or spike, or whatever we're calling it, are asymptomatic who might and otherwise might not have been identified as being positive with the virus? Except that there are now these random tests happening?

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

A lot of the people who may be asymptomatic are being picked up to the contact tracing. It is not random, it is very deliberate strategy to find out who someone may have been in contact with and then to test all those people. Whether they have symptoms or not.

At this stage, we don't have a percentage of the number of people who have tested positive in Melbourne who have been asymptomatic and those who have had symptoms. But we will continue to do the very extensive contact tracing of everyone who has been in contact with someone who is diagnosed.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Thank you for your time.

PROFESSOR MICHAEL KIDD:

Thank you, Tracy.

TRACY GRIMSHAW:

Professor Michael Kidd. Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

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